Archive for Electoral College

Wait Till Your Founding Father Gets Home

George Will points out how far we’ve come—or is it how far we’ve gone?

In a Presidential contest replete with novelties, none was more significant than this: A candidate’s campaign—for his party’s nomination, then for the presidency—was itself virtually the entire validation of his candidacy. Voters have endorsed Barack Obama’s audacious—but not, they have said, presumptuous—proposition, which was: The skill, tenacity, strategic vision and tactical nimbleness of my campaign is proof that I am presidential timber.

James W. Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, writing in the Claremont Review of Books, notes that, contrary to conventional understanding, the Constitution created not three but four “national institutions.” They are the Congress, the Supreme Court, the presidency—and the presidential selection system, based on the Electoral College. “The question of presidential selection,” Ceaser writes, “was just that important to the Founders.”

The Founders’ intent, Ceaser writes, was to prevent the selection of a president from being determined by the “popular arts” of campaigning, such as rhetoric. The Founders, Ceaser says, “were deeply fearful of leaders deploying popular oratory as the means of winning distinction.” That deployment would invite demagoguery, which subverts moderation. “Brilliant appearances,” wrote John Jay in The Federalist Papers 64, “… sometimes mislead as well as dazzle.”

Oops.

Sorry about that.

Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Jay—what the hell did they know?

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Boulder Dash

While the other polls are trending toward Obama, this one comes out of the blue:

A new CNN Poll of Polls in Colorado suggests the battle for the state’s 9 electoral votes is a dead heat. In the survey, compiled Sunday, 47 percent of likely voters in Colorado back Barack Obama for president, with 46 percent supporting John McCain. Seven percent of those questioned are undecided.

The CNN Poll of Polls is a compilation of the latest surveys in the state. The polls in this latest average are a Mason-Dixon survey conducted September 29-October 1, a CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll taken September 21-23, and an American Research Group survey conducted September 23-25.

Both campaigns are spending a lot of time and money campaigning in Colorado. McCain made a swing through the state on Thursday and Friday. Obama last campaigned in Colorado on September 29. The Democrats also held their party’s national convention there in late August.

Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada are three mountain west states that voted for George W. Bush in 2004 that the Democrats are hoping to turn from red to blue come Election Day.

The closer I look at it, the less I trust it: much of the data were taken two weeks ago, before the financial crisis started to take McCain down a few pegs. But if (when) this race tightens up again, Obama’s going to need Colorado and New Mexico. And they may not be there for him.

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And You Thought the 2000 Election Was Bad?

Read this and weep:

On Nov. 5, the presidential election winds up in a electoral-college tie, 269-269, the Democrat-controlled House picks Sen. Barack Obama as president, but the Senate, with former Democrat Joe Lieberman voting with Republicans, deadlocks at 50-50, so Vice President Dick Cheney steps in to break the tie to make Republican Sarah Palin his successor.

“Wow,” said longtime presidential historian Stephen Hess. “Wow, that would be amazing, wouldn’t it?”

“If this scenario ever happened, it would be like a scene from the movie ‘Scream’ for Democrats,” said Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh. “The only thing worse for the Democrats than losing the White House, again, when it had the best chance to win in a generation, but to do so at the hands of Cheney and Lieberman. That would be cruel.”

I would probably be doing the Macarena in priapic splendor for three days straight if that happened, but once I came down (as it were), I’d be pretty bummed.

Our country has suffered enough with Bush Derangement Syndrome—we don’t need a bout of Cheney-Lieberman’s chorea on top of it. I’m serious. I don’t like the stresses on the body politic over the last decade (even if I’ve contributed); I don’t think it’s been healthy.

I want John McCain to kick Obama’s ass from Presque Isle, Maine to San Diego, California—but a win in the manner described above, while still necessary for the sake of the country, would be a horrible outcome.

And it could happen so easily. Check out the latest Electoral College map from RealClearPolitics:

snapshot-2008-09-23-11-38-32.jpg

This is the map with no toss-up states, and Obama wins in this scenario by 8 EVs.

But what if tiny New Hampshire, traditionally a conservative state, and where a recent UNH poll showed McCain leading by two, voted not for Obama but for McCain?

Then the map would look like this:

snapshot-2008-09-23-11-57-01.jpg

Oy a bruch.

PS: Dennis Prager has more thoughts.

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Mapping it Out

McCain maintains a slight lead in the national polls, but the real news is in the state-by-state polls, which are what really count in the Electoral College.

In the last few days, states like Indiana, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina have moved into the McCain column, some of them solidly so. This continues a trend of the last few weeks, when McCain has begun to claim states previously listed as toss-ups. The only states to have leaned more toward Obama in the past month (and stayed that way) are Maine and Minnesota (the latter only marginally so). His Oneness’ grip on states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, even Washington, is tenuous at best.

Real Clear Politics now gives McCain 227 Electoral Votes to Obama’s 217, with McCain on a 55-0 run. Among those states still too close to call, McCain leads in Ohio (20 EVs), Virginia (13 EVs), and Nevada (5 EVs). Assuming he carries those (and every other state in his column), he would have 265 EVs, five short of victory.

Uh-oh?

Not necessarily. First, he’s gaining, and there’s no reason to assume that this latest snapshot is the end of that trend. Second, let’s look at the toss-up states where Obama leads:

Colorada (9 EVs) went for Bush in ’00 and ’04.
New Mexico (5 EVs) went for Bush in ’04 and for Gore in ’00—but by only 0.1%
New Hampshire (4 EVs) went for Kerry in ’04 (it’s his neighboring state, and the Boston media market blankets the whole Southern part of the state, where most of the population lives) and for Bush in ’00—and is as close to Sarah Palin’s Alaska as you’re likely to find in New England.

No wonder the Obama camp is punching so wildly. They’re dying.

Which is good for the country. I think it would be even better for the country if McCain could pick up other close states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey and make this thing into a cake walk. I was part of the bellyaching after 2000, but I got ever it (boy, did I ever). This country has suffered more from Bush Derangement Syndrome than it has from President Bush himself. May John McCain bury it once and for all.

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Electoral College

I note the latest Rasmussen tracking poll has Obama clinging to a three-point lead, like the rest of us cling to guns and religion.

But as we all know, the presidential election is really 50 separate beauty contests (Go Sarah!), with the results weighted by population: simply put, it’s the electoral college, stupid.

So let’s see where that stands:

snapshot-2008-09-06-09-50-45.jpg

But these assumptions are built on sand.

It is not only conceivable, but I think probable, that McCain will carry Colorado (where he barely leads) and New Hampshire (where he barely trails). Welcome President McCain.

Virginia, however, is listed for McCain, but is anything but safe. Ditto Ohio. If they break for His Oneness, hosannahs for Obamessiah.

My best guess from today’s vantage point is that Governor Palin helps McCain across the country, in pockets in every state. The McCain camp think Wisconsin and Michigan, thought locks for Obama, are in play. That must put another half-dozen states in their sights. Obama has to fight to keep what he’s got; I don’t see him gaining any new ground.

Summarizing metaphor? The high tide of Obamania has passed, and will slowly ebb for the next two months.

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