Thursday, October 02, 2008

Roman Hruska meets Sarah Palin

"Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos."--Sen. Roman Hruska, R. Nebraska, on defending the appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court of a mediocrity.

OK, we're back. Been busy. Ramping up again.

The polls are all over the place as usual, but the unmistakable trend is toward Barak Obama. The polls have him ahead in the national count by anywhere from 4 to 11 points. More importantly, this is spreading to the states, particularly the most important states. He is ahead in places he was not expected to be ahead, like Virginia and Colorado.

The bounce the Republicans got from their convention is gone and Sarah Palin is now a drag on the ticket. She has succeeded in scaring the hell out of increasing numbers of people and has become a national joke. I'm a little sorry for her: she has no business playing in this league. John McCain, who is really getting cranky these days and is busy channeling Herbert Hoover, shouldn't have picked her and she shouldn't have accepted. She is pushing independents away faster than she gained them at the convention.

On the polls: Even Rasmussen, which has been the most tilted toward McCain, now has Obama ahead by 7, Associated Press, 7, New York Times/CBS at 9, Gallup at 4. The most conservative of the polls, Diageo/Hotline, is at 5, and the most liberal, the poll run on Daily Kos, 11.

What makes this particularly interesting is that voters tend to solidify around October. It is rare for a campaign to roar from behind (or blow it) when one candidate has a large lead over the other by October. Most people have made up their minds. The numbers also are interesting for another reason: the Bradley Effect. That is the phenomenon in which voters will tell pollsters they have no problem voting for a black guy, go into the booth and vote for the white guy. They lie so they won't sound racist to the interviewer. No one knows (although we are about to find out) how much the effect skews polling, but the best numbers I've found say it is about 6%. In other words. He will need more than a 6% advantage over McCain to win. He is now at or above that number in the polls.

What seems to be happening is that the voters have clicked into place. There is also the potential for a landslide in the state voting, although making any predictions in this race is really odd behavior.

Nonetheless, here is one: John McCain will throw another Hail Mary, something dramatic to get himself into back into the conversation and change the subject. Every day the economy is the overarching news story is a day he loses support. I don't know what it will be, but he clearly knows he is losing, is pissed off, and frantic. Watch for a pass. And, whatever it is, it probably won't work. His last two, Sarah Palin and parachuting into the Wall Street bailout blew up in his face.

Some odds and ends:
  • The only place you can see Russia from Alaska is on Little Diomede Island in the Bering Sea. About 150 Eskimos live there; Sarah Palin has never visited. As CNN reported, Big Diomede Island, which is Russia, is four miles away and is highly visible. Except for those 150 people (many of whom never heard of Palin) you cannot see Russia from Alaska.
  • Palin said Alaska is a microcosm of America, which makes her able to undertand "Joe Sixpack." Alaska is not a microcosm of America. Alaskans describe their state as the only foreign country that still likes Americans--but not too much. It is an idiosyncratic, totally weird place. I happen to love it in part because it is not like the rest of America.
  • Sarah Palin is who Roman Hruska might have had in mind.

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