The Straightaway

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Posts Tagged ‘mccain

100,000 Strong for Obama

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Barack Obama draws an estimated 100,000 supporters at a late October rally in St. Louis, Missouri - a former Republican safe state now being hotly fought over by Obama and McCain. Photo courtesy of

What a picture! I especially enjoy how that building in the background looks conspicuously like the White House. Good call by the Obama campaign on the location, I suppose.


Written by acs2008

October 18, 2008 at 9:18 pm

McCain Comes Out Firing in 3rd Debate

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Sen. John McCain came for a fight against Sen. Barack Obama in tonight’s final presidential debate of the 2008 election season. McCain was angry, energetic, and invigorating. He attacked Obama directly more than he had in the previous debates. He interrupted Obama and called him out constantly. He was a sarcastic jerk all night, rolling his eyes at Obama at least twice – in short, McCain was fantastic.

Obama started the debate poorly, seeming to be on his heels while spouting his usual campaign talking points. Early on, McCain countered the standard Obama comparison of McCain and Bush with the soundbite of the night:

Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against him, you should have run 4 years ago.

However, Obama recovered, scoring points on his healthcare policy and other issues while maintaining his cool. In contrast to McCain, Obama was even, temperate, and looked very wise (although a bit too professorial). Obama wasn’t as engaging in this debates as others, but the key was his consistency – he looked more presidential than McCain.

Overall, McCain won this debate with his energy and boldness. However, this debate will do little in the polls other than energizing the base.

Debate Advantage: McCain

Here is the first part of the debate:

Sidenote: After the debate, NBC featured former governor and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as a commentator. While he talked, I started thinking about future elections. If Obama ends up winning in 2008, and the Democrats do a terrible job the next four years, the strong, conservative Romney will be a great bet for the Republicans in 2012.

Written by acs2008

October 16, 2008 at 3:24 am

Obama Crosses 270 Electoral Vote Line

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CNN is reporting on its Electoral Map Calculator that, if the election were held today, Obama would have 277 guaranteed electoral votes, putting him over the 270 threshold needed to secure the presidency. Obama was catapulted over the virtual 270 line by new poll numbers in Virginia, which shows Obama leading McCain by 9 percentage points.

Those poll numbers look too good to be true, so naturally, don’t believe that they are true. Obama is gaining nationally and in the battleground states, but never count John McCain out – his presidential campaign was virtually finished last summer, and yet he managed to rally and win the New Hampshire Republican primary and continue on to his party’s nomination.

After tonight’s debate, we come to that 19-day home stretch of the election season. Pundits across the board have been relying on the addage “a week in politics is like a year in real life.” If that’s really the case, then we still have two and a half “years” until the election. John McCain has resurrected a campaign in less time than that.

Written by acs2008

October 15, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Conservative Movement Turns on Founder’s Son

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In a bizarre turn of events, Christopher Buckley has resigned from the staff of the conservative magazine National Review after printing this article endorsing Barack Obama for President. Buckley, a well-known conservative-libertarian and author of several satirical novels (including the film-adapted Thank You For Smoking) is the son of the late William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review and regarded as the father of the American conservative movement.

To be clear, Christopher Buckley has not changed his political viewpoints – he is as conservative as he was when he served as a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. Buckley’s decision stems mostly from displeasure with John McCain, as well as belief in Obama’s character.

This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence.

As for Senator Obama: He has exhibited throughout a “first-class temperament,” pace Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s famous comment about FDR.

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

Just 4 days after this endorsement ran, Buckley decided to leave his father’s magazine after he was set upon by an angry storm of feedback from readers and colleagues who felt he had betrayed his family name and his movement.

Yet perhaps the readers don’t remember the true Bill Buckley. As Christopher said in the 10/14 column:

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith.

William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much.

It seems unfair that Christopher Buckley shall be faulted for exercising his own judgment rather than following the line of a party, and a movement, in disarray. Perhaps the Republican party has strayed so far from its roots that it has lost its identity, that it cannot take honest criticism from a loyal son.

Written by acs2008

October 15, 2008 at 6:06 am

Electoral Battle Plan

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In the 57 days until the 2008 Presidential Election, 12 swing states will be in the political spotlight. These twelve states and their 157 combined electoral votes will most likely decide who becomes the next President of the United States: Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Here’s a mini-profile on each of these battleground states: (Data from,, and the U.S. Census Bureau)
Colorado (9 Electoral Votes)

Colorado has only gone to the Democrats once in the last 40 years, to Bill Clinton in 1992. In 2004, incumbent Republican George W. Bush won the state by only 4.7%. Sensing that this state is ripe to turn, the Democrats have made a strong push to secure it, holding their 2008 national convention in very-liberal Denver. The smashing success of the star-studded convention may very have put Colorado in the Democratic column. Most Recent State Poll – Obama +3 (Rasmussen Sept. 9)

Florida (27 electoral votes)

Everyone remembers how important Florida can be in a tight presidential election. Florida has a sizable hispanic population that is uncharacteristically Republican. The endorsement of Governor Charlie Crist (R) will surely help McCain, but the sagging economy and particularly lackluster housing market in Florida might play into Obama’s hands. Right now, Florida is truly up for grabs. Most Recent State Poll – Tie (Rasmussen Sept. 9)

Michigan (17 electoral votes)

Michigan has been solidly Democratic since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. Before that, Michigan was solidly Republican, voting with the Elephant five consecutive times. The Republicans must be hoping that this is a re-alignment election for the state. Despite having a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators, Michigan’s working-class voters have simply not connected with Obama the way they did with Hillary Clinton. McCain hasn’t been that popular in Michigan either, getting blown out in the primary there by Mitt Romney (and if McCain had selected Romney as his running mate, Michigan would for sure be theirs). But for now, Michigan is too close to call. Most Recent State Poll – Obama +1 (PPP Sept. 8)

Minnesota (10 electoral votes)

The Republicans must have thought their long-shot chance in the state was close enough so that putting their convention in the state might put it in their column. Not likely. Minnesota over the years has been solidly Democratic, voting Republican only once, in Nixon’s 1972 landslide. In the primary, Obama won by a great margin over Clinton, while McCain finished a distant second to Romney. Officially, Minnesota is a “battleground,” but I don’t suspect the battle there will last long. Most Recent State Poll – Obama +12 (CNN/TIME)

Missouri (11 electoral votes)

Historically, Missouri tends to vote Republican, except if it’s a southern Democrat running (Jimmy Carter in 1976, Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996). Obama narrowly won the state’s primary of Clinton, but McCain also won the Republican counterpart. For now, Missouri seems solidly Republican. Most Recent State Poll – McCain +10 (PPD Aug. 17)

Nevada (5 electoral votes)

Usually Republican, Nevada voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. In 2004, Bush edged out Kerry by only 3%. State polls have fluctuated greatly, showing leads of 5-7% for both Obama and McCain within the month of August. Libertarian Bob Barr might steal some votes from McCain in this state, although the addition of pro-life, pro-gun running mate Sarah Palin might neutralize the Barr Factor. RCP Poll Average – Obama +1 (Individual polls not reliable).

New Hampshire (4 electoral votes)

New Hampshire has long been an anamoly – a moderately Republican state nestled within the very liberal Northeast. In 2000, New Hampshire went to Bush, but in 2004 the New Englander John Kerry took the state. Obama lost the Democratic primary to Clinton, while McCain’s New primary win re-energized his almost-dead campaign. New Hampshire is still up-for-grabs. Most Recent State Poll – Obama +1 (Rasmussen Aug. 18)

New Mexico (5 electoral votes)

The key to New Mexico will be the state’s large Hispanic population (44%). New Mexico voted for Clinton twice and for Gore in 2000, but in 2004 Bush beat out Kerry by less than 1%. New Mexico is a fine “bellwether” state – in eight of the last ten presidential elections, the candidate who won New Mexico won the entire state. Obama could get a boost from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D), who supported Obama after ending his own bid for the presidency. RCP Average – Obama +4.3 (Individual polls not reliable)

North Carolina (15 electoral votes)

North Carolina has only voted for a Democratic president once in the last 40 years, for Jimmy Carter in 1976. Both Obama and McCain scored impressive primary victories in the state. A key factor in the state could be the sizable African-American population (20%). Nationally, African-Americans have voted for Obama 80% of the time. If he can get optimum turnout from these voters, he might have a small shot at taking the state. Most Recent State Poll – McCain +3 (PPP Aug. 28)

Ohio (20 electoral votes)

Ohio is the ultimate bellwether state – in each of the past 10 presidential election, Ohio voted for the eventual winner. In 2004, Ohio put Bush over the top to secure the presidency. Obama lost the state to Clinton in the primary, while McCain earned a solid victory during the Republican primary. The most recent Rasmussen poll showed McCain up by as much as 7 points. However, two separate polls in August with much higher sample sizes (hence, more accurate) shows that the race is almost even in this state. Advantage: McCain, but not by as much as he’d like. RCP Average – McCain +1.3

Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes)

Working-class voters love the Clintons. They’re not so fond of Obama, which has kept Pennsylvania in play for the Republicans. Historically, Pennsylvania leans Democrat, having voted that way in the past four presidential elections. Obama will get a boost from his running mate Joe Biden, a Scranton, PA native. However, McCain and Palin might be able to sell Pennsylvanians on social issues, if not the economy. Obama might need Clintonian aid in Pennsylvania to seal the deal but for now, I think it’s his to lose. Most Recent State Poll – Obama +2 (Rasmussen Sept. 7)

Virginia (13 electoral votes)

Virginia just might be 2008’s Ohio, the state that pushes one candidate over the edge for victory. On the surface, this might look like bad news for the Democrats – in the past 10 elections, Virginia did not vote Democrat a single time, even during the Clinton years. However, with one Democratic senator (Jim Webb) and a Democratic governor (Tim Kaine, who was on Obama’s VP shortlist), maybe Virginia is ready for some “Change.” Had Obama picked Kaine as his running mate, Virginia would probably be his. He still has a shot there, but he must campaign his butt off in VA. Most Recent Poll – McCain +2 (FOX News/Rasmussen Sept. 7)

Results – Based on these poll numbers, if the election were today, Democrat Barack Obama would win the presidency with a narrow 278-260 electoral victory over Republican John McCain.

Obama’s Game Plan – Obama has to focus on clinching Pennsylvania and Colorado. He should also campaign hard in Virginia, where an upset would seal the presidency for him. Winning Ohio might be a little too much to ask for, but Obama should make a definite effort there.

McCain’s Game Plan – McCain should campaign hard in the three Mountain West states still in play: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. If he can take two of these, McCain will get just enough electoral votes to claim victory. Of these three states, Colorado and Nevada are particularly vulnerable. McCain should be careful not to let Ohio and Virginia out of his grasp. Taking Pennsylvania would be a definite game changer.

270 To Win!

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Stop following the “horse race” polls. National poll numbers matter little in the United States because of the Electoral College system.

270 To Win is a great web resource for all those interested in seeing which states Obama and McCain need to win the magical 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. For the record, the website gives Obama an 84% chance of winning the right combination of states to win. After several simulations, it seems that this race will come down to Ohio (surprise!) and Virginia. Winning one or both of those states will pretty much guarantee victory for either party.

Sidenote: For months, Obama held a slim single-digit lead over McCain in the polls. Now, polls indicate that McCain is ahead by 3 points – well within the margin of error for the polls, no doubt. To demonstrate how meaningless popular vote polls are, review this statistic: in the 1960 Presidential election, John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in the popular vote by less than .2% (49.72% vs. 49.55%). However, Kennedy cruised to a comfortable 303-219 electoral vote victory.

So, even the slightest margin in popular vote could mean an electoral landslide.

Written by acs2008

September 8, 2008 at 6:14 am

Executive Experience: Does It Matter?

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During his harsh speech at the Republican National Convention (more on it later), former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has stressed Barack Obama’s lack of executive experience.

Well, neither Barack Obama nor John McCain have any executive experience.

This leaves us with the question: does executive experience matter?

Five of the previous 43 American presidents had no executive experience: James Madison, John Quincy Adams, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy .

What an illustrious list! James Madison, one of the greatest early American minds, framer of the Constitution and engineer of the Bill of Rights. After serving in the Virginia legislature for only 4 years, and the Continental Congress for 3, Madison became the President and defended Washington against the British in the War of 1812. Abraham Lincoln, after only three years in the House of Representatives, became one of the most eloquent executives ever, who kept the nation together in its most dire hour (the Civil War). And who can forget John F. Kennedy, the short-lived but inspirational leader who led America into space and towards equal civil rights.

Sure, even these three great men made mistakes in office (Bay of Pigs, anyone?), but overall, they were great leaders. You can be sure that both McCain and Obama have the potential to be great executives, experience be damned.

TIME’s article on Executive Experience