Archive for June, 2008

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Obama’s lead down to 4.1%

June 27, 2008

Is McCain bouncing back, or is this just an illusion?

My new national projections are:

Barack Obama 49
John McCain 44.90

This might just be the usual polling noise but I feel that McCain’s campaign may have turned a corner, especially when one looks at it in the context of the Missouri poll. Using the fictional Russell Bell’s scale this might not be a 50 degree day for McCain but it is not a 40 degree day either. In any case the Obama camp should be worried, especially given that for the last three months they have run a very good texbook campaign.

NOTE: My methodology for my detailed polling projections involves collating all the available polls of likely voters and then filtering them through Samplemiser, a Kalman filter. I only used polls of likely voters and I get my data from pollster.com.

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McCain leads Obama by 6.50% in Missouri

June 26, 2008

Can we now say that Obama’s bounce is now over?

My latest projections for Missouri are:

John McCain 49.61 Barack Obama 43.11

There is finally some good news for McCain and his staff. Missouri is a key bellweather state and one that only has a tiny bias towards the GOP. Although this would be less than Bush’s margin of 7%, this shows that the Obama bounce is definitely subsiding, though no thanks to McCain’ staff.

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Obama leads by 3.93% in Pennsylvania

June 25, 2008

Not too bad for McCain but he needs to move closer to Obama.

My latest projections for Pennsylvania are:

Barack Obama 45.97
John McCain 42.04

McCain obviously trails Obama in Pennsylvania. However, a deficit 3.93% isn’t too bad considering Obama’s national lead and Pennslyvania’s (small) bias towards the Democrats. However, Charlie Black’s gaffe should serve as a wakeup call for a much needed rearrangement of the staff.

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A Man in the Arena

June 24, 2008

Why McCain needs to invoke the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt

As I have said elsewhere, it is obvious from the polls that that McCain’s attempt to run on a hard right tax cutting agenda isn’t working, and more importantly is something that McCain doesn’t believe in. In reality McCain is a right of centre populist who believes in free trade, school vouchers and attacking wasteful spending but also believes in regulatory reform, global warming, expanding access to health care and is worried about inequality. He also supports issues such immigration reform, energy independence and balanced budgets which are neither right nor left. Just as his best moment on foreign policy came when he directly confronted Ron Paul, his best two domestic policy moments came when he attacked Romney (and implicitly Giuliani) over the ‘profit not patriotism’ line and Huckabee over his regressive tax plan.

The Democratic lead on economic issues and their lead in the generic ballot means that there is simply no popular appetite for further economic conservatism. Obviously, Dick Morris is the last person who should be giving policy advice and his stuff about oil speculators and companies is simply demagogic nonsense. However, his contention in a recent interview that, ‘McCain can win by entering the democratic primary. He has to be a democratic opponent to to Obama. He should be a populist, and win over (working-class) Hillary voters’, is correct. It is also self-evident that the Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson wing of the Republican Party, who seem to have hi-jacked the McCain campaign, seem hell-bent on blaming everyone else, including the very people that McCain needs to win over, for his predicament. For instance, even the normally reasonable Irwin Seltzer seems to have gotten into his head that the one person to blame for Bush’s failures in the past two years is not Bush himself but Joe Lieberman.

So what should McCain do? I think the first thing McCain needs to do is to stop trying to be a third rate Barry Goldwater. Even though Obama has tried to give the illusion of moving to the centre there is plenty of room for McCain to come up with a tax plan that is a bit more progressive and which closes more loopholes, while still keeping economic conservatives on board. McCain should also stop hedging, instead of talking about building a few more nuclear power plants in the next twenty years he should talk about building a whole generation by 2012, a goal that is achievable if foreign technology is allowed to be imported into the US and Yucca Mountain is opened up. As I have said before McCain also needs to make overtures to those on the DLC wing of the Democratic Party. Although this may seem radical, it would be no different from the Republican recruitment of hawkish Democrats, such as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfovitz in the mid to late 70s. I am not suggesting that McCain should go overboard or do anything silly, but moving the Republican party to the centre, by enabling conservative Democrats to vote for McCain, would do more to help protect the idea of free trade and market solutions than anything the NRO wing of the GOP have come up with so far.

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Obama’s lead returns to 5.90%

June 23, 2008

Obama’s bounce persists

My new national projections are:

Barack Obama 48.95
John McCain 43.05

Unlike my previous projections, there is no way that these results can be spun. Although, in time McCain’s ratings might start to catch up with those of Obama this is completely unecessary risk. McCain’s campaign has been poorly run with it increasingly reminding one of the dog in James Thurber’s short story, afraid to attack Obama because of a perceived backlash, afraid to move to the centre because that would offend the ‘base’ and most importantly afraid of mentioning the war in Iraq, even though McCain actually leads on this issue in the polls. Indeed, in terms of economic policy you could be forgiven for questioning where the imprint of Thompson and Romney ends, even though McCain has had a distinguished record fighting for the interests of hard working Americans. On domestic issues McCain desperately needs a declaration of independance.

NOTE: My methodology for my detailed polling projections involves collating all the available polls of likely voters and then filtering them through Samplemiser, a Kalman filter. I only used polls of likely voters and I get my data from pollster.com.

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Why McCain should oppose drilling in ANWR

June 20, 2008

Why McCain needs to stand firm on ANWR

No policy can ever be set in stone in absolute terms. For instance, I firmly support a much stronger stance against Iran, including military action if needed, and I think that the Bush tax cuts were unsustainable. However, if Iran changed its government, was willing to stop supporting terrorists in Iraq and abandoned thoughts of a nuclear programme, a diplomatic solution might suffice. Similarly, I strongly believe that tax cutting made sense in the early Reagan era when marginal rates were punative (and there was a case for some sort of tax cuts at the end of the Clinton presidency. Context is, as always, going to be king. It could possibly even be argued that the rapid spike in oil prices makes more extensive drilling a sensible policy. In fact I have to say that set against the life and liberty of twenty million Iraqis (and seven million Israelis) I couldn’t frankly care less about the fate of a few polar bears in Alaska (not least because I don’t live in Alaska). However, flipping on ANWR, or even wobbling, is bad political strategy for McCain. This is because his opposition to drilling in the Alaskan wilderness reserve was one of the defining issues that symbolised his differences with the Republican party.

Right now, McCain needs to maintain (and even emphasise) such differences, even on the symbolic level. Indeed, if he is not ready to start advocating comprehensive immigration reform again, or reminding voters of his battles on behalf of Middle Class America, then the least he can do is not to make yet more concessions to the right wing on his party. Henry Kissinger is not someone who I either respect or agree with but trying to appeas ‘the base’ with further concessions on domestic policy is like trying to quench one thirst with salted peanuts. This doesn’t mean that he has to ignore their concerns, and he could do a talk a lot more about soft values (starting with a plan to prevent any more school children following in the steps of those young hussies in Massachusetts) but he needs to make sure that he is not seen overreacting to events and that he needs to stand up for what he believes in.

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Another issue poll, another McCain lead on foreign policy

June 19, 2008

When will McCain’s campaign managers realise that the war is a positive for McCain?

The new poll from the Washington Post has Mccain leading Obama 47-46 on Iraq, 49-43 on International Affairs and 53-39 on the War on Terror. Given that McCain is trailing badly on the economy it does make one wonder when McCain’s campaign managers will stop trying to turn him into a combination of Newt Gingrich and Basil Fawlty (“don’t mention the war”) and actually let him be the Scoop Jackson centrist that he genuinely aspires. Unfortunatly, one shouldn’t hold one’s breath in the near future – although I wouldn’t be shocked if Rick Davis stepped down before the covention. Of course, this strategy might be an attempt to lay the groundwork for a surprise in Saint Paul – in which case it might make some sort of sense.