Down to the Wire

I know, I know. You’re as tired of politics as I am. I tend to watch television with my DVR remote in hand, and I always speed through the political ads, even for candidates I like or admire. But I’ll beg your indulgence for two or three tidbits I ran across today that I found interesting.

First, there’s Real Clear Politics (RCP), a a Chicago-based political news aggregator, polling data aggregator, and blog founded in 2000. I’m not a big political blog reader, so I tend to skip RCP’s commentary (which tends to be more conservative) and focus on their polling data. They compile hundreds of polls on many issues, and do an admiral job of breaking it down for easy analysis. The pre-election polling averages they come up with have, in previous elections, compared favorably with post-election results.

So it’s especially heartening to see their electoral college projections. As of this writing, they have Obama with 238 solid electoral votes, with 73 more leaning toward him and 95 completely up in the air. A candidate needs only 270 votes to win. So even if all of the toss-up votes go toward McCain, and 56% of those currently leaning toward Obama end up voting for McCain, Obama will win.

Moreover, national, non-partisan polling data has Obama ahead an average of 6.6%. President Bush’s approval rating is down to 25%. Dems are ahead of Repubs in congressional polls by 8%; 74.7% of the country disapprove of the job Congress has been doing, and a whopping 84.6% think the country has been heading in the wrong direction.

Now, one of my friends (was it you, Adam?) pointed out a electoral phenomenon in which Black candidates generally do better in the polls than in the election booth; apparently many white voter don’t want to reveal themselves to be bigoted, even to a pollster, but in the anonymity of the voting booth, their true sentiments come to the fore.

My mother, on the other hand, who really doesn’t have a political bone in her body, thinks the results will be even higher in favor of Obama. She thinks white voters may be lying to pollsters, particularly in traditionally red states, because they don’t want to reveal that they’re as progressive as they truly are at heart.

By the way, Garry Trudeau has submitted next Wednesday’s “Doonesbury” strip to the syndicator. He has his characters rejoicing in Obama’s victory. As the Associated Press article puts it:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It’s not exactly “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN,” but some newspaper editors are pondering how to deal with a “Doonesbury” comic strip to be published the day after the election that assumes Barack Obama will win the presidency.

Comic creator Garry Trudeau delivered a series of strips for next week’s papers showing his characters reacting to an Obama victory. But he offered no such option in the event of a comeback by John McCain, who’s trailing Obama in the polls.

Trudeau’s syndicator is offering papers a series of rerun strips from August. But the Obama story line is forcing some editors to question whether “Doonesbury” could put them in a spot — albeit in the funny pages — similar to 1948, when the Chicago Daily Tribune infamously declared in huge, front-page type that Republican Thomas Dewey had beaten Democrat Harry Truman for the presidency.

The strip shows three soldiers watching TV and reacting to this announcement: “And it’s official — Barack Obama has won . . . Making him the first African-American president in history!”

“Hoo-Ah!” one of the soldiers says.

“Son of a gun! What a great, great day! We did it!” another soldier says.

“He’s half-white, you know,” says a white soldier.

“You must be so proud,” responds a soldier, who isn’t white.

The rest of the week’s strips allude to an Obama victory.

Finally, I’ve recently started reading a fascinating site called The Root. It’s an English-language online magazine of African American culture launched in January 2008; it’s owned by the Washington Post folks.

One of their columnists, Michael Dawson, has written a thought-provoking article called “Ugly to the End,” thinks that even if Obama wins, it may not be smooth sailing:

Half a century ago, Malcolm X warned that when “we” started winning by their rules, “they” would change the rules. The desperate and despicable tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign have vividly illustrated the lengths that the reactionaries who have dominated for most the last decade will go in order to maintain power. There is less than one week left, but here are some of the problems we should be monitoring. Many of these are not only a threat to Obama’s campaign, but much more importantly, a threat to a just participatory democracy and an anti-racist civil society. Even if Obama does win, which I fully expect, there is a real danger that long-lasting damage has been done to the American polity by some of the reactionary tactics of the GOP.

The Racist Card: GOP local chapters have been inciting nothing short of racial hatred, and it is having a discernible effect across the country in energizing the racist dregs of the nation. Outside of Chicago, the local CBS News affiliate reported Friday night about a sign surrounded by barbed wire that has an illustration of Obama portrayed as Bozo the Clown surrounded by the common circle with a negative slash. The caption read, “No Brozos.” Photographs are circulating on the Internet showing a white male with a T-shirt reading “N**gers Please. It is called the White House.”

The GOP itself has been complicit in evoking racist stereotypes. In California, a local volunteer group produced an image of Obama’s picture superimposed on a $10 food stamp—which itself is surrounded by pictures of ribs, watermelon and fried chicken. While the local party apparatus that produced the flyer unconvincingly claimed they did not realize that the images were offensive (the head of the volunteer group claimed “It was just food to me. It didn’t mean anything else”), a local black Republican activist called the flyer “awful.” In Virginia, a local GOP official wrote a flyer that ridiculed Obama’s potential appointments (and much of black America at the same time). He argued in part that Obama’s “platform” would include hiring Ludacris to “paint the white house black,” increase foreign aid “mostly to Africa” so that “the Obama family there can skim enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream,” and that Obama’s drug policy consists of “raise taxes to pay for drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base.”

Wow. Just wow.

You will be voting on Tuesday, right?

Categories: Politics, Social Justice | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Down to the Wire

  1. Yes, it was me. I hope Obama’s win helps raise our standing in the world community. I hope the folks who created those flyers are driven into the Everglades, the Okefenokee, or whatever the nearest area of land inhospitable to human habitation and become useful as food for those creatures living there. I suggest fences around the real America and charging out of state tuition for folks traveling into the fake America to get an education. Let’s have socialized medicine and charge a co-pay for the folks living in the real America who did not vote in that direction.

    Maybe if they had medical help as children they’d not have turned out as dumb.

  2. indigobunting


    Yes, I’ll be voting.

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