Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

Home of the This Is Not Normal podcast, Bill Scher columns and other liberal commentary

Month: July 2008 (page 1 of 3)

McCain +4? Really?

Gallup has been doing polling since the year 0 (Okay, I know there was no year 0 and Gallup has only been around for 70 years but you get my point.) Gallup released the results of 2 polls yesterday. One was their daily tracking poll which I try not to look at. This tracking poll is nothing. It has little or no meaning. We don’t elect our president as a nation instead we elect by states. Therefore a tracking poll of each state would be of some value. A national tracking poll is a popularity contest (or a horse race) which may have no reflection on how states will vote. Anyway, in the Daily Tracking poll Obama was up by 8 points.
In a separate poll also done by Gallup, Obama was ahead among registered voters but behind John McCain in the subgroup of likely to vote registered voters by 4 points. I listened to Countdown last night. Keith Olbermann and Richard Wolfe tried to make some sense of these numbers but they mangled it pretty badly. So, I went to one of my best sources for polling results – the blog 538. (See below the video for an excellent explanation.)
From 538:

Kudos to Gallup for disclosing the process and perils of its likely voter model, but as Alan Abramowitz has noted at, something about the new USA Today/Gallup poll showing John McCain 4 points ahead among likely voters — but 3 points behind among registered voters — doesn’t quite sit right:

How do you get from a 47-44 Obama lead among RVs to a 49-45 McCain lead among LVs?
A few quick calculations shows how. You have 900 RVs and 791 LVs, so that means that among your 109 UVs (that’s unlikely voters according to Gallup) Obama leads McCain by a whopping 61% to 7%.
Putting it another way, according to Gallup 16% of registered Obama supporters are unlikely to vote compared with only 2% of registered McCain supporters.

Whatever one thinks about likely voter models in general, the mathematics of this particular implementation defy credulity. Although, we should probably wait for USA Today to release its crosstabs so we can make sure there wasn’t a typographical error of some kind in the write-up.
Also, this is a good time to mention Robert Erikson’s critique of the extra volatility introduced by Gallup’s likely voter model in past election cycles.

Now that is an explanation that I can sink my teeth into. Gallup had to have made a huge sampling error. My take home lesson is to pay a little less attention to the polls and more attention trying to get Obama elected.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Blood and Oil Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. My special guesst for the full show was Michael Klare and Scott Morris, discussing their new documentary from the Media Education Foundation, “Blood and Oil”.
Klare is the author of the book “Blood and Oil” and the new “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet.. He is also the defense correspondent for The Nation. Morris produced the film for the Media Education Foundation.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3). NOTE: All technical problems with iTunes downloads should be fixed, please let me know if you still have problems.
The DVD of “Blood and Oil” can be purchased from MEF. And you can check out the trailer below.

Today show: McCain states that Obama doesn’t understand Iraq

I do not need to go to Iraq to understand that Kurds, Sunnis and Shia don’t like sharing the region. Just as you don’t have to go to Watts (Los Angeles) to know that it is an extremely dangerous neighborhood. I also don’t need to go to Iraq to understand that it was a mistake to invade that country in the first place. So, I really don’t follow John McCain’s reasoning. He has been arguing for months that Obama has to go to Iraq to understand the situation. Briefings and newspaper reports are worthless in John McCain’s world.
So, Barack Obama goes to Iraq and Afghanistan. It appears that Senator Obama does know what he is talking about after all. Maliki has clearly stated that the position of the Iraqi government is to have US troops out of their country by 2010. Wow. 2010. That sounds a lot like what Barack Obama has said. John McCain is now stuck. He has taken Bush’s position which never made any sense to anyone who wasn’t an insecure neocon.

From HuffPost: “Prime Minister Maliki is the leader of a country and I’m confident he will act as the President and the Foreign Minister both told me in the last several days,” said the presumptive Republican nominee. “It will be directly related to the situation on the ground — just as they have always said. And since we are succeeding, I am convinced, as I have said before, we will withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable.”

McCain has only a couple of positions as I see it –
1) He can state that the Iraqis really don’t know what’s going on. The US, like a protective mother, knows best. I just don’t see this going over with anybody.
2) McCain can try and play this with a little body-English and say that the US wants to withdraw as soon as possible. We agree that the end of 2010 is a goal if conditions on the ground support that goal. This is somewhat transparent but it may be the best option that McCain has.
3) Senator McCain can pressure Admiral Mullen and General David Petraeus to say that conditions on the ground have improved enough to push a complete and total withdraw by the end of 2010. This is almost laughable since Petraeus hasn’t come close to saying anything like this but it may have merit since McCain and Bush have held up Petraeus as all knowledgeable.
Actually, all 3 of those positions are very lame but that is the best that John McCain can do. He has painted himself into this corner. It is hard to see any easy way out.
Watch John McCain struggle through this interview on Iraq policy on the Today Show.


I suspect the McCain campaign really believes Sen. Barack Obama is an inexperienced empty suit who is only good in front of a teleprompter. It’s the only explanation for their foolish strategy.
As said here before, making “experience” your main theme is a proven loser in presidential campaigns. Voters ultimately care more about where a candidate will take the country than the length of the candidate’s resume.
But the McCain campaign made an extra error: believing the conservative hype that Obama is hollow.
The McCain campaign tried to mock Obama for not knowing anything about foreign policy by offering to have McCain lead him around Iraq.

Obama essentially called the bluff:
arranging a high-stakes multi-country trip, where he can hold court on foreign policy, display his knowledge and provide assurance to undecided voters that he can command the world stage.
It’s much harder to make the charge stick that a candidate is in over his head when you just saw him navigate the currents.
Now the trip isn’t over yet, and the visits to Israel and Palestine will be the trickiest visits of all. A high-profile mistake by Obama (and even the best politicians can make a mistake in those treacherous political waters) would justify the McCain approach.

But the McCain campaign effectively ceded control
of the argument to Obama. They didn’t respect his skills and believed he would fumble.
Not smart.

Such is the risk of underestimating your opponent.
You presume he can’t handle a challenge, you sit back believing he will fail, and he ends up showing you up.
If they were paying closer attention during the primary season, objectively assessed their rival, they wouldn’t have levied such an attack.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: John Hodgman Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. My special guest for the full show was John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise and the forthcoming More Information Than You Require, Resident Expert on The Daily Show, and contributor to The New York Times Magazine.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

Netroots Nation: Middle-Class and Populism

At Netroots Nation, long-time Texas populist Jim Hightower talked with me about how blogging is strengthening progressive populism in the Lone Star State, and the importance of populism to the Obama campaign.
And David Goldstein of HA Seattle discussed how bloggers can frame the economic issues that affect the middle-class.

Netroots Nation: The Future of Enviro Blogging

After attending two panels on environment and energy activism online, I interviewed several panelists about what bloggers can do to help frame environmental issues and move the debate forward.
Energize America’s Mark Sumner and A Siegel both discussed how bloggers can participate in both drafting and advancing clean energy legislation.
Mark Sumner
A Siegel
And Natasha Chart of MyDD, Open Left and Pacific Views talked about how bloggers make environmental issues more accessible both inside and outside the blogosphere.

Netroots nation – Don Siegelman

Don Siegelman, former Democratic Governor of Alabama, is being interviewed by Sam Seder. If you are not familiar with Don Siegelman’s case, I have several posts (here, here and here).
Don Siegelman’s story is something that everyone would should know. If a former governor could be treated like this the rest of us are in serious trouble.
Don Siegelman has a new web site – Please take some time and look at this site.
BTW, I’m here at the conference. I know that Bill is here and we haven’t seen each other, yet.

Interview With Senate candidate Mark Begich

One of the surprises in this election is that Alaska has a real chance of turning Blue. I had the chance at Netroots Nation to interview the man who is leading incumbent Senator Ted Stevens in recent polls, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
In Part 1 of our interview, Mayor Begich talked about why Democrats are now competitive in Alaska, and also shared his governing principles.
In Part 2, Mayor Begich discussed the Republican assault on the Constitution and his embrace of the “netroots.”

Netroots Nation: Labor Caucus

Two interviews I conducted following the Netroots Nation Labor Caucus, about the potential for partnership between bloggers and unions.
First, Jason Lefkowitz, online organizer for Change To Win.
Then, Elana Levin from UNITE HERE (left) and Stephanie Taylor from SEIU (right).

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