Opening Act: Al Smith

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 19 2012 8:22 AM

Opening Act: Al Smith

Great Slate-ster Sasha Issenberg talks and talks to Vice.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Reporters and the public rely on media and academic polls when we muse about whether undecideds are moving because of the latest gaffe or ad. But there are a lot of reasons people describe themselves as undecideds, sometimes because they’re not paying attention to the campaign or trying to show off how open-minded they are. But campaigns, with lots of data about the past political behavior and other attributes of each voter, might conclude, “She says she’s undecided, but she’s a registered Democrat, votes in Democratic primaries and in every way looks like someone who always votes Democratic.”

Darrell Issa will subpoena the Obama administration 15 days before the election, on the hunt for proof that it's trying to cover up damaging health insurance cost data.

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Mike Elk, owning the "employers nudging workers to vote the right way" beat, finds Romney joining the fun. In a June conference call. That the vast array of people covering Romney never noticed.

An "October Surprise" ticker seems to be a countdown to an extremely outdated prank.

And Mitt Romney killed at the Al Smith dinner. I've always thought the guy was funny. I think Joe Biden's funny. The correlation between "oh my God he made a gaffe" and "hey, he's pretty witty" is strong, which is why gaffe-a-day coverage is so damn dull.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.