Let the healing begin ... but not now.

Let the healing begin ... but not now.

Let the healing begin ... but not now.

A mostly political Weblog.
Nov. 9 2004 12:38 AM

Let the Healing Begin, But Not Yet

Baffled in loss, kf seeks road forward!


Up to 4,000 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles are missing in Iraq, tripling the number loose in the world. Isn't that a bigger cost of the Iraq War, and a bigger story, than the explosives at Al QaQaa? It is if you're a frequent flyer. Yet we find out about it four days after the election. Damn biased liberal October-surprising MSM not doing its job! ... P.S.: Then there are those 2,500 sarin-filled artillery rockets which, Eric Umansky speculates, may be coming back at us in Fallujah. (But that story did break in the NYT the weekend before the election--on page 12.) ...  8:22 P.M.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Tax Reform--the Cure for Lameness in Ducks? Why might Congress be more willing than expected to cooperate with a "lame duck" President Bush over the next two years? Because thanks to the President's proposal to overhaul the tax code Republican lawmakers will be happily swimming in campaign contributions from businesses newly desperate to buy influence lest they lose out in the big revenue reshuffle. ... It's certainly important, if you are a Congressman trying to raise money for yourself, that the dream of tax reform be kept alive! At least for two years. Then it can be nibbled to death. ... Washington D.C.'s economy should be revived, if nobody else's. ... 11:52 P.M.


Under the caption, "Everything you need to know about Bill Richardson," a friend emails the following two grafs from today's NYT:

Party officials said they were concerned about evidence of a cultural gap between Democrats and much of the country. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico said that his dealings with Mr. Kerry and his advisers had vividly demonstrated to him the problems the party faces.

''I remember being on a trip with him in New Mexico: I put a cowboy hat on Senator Kerry and someone on his staff shuddered and asked me to stop,'' he said. ''This is I think an example of the East Coast not connecting with the West Coast and with the rest of the country.''

Did my friend mean that Richardson was 1) superficial (it was the hats that did us in!); 2) self-promoting ('Hey, I'm from a red state. Over here!'); 3) disloyal (trashing the party's defeated candidate within days of the election if it will get him in the NYT); 4) too obviously disloyal and self-promoting to be effective at the latter (if you were a politician, would you want to take a trip with Gov. Richardson?)? ... I think my friend meant at least three out of the four. ... Update: Alert reader K.B. notes 5) the Kerry staffer was right! "[A] picture of John Forbes Kerry wearing a cowboy hat would have been instantly posted on Drudge and the subject of a week's worth of BC04 ridicule and late-night jokes."  6:07 P.M.

Saturday, November 6, 2004


Spectacularly unsuccessful and slippery Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe--who has singlehandedly disproved the idea that money = speech--just sent me a "Dear Friend" email asking me to "Help determine the Democratic Party's next steps."  Gee. ... Let me think. ... Nothing obvious comes to mind. ... I'll get back to you on that one! ... P.S.: McAuliffe ends by thanking everyone for "helping create something special." Awww! Is it possible for Democrats to thank him with something similarly special? ... 11:18 P.M.

Worried Iraq war supporter David Ignatius  has a

recommendation for President Bush: He should announce that when a new Iraqi government is elected, he is prepared to negotiate the terms and timetable of American withdrawal.

Even better, the current Allawi government could, even before the January elections, demand that President Bush agree to negotiate such a timetable, and Bush could reluctantly accede, no? 1:16 A.M.


Friday, November 5, 2004

Like Marlon Perkins, Tim Russert explains President Bush's appeal in the "so-called red states" to Tom Brokaw and the Bo-Wash corridor:

They can see him in his jeans and his swagger and his belt buckle, a lot of things a lot of people in--in the Northeast would laugh at. But they identify with it. And, Tom, they will say that their i--their connection with him on the issue of values and as a man of faith was much more important to them than the state of the economy or the war in Iraq. [Emphasis added]

1) Not the most condescending thing that has been said about the red states. But pretty condescending! Doesn't Russert have to get, you know, ratings? Do red state viewers (or Bush voters generally) actually like watching Tim Russert? Hard to believe. 2) Would these mystifying red people actually "say" that their connection with Bush on faith and values is more important than the major issues facing the country? Russert suggests they're so blinded by faith they'd vote for Bush even if everything was manifestly going to hell. ... Wouldn't "they" maybe "say" that the economy isn't in such bad shape--as is, in fact, true--and maybe the war in Iraq isn't in such irrevocably bad shape either? Haven't they, in fact, just said that? 11:38 P.M. 


Are we really absolutely for sure sure Bush won Ohio? Just asking!  This story does not reek of closure. I'd be more confident if I didn't know that most of the nation's political reporters (and campaign workers) are utterly exhausted and uneager to pursue longshot leads with Woodwardian gusto. I suppose there are enough Kerry lawyers left over to police the official count "later this month." ... 2:21 P.M.

Paul Krugman thinks "opposition to abortion" is "intolerance"--at least if he means what he writes in today's NYT. Why isn't opposition to abortion a form of principled idealism with which Krugman disagrees? Who's intolerant here? ... P.S.: Krugman argues that to succeed the Democrats have to be more "effective at mobilizing their own base." Huh? Weren't the Democrats spectacularly successful at mobilizing their own base this year? Even so, it wasn't enough. Are there any more "base" voters realistically left to be mobilized?  ... P.P.S.: Nor, we're told, were there that many "undecided" voters this year. To win, then, it sure looks as if Democrats are going to have to start convincing some people who are now on the other side. ... Update: Arianna Huffington's post-mortem  denounces Kerry's "undecided" strategy, but only because she thinks it precluded "boldness" and "big ideas." She's guilty of assuming there are no big, bold centrist ideas. But she doesn't make the traditional hack left "if only we turned out the base" argument. Progress, of a sort. ...  4:28 A.M.

Old Slate rationale for publishing exit poll numbers: "My view is we can't be in the position of holding back information that's accurate." (Slate's editor, quoted in the Wall Street Journal.) New Slate rationale for publishing exit poll numbers that were not accurate: It's "accelerating the much-needed demystification  of exit polls"!  ... I'll have to remember that "demystification" business the next time I publicize something that turns out to be wrong. (My own "we're asymptotically approaching the truth" rationalization is getting a little shopworn.) [Don't you agree it's good that people now don't believe exit polls?-ed Yes. It's actually the first Slate rationale that seems the most suspect. Slate, like any other responsible publication or person, holds back information it knows is accurate all the time.] 3:39 A.M.

Thursday, November 4, 2004


Hold the Molar Phone: The Bulge was, in fact, a bulletproof vest, reports The Hill. (But why would the Secret Service allow this info to come out now? It's not as if Bush won't appear in public again.) ... 7:48 P.M.

Exit Poll Paranoia Special: Did the early exit polls showing Kerry ahead almost across the board  actually spur pro-Bush voters to head to the polls? ... Note that, if this happened, it would undermine part of Slate's rationale for publishing the polls, which is that they don't affect the result (see., e.g., this Jack Shafer defense from 2000).** ... Did Slate (and all the other Web sites that posted exit results) help elect Bush? ...  More: It's not clear whether the early exits polls falsely showed good Kerry news (e.g. because pro-Kerry voters were naturally more eager to talk to exit pollsters) or accurately reflected the vote at that point in the day (e.g. because Kerry voters were angrier and voted earlier). ... The most paranoid possibility is that the exit polls were somehow intentionally skewed to falsely show a pro-Kerry result, either because the media was in the tank to an a near-unbelievable degree (see Dick Morris for such insinuations; Powerline actually declares it "likely") or because Democratic operatives intentionally gamed the exit polls by having voters or pseudo-voters seek out the poll-takers (a possibility half-suggested by Mystery Pollster before the polls opened and occasionally discussed in the Dem primaries). If so, did the poll-rigging strategy backfire--because, instead of spurring a bandwagon, let's-have-a-landslide pro-Kerry effect, it prompted a determined pro-Bush evening backlash that tipped Florida and Ohio for the president? Just speculating! ...

**: Note that in 2000 Shafer cited a study showing that early election projections dissuaded "fewer than 3 percent of potential voters" from voting. Three percent--or even one percent--is not chopped liver in a 50-50 nation. ... Shafer could respond that it's different if, in 2004, exit poll leaks didn't discourage Kerry voters but rather encouraged Bush voters. It's OK, the argument would go, to affect the results by increasing turnout--spurring greater turnout for the candidate "losing" the exits--as opposed to by decreasing turnout--either by encouraging complacency on the part of the winning candidates' troops or (what doesn't seem to have happened Tuesday) demoralizing the exit losers. Under this theory, future elections will be more like a ball game--or a vote in Congress, with its running public tally. Exit polls would be made public immediately and voters would know that the candidate who is behind in the fourth inning might still come back to win.  There would seem to be big transitional problems with this argument, however--this year a) the voters didn't know the exit polls could be inaccurate (indeed, despite all the disclaimers, the initial, near-universal assumption in the professional press was that they were accurate; even both candidates apparently believed them); and b) the supporters of the winning candidate in the exit polls (Kerry) didn't realize that even if the polls were accurate the supporters of the losing candidate in the exit polls (Bush) would learn about them and might stage a comeback. In 2008, they'll know. This year, the leaked exits may have helped Bush (and helped him in part by inducing some Kerry complacency compared with what would have happened in the evening vote if the leaked exits hadn't been so pro-Kerry). ...

P.S.: If electronic voting machines ever become universally accepted, won't a complete open-running-tally election become possible, with cumulative, 100% accurate results posted in real time, just the way Congressional votes are recorded? Would we want this system? It might, even more than now, favor the candidate with more money to create an organization that can go pull enough voters from their homes at the last minute.

P.P.S.: Yes, I agree with several emailers who claim that the real "most paranoid possibility" is that the early exit polls were accurate but the vote count was somehow manipulated. Josh Levin argues that this conspiracy theory doesn't add up. I suspect it will take more to kill it off, though. ... 2:39 P.M.

No Zinni, No Winni: John Ellis explains how his cousin could have been beaten. It's extremely persuasive. ... 1:59 P.M. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Bush 51, Kerry 48: Pollster Ruy Teixeira demands that these raw numbers be weighted to reflect party I.D.! ... P.S.: And they probably only included "likely voters"! ... [Thanks to J.T.] 3:04 A.M.

The Seven Hour Presidency of JFK2: The following email from an anonymous but very knowledgeable source seems to summarize yesterday quite effectively:

[T]he VNS [leadership] from 2000 (disaster) and 2002 (complete collapse of VNS) must be overjoyed with the utterly dreadful performance of the much ballyhooed National Election Pool [which conducted the 2004 exit polls].  They f*** up the national poll, countless state polls (Virginia is a toss-up, I don't think so!) and God knows what else.  The entire news media goes off on a completelymisguided goose chase (or goose hunt!) for SEVEN HOURS (from 2-9pm), and since few of them have any idea how to read a county vote table, many of them keep pumping the Kerry wins fable.

It's an unbelievable f***-up.

I fell for it myself--emailing several Democratic friends to assure them that Kerry was looking good (though mainly I fell for that Ipsos weekend telephone poll). [More: see also RealClearPolitics's report--search for "Sabato."] ... Why were the exit polls so off? My nominee is Reason 3 from Mystery Pollster'slist--"Voting patterns may be different early in the day." Specifically, angrier voters vote earlier. This year, Kerry voters were angrier, so angry that they lined up at the polls as soon as they could in the morning and got disproportionately counted by the NEP survey-takers. Unfortunately, they could only vote once, and their vote was cancelled by the less angry Republicans who sauntered in later in the day. Just a theory. ... Next question: Was the Incumbent Rule disproved? On first glance, yes. Look at Slate's average of Bush's vote share in the last Florida polls: 47.7%. Yet in the event Bush got a much bigger share-- 52.1%. The Incumbent Rule says that is not supposed to happen. Chris Suellentrop's explanation--that the anti-Bush vote went to Nader--won't do the job. Nader got only 0.4% of the vote in Florida. ... 

Update: Reader C.S. reports from the field to "personally confirm the 'angrier, ealier' hypothesis":

I was a Kerry-Edwards outside atty/poll stander at East Side Central Elem School in Toledo, OH. [snip] ... Very heavy voting all though the AM with little lull, through to about 3 pm. Early vote was heavily pro-Kerry, I'd say 75% or more in the AM, while the late, more casual, after work vote was maybe 65-35 Bush. The percentage for Kerry, I'd say, attenuated with the day, with the first hour's percentage possibly 85-90% Kerry and steadily, slowly diminishing over time, with a fall-off, both in turnout overall and percentage for Kerry, again, after 3 pm.

From what I gather, from friends working in CT and OH, this trend was commonly observed.

I felt at 1 pm like we'd win handily, then as the SUVs with "Never Forget 9-11" stickers and the like came in late, I worried.

1:55 A.M.

Is Zogby Nailed to the Perch? He waits until 5:00 P.M. on Election Day to make his "2004 Predictions," and still gets it all wrong! ... Update: Zogby International has issued a statement. ("I thought we captured a trend, but apparently that result didn't materialize.") 12:49 A.M.

I was right! Kerry should have dropped out in New Hampshire. 12:43 A.M.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

The Incumbent Rule Rules**:Kf doesn't  approve of releasing leaked exit poll figures. Telephone polls taken before Election Day are another matter! A national telephone poll taken by Ipsos Public Affairs for its own information--not in affiliation with the AP (but available to subscribers  here)--showed a "final-weekend swing to Kerry." Kerry won the Saturday-Sunday poll 50-48, after losing the Thurs.-Fri poll 51-46.  ... These were both full-sample, stand-alone polls, not tracking polls. ... Among those who decided in the final 10 days, Kerry beat Bush 45-40. .. Caveat: Alert reader S.B. notes that weekend polls often trend deceptively Democratic. ... We'll see. ... [** Note: Technically the Ipsos poll doesn't test the Incumbent Rule--I'm misusing the term in the caption. The Incumbent Rule predicts a negligible increase in the incumbent's share of the vote between the final poll and the actual election. It's not about challengers surging or incumbents fading between two polls taken in the final days of a campaign. I just liked the cheap wordlplay.] ...  1:12 P.M. 

Pay no attention to that bad man Jack Shafer! Mystery Pollster offers a  murderer's row of reasons to treat exit polls very cautiously. His conclusion:

[T]hose leaked exit polls really don't tell us much more about the outcome of the race than the telephone polls we were obsessing over just a few hours ago.

MP also clearly disapproves of the practice of publishing the leaked exit poll numbers on the Web, a sentiment I share (though I don't disapprove of anyone emailing the poll numbers to me). ... P.S.: My guess is that Kerry will win, by the way (and I haven't seen any exit polls yet!). ... P.P.S.: Politcal vet Gregg Abbott reports from Minnesota that "The Democratic GOTV is incredibly impressive." ... 11:09 A.M.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Mystery Pollster closes out his 2004 campaign coverage  by making a) peace with Gallup and b) a prediction. ... A grateful and slightly less confused nation thanks him. Or I do, anyway. He's given me lots of easy items. ... 11:44 P.M.

You Spoke Too Soon, MEMRI! A bit of evidence that supports MEMRI's "state by state" translation of Osama bin Laden's latest video, from a 2001 the description of a 1996 interview he gave to, yes, Robert Fisk:

Intelligent - and eloquent in Arabic - bin Laden undoubtedly is. But his understanding of foreign affairs is decidedly eccentric. At one point, he even suggested to me that individual US states might secede from the Union because of Washington's support for Israel. [Emphasis added]

In other words, it may not be that bin Laden's so in touch with American politics that he's reading RealCLearPolitics and counting up electoral votes. He may be so out of touch that he hasn't learned about the Civil War. ... This suggests that while MEMRI's translation may be accurate, the focus of both  MEMRI and the NY Post on the current presidential election may be misplaced. Bin Laden may not be offering protection to a state that votes against Bush. He may not be talking about the election at all. He may be looking past the election and attempting to offer protection to states that secede, or follow their own foreign policies. ... P.S.: Note that this interpretation would both fit the translation and explain why bin Laden seemingly lumps Kerry and Bush together. He's not trying to get votes for either man. ... [Thanks to alert reader P.C.] 10:57 P.M.

Why I'm for Kerry: You don't want to read a long explanation. Luckily, I've put this off for so long that I don't have time to write one.

1) It's about Iraq and the fight against terror: Bush has virtually no appealing second term domestic agenda. Kerry's domestic plans are attractive, especially the expansion of health care coverage, plus he's uniquely positioned to defy traditional Democratic interest groups--especially unions. He doesn't owe them much --most supported his oppponents--and, thanks to the Internet, he isn't that dependent on them for campaign dollars. But it's doubtful Kerry has the skills to get anything ambitious past a Republican House. (More on Kerry's limited presidential abilities here.) On the domestic front, I expect a quick Carteresque stalemate. Malaise by May!

It doesn't matter. The election is the first chance Americans have had, post-9/11, to figure out how to confront the terrorism problem. What's at stake isn't how to give millions of relatively healthy Americans better health care. It's how to stop millions of relatively healthy Americans (and other humans) from eventually dying at the hands of aggrieved groups who will in coming decades a) find it easier and easier to organize, thanks to the Web, and b) be increasingly be able to get their hands on increasingly destructive weapons, especially bioweapons. I get this basic framework from my colleague Robert Wright's excellent series on terrorism, available here. (For appropriate accompanying atmospherics, I recommend the unsuccessful but eerily prescient film Twelve Monkeys.) Currently the dominant threat is Islamic extremist terrorism. But after that it will be some other flavor of terrorism--environmental radicals, perhaps, or animal rights fanatics, or separatists, or superempowered Columbine nihilists, or all of them at once.

2) The voters have it wrong: Polls show doubts about President Bush's ability to handle the Iraq war but relative confidence in his approach to the larger war on terror. It seems to me this gets it backwards. On Iraq, I'm highly suspicious of the strident attacks on Bush's prosecution of the war from those who pushed the war (like Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and the editors of New Republic). Arguing that Bush horribly botched the job is one convenient way of avoiding the conclusion that it was a bad idea to take on the job in the first place. (For example, what if we'd kept the Iraqi army--and then it staged a coup in a few years?)  In any case, we're now in Iraq. We have some chance of succeeding-- with positive long term consequences for the region--and it would be very bad to fail and leave. So the issue is who is more likely to make the best of the situation. Bush, having made the mess, has every incentive to see through the unmaking of it. Kerry always has the tempting option of blaming his predecessor. As  David Adesnik  notes, there's ample reason to worry about Kerry's commitment to democracy in Iraq.(It's alarming that he talks mainly about setting up a "viable"  government.  Did thousands of people die for a viable government? Saddam was "viable.")  If all we were talking about was Iraq, it would be hard to have much more confidence in Kerry than Bush (though we might still want to punish Bush for his mistakes).

In the larger war on terror, however, it's no contest. Both candidates will hunt down and kill existing terrorists. The issue is how many new terrorists are we creating--as Donald Rumsfeld famously wrote, "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get.'?" Let's say that n is the number of net new terrorists who'll come online in the next four years. Isn't it obvious that n is a lot lower if Kerry is president than if Bush is president? Even if you think the Iraq war was worth fighting, as it may well turn out in the long run to have been, it's hard to deny that it has angered millions around the world, and that Bush is a focal point of their anger. A tiny but definitely non-trivial percentage of these people will be angry enough to try to do us harm, and as the years go by technology will make it easier for them to accomplish this. We lower the volume of lethal hatred simply by thanking Bush for his efforts and retiring him.

Significantly, President Kerry will not have to do anything to accomplish this. He won't need any grand foreign policy framework. It will happen to him automatically if he wins, whether he likes it or not. In all probability he will have to fight against the tide of smarmy international goodwill that will envelop his administration--forcefully reminding the world that he intends to be tough, America should still be feared, etc. Unless he's an utter incompetent, however, he should be able to accomplish that while simultaneously lowering the level of anti-Americanism and at least partially defusing the self-fulfilling prospect of a "clash of civilizations." Meanwhile, if President Bush worries about how many people around the world his policies are enraging, he gives no sign of it. In four more years the "n" number could rise to calamitous, irreversibly high levels, even if the lethal effects might not be felt for a decade or two.

I'm continually amazed that bloggers, of all people, don't appreciate the way intensely motivated individuals, operating without centralized state (or any other) control, can be empowered by new technology to do us tremendous harm. To put it in mundane current blogospheric terms, when it comes to preventing future attacks, the terrorists will more and more come to resemble bloggers in their pajamas and America will come to resemble CBS. That's not a position we should be comfortable in. (Yes, it may be hard for small groups of non-state malcontents to develop nuclear weapons. But it might not be hard to acquire nuclear weapons. And bioweapons may well be developable by alarmingly small groups.) 

If all Kerry does is lower the hatred level while making the best of Iraq (and continuing to pursue Al Qaeda) he will have done his job. In every other respect, he has "one term president" written all over him. This may not be so good for the Democrats in the medium run. That doesn't matter either.

Update: Reader Z.S. points out it's not just "n" we need to reduce. It may be "n" + "people who look the other way."

one thing though which i think is even more important than the additional terrorists that bush will inspire is the effect he has on non-terrorist muslims who dont like him (eg me).  truth is there is a finite number of people willing to strap on bombs and blow themselves up etc. ...[snip] but more important is the pond (isnt that the analogy?  mosquitos? pond-drainging etc?).  the only way to defeat the terrorists is to win the hearts and minds of the moderate muslims among whom they live and breathe.  terrorists cannot fucntion without tacit support.  and this tacit support exists even among people who hate the terrorists and would be their first targets.  but they havent been moved to be more active in the war on terror because - quite frankly - we hate bush more.  when bush says, youre either with me or with the terrorists, many people say, fine, in that case im with the terrorists.

That's one reason why it's no answer to Wright's 'hatred matters' argument to say "well, the terrorists only need a few angry lunatics, so the general level of anti-American rage doesn't matter." (Another reason is that it does matter whether there are 75 angry lunatics or 750.) 2:21 P.M.

Reminder: KerryHaters for Kerry election-eve morale-simulating Meet-Ups this evening, Monday, in D.C. and New York. ... The sleeping giant awakes! ... 11:37 A.M.

T. Bevan of RealClearPolitics is getting worried. ... 10:08 A.M.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Was bin Laden attempting state-by-state blackmail? Safire misses the key aspect of bin Laden's proposed "truce," if the astonishing translation of OBL's video by the right-wing Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)  is to be believed. MEMRI claims bin Laden said:

"any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security." [Emphasis added]

In MEMRI's interpetation, bin Laden isn't extorting the U.S. as a nation--he's extorting every one of the 50 states. He's been reading up on the Electoral College and he's trying to neutralize potential swing states the way he neutralized Spain. He's talkin' to you, Wisconsin! It will be interesting to see if MEMRI's stunning translation holds up. ... P.S.: I'm a bit skeptical.  If bin Laden is trying to get voters in individual states to reject Bush, why did he preface the above passage with "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida." [Ital. added] In MEMRI's version, bin Laden would in fact be promising security if voters pick Kerry--though perhaps OBL is saying that the blue states get protection even if Kerry loses, and red states will be attacked even if Kerry wins. But, at the least, wouldn't the wording bin Laden chose be a little too subtle to effectively convey an extortion threat? ... P.P.S.: If blue states get rewarded with no terror, that puts New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles (and Washington, D.C.) off limits. Is Al Qaeda really abandoning its Manhattan obsession? ...  P.P.P.S.:  The key phrase is "al Wilaya." MEMRI explains, in a footnote, "'Wilaya' refers specifically to a U.S. state; it would never refer to an independent country. The term for such a country is 'Dawla.'" I have no idea if that's accurate or not, but presumably there are many people who do. (Email me!) ...   WaPo's translation is "each state," not "each U.S. state." ... It's not completely confidence-inspiring that MEMRI at one point translates the phrase as "each U.S. state" and then later uses "any U.S. state." ... Wilaya, Wontya?  Here's a post that supports MEMRI's translation. I think. ... Update: Abu Aardvark dissents. ... Resolution? Here's an interpretation that both supports MEMRI's translation and fits in with the rest of the speech. It doesn't involve electoral blackmail, however. ... 10:50 P.M.

That fancy-pants Princeton meta poll seems to have keyed in Wisconsin incorrectly. (He has Bush down 8 instead of up 8 in Gallup.) I'd ignore it until he fixes it. GIGO! ... Greg Abbott's "Incumbent Rule" poll has Kerry winning even without Wisconsin. ... 8:38 P.M.

An obvious weak spot in Will Saletan's highly useful Election Scorecard--which currently shows Kerry winning 272-266--has been Wisconsin. To give Kerry Wisconsin you had to brush aside the Milwakukee Journal-Sentinel "Badger Poll." And now you have to ignore a CNN/Gallup poll  showing Bush up by a margin so high--8 points--Zogby would probably recalculate it! ... Wisconsin is one reason I don't buy the tidy, convenient instant-CW that was being fashioned toward the end of last week--that Kerry was going to win but then came the Osama tape. All three premises seem suspect: a) that Kerry was clearly heading to victory; b) that the Osama tape is all that crucial; c) that Kerry won't still win in the end!  ... 7:26 P.M.

Classic Excitable Andrew: After the broadcast of the OBL video on Friday:

I have a feeling that this will tip the election decisively toward the incumbent. A few hours ago, I thought Kerry was headed for victory. Now I think the opposite.

[But within a few hours he'd corrected himself and was tacking back in the other direction-ed. Exactly.] 6:56 P.M.

Kf hears: "Nobody at Newsweek believes the Newsweek poll [showing Bush 6 points ahead]." ... 6:46 P.M.

Neutral Story Line Fizzles: Walter Shapiro's right--this ain't such a dirty campaign. ... New NSL: It's been a  clean, meaningful  campaign! ... Meanwhile, the hunt for Christopher Hitchens' real opinion goes into its final days! CIA experts are trying to verify the authenticity of the latest report from the field , which seems to show a slight but significant pro-Bush tilt. ... But it's still too close to call. ... Rumors persist that a videotape may soon surface in which the reclusive British commentator issues a coded message to his followers. ... 11:46 A.M.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Howard Fineman's problem as a Newsweek writer has been that he knows too much--he finds out inside angles that grow stale by the time the weekly's Saturday print deadline rolls around. The Web is his best friend. Fineman's excellent Web-only framework piece on the campaigns' competing gambles--Bush's semi-desperate Ohio workaround and Kerry's Al QaQaa plunge--is an example. 5:55 P.M.

Mystery Pollster defends the much-maligned Incumbent Rule and actually incorporates the previously unscientific Embarrassment Factor  into the theory. ... P.S.: Plus he maybe spots a little tiny bit of Kerry slo-mo-momentum in his preturnaturally placid poll of polls. .. Plus he has a son! ... 3:12 A.M.

Bin There, Done That: Alert reader S.S. asks

What does the "Feiler Faster Principle" say about the electoral impact of [OBL's] reemergence?

Answer: It says it will all blow over by Sunday evening! Bin Laden made his move too soon. (Similarly, the NYT moved too soon on Al Qaqaa if it really wanted to affect the election.) ... I mean, do you remember Teresa's "real job" gaffe? Wasn't that in the 2000 campaign? ... P.S.: Plus, if bin Laden really wanted to help Bush, do you think he'd threaten mass murder and destruction on a Friday? That's what you do when you want to bury a story! Everybody knows that! You don't think he knows that? [Of course he knows about the Feiler Faster Principle too--ed. Hey, that was a parody point, not a real point. The point about Friday, that is. The point about it blowing over is a real point! But maybe bin Laden's relying too much on the Zogby poll?-ed. You're mocking me. Don't think I can't tell.] ... 1:21 A.M.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Man Without Qualities flagsWaPo's insight into Zogby's polling "method" in South Dakota-- which seems to be what those of us who followed his numbers during the N.H. primary suspected all along. Apparently the Zogby poll shows

Republican Thune leading Daschle, 48.5 percent to 45.5 percent, just within the margin of error. At first, however, the poll had shown an even larger Thune lead, which seemed so improbable that the pollsters adjusted their voter turnout estimates and arrived at the narrower gap. [Emphasis added]

P.S.: This is one reason why the word "Zogby" is intrinsically funny! But mainly it's the "Z." ... P.P.S.: Doesn't Slate's Electoral Scorecard rely heavily on Zogby in awarding Wisconsin to Kerry? I think it does.  Will! Don't eat Zogby's toast! ... Update: The Rapid City Journal has Zogby's less-than-confidence-inspiring explanation. (Zogby calls the redo "one I could easily defend.") 11:42 P.M.

Insta-OBL: 1) At least judging from the Drudge transcript, it doesn't read like a pro-Kerry pitch. It's a straddle! 2) If it was a pro-Kerry pitch, OBL would of course know that would help Bush, so what would that say about which candidate he really wants to win? 3) Why should this have such a big effect on anything (unless Bush overreacts opportunistically by trying to play it as pro-Kerry, or Kerry overreacts opportunistically as he's done to virtually every big news story for the past two weeks)? 4) It mainly shows bin Laden is alive, which hurts Bush (OBL's still out there!) and helps Bush (OBL's still out there!). [Update: On the latter, see N.Z. Bear's brilliant Batman Effect.] 5) You might think it also shows Al Qaeda weakness--e.g. 'You said the streets would run red with blood, and all we got was this lousy video!' But, even assuming the video isn't itself the trigger for an attack, bin Laden might simply not want to attack because he thinks an attack would help Bush and he doesn't want to help Bush (or because he thinks it would help Kerry and he doesn't want to help Kerry); 6) Does he not want to help Bush because he just struck a deal with Zarqawi, or other Iraqi insurgents, who might prefer Kerry? Or did he strike a deal with Zarqawi and other pro-Kerry insurgents because he was unable to mount an attack anyway, which removed a sticking point? In any case, I still suspect the Zarqawi deal is a part of this somehow; 7) Josh Marshall writes:

Clearly, Kerry has to hit the ground with a tough and emphatic statement in response to this and gear up his team's operation to go head-to-head with what will no doubt be a desperate Bush campaign's effort to use this to connect Kerry and bin Laden to shift the pro-Kerry momentum of the race in the final days of the campaign. [Emphasis added]

I'm for gearing up and hitting the ground with tough and emphatic statements at all times! But is it so clear that's the recent direction of the momentum has been pro-Kerry? Not here. (But, yes, here.) ...

Major caveat: As Andrea Mitchell just pointed out on MSNBC, we are not seeing the entire tape. Some important parts may have been edited out in Qatar. ... 3:43 P.M.

Still looks like the seams on a bulletproof  vest to me. ... 2:59 P.M.

Is Kerry more pro-life than he seems? Beliefnet's Steven Waldman reports  the Kerry "stands by" his support of legislation that might stop "more than 10,000" late-term abortions each year. Waldman's high-quality analysis shows how a sensible centrist position (there's no evidence of flip-flopping) a) is also the opportunistic position (because most voters are sensible centrists) and b) lends itself to a typical Kerry straddle, in which he reveals only the half of his position the intended audience wants to hear. Kerry's nuanced view will certainly be news to millions of supporters who have heard his stentorian defense of the "right to choose." But this would be the vote-maximizing moment for Kerry to show his pro-life side:

Sean Casey, a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary, speculated that early in the campaign season, Democratic candidates highlight only their most-pro-choice positions because "there's so much early pro-choice money in the Democratic Party."

Now that the campaigns have progressed past the fundraising period and into the vote-gathering period, the calculus may have shifted for the Kerry campaign.

A centrist, non-opportunist approach--the approach, I'd argue, that Bill Clinton took--would have been to be open about both aspects for the whole campaign. But Kerry is not good enough at explaining and selling his positions to get away with that. ... Update: Could Kerry's confirmation of his anti-choice stand be related to this Deborah Orin report:

Sources claimed Bush's private polls show him 1 point behind in Pennsylvania, where the outcome could hinge on the ethnic Catholics once known as Reagan Democrats.

1:02 P.M.

A kf colleague who spends a lot of time in Miami worries about those lost-and-remailed Broward County absentee ballots:

Broward is Florida's #1 stronghold of elderly, Democratic mostly Jews who are used to having a month to send in their absentee ballots...  I ordered two of those ballots for my mother-in-law  and aunt - both too disabled to make it to the polls. So even if they find them, most of these folks will not be able to vote before Tuesday. And sending them out today  really doesn't work for most of the old folks that live in Broward- as half of them need help in filling out a ballot - because of infirmities etc. I think this is a huge deal - and could cost Kerry the state.

12:34 P.M.

Good Tora Bora second guess from last week's WaPo. ... The mistake (in hindsight) was allowing Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to escape to Tora Bora as well as from Tora Bora. ...  What's lacking, again, is persuasive evidence Kerry wouldn't have made this (or some other) mistake. ... [Thanks to  T.M. ] 1:24 A.M.



Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk