Wrong State (OR Move to another house)

August 26, 2008

I had been wondering when this was going to come up.

McCain, on the other hand, is only ahead by 6 points: 47% – 41%. He’s not even breaking 50% and barely breaking 45%. That’s why John McCain has to campaign in his home state. Arizona is the place where McCain has most of his houses. The people who know him best don’t really like him.

I can’t find it now, but I seem to remember a story about how little the Arizona press cared for Sen. McCain. It seemed significant, considering how much the national press adores him. It seemed that those most familiar with Sen. McCain cared for him least.

And so it seems to be with the voters in his “home” state. And, if the trend holds true, what does that say for the nation? The more information voters get, the less they’ll like Sen. McCain?

One can only hope.

Wrong Question (OR Reasons to not believe polls)

August 15, 2008

If you’ve been paying attention to the political news lately, you’ve probably heard something like “a majority of americans think we should be doing more drilling for oil” or similar, highly disturbing, poll data.

Personally, every time I hear such gibberish, I am discouraged about the state of this country and its populace. Then I read blog posts like this.

Notably, a Gallup poll widely cited by the press beginning in June – precisely the time President Bush, Senator John McCain, and Governor Charlie Crist of Florida all began advocating for more drilling – did not ask respondents to choose from alternatives. It simply asked if they would favor or oppose drilling to “attempt to reduce the price of gasoline.”


Some polls, though, do show nuance when they ask multi-part questions. Keith Johnson, a longtime energy reporter who now writes the Environmental Capital blog for The Wall Street Journal, said in an e-mail interview that survey questions should be parsed carefully:

    In polls in which the question is something like, “Do you prefer more drilling or more investment in alternative energy?,” alternative energy usually comes out ahead.


Progress Illinois’s Josh Kalven notes that in “a July poll by Belden Russonello & Stewart, 76 percent of respondents said that ‘investing in new energy technology including renewable fuels and more efficient automobiles’ was a more important government priority than ‘expanding exploration and drilling for more oil’

It’s a nice reminder that polls are, in some ways, worse than statistics (which are, or course, worse than lies and damn lies). Bottom line, data like this is one more indication that all this “drill here, drill now” talk is distracting us from Al Gore’s admirable challenge.

Bubbles (OR What is reality?)

July 18, 2008

OK, I know I haven’t been around much…   but that’s really only apparent because the more the loquacious of us has been even more silent. I’m sure he’d give some lame excuse about busy prepping for Colorado Cup or some such. Me? I’m gonna stick on the apathy train…   The news is depressing and nothing is going to change for a while…

I just need to keep reminding myself that it’s worth building this slow boil of the madness, arrogance, and atrocities of the current administation.

So, I thought I’d drop in for a few comments on some old news, since I’ll be playing GRUB this weekend and don’t expect to get much computer time.

Here goes:

Matt posts about results from two vastly different polls. In comments on the first, someone points out this question from the poll.

 Just as your best guess, about what percentage of all Americans are black: less than 10%, between 10 and 20%, between 20 and 30%, between 30 and 50%, or more than 50%?


Less than 10%




More than 50%























The correct answer appears to be about 13.5%

The second tests John Edwards’ “Two Americas” idea. The increasing sense of a divided country is interesting…  but in this conversation, I’m more intrigued by the idea that almost 60% of respondants would categorize themselves as “Haves”

My sense is that there are a lot of middle class people who feel like they’re doing pretty well for themselves, making a good salary, own a house, are able to pay most/all their bills, have an HDTV, get their kids ready for/into college (with the same debt they think everyone is encurring) and think “yeah, I have what I need. I’m certainly not desitute. I’m a ‘have’.”

I get this sense because, until I started reading about the growing inequality in this country that’s much like I felt. I was getting by, making my way in the world. I had some advantages growing up, and life could certainly be a whole lot worse for me.

But, I think that’s part of the great con from the Republicans of the last few decades. Sure, we have more and better stuff, but its really a distraction from the fact that our real income hasn’t increased in 30 years. By hanging on, we’re losing money. We think we’re doing OK because we really have no idea how the real “haves” live. They are so few (in comparison) and so far removed from middle-class and upper middle class lifestyles that when we compare haves to have-nots, we’re not looking at the right people.

When income distribution looks like this:


And income growth looks like this:

What are the chances that the “Haves” make substantially more than $250,000 a year, and the rest of us are “Have-nots”?

Anyway- both of these polls make me think that we’re just not at all aware of our surroundings or circumstances and that ignorance is the biggest weapon the Republicans have.

Bounce or Ascent (OR Must it come down?)

June 25, 2008

There’s been a decent amount of talk about the latest Newsweek poll, showing Sen. Obama up 15 percentage points on Sen. McCain. The bobbleheads are referring to it as the post-primary “bounce.”

I do wonder, though, if “bounce” is the wrong term. Bounce implies, to me, that the gap will shrink eventually.

If you’ve listened to Sen. McCain speak, or discuss policy, you’ve probably been less than impressed by his delivery and the content. And I don’t think it’s just a liberal perspective that makes the content unimpressive. His statements seem generally confused, and (if you harken to his prior statements) are often contradictory. He simply doesn’t have, or portray, a cohesive approach to governance.

In contrast, Sen. Obama presents intricate, well thought out, policy proposals. It’s hard to not see the difference in preparation and depth of thought. Even if you don’t agree with the policies, the difference between the two candidates is very distinct and Sen. McCain seems thoroughly unimpressive.

That being said, it seems to be that the longer this campaign goes on, the more clear the gap between the candidates will become. I think the gap will grow, if for no other reason than President Bush has redefined the basement floor, creating more room for Sen. McCain to slide into:

The survey found public approval of the president’s job performance at a new low for a Times/Bloomberg poll: 23%, compared with 73% disapproval.