Saturday, October 18, 2008

GOP: Getting Out of Politics

I'm sitting at Panera blogging away on a MacBook Pro while listening to my iPod and sipping an iced chai latte.

I'm such a yuppie.

I'm amused at the way the political conversation has changed in this country.  It's no longer a question of who is going to win the presidency.  It's a question of how much Obama is going to win by.  My friend Evan has a bet with his dad that the spread will be 10%, and I'd say that's generous--especially if you're counting electoral votes over popular votes.

Early prediction models gave Obama a 65% chance of winning.  Pollster has him ahead 313-155 (with 70 votes in the air--but most of the toss-up states are leaning blue).  Intrade shows 364 to 174, which translates to a nearly 68% share or about a 35% spread.  And that's even after RNC supporters pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the market to alter the perception of how much Obama was ahead.

Because it turns out that predictions markets are more accurate than polls when it comes to predicting the outcome of an election.  Intrade, incidentally, has contracts on Obama's victory selling at $.85 on the dollar (which means, effectively, that the market gives him an 85% chance of winning)

You know what else is a great predictor of elections?  Poll people who know nothing about either candidate by showing them pictures of both and asking who looks the most qualified.  Accurately predicts the outcome about 2/3 of the time.  True story (although I can't find the link for that, so feel free to not believe me).  Just another cog in my argument that the big flaw of democracy is that most people are totally unqualified to render an intelligent political decision.  Next time you start to think that everyone deserves a say in government, hop by an internet chat room for ten minutes.

Go on, I'll wait.

McCain's objective is now to find a way to bow out gracefully--something his followers seem unwilling to do.  Slate and even The Daily Show have recently pointed out the sheer vitriol of the attendees at McCain's rallies lately.  Some people are a bit put off by this, but to me it's just an indicator that the middle has more or less abandoned him--well, not so much him as the Republican Party.  Even Ari Fleischer told John Stuart that this would not be a good year for Republicans.

What happened?  Well, lots of things.  First, Bush and the neo-con crowd overspent their political capital.  Then the economy tanked, and while people are fond of saying that a president has no control over the economy, that is and isn't true (but that's a topic for another post).  With the economy in the toilet, certain social issues have become a "luxury".  Today need jobs, so we'll vote about abortion and gay marriage next time.

Oddly enough, the pro-life Democrat block (or the "soccor moms" if you will) which twice helped elect Bush is now abandoning the Republican party (along with the rest of the middle).  Amongst other things, they're frustrated that in eight years, nothing has happened on the gay-marriage/abortion front.  They elected W to ban both of those, and instead they got a war in Iraq.

People are just not happy with the GOP.  And the Republicans are going to suffer for it--not just in the executive branch either--the Dem's are expected to pick up a 60-40 majority in the Senate and make even more gains in the House, as well as the various gubernatorial races.  And a bizarre side effect?

Obama may help ban gay marriage in California.  The state has a ballot initiative that to ban it, and Obama is expected to draw out record numbers of black and hispanic voters--who typically vote Democrat on economic issues but vote Republican on social issues.

So if San Francisco and LA secede in 2010--you'll know why.


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