Thursday, October 30, 2008

Predicting the Election Aftermath

I took a fresh look at Pollster this morning just to see what the spread was on the presidential race.  They've got Obama ahead 311 - 142 with 85 electoral votes still out there in "toss-up" states.  Of those 311, 39 are listed as "leaning".  If you look only at states where Obama has a comfortable margin (like, at least 8% or so), those "strong" lead states total 272 electoral votes.

It only takes 270 to win.

With less than a week until election day, the odds of McCain reaching into his ass and pulling out a golden egg are increasingly slim.  More and more, it's simply a question of "how can McCain lose gracefully?"

Toning down the rhetoric would be a good start.  It's a pretty widely accepted in psychology that people form more extreme opinions about people they don't know.  For example, if your mother yells at the barista at Starbucks, you assume it's because she's having a bad day, but if Hillary Clinton does it, it's because she's a bitch.  This happens.  Campaigning just makes it worse.

No one who works in Washington really believes that Barack Obama is Muslim, a terrorist, or a socialist.  No one in Washington really believe that Bill Clinton had hundreds of people murdered.  No one in Washington really believes that George W. Bush is an uncharismatic nimrod.  But these perpetuate throughout the population of the country to the point that, after any given election, most of those who voted for the loser will be utterly hardened against the winner.  And it wasn't always this way: prior to the 12th Amendment, the loser in the Presidential election became the Vice President.  This was Amended, of course, because of the emergence of political parties, and it was deemed "bad" that the Prez and VP be of different affiliation.


Regardless, when Obama wins in what may very well be an electoral landslide, still something like 40% of the population (that bothers to vote) will walk away from the polls feeling betrayed, thinking that the new President plans to smother Christianity, tax them to death, or just kill them all outright for the glory of Allah.

Which Washington Republicans happen to know isn't true, but aren't telling their constituents.

This strikes me as vaguely irresponsible, but what else is new?  It's certainly not the first time an election has taken on a Jesus-vs-Satan vibe both ways.  To be fair (and balanced), the left has said some horrible, horrible things about W.  And to be even fairer, even though his camp has been on the war-path, McCain has been trying to reign in his supporters at rallies, insisting that Obama is, in fact, a good man and not an Arab.

Which brings up some broader questions.  Why shouldn't an Arab be allowed to be President (assuming s/he is a US citizen)?  Why not a Muslim?  Why not a Jew?  Why is the idea of a black president so radical to us?  Are we really a nation of bigots?

Well, yes.  But it's interesting to me that our sectism and sexism and ageism and racism, et al seems not to run nearly as deep as our party-ism.  When did "conservative" come to mean "redneck"?  When did "liberal" become a bad word?

If history is any guide, none of this is new.  Or likely to change.  Hopefully, the Democratic shift of the nation will re-align the Republican Party slightly back towards the center, as even ideological conservatives will point out that their party has been taken over by anti-intellectuals and religious whack-jobs.  Time will tell (God knows I won't).


PS - remember to vote on Tuesday, and remember that if McCain wins, Rush Limbaugh will come to your house and eat you.

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