Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:14 am

At the risk of being seen as “not helping” John McCain and “giving up,” allow me to take you on a little tour of the electoral battlefield today.

If there are any sharp objects within reach, I suggest you move them. Better yet, put them under lock and key. I am about to crack open the gates of hell and give you a peek at what’s inside.

As “The Dead March from Saul” plays on my headphones, I am forced to report that John McCain is approaching “Dead Parrot” status in the race for the presidency. The campaign is trying to convince us that John McCain is actually alive and still breathing while all other signs point to him being an ex-presidential candidate.

Don’t trust the polls? I wouldn’t either. In fact, a good case can be made that almost all the polls are undercounting Obama’s support and the Illinois senator is even further ahead than the polls indicate. (Read this piece by conservative political guru Michael Barone on polls.) This is because there seems to be a truly remarkable and historic dynamic at work in America. Early voting in states like NC, FL, and Ohio have shown extraordinary turnout among African Americans and the young, voting for Obama by huge margins (Pew has this early voting 58-34 for Obama while Zogby gives Obama a 21 point lead nationwide among early voters.)

Is this a trend? Can the votes of these early birds tell us anything? There isn’t much history so we can’t be sure. But since most early voters appear to be Democrats, that may say something significant about who is excited about this race.

You stunned him just as he was waking up!

Regardless, it would appear that the models that pollsters are basing their horse race numbers on may be flawed thus not giving us a true picture of Obama’s support. If you read this excellent piece by Nate Silver on his blog 538, you get a good sense of how accurate the daily tracking polls are performing, their pluses and minuses and a little history of the polling company. Nate concludes that the Gallup poll that tracks likely voters using the increased African American and youth turnout in their model (Gallup LVII) is probably as accurate a daily indicator as you can get. In that poll, as of yesterday, Obama had expanded his lead to 10 points.

I hasten to add that historically, the youth vote doesn’t seem to materialize on election day and African Americans only make up around 11% of the electorate. But in 2004, after the left spent about $60 million on a massive get out the vote drive for younger voters, turnout in the 18-24 category surged 16% to around 47% of that age group. With the possibility that the 2008 election will see some kind of breakthrough in the youth vote (some analysts are projecting based on primary participation a 60% turnout) and a huge surge in African American votes, Obama could tip some close races in red states and make this race an electoral landslide.

He’s not dead. He’s just resting.

Indeed, the numbers are very bleak for John McCain in states that he absolutely must hold to reach 270:

Colorado: Obama +5 (Rasmussen)
Georgia: McCain +2 (GQR)
Missouri: Obama +5 (Rasmussen)
Missouri: McCain +1 (Suffolk)
North Carolina: Obama +7 (PPP)
North Carolina: Obama +3 (Rasmussen)
Virginia: Obama +10 (Rasmussen)
Virginia: Obama +6 (Survey USA)

These are all polls conducted in the last three days. In addition, older polls show Obama up in Iowa (+13 by Survey USA), Nevada (+5 by Rasmussen), and New Mexico (+13 and +7 by Rasmussen and Survey USA respectively). Also, Obama is within 2 points in Indiana and a virtual dead heat in North Dakota.

These are all red states won by George Bush in 2004. McCain trails by more than 7 points in every single blue state. Where can McCain make up the difference? He is slightly behind in both Ohio and Florida - a loss of either one of those states would doom him. But a loss of just two of any of the 10 states listed above would also kill his campaign.

With two weeks to go, McCain will be scrambling just to hold on to formerly safe red states like IN and NC. Historically, when a candidate is forced to defend territory that should have been in the bag at this late date, he is finished.

The internals for McCain are just awful. Pew measures not just raw numbers of support but also issues and candidate qualities as well as voter attitudes. These are many of the same things that a campaign’s internal polling seeks to discover. Let’s take a look at what John McCain has been reading recently with his morning coffee:

Obama’s gains notwithstanding, a widespread loss of confidence in McCain appears to be the most significant factor in the race at this point. Many more voters express doubts about McCain’s judgment than about Obama’s: 41% see McCain as “having poor judgment,” while just 29% say that this trait describes Obama. Fewer voters also view McCain as inspiring than did so in mid-September (37% now, 43% then). By contrast, 71% of voters continue to think of Obama as inspiring.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 16-19 among 2,599 registered voters interviewed on landline phones and cell phones, finds that McCain’s age also has become more of an issue for voters. Roughly a third (34%) now says that McCain is too old to be president; in the Sept. 9-14 survey, just 23% said this. At this stage in the 1996 campaign, about as many voters (32%) said Republican candidate Bob Dole was too old to be president.


A steadily growing number of voters say that McCain has been too personally critical of Obama: 56% say that now, up from 42% in mid-September. By contrast, just 26% say that Obama has been too personally critical of McCain, which is largely unchanged from mid-September (28%).

In recent weeks, McCain has lost support across the board. Most notably, he now trails Obama decidedly among political independents (51% to 33%). Yet he also has lost support among some voting blocs that previously had been strongly in his corner, including white evangelical Protestants and white men. McCain continues to lead Obama among older white men, but even here his margin over Obama has narrowed since mid-September; McCain now leads among white men age 50 and older by 54% to 38%, down from a 27-point lead in mid-September.

Losing independents by 18 points is significant. Indies were supposed to be one of his strongest supporters. In fact, given the disparity in party registration, McCain would need gain well over 50% of independents in order to come out ahead.

Finally, what about all those Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton who were supposed to go for McCain?

Among Democrats, Barack Obama is now winning 88 percent support, comparable to John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000. And there are a couple of points’ worth of undecideds left in there, so it’s possible that Obama could scrape up against the 90 percent number on election day.

By contrast, John McCain is winning the support of just 85.3 percent of Republicans, well down from Bush’s 93 percent in 2004 and 91 percent in 2000. There are some undecideds in there as well, so his numbers should improve some, but McCain is likely to underperform Bush by several points.

Is there any good news for McCain at all?

Yes there is. Pew shows 23% of voters undecided (although 61% expect Obama to win). This large number is due to the fact that Obama has not quite “closed the sale:”

For all of Obama’s current success, however, there are some signs of vulnerability for his candidacy that could present opportunities for McCain. First, while somewhat more voters see Obama as well-qualified than did so in mid-September, only about half (53%) say this trait describes him; 72% say McCain is well-qualified. Second, swing voters continue to represent nearly a quarter of the electorate (23%). Notably, swing voters are less likely than all voters to say that McCain would continue Bush’s policies. They also express far more confidence in McCain than Obama to handle national security issues.

“He’s not dead - he’s pining for the fjords.”

A bolt of lightening from overseas could still make this a race. But it appears unlikely - unless al-Qaeda wishes to take a hand in the contest at which point all bets are off.

As long as I’m in the process of ruining your day (and mine), let me give you some background on how the House and Senate races are shaping up. You may wish you stayed in bed.

From the Democracy Corps (Jim Carville’s Think Tank):

The latest congressional battleground survey by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, part of our weekly tracking of the most competitive Republican House seats, finds that Democratic candidates have improved their standing and taken the lead, even closing in on the Republicans in the bottom tier of supposedly toughest seats. With our finding last week that Democratic incumbents have surged in the most marginal Democratic seats, Democrats are poised to make stunning gains on a battlefield that is still expanding at the Republicans’ expense.

In the top tier of races, the 20 most vulnerable Republican seats, Democratic candidates are beginning to pull away, doubling their 4-point lead from last week to 8 points. Meanwhile, Democrats in the next two tiers remain within striking distance, trailing their Republican opponents by just 2 points in the second tier and 3 points in the third and holding the Republicans under 50 percent in both.[1] The result in Tier 2 is unchanged from a week ago, but the Democrats’ deficit in Tier 3 has been cut in half since last week and has closed a remarkable 13 points since we first surveyed these districts two weeks ago. Seats that once appeared out of reach are now very much in play. We will bring more Republican seats into our next survey.

The Blogging Caesar is a little less pessimistic. He bases his totals on races where the probability of a pickup is “strong” - which translates into a lead of 16% or more. Right now, he has the Democrats at a projected +12 with another 20 races he designates as “Weak” or “Moderate GOP Hold.” (In 2006, the Democrats defeated 15 Republicans who had received 55% or more of the vote in 2004. That would translate as a “Moderate GOP Hold” in Caesar’s calculations.)

Just how long could Obama’s coattails be? The young may be more willing to split their vote but African Americans could tip the scales in a couple of dozen of these races. As for independents, they are polling more liberal this time around and with a decided animus toward the GOP. I haven’t taken a really close look yet at most of these competitive House race (that’s my task over the weekend) so I can’t really give a good guess as to just how many seats the GOP will lose. It will almost certainly end up being a minus 20 net loss and perhaps more if the trends we’ve seen continue.

The Senate, if possible, looks even bleaker. Three seemingly safe incumbents are fighting for their political lives including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Georgia’s Saxbe Chambliss, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi who won the special election to fill Trent Lott’s seat. All three are “Weak GOP Holds” at the moment. if you include the 8 GOP seats that are now listed as “Strong Democrat Gains,” you have the Dems with a net gain of 11 seats and the loss of the filibuster.

(If you haven’t subscribed to Election Projection, I strongly urge you to do so. Caesar is top notch and non-partisan.)

Despite what you might think, I get no pleasure out of being the bearer of bad tidings. And I might add that you will note there is not one link to a “MSM” site. These are all respected professional polling and analysis sites. While a Nate Silver may be a Democrat, his professional reputation depends on accurate information and spot-on analysis. And Pew Research has proven to be accurate and reliable forecaster in the past.

As in 2006, I will pull no punches these last weeks. If you come to this site, you will get my honest opinion based on the best, the most professional analysis available. And right now, it appears that my worst fears are being confirmed and that the 2008 election may very well go down in history as a transformative moment - a point in time when the nation made a collective decision to veer left in its policies and politics. And given the rout in the House and Senate that the GOP appears to be headed for, it will be a very long time before the party will be able to get its act together and challenge the Democrats again.


  1. [...] of these folks, imo, are trying to awaken a Dead Parrot… but taken altogether, it’s really no surprise that police departments are gearing [...]

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  2. [...] reasonable to be skeptical about the polls. I doubt that the situation is either as dire for Republicans as some fear nor that the polls are completely irrelevant. My own small experience with the polling process [...]

    Pingback by The Glittering Eye » Blog Archive » Are We There Yet? — 10/22/2008 @ 12:18 pm

  3. [...] like Rick Moran writes at Right Wing Nut House, John McCain is a dead parrot. At the risk of being seen as “not helping” John McCain and “giving up,” allow me to take [...]

    Pingback by ‘THIS PARROT IS DEAD’ « Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger — 10/22/2008 @ 1:18 pm

  4. How long it is before the Republicans challlenge the Democrats again will largely be up to the Democrats. If the policies of Barack Obama and his colleagues in the House and Senate are successful in solving the country’s problems then it will be a long time before the Republicans challenge the Democrats agains. Actually I hope the policies of Mr. Obama and the Democrats are successful. If they are successful, then the country is successful. So, if the Republicans and John McCain lose, I hope it is a very long time before the Republicans challenge the Democrats again. In other words, if Mr. Obama wins, I want him and the Democrats to succeed in solving the country’s problems.

    While the race is not over, it does seem more likely than not that Mr. Obama will win and the Democrats will make significant gains in the House and Senate, it is premature to do a post mortem on the McCain campaign just yet. In the unlikely event that McCain wins, I would hope he and the Democrats or who ever is in charge of Congress, more than likely the Democrats, would work together to solve the country’s problems.

    In summary, it seems more likely than not that the Democrats will make significant gains in the House and Senate and it seems more likely than not that Mr. Obama will be the next president. If the Democrats and Mr. Obama are successful in solving the country’s problems, it will indeed be a long time before the Republcans are able to challenge the Democrats again. If the Democrats are unsuccessful, then the Republicans will be able to challenge the Democrats very soon. In fact, they will be albe to retake the House and probably the Senate in two years.

    What the Republicans must do is present a viable alternative to the American people. This is a limited government, fiscal responsibilty, lower taxes, personal responsibility, and a less interventionist foreign policy. As seens more likely than not and the Democrats have a huge majority in the Hosue and the Senate and they cntrol the White House, the Republicnas should try to assist the Democrats when possible and they should not be seen as obstructing the Democrats. Of course the Republicans should criticize those policies that seem unlikely to succeed and they should offer clear alternatives to those policies to the American people but they should not be seen as trying to obstruct the Democrats. If they are seen as trying to obstruct the Democrats it could indeed be a long time before the Republicans can be seen as challenging the Democrats. I don’t look for the Republicans who will likely be in the minority to do much to obstruct the Democrats. The policies of the Democrats will be given every opportunity to succeed. If they fail, the Republicans will be in a position to challenge the Democrats very soon. With that said I want the Demcorats or whoever controls the American goveernment to succeed in solving the country,s problems. The country cannot afford another failed presidency. I have prayed daily for the success of our leadership and I will continue to do so no matter who leads the country. May God grant them success in solving the country,s problems.

    Comment by B.Poster — 10/25/2008 @ 6:49 pm

  5. [...] predictive models for likely voters. As Rick Moran already helpfully pointed out to us in “The GOP and the Dead Parrot Scenario,” some pollsters, such as the one here, are actually worried that they are underpolling Obama [...]

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    Pingback by Right Wing Nut House » WHAT MIDDLE AMERICA THINKS OF THE ELECTION — 11/1/2008 @ 10:41 am

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