Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Last Night's Live Blogging

I was asked to live blog at the Presidential viewing party at the Bagdad theater in Portland for the Oregon Catalyst. You can check it out here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

An Obama Blowout?

As I pointed out a few days ago, Barack Obama has taken a clear lead in the Presidential race.

Now it looks like Obama has not just a clear lead, but a solid one that gives him some breathing room, and makes an Obama-blowout scenario more likely.

In the RCP average of national polls Obama leads 50%-44%

Obama has pulled ahead in the crucial swing-states in the mid-west including Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (McCain pulled out of Michigan last week), where some voters were reluctant to support Obama, but have come over to him in the face of the economic crisis.

Obama has also pulled ahead in Virginia, which was recently a Republican state, but has trended Democratic, and is about tied in other Bush states Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, and North Carolina.

McCain needs something big to happen (an easy debate win would help) to come back, and has gone on the attack against Obama, a move that makes it look like he is getting desperate (Obama is responding with his own negative attacks).


As you may have noticed, there is a red and blue map in the upper right corner. Those are my predictions for the winners of each state in the Presidential election on Washington Post's "Pick-your-President". You can play too, and if you win, receive a $500 Best Buy gift card.

Friday, October 3, 2008

VP Debate Reaction

The Debate happened much as I expected: Biden showed more experience, as well as his debating practice from two failed Presidential bids. Palin exceeded my expectations a bit, appearing to hold her own against the six-term U.S. Senator.

My thoughts on this debate are actually somewhat similar to the first Presidential debate: I thought that McCain won the first debate, but did not have a crushing victory that could have been possible against Obama who has less foreign policy experience. I thought Biden won the debate, but he also did not score a big victory, and Palin did much better than I expected. Also, I thought last night didn't contain many soundbites, in my opinion, there were no major gaffes by either candidates, nor any memorable one-liners.

Once again, both candidates stuck to their main themes for many of the questions, as they both seemed to want to talk about McCain, Biden trying to tie him to President Bush, and Palin highlighting his credentials as a maverick and a reformer. Palin also talked a lot about her experience in Alaska, particularly on dealing with energy and taking on corruption, which was also one of her major themes when talking about McCain. Biden showed an impressive grasp of the facts, and was pretty successful attacking McCain's record and proposals, while mostly avoiding saying anything about Palin and staying away from personal attacks. I also thought Biden was more skilled at turning questions asked by the moderator to what he wanted to say.

I thought that Palin actually seemed pretty comfortable with foreign policy, which is probably her weakest subject. I would like to point out that not only did she avoid referencing her state's proximity to Russia, but also did a great job pronouncing the name "Ahmadinejad".

One interesting way to look at the debate is to see which important words the candidates used the most. Here are a few of the top words for each candidate, and the number of times said:


John, (71)

Tax (35)

Voted (35)

Barack Obama (34)

Policy (29)


America (53)

Tax (36)

John McCain (34)

People (30)

Energy (26)

Work (26)

While I mentioned that there didn't seem to be any major gaffes, Senator Biden did perhaps make a mistake when he said that we should "go to Katie's restaurant". The restaurant he was referencing apparently has not existed for over ten years. Also despite, as I said before, his impressive grasp of the facts, it seems he messed his facts up a little when referencing the cost of the war in Afghanistan compared with Iraq, saying that we spend as much in Iraq in a month as we have in Afghanistan. We currently pay $10 billion a month in Iraq, and have spent $172 billion in Afghanistan.

A debate poll of previously undecided voters by CNN showed 51% thought Biden won, while 36% thought Palin was the winner. The poll also showed however, that Palin exceeded their expectations, and that a majority of voters thought better of her afterwards, while a smaller amount said the same about Biden.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

VP Debate Preview

Democrat Joe Biden looks to be favored going into the one and only Vice-Presidential debate. Biden, who has spent thirty-six years in Washington, is the Chair of the Foreign Relations committee, and has plenty of debate experience from his two failed Presidential campaigns, should be able to handle any question fairly easily. His opponent, Sarah Palin, does not have the Washington insider or the debate experience that Biden does, so it may e more difficult for her, though she has probably learned a lot in the past couple months, and especially the last week or so.

I don't usually make a big deal about candidate's experience, because I know that they will have plenty of staff around to advise them and give them the facts, as long as they get good people around (perhaps unlike some of the people in the Bush administration), and in Palin's case, she won't even be making many decisions. But in the debate, experience will matter because it will not look good if someone doesn't have a good answer to some of the important questions.

I think the challenges for the candidates tonight can be summed up this way: Biden needs to try no to talk too much, and Palin needs to make sure she talks enough. Biden has a tendency to make a lot of gaffes, including saying that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking" while he was running for President. He usually seems to basically get a pass on them from the media etc., but probably won't if he makes a gaffe tonight. Biden will also have to try not to act condescending to the much younger and less-experienced Palin.

Palin basically needs to show a command of the facts on policy issues, especially foreign policy, which has thus far not been her strong suit. She needs to avoid a total loss, but if she came through with a win, that would be big for McCain, who is now clearly behind Obama.

It should also be interesting to see how Gwen Iffil moderates the debate, as there is a controversy involving her moderating the debate as she has an upcoming book partly about Obama, whose sales could be effected by whether Obama wins or loses.
According to a Rasmussen poll, this debate is very important to the vote of 34% of voters.