Thursday, October 09, 2008

Zogby Poll: No Candidate with a Clear Advantage

Zogby International polls have been very successful in predicting the actual outcome of elections, and the data this year indicates that the 2008 Presidential Election may well be decided on the last weekend before the election. He likens this year to 1980 when the race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan was close until the final weekend, when large numbers of voters broke for Reagan. They apparently became comfortable with him when it came time to actually make a choice - the tipping point. It will be interesting to see if the various poll-related problems with each candidate play out as real factors in this election: For McCain, will the age question tip undecided and independent voters to Obama? Will negative ads about Obama's past associates backfire? Will his war posture ultimately be the electoral burden it was believed to be at the outset of the campaign? For Obama, will he continue a pattern of soft-polling (some people who tell pollsters that they will vote for Obama do not in fact vote for him)? Will predictions made by Stanford researchers that a meaningful percentage of voters (including Democrats) refuse to vote for an African American candidate? Obama has high numbers in the surveys asking if he is unqualified - it has stayed at about 48%, the highest of any candidate since Dukakis. Will a late-breaking electorate ultimately decide he IS qualified, or will this high level of uncertainty ultimately translate to a shift to McCain at the last minute?

Leaving aside the people yelling at each other and calling each other liars, terrorists, mental patients on television, radio and the stump, there is a clear difference in approach in this election. Obama will doubtlessly move left if elected (as did Bill Clinton), and McCain will be faced with an opposition Congress. Both men (regardless of what they tell us), will increase the huge budget deficits, and depending on your beliefs about tax increases they will have different effects on the economy. But, as usual, the ideologues and interest groups are choosing the lowest road available. The name-calling has reached a fever-pitch especially early this year. And my question is this: both men have said they will change Washington. And maybe both really mean to do so. But how can they change Washington when they cannot even change the campaign? Partisan rancor and fighting has taken over the campaign, as usual and maybe worse than usual, so how can either one be expected to really change how government works?

I can't make myself listen to much from the pundits, candidates and campaigns this year, once again. It is rude behavior, and all of it shows a lack of character all around. About the only way I can stomach the campaign is to read the various fact-checking resources to see what the proposals made will really result in, according to independent researchers, and to look at the polls in detail in the manner of an avid baseball fan looking at statistics.

Zogby has the race at 48-44 Obama today, with a margin of +/- 2.9%. Both candidates are holding their partisans (Obama 86% of Democrats and McCain 87% of Republicans), and at the moment Obama is winning the battle for independents (49% to 39%). If John Zogby is right and the election breaks big on the last weekend, it will be interesting to see if people are ultimately able to feel comfortable with Obama, if the racial issue is a factor, and if soft-polling is a factor. It will also be interesting to see if the economic crisis is still the dominant issue, and if McCain, a member of the President's party and therefore traditionally hurt by a bad economy, gets harmed by it. The one wild-card was mentioned today by a Democratic talking head, who said that he feels that unless there is a terrorist attack Obama will win going away.

There are a lot of ingredients in this year's election stew, and it will be interesting to see how they all come together to affect the outcome. Either way, I will be glad not to have to hear people hating on each other publicly, loudly and without inhibition. Just think what we'd say to our kids if they interacted together at school the way people in public act about elections. It feels like the approved method of campaigning has become slander, smear and shout the bastard down. And the electorate so deeply divided that I know people who have stopped being friends because they could not be friends with someone who held 'those' political views. Can't we go back to the good advice of polite society - never discuss politics and religion? Or the advice of Thumper's mother: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"? One man that was able to work with everyone in the Senate was Alan Simpson, who said, "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."

I can live with either candidate, no matter how different their approach, as long as they have integrity. I think that one approach may be better than another for most circumstances, (Jimmy Carter had integrity and also had a tough time governing, in my opinion), but knowing that the candidate has integrity would mean a great deal to the public. Now I am not saying that either man lacks personal integrity. But how much of it do they show with the campaigns they run?

Now I know that my opinion is just my opinion, and I know that the only reason you are reading it now is that anyone can read damn near anything on the Internet in the Information Age. Once upon a time, there was an expectation that reading someone's opinion suggested that it was an informed and perhaps an expert opinion. Now, it just implies an Internet connection. The quote: "The irony of the information age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion." by John Lawton applies here. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I hold my own views in exception to this sentiment, I don't. But, that said, I find it to be a satisfying exercise to be able to jot my thoughts, knowing that whether or not anyone actually reads them, someone might.

1 comment:

Braeden said...

F'in ridiculous. It makes me sick. This is the first election year that I am able to vote and I don't even think I want to. Some people say you have to choose the lesser of two evils but why would I want to choose any evil? I'm not saying that niether of the candidates are qualified, I really haven't decided that in my opinion, but I can't seem to see beyond the disgusting campaigning. It's like high school drama, I tell you. I would love to be better informed about the candidates and where they stand but I do not want to hear Obama mention McCain or vice versa. I could go on and on but I will just sum it up by saying that I totally agree with you and that by trying to gain votes with some people, they are both losing one with me. UGH!


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