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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 25, 2004 3:59 AM. The previous post in this blog was Sticker shock. The next post in this blog is Ding dong, the boondoggle's dead. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Win early, lose late

This is where the Democratic Party and the left wing need to pay very, very close attention.

The President looks desperate at the moment. His speech gave the country nothing new, and his glimpse into the future (138,000 or more troops in Iraq, indefinitely) will serve only to exacerbate the fears and doubts that the vast middle of the spectrum is feeling right now.

And it's become more obvious than ever that he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. We'll build another prison and knock down the one where we tortured and abused the prisoners. That solves that, eh?

It's very easy to think that Kerry has got the election sewn up. But that would be dangerously wrong thinking.

There are still more than five months to go until the election. Public opinion can swing wildly in just a few weeks, much less months. Moreover, as dense as W. is, he's also lucky. And he's got a huge, quiet following out there that is throwing money at him as hard and as fast as it can.

Not to mention the no-tax crowd. You can bet that as November approaches, every other word out of the Bush camp's mouth is going to be "taxes." And the public is greedy and stupid when it comes to that particular topic. If you don't promise to cut their taxes, many, many voters will vote for your opponent, no other questions asked. Bush has another tax cut to promise. Kerry's too honest and conscientious to serve one up. For better or worse, that's going to sway a lot of folks.

Plus, don't think there isn't an October surprise or two in the works. If he can nab OBL in Yemen or wherever, Bush will win, no matter what's going down in Iraq. And even if he can't, don't count him out. To beat him is going to take more work, and smart work, and a lot of it.

Comments (24)

The Economist had a great article a few months ago on how the U.S. is now a 50-50 nation. A trained donkey would win 49% of the vote and a trained elephant would win 49% of the vote. The classic "voter in the middle" argument is gone now - a party wins a national election by energizing its base and going away from the middle.

I predict another cliff-hanger.

I think you're right Jack. It would be a mistake to let up. There's a long way to go.

As for the 50-50 nation: Personally, I think it's more like 40-40 at the start. Maybe 45-45.
Bush's favorable ratings are hovering in the low to mid forties right now.

Of course, there is a slight bias in Bush's favor because of the electoral college. Each state gets two to start, irrespective of population. The best forecasting would take this into account. This is a solid site:

You've been maintaining for months that Kerry can't win, though. Even a curmudgeon like you has to admit things are looking better for the Kerry camp than ever. Based on historical trends, Bush couldn't be looking worse now. I don't think anyone's going to call a Kerry administration in the bag, but I am willing to say that barring an October surprise, Bush looks like he's in very big trouble.

(The WSJ has Kerry beating Bush in 10 of 14 battleground states right now.)

It's May. Rope-a-Dope Season. They haven't even really begun to exploit Kerry's negatives. And there will be multiple surprises.

Professor Bogdanski's Election 2004 graphic reflects my frustration with our current two party system producing little or no choice.

We need to start with Instant Runoff Voting where voters rank their candidates in order of preference. The Center for Voting and Democracy provides hope for those disaffected by the current state of democracy in the United States. Instant Runoff Voting is a mainstream idea that can be embraced by people of all political affiliations. Here is a link to their site explaining various reforms to US democracy:

Some of our leaders profess a goal of bringing democracy to the middle east. I dream of a democracy of substance in the United States.

I don't think "curmudgeon Jack" has been saying Kerry can't win. He's been saying that other potential Democratic candidates such as John Edwards would have a greater chance of winning, and of course he's right. Either Edwards or Joe Lieberman would be solid favorites right now, and Kerry is at best even money.

But in a two-party system, you don't get much of a choice. Grady points out that there are alternative voting systems available, which we don't use in this country. It would be interesting to start at the bottom (so to speak) and develop a proportional representation or instant runoff system for the Oregon Legislature.

That Zogby "poll" showing Kerry ahead in battleground states was an online poll, and is so thinly sourced that you can't even find the number of participants. All the other polls show Bush with a lead. Given the electoral-vote changes that favor Bush, and given the strengthening economy, I don't know how Bush loses. Especially against Kerry. I'll put a beer or two on Bush against anyone who wants.

I would have agreed with Jack a couple months ago about an OBL capture helping Bush. Now I'm not so sure. I think he gets a bump for maybe 3 days and then people will start to wonder why it took so long, which can be exploited by reminding people that the Iraq war was a major distraction from the war on terrorism. With Zinni's comments adding significant weight to the "Bush is incompetent" argument, I don't see how Bush recovers without a major change in the political climate - which could happen of course.

I particularly enjoyed reading this headline today: "Bush can't win this election now. Kerry can only lose it" from the Guardian.,3604,1223855,00.html And yes, Kerry is certainly capable of losing it, but I'd rather Kerry be in this position than behind.

There are a lot of people, some in my family, who don't really know anything about what Bush has done. They just know that their pastor speaks of Bush as a good Christian so they should vote for him. Sad.

Current polls are operating under a false basis- most of the population has home phones. A growing number of younger voters, that have a high tendancy to vote towards the Democrats, don't have home phones; they are mobile phone only households. By not factoring in this soon to be very large segment of the population (non landline users), which just happen to mostly live on the left hand of the dial, pollers are engaging in bad planning and bad data accumulation and thus creating heavily skewing statistics.

Interesting thought, about mobile phone households. If so , we could have a repeat of 1948, where one reason the pollsters were so wrong about Truman/Dewey was that they did phone polling, and lower income (Democrat) households tended not to have home phones yet.

> A growing number of younger voters, that have a high tendancy to vote towards the Democrats, don't have home phones

I think you're kidding yourself if you think that young people are monolithically liberal. Of course they are here, in the People's Republic, where support for Bush or the war is anathema. But I've seen a lot of evidence that Gen Y is not especially liberal, and that the generation that is really driving the left is the Baby Boomer generation.

Given all the cutthroat press that Bush has gotten lately, over Abu Ghraib, Iraq planning incompetence, and everything else, you'd think that Kerry would have some momentum. Doesn't seem that way at all. I think almost everyone who votes in this election will do so holding their nose - but to me, Kerry stinks more. If only they had nominated Lieberman.. somehow I don't think my one write-in vote will help.

No one has taken me up on that beer yet. Come on, people, put your liver where your mouth is.

Make it a mocha and you're on.

A few responses to make here:

It's May. Rope-a-Dope Season. They haven't even really begun to exploit Kerry's negatives. And there will be multiple surprises.

Of course. But it's hard to see how those negatives can match Bush's. And "haven't even really begun" isn't quite right, either. Bush has spent $100 million doing that very thing. As long as things look this bad, Kerry's negatives are going to pale in comparison. The question is: how will they make Kerry look worse? Until you can answer that question, I don't see the logic.

Either Edwards or Joe Lieberman would be solid favorites right now, and Kerry is at best even money.

You gotta be kiddin' me. Lieberman would be a more-compromised candidate than Dukakis (for, obviously, very different reasons). As for Doc Jack--I can't find it, but I seem to recall him saying only Edwards could beat Bush. I may be wrong (I'm fairly used to it by now).

That Zogby "poll" showing Kerry ahead in battleground states was an online poll, and is so thinly sourced that you can't even find the number of participants.

False. Here's the methodology: "This poll was conducted by Zogby Interactive, a division of Zogby International, which has been doing online polls since 1998. The poll reflects results from respondents who agreed to take part. Likely voters from each state followed instructions sent by e-mail that led them to the survey located on Zogby's secure servers in Utica, N.Y. Slight weightings were applied to ensure that the selection of participants accurately reflects characteristics of the voting population, including region, party, age, race, religion and gender. This survey was conducted May 18-23. The margin of error varies from state to state depending upon the number of participants in each state. It ranges between +/- 3.0 and +/- 4.6 percentage points. Click on the states to see the margin of error for each.

Number of survey respondents: Arkansas, 497; Florida, 857; Iowa, 588; Michigan, 612; Minnesota, 928; Missouri, 520; Nevada, 532; New Hampshire, 521; New Mexico, 454; Ohio, 579; Oregon, 933; Pennsylvania, 655; Tennessee, 1,057; Washington, 527; West Virginia, 504; Wisconsin, 841."

A beer? I'd love one. Consider it a wager.

The question is: how will they make Kerry look worse? Until you can answer that question, I don't see the logic.

Logic? In a U.S. Presidential election? Bwa to the ha to the ha-ha-ha.

I don't know -- you tell me. They always save the best dirt until the end.

You're right, my bad. But there's this:

> Slight weightings were applied to ensure that the selection of participants accurately reflects characteristics of the voting population, including region, party, age, race, religion and gender.

Slight weightings, huh? Not that I don't trust Zogby, a partisan Democrat known mostly for the inaccuracy of his polls, but.. OK, I don't trust him.

Just for comparison purposes, let's check the last time a personality-challenged Massachusetts liberal ran against a sort-of incumbent - that's right, it's "My people were little people. Little, hairy people" Dukakis. How was he doing at this time in 1988?

Looks like he was up 54-38:

Not that there are any paralells to be drawn from history, or anything. Because that election turned out well for the Ds.

I'll take a Bridgeport IPA, thanks.

Weighting is a common practice in sampling. The notion of sampling depends on finding a group that accurately represents the larger population. If you're polling in a region with a 50-50 split of Dems and Republicans, and you get a 60-40 split of respondents, you make an adjustment.

Zogby, incidentally, has historically had results more favorable to conservatives--and as a result, has been more accurate.

I'll take a Bridgeport IPA, thanks.

See, why don't we all just talk about beer. Anyone who likes BridgePort IPA is all right in my book.

Make mine a Cinder Cone Red, Brett.

I agree, weighting is common and necessary, but it's also a perfect opportunity to mess with the results, if one is so inclined. Also, I'm not sure the D/R affiliation means much any more. Above we have someone (in another thread) who voted for Bush but now thinks he is the worst President ever. I voted for Gore but won't be voting for Kerry. I think there are a substantial number of people for whom 9/11 and the subsequent events skewed their perceptions about the two parties. I hope there are lots like me who saw 9/11 as a declaration of war and don't trust the Democratic root-causes rhetoric. But who knows.

> See, why don't we all just talk about beer. Anyone who likes BridgePort IPA is all right in my book.

Word. I hope that we are including microbreweries among the facilities we are rebuilding in Iraq. I know, Muslims don't drink, but it would do some people some good.

Matt - You're on, though if we're going Deschutes, I'll take a Black Butte.

Brett--I'll say upfront that the most likely scenario I'm finding from a very close reading of current individual state polling, is a Kerry blowout. Something on the order of a 70-100 point bulge in EV. And I'll put my money where my mouth is. Not one beer, but up to FIVE well-drawn pints at the Portland microhouse of your choice.

You are a bit behind the times regarding the status of polling. RealClearPolitics is an excellent clearinghouse; so is Polling Report. Here's the skinny from RCP:

Note that Bush was marginally ahead at the beginning of April, but by the end of May you'll notice that Kerry has begun to assume leads beyond the MoE. Of the 10 most recent polls, Bush is "ahead" in exactly one of them--by a single point.

Electoral conditions post-census do indeed give Bush 7 more EV based on 2000 vote totals. However, he has to actually earn those states again, and at the moment it's not looking good. I can point you to two other EV predictors; neither has Bush in a good position at all. Kerry is fairly well ahead in both OH and PA, while holding his own in all Gore states. The two are completely deadlocked in FL. Whoever wins two of those three races, wins the election.

As for the economy's improvement, Bush has serious trouble there. Ratings for the economy are tracking with ratings for Iraq; geopolitical realities are harming consumer confidence. That, and gas hikes. A predominant reason for pessimism despite recent job gains, is retail inflation. If gas stays at or above where it is now through the summer, that will be the predominant impression of the economy. Even if you have a job, you can tell that more of your money is going out to pay for things, and that leads to bad ratings.

On Zogby: to say it's an "online poll" isn't quite accurate, in the sense that web sites have online polls you click on. This is the phone model transported to email, where the sending of the email is equivalent to dialing the phone. The nature of the response (ie, clicking on the link in the mail and answering the survey, vs saying yes to the interviewer and responding) is much cloudier, and I'd say that's the largest unknown in Zogby's methods. But to say they are less proven externally, is not to make a firm statement on their accuracy. Zogby is a polling maverick to be sure, but during the primaries his numbers were spot-on. He's earned a little wiggle room, IMO.

On young people: check out MSNBC's GENNEXT polling series. They are tracking young folks at levels a couple points worse than the public at large, relative to support for Bush. They are not monolithic to be sure, but they do represent a favorable sub-electorate for Kerry.

Finally, on 1988 and incumbency. Being VP just isn't the same as being the current President. In the former, both are considered challengers in the minds of the public. One may have a leg up in terms of experience or "presidentiality," but the point of incumbency is that there is a record to analzye for the President. In these situations, the first stage of the election season is always a referendum on the incumbent. That's where we are now, and the results of the referendum are dismal to disastrous for Bush. No incumbent has ever been re-elected with favorability and job ratings like these. Similarly, no challenger has ever fared as well as Kerry at this stage.

If you need more documentation in any of these areas, I'd be happy to provide links. And I'm serious about the beer; write down my contact info. I'd give Bush about a 30% chance of winning at the moment.

So since you think it's a blowout, you'd be willing to give me some points, or odds?

Wouldn't you agree that given all the negatives you reference, and given all the negative press that Bush has gotten, Kerry should be polling a lot stronger?

And do you really agree that being a VP is the same as being a newcomer to the scene? In that case, why did Clinton matter to Gore in 2000 at all?

I think a fivefold raising of the stakes is enough of a statement of confidence. :)

No, I don't agree Kerry should be polling a lot stronger. As I said, this part of the election is all about the incumbent. Furthermore, Kerry appears to be intentionally staying low key.

Finally, the relationship between VP and newcomer isn't really relevant, and it's not what I was talking about. I rejected the comparison to 1988 because the VP is not at all the same as an incumbent president. A VP may not be the same as a pure challenger, but given that both have no experience or record as President of the United States, I'd say they share more in common than a VP and a sitting President. 1988 is a poor choice of reference point, especially given than 1992 and 1980 are so much more natural choices.

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
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Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
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Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 8
At this date last year: 0
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In 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
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In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
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In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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