Virginia is for Voters

Virginia has a nonpartisan election board. The rest of us ought to (though we need a backer for the cause).

Lots of people are talking about how likely election chaos in Florida and Ohio—by design; the Republicans in charge of both states (in the case of Ohio, the Secretary of State more than the Governor) have done everything they can to make it as hard as possible for people to vote, in the hope that this will disenfranchise far more would-be Democratic voters than Republican ones.

Nobody is saying that about Virginia. Why not? It has a nonpartisan election board , whose website seems unusually helpful and informative. It does have a Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, but it doesn’t supervise elections: it’s basically a personnel office that vets applications for state commissions.

Why don’t more states follow Virginia’s example? Every state with a partisan—or, to my mind, nonpartisan—election for the election-watchers is an anti-democratic train wreck waiting to happen. Many states, including California, have a long tradition of elected Secretaries of State who have managed elections impartially, ranging from glorified nonentities like March Fong Eu to people who went on to grander things like the current governor, Jerry Brown. But lots of states that thought they had long traditions to this effect rapidly sloughed them off once the new breed of Republican got elected Secretary.

People who propose federal-level uniformity in how we run elections need to read the Constitution, which leaves election administration to the states (and leaves ratification of amendments to the states as well, which are not likely to take kindly to the suggestion that the federal government can supervise elections more reliably than they). But state-by-state campaigns for nonpartisan election boards would face no constitutional problems. Their absence reflects, presumably, the lack of an interested constituency with money behind it. If only Molly Munger had a stronger sense of civic virtue than of her own importance..for now, calling Nicholas Berggruen?

This is not a prediction

… but wouldn’t it be nice of Mitt Romney actually got 47% of the popular vote? Not likely, but not impossible.

Nate Silver’s final (?) projection is Obama +2.7, 50.9-48.2. That would be a little bit better than Bush did in 2004, and probably produce a decisive Electoral-College result that even the Ohio Secretary of State and the Florida Governor between them couldn’t reverse.

But I’ve always been the greedy sort. Silver has not adjusted his figures for any sort of systematic polling bias (in the technical, rather than the pejorative, sense of that term. So if in fact the specialty Latino polling showing a 50% Obama margin in that group is more accurate than the 30% margin that shows up in most national polls, and if Latinos are estimated to be 7% of the voters, that would add 1.4% to the margin, making for a convincing popular-vote margin of 4.1%, 51.6-47.5. If in addition the pollsters’ likely voter screens fail to fully account for increased Latino enthusiasm for voting in the wake of the Arizona law and Latinos accounted for 8% of the vote rather than 7%, that would add another half-point to the margin. Add another half-point for the Obama ground game, and we’re at a 5.1% win. That still wouldn’t be as impressive as the 7.2% margin of 2008, but then Sarah Palin isn’t running this year.

More to the point, the final tally – assuming Silver is right that 0.9% goes to third parties – would give Barack Obama 52.1% of the popular vote, and Mitt Romney … 47%.

If that happens I might have to re-evaluate my position on the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent Ruler of the Universe.

Fantasy and reality

There’s Peggy Noonan’s theory about Barack Obama. And there’s the man in action. They don’t jibe.

It’s hard to sum up the mendacity and the obscurantism of today’s GOP in a single column. But the real pros are up for the hard tasks.

Peggy Noonan, who taught Ronald Reagan the fine art of political lying, has her pants on fire (again). She starts out  with a pround proclamation of ignorance: “Nobody knows anything.”  But she doesn’t mean it; what she means is that she knows everything, based on nothing in particular, while those who study datam are mere menials, beneath her notice. Then she explains how she knows that Mitt Romney will defeat Barack Obama: she can read it in Obama’s body language:

This is not a man who feels himself on the verge of a grand victory. His campaign doesn’t seem president-sized. It is small and sad and lost, driven by formidable will and zero joy. I suspect both Romney and Obama have a sense of what’s coming, and it’s part of why Romney looks so peaceful and Obama so roiled.

Keep that in mind as you watch what Obama describes as “the last political rally I’ll ever do – for me.”



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“Small and sad and lost”? In Peggy Noonan’s dreams.

AEI expert predicts Obama loss

Really! The source is very close to the McCain campaign.

This sounds scary:

I just talked to one of my best Team McCain sources who told me that heading into today all the key battleground polls were moving hard and fast in their direction. The source, hardly a perma-optimist, thinks it will be a long night, but that McCain is going to win. So add this with the new Battleground poll (Obama +1.9 only) and the rising stock market..

Oh, wait …

What’s amazing is that the Red team does this year after year, and people keep getting fooled by it.

[h/t Tweet @Jonathan Chait]

Update And, on cue, here’s this year’s version.

And there will be no professional repercussions for Toby Harnden when the bogositude is revealed tomorrow evening.

Second update And here’s the retraction. It’s surprising but true that Red team supporters don’t seem to get tired of being lied to by their own side.

Gallup: the other shoe drops

Gallup goes from Romney +5 pre-Sandy to Romney +1 post-Sandy. “Hidden wave”? Not so much.

Gallup comes in with Thurs-Sun poll: Romney 49 – Obama 48 among LVs; Obama 49 Romney 46 among RVs; Obama job approval now 52-45. The last pre-Sandy poll had Romney up by 5, which made Gallup an outlier. Maybe these numbers were goosed just a little to help Gallup climb down from that limb, or maybe this reflects real movement toward Obama since the storm, consistent with other polling. This won’t stop Republican fantasists from dreaming of a “hidden wave” election, but it removes the last bit of evidence of a Romney lead.

Ground game

Registered to vote in VA 10/5. Just got my second GOTV call from the Obama campaign.

I registered to vote in Virginia one month ago.

First phone call from the Obama campaign was last Thursday. Second call just now.

Both from live human beings, not robots.

“Do you plan to vote? Do you plan to vote for Obama? Do you know where to vote? Do you need a ride?”

I’m impressed. But I’m also a bit disappointed that no word was said about the very competitive Senate and House races. Sometimes I worry that Obama might be taking all that post-partisan bushw seriously.

Update Another live call at 5 pm, this time from Charlottesville. I didn’t hear the phone, so they left a message, mentioning all three candidates and giving me the polling station address.

Why I take the N.C. election personally

This is a personal story.

I am a strong supporter of President Obama primarily because I agree with his policy views, and I think his re-election provides the best chance for the best policy going forward. However, my support of him does not explain why I have worked so hard on the grassroots “get out the vote” aspects of his campaigns in 2008 and again this year (I didn’t go door-to-door for President Clinton, or for VP Gore or Sen Kerry).

The reason is encapsulated in this television commercial, the so-called “Hands” ad that appeared in the 1990 North Carolina Senate race between Senator Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt.

Continue reading “Why I take the N.C. election personally”

Final entrail-reading*

Update Gallup comes in with Thurs-Sun poll: Romney 49 – Obama 48 among LVs; Obama 49 Romney 46 among RVs; Obama job approval now 52-45. The last pre-Sandy poll had Romney up by 5, which made Gallup an outlier. Maybe these numbers were goosed just a little to help Gallup climb down from that limb, or maybe this reflects real movement toward Obama since the storm, consistent with other polling. This won’t stop Republican fantasists from dreaming of a “hidden wave” election, but it removes the last bit of evidence of a Romney lead.

Obama back up to +4.5 in the RAND panel, now 50%-45.5%, after factoring in a 5-point intensity gap.

Obama winning Latinos by 50 points, a much bigger margin than he had four years ago and a somewhat bigger margin than shown in most of the big national polls. For example, Pew has Obama 50-47 overall, 66-27 among Latinos, who make up 7% of the sample. The difference between a 50-point spread and a 39-point spread, applied to 7% of the population, would increase Obama’s overall margin by eight-tenths of a percentage point. If that’s typical, then the 2.1% popular-vote margin now projected by Nate Silver should be nearly 3%.

*Unless Gallup decides to post again.