US election minus 54 days

A thread for the discussion of the American elections, now a little less than eight weeks away.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

489 comments on “US election minus 54 days”

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  1. Woah. US threads are back? How exciting!!

    What changed William? Have you employed some new mods or something? Either way it is very good to see, I have missed the US potterings.

    FWIW I think McCain will win.

  2. No, GP, national polls don’t really matter for the US elections. You need to look at state by state polls. The votes there are divided up by each state as you saw upon the map. More populous states get more votes. With the electoral vote system, winner takes all. You win the popular vote in a state even by only 1, you get the electoral votes, all of them. Thus, IF you get a heap of smaller states and their sum total of electoral votes is more than the sum total of electoral votes of the other guy who got fewer but more populous states, it is possible to win the election despite not getting more actual votes cast. An anomoly of the US system which is totally unfair and that was what happened to Gore in 2000. He got more actual votes but because of where they were, he didn’t get the electoral votes to win the election. Can’t explain concept of electoral votes succintly, suggest you dig it up on wikipedia for an explanation (if you don’t know and need one). Try this link –,0,2338623.htmlstory – it allows you to set each state how you please and you can make your own election scenarios. Summing it up – the overall polls are of less value than knowing what each state is going to do. Right wing media would have you scared and believing otherwise. Obama’s position is much clearer and not as dire as the conservative media would have you believe when you look at the data in a meaningful way 🙂

  3. yes, ’98 Beazley and ’00 Gore have much in common in that regard. How different the world could have been had both elections gone the other way …..

  4. I guess no system’s perfect. Even if you had a national poll deciding it I’m sure there would be some kind of problem I can’t think of right now…

  5. No 10

    I’d say the US would have been a better place without Bush. Although, we cannot estimate how either President would have responded to a 9/11 incident.

    But Howard is the greatest Australian PM in History. 😉

  6. There will come a day in the US when there is a supremely close electoral college vote, and we will get a few renegade ‘electors’ in the college vote for somebody they are not elected to vote for, bringing the ridiculous nature of the system into full view. Then, and probably only then, will the US finally turn their back on that outdated system and revert to a popular vote (or something close to it.)

    This election’s had just about everything else, so who knows maybe this will be the time?

    As a side note GP, while I agree with have the same anomaly in our system, it’s a slightly different case in Australia. As users of the Westminster system, we – party politics aside – elect a member to represent us in Canberra, not a party. The US voters elects electors during presidential elections who meet for one day and then never again. So it’s a bit fruitless comparing the two, although I do see your point.

  7. No 13

    Yes, the US system is quite different, but my point was merely a general observation.

    That said, I much prefer Westminster systems. I also might add that constitutional monarchies are disproportionately represented as amongst the most politically, socially and economically stable nations. 😉

  8. That gravatar function is pretty cool. I just found out that The Hermit image in a Tarot card, and on Led Zep IV, is based on Diogenes.

    Has anyone else watched Yup Yup with Gibson? The Repugs just dragged a feisty, pig ignorant looker off the street and gave her a couple of hours tuition on Bush policies and let her loose. She looked like an underprepared student in an exam. What serious person with any interest in US politics doesn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is. She clearly hasn’t even read any newspapers, let alone serious journals like Foreign Affairs. With a complete lack of knowledge of foreign affairs, she should fit in nicely with the US voting public, who struggle to find America on a globe because all those other countries they never knew existed confuse them.

  9. juliem @ 8,
    Only half agree with your comment about the State-by-State analysis being where it’s at.
    Sure, if it’s very close, it will be the key 5 or 10 States that decide it, and that would be where pundits need to focus.
    However if one candidate is well ahead overall it pretty much (for practical purposes, anyway) must be that they will have the Electoral College sewn up.
    Right now, it seems to me that the polls are in a state of flux: two conventions, and a new, totally unexpected candidate, all within the past three weeks. Give ’em a couple more weeks and we might have some idea what’s really going on.
    The only key take-out right now is the Repubs seem energised and the Dems, who’ve felt this election to be theirs for the taking ever since the mid-terms in 2006, are suddenly very jittery.

  10. Diogenes,
    She’s hopeless, I haven’t revised my original impression.
    But she may be a vote-winner, I’m feeling a bit shaky about Obama right now.

  11. “Wayne Swan is the worst Treasurer in living memory.” Another great joke by GP. Stop it, stop it, I don’t think I can handle this uncontolled laughing. Next you will be telling me the joke that goes something like “Costello was the greatest treasurer we’ve ever had”. That one cuts me up too.

  12. GP,
    The question is can Palin do the job. And the job is President, the V-P’s main purpose (in normal times) is to be ready to step in.
    I don’t think she can. It’s not about ideology, I don’t especially like her ideology but that is not the point.
    The point is that the President has to be able to lead the free world. (This phrase is only a cliche because it’s true and relevant.)
    In order to lead the free world, you’ve got to know something about other countries (the goodies and baddies and the in-betweens, as it were). Does Palin? I doubt it.
    Compare her to McCain, Obama, H. Clinton, Condi, etc, etc. She’s not even close.

  13. Diogenes,
    She’s hopeless, I haven’t revised my original impression.
    But she may be a vote-winner, I’m feeling a bit shaky about Obama right now.

    She reminds me of a cross between Corky Sherwood of Murphy Brown fame and Rosanne Barr.

  14. NOTE: Exemption made for Possum because he’s special – PB.

    GP went “Wayne Swan is the worst Treasurer in living memory.”

    Swan is worse than Jim Cairns?

    Pull the other one, it plays Bill Hayden! :mrgreen:

    Swan is an unusual Treasurer in that he probably knows the tax/welfare transfer system inside out more than anyone else in Parliament. Not sure about his bigger macro knowledge, but for his entire career he’s shown a willingness and inclination to get across his brief.

    I think he will probably turn out to be pretty good, and his strengths will come to the fore after the inevitable tax/welfare reviews and with issues like pension payment reform.

    Mediocre to terrible public speaking capability under pressure though.

  15. GP

    She wants to Vice-President of the USA. That’s quite an important job, especially if McCain dies. Palin’s lack of knowledge of the world makes her dangerous. I saw this today “And the election will become about who’s dumber and more ignorant. And you know which party’s going to win that one.” She might win. I think America deserves her.

    PS I love the phrase “elitist snob”. Ron would be proud of you.

  16. No 37

    The next best pick for VP would have been Ron Paul. A fantastic candidate – the truest bastion of small government and freedom.

  17. GP

    I really like Ron Paul. I had a forlorn hope that he might get somewhere. He’s got a very loyal support basis. Unfortunately it was only 5% of the Repugs. I quite liked Huckabee too as a person. In a perverse way, I thought he was a decent and honest guy standing up for principles.

  18. I could have accepted a McCain win with a regular VP pick. But Palin simply makes it essential they do not win – however if the polls are accurate then they are in with a good chance of that.

    The Palin pick is not only irresponsible to the USA but also to the world. Imagine if China or Russia had a deputy like that, not that they work like that.

  19. Experience for oiliness , just a one term US Senator , is community service so plainly thats insufficent , and worse than equivalent to our Maxine trying to be PM at next Election

    Placing th Free World in hands of a novice is just foolish and if th roles were reversed you guys would be saying that , but of course that would be truthful

    Seems odd to me there US system US candidate system , has thrown th 4th best candidate on Democrats side being oiliness , and of 4 on th Republicans side threw up 3 of th 4 who were totally unacceptable Rudi , Huck & Romney , and th 5th was “a castaway” being Ron Paul who I struggled in Debated often to disagree with him

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