US election minus 48 days

A new thread for discussion of matters American, as the polls return to level pegging following the Republicans’ convention bounce.

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.

574 comments on “US election minus 48 days”

  1. Grog @ 7,

    Obama should get the following as traditional Democratic states in the Midwest – Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Deleware and the whole NE block of states. Indiana and Ohio are more iffy, traditionally. They are more like the deep south, demographically. You might have heard in other places that Pennsylvania ought to vote as does Ohio. Not the case. Do not be at all surprised to see McCain get both Ohio and Indiana. Obama won’t get Missouri, it is traditionally Republican. Don’t think even if Obama could get 100% black voter turnout at the polls that he would still lose Missouri. It is possible for Obama to win and NOT carry those 3 states (MO, OH, IN) so we need to see him retain the traditionally Democratic base in the midwest and he will be fine.

  2. “By then I had already concluded that that there was a disturbingly erratic side of McCain’s nature. There’s a certain lack of seriousness in him. And he does not appear to be a reflective man, or very interested in domestic issues. One cannot imagine him ruminating late into the night about, say, how to educate and train Americans for the new global and technological challenges. ”

  3. Palin was forced on McCain, he wanted Lieberman as his running mate!
    The critical voting bloc this time will be Hispanics: if more than 60% vote for Obama, he’ll capture New Mexico and Nevada.

  4. Ronster

    Read it and weep. And it’s from electoral-vote, which is one of your approved sources. Do Americans want McCain with Gramm as his Treasurer? No how! No way! No Gramm-McCain!

    [What he doesn’t talk much about is how deregulation happened. It was the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act and thus eliminated the depression-era walls between between banking, investment, and insurance that made this crisis possible. Glass-Stegall erected walls between banking, investment management, and insurance, so problems in one sector could not spill over into the others, which is precisely what is happening now. The primary author of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was none other than McCain’s economic advisor, former senator Phil Gramm (who thinks the country is in a “mental recession”). McCain fully supported the bill and has a decades-long track record of opposing government regulation of the financial industry. His new-found conversion to being a fan of regulation is going to be a tough sell as Obama is already pointing out that McCain got what he wanted (deregulation) and this is the consequence.]

  5. Diogenes @ 55,

    I hope Obama can make a lot of political hay with this one …… thanks for the post. Even though I lived in the US at that time (1999), I had no idea. Most Americans tend to go out of their way to ignore Washington et. al (unless its election time or there is an issue going on of particular local importance). Cheers 🙂

  6. Obama is onto and all over McCain with this one. McCain’s initial response this week to the financial crisis was to say he would establish a commission. Here was Obama’s response while campaigning in New Mexico 😉 ….


    Today in Espanola, New Mexico, Barack Obama nailed it. In discussing the economy, he attacked McCain’s idea of creating a commission to deal with our economic crisis.

    He said something like, “We don’t need no stinkin’ commission!”

    What we need is honest talk and real solutions. Senator McCain’s first answer to this economic crisis was – get ready for it – a commission. That’s Washington-speak for “we’ll get back to you later.” Folks, we don’t need a commission to spend a few years and a lot of taxpayer money to tell us what’s going on in our economy. We don’t need a commission to tell us gas prices are high or that you can’t pay your bills. We don’t need a commission to tell us you’re losing your jobs. We don’t need a commission to study this crisis, we need a President who will solve it – and that’s the kind of President I intend to be. “

  7. Lest those who wonder why I am so suspicious of McCain on economic matters think it is purely a republican- democrat thing, McCain’s (dubious) history on financial matters stretches right back to the Savings and Loan scandals of the late 1980s. Read about his part in the “Keating Five”.

    So much for the maverick reformer. He has had links with these people since day one. I don’t pretend that Obama will solve everything, but there is no chance McCain will. The prime objective for some of his backers to get him elected is to keep themselves out of jail.

  8. “We need a President who will solve it.” Well, yes, Barack, but how? I doubt he has the smallest beginnings of a clue. Is Obama in favour of re-regulating Wall St by reinstating Glass-Steagall or something like it? I don’t think he has said so. That might close the stable door, but the horse has already bolted. What in fact is Obama’s economic policy, beyond hope, faith and charity?

  9. Thanks, Juliem. I see some populist giveaways, I see populist and regressive protectionism, I see some good stuff about employee rights, I see some tinkering with bankruptcy laws. I see some easy phrases about “cracking down” on fraud in the mortgage industry. But fraud isn’t the problem, the problem is irresponsible deregulation. I don’t see a commitment to re-regulate Wall St. He can’t slam McCain for having supported deregulation (which he did), unless he commits to re-regulation.

  10. [Obama is easily the most liberal, leftist presidential candidate in history]

    Ron says he’s a rightie, GP says he’s a leftie… you Obama bashers have got to get your stories straight

  11. Adam

    The horse has bolted analogy does not justify inaction. There are still horses left in the stable. The rest of the world’s financial system remaining after the collapse of a half dozen institutions is still worth saving. Reregulation seems prudent at this point. As a minimum, the private players who have been found to be incapable of doing their role (eg rating agencies) must be regulated or replaced by government bodies. We will still have a free market, but there needs to be a policeman and accurate reporting of performance for it to work reliably. If that requires regulation then so be it.

    Obama gave a speech back in march 2008 where he identified the need for new regulation. See

  12. Socrates, I agree. If Obama has committed to reregulation, then I approve. I think I may be about to flip on this election. Neither candidate has any economic credentials, but I think traditional Democrat policies will serve better to clean up this Republican mess, just as they did under FDR. I still think Obama is dangerously underqualified to be president, but we may have to live with that.

    By the way, I read recently that when Truman became president, not only had he never met any foreign heads of government, he had never met the Secretary of State!

  13. Parts of the Democrats have been banging on for a while about the need for tighter capital requirements and lifting prudential standards – it’s a bit arcane, but I’ll try and find a link. An Obama presidency remember will be a Democrat presidency first and foremost (and same with McCain/Republican) as it *always* is. In terms of party based economic horsepower to deploy at making the US financial system more robust – the Democrats win hands down on that.

    One of the reasons why Clinton ran a pretty succesful economic policy was because of the Democrat economic intelligence base that was either attached to the party or generally gathers around it in terms of the economics profession.

    To give an idea, check out the list here:

    That’s a list of serious names and serious expertise (so saying there’s the odd goose and ideologue hanging around).

    As strange as it may seem (to me at least, anyway), it’s actually the Republicans that have a more ideologically driven advisory group than the Dems on economic policy and that’s really been the case since Clinton.

  14. On why Obama hasnt said exactly what he’d do – he might go down that road a little today or tomorrow going by this speech yesterday:

    Yet, there’s is a really good reason he doesn’t come out and start banging on about prudential requirements and releasing a 42 step plan for a new, robust regulatory system for the US financial sector – even if he had one, he’d sound like a liberal elitist egg-head the moment he started talking about it.

  15. Why did not Obama support McCain in 2006 in senate when McCain forcast this financial mess and predicted it would be from poor regulation ?

    McCain in Senate 2006 :
    “(I give) my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the OVERALL financial system, and the economy as a WHOLE.”

    We ignore th 1999 deregulation Gramm-Leach-Bliley-Act where 90% of Democrats voted for it including Biden , whilst McCain abstained ?

    Seems a lot of selective ignoring of history , and now reliance on Obama retrospectively now learning what McCain forcast in advance , virtual reality land

  16. Relating to the “One vote, Actually quite different value” system in the WA legislative council on the other thread, the Electoral College system in the US is a complete joke!

    In the Electoral college, Wyoming has three electors and a population of 522,830, so each Elector represents 174,277 individuals.

    Texas on the other hand has 34 electors and a population of 23,904,380 so each Elector represents 703,070 individuals.

    So basically, a vote in Wyoming is four times more valuable than a vote in Texas.

    However, the low population states with such enormous over-representation seem to be split fairly evenly between the Democrats and Republicans (vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, DC, Alaska and the Dakotas) so it doesn’t seem to be an obvious gerrymander. But still, I’d be pretty unimpressed if I were a Texan.

  17. As with all predictions I could be wrong but I believe McCain is toast. He’s played his ace and the effect of that has worn off. It seems the polls are shifting back in favour of Obama. The trend has been there for the last 3 or 4 days and is not abating even with the latest economic upheavels. If anything the polls are getting stronger for Obama. The republican brand will wear this like a scar up to the election.,23739,24369923-954,00.html

  18. Diogenes

    The delegate misallocation is a historical accident but to be fair it does provoke a lot of debate in the US, notably after the 2000 election where Gore clearly won the popular vote. However changing it is hard as obviously teh favoured states will oppose reform. The rule is that edlegates are alloacted based ona combination of senators plus congressmen for each state. Because each state gets the same two senators, small states are favoured. At first it was a reasonable system, but over time as the difference in size between states has grown, so have the anomalies. It is explained well here:

    We are not much better. The guarantee for Tasmania to have a minimum of 5 reps seats results in anomalies in our electorates too, but not as bad as in the US. But if we had 50 states varying as much in size, we wouldn’t be much better.

  19. Ron, the reason why Obama didnt support that particular piece of legislative rubbish is probably the same reasons that next to no one supported it – it was killed in the Senate by, well…. just about everyone – never seeing action on the floor.

    When even the American Enterprise Institute thinks it’s rubbish on the basis of the dangers of the lax regulatory regime it would have permitted the toxic twins Fannie and Freddie to operate under – it’s hardly something to be quoting as an example of good foresight.

    The current mess would have been worse if that Bill was passed since it was basically all about substituting government oversite for a private company to do the job which was half owned by Fannie and Freddie – basically enabling them to set their own prudential requirements! Fark me dead! It also removed Federal Home Loan Banks from a number of securities reporting requirements.

    What a charming mess it all would have become.

  20. The debacle in 2000 didn’t have anything to do with the over-representation of small states in the EC. Bush carried AK, ID, WY, MT, ND, SD, NH. Gore carried HI, DE, VT, ME, RI, so they just about cancelled out. The problem in 2000 was the EXISTENCE of the EC, which negated Gore’s popular vote lead by wasting his huge leads in CA and NY. Carrying CA by a million votes gets you no more ECV than carrying it by one vote.

  21. I know you have all seen these but it does make my day posting them.

    Obama up by 1.9% nationally on RCP
    Obama by 10% and 1% in Colorado (my litmus test state)
    Up by 8% and 7% in New Mexico
    Up by 1% and down by 1% in Ohio

    Nothing from Nevada but the West is looking promising.

  22. Adam

    True on 2000; the EC system is an anachronism.

    We are also agreed on the need for reregulation. I don’t think Obama will be brilliant at it, but I can’t see McCain doing it at all so Obama will have to do. Having promised banking reform, if elected Obama will have to do it; to not do so in the midst of a recession would be politically fatal for him. My original preference was Hillary anyway, but its too late for that now.

    Poss is right, nobody in US politics has been serious about financial reform until recently. Joseph Stiglitz in his book “The Roaring Nineties” gave some honest comments in hindsight on why Clinton failed to act when he was economics advisor. But it all got a lot worse after the CDO/CDS market really took off in 2002. Failure to act since then has been indefensible.

  23. “With a record that defines two decades plus in voting to deregulate and remove oversight control from the financial sector. John McCain is floundering in the wake of the greatest financial meltdown to occur since the Great depression of 1929.

    The GOP ticket has been forced into a defensive posture and polls which had Arizona’s senior Senator ahead by a couple points, have reversed leaving Senator Obama with a slight lead in the race to win the white house.
    Polls also indicate a vast majority of registered voters feel republican policy is to blame for the crises on Wall Street. A fact the Obama campaign is wasting no time in communicating to undecided voters. They point out the John McCain claiming to be the agent of change has spent his career as one of the most vocal advocates of the very deregulation which allowed the crises to blossom just weeks from Election Day.”

  24. Diogenes

    I can’t recall the link but someone in teh US actually did a map of home foreclosure rates and unemployment rates by state due to the sub-prime crisis a few months ago, to identify political impacts. The correlation with primary voting trends was clear at the time. It would be interesting to see it again now, as it might show where the greatest gains for Obama will be.

  25. Diogenes and Socrates,

    I didn’t see the original source article that you are referring to but I did read about 3 weeks back in the online paper for Detroit (I’m from Michigan so regularly keep on top of their news) that 60% of the forclosures nationwide were for addresses in the state of Michigan. Michigan traditionally votes Democratic although it isn’t as wide a margin as can be expected in New York or California, usually somewhere in the 1 to 5% range I think.

  26. Socrates, I’ve clicked on a few of those links (investigated parts of NY, NV and MI). Will admit I don’t know the standards by which the Free Press got that data NOR do I know the standards by which the site you’ve visted defines “forclosure rates” in order to rank the states the way that they did. Do they rank based up on raw numbers of how many homes? Is it based upon the dollar value of the homes forclosed? (less more expensive homes would rate higher than fewer lesser dollar value homes). One thing I can tell you though is that Wayne county in Michigan (county which encompasses Detroit) has between 7200 to 7300 homes on their list. Of the 10 counties I checked in 3 states, this was far and away the largest number I could find (in outright numbers of homes within a specific county).

  27. Juliem

    I don’t know. Most of the stuff I looked up was simple proportion of mortgages being foreclosed. I don’t recall seeing statistics based on value. I haven’t got time to look at this further now, but I’m sure if you dug you might get foreclosure rate by state or county.

  28. FYI,

    ABC1 will be broadcasting the US Presidential debates.

    [ABC TV will be broadcasting all four U.S. Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates live and uninterrupted on ABC1*, as well as streaming online at

    The ninety-minute debates will screen as part of a series of ABC News Midday Report Specials over the next four weeks.

    The presenter of ABC’s Midday Report, Ros Childs, will introduce the debates and return at the conclusion with debate highlights and analysis, as well as the latest national and international news.

    “There is strong public interest around the world in the outcome of this year’s historic U.S. Presidential Elections,” says ABC Director of News, John Cameron. “That interest extends to both the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. ABC’s live coverage of these historic debates provides an opportunity for all Australians to see and hear these debates first-hand, and is part of ABC News’ commitment to providing comprehensive coverage of local, national and international events.”

    Full details of the broadcasts are as follows:

    Live on ABC 1 and online at

    Saturday September 27
    11.00am – 12.30pm U.S. First Presidential Debate
    12.30pm – 1.00pm Midday Report

    Friday October 3
    11.00am – 12.30pm U.S. Vice Presidential Debate
    12.30pm – 1.00pm Midday Report

    Wednesday October 8
    12.00pm – 1.30pm U.S. Second Presidential Debate
    1.30pm – 2.00pm Midday Report

    Thursday October 16
    12.00pm – 1.30pm U.S. Third Presidential Debate
    1.30pm – 2.00pm Midday Report

    *The debates will be broadcast live on television in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, ACT and Tasmania, and on delay in South Australia, NT and Western Australia. Online streaming of the debates will be live. ]

  29. ADAM
    Posted Friday, September 19, 2008 at 11:46 am
    “Ron, says McCain voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Can we get a source which will clarify this?”

    I posted th below yesterday , and THEREFORE naturally my #51 post today referred to FINAL BILL However since my yesrterday post of full info th whole thread has disappeared Seems

    ALL Obama internet sites mischeviously ignore voting on th Final Bill causing there rusted on supporters to repeat incomplete info

    Th 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Bill (effectively a “deregulation” Bill amongst other things) was pased on 6th May 1999 the bills by a 54-44 vote (1 abstention) along Party lines support in Senate but by a slightly different bill version was passed 343-86 vote in HoR

    FINAL BILL resulted from resolving th version differences between th 2 Houses following negotiations & conferences and were finally resolved and making it a joint Houses Bill which on 4th november 1999 was passed in the Senate 90-8 (1 abstention being JOHN McCAIN) and in the House of Reps 362-57 (15 abstentions)

    Passed 6th May 1999

    Passed 4th November 1999…BIDEN voting “YES” and McCAIN abstaining
    ps/ above made it veto proof and so Billy Clinton could not veto it , which he signed as Law 12th november 1999

    So VP BIDEN is anti regulation and McCain abstained Broader picture is Party-wise both politcal Partys overwhelming votes were for deregulation , a bit hard for some to accept

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