what you never know

I always try to keep in mind that life in the real world is hard to predict, but like everyone I also find myself turning to previous cases that are similar enough to this one, to try to predict anyway. Six months ago I thought McCain had a real chance, and after the RNC I was sure it would be a close race. It was only last week when the polls seemed to just keep getting tougher for him, and Obama just kept cruising along, that I finally felt like maybe we didn’t have to worry that much. But after that last debate and a few positive pop culture appearances for McCain and Palin (Letterman, the Alfred E Smith show, SNL) I could see McCain just being the easy going nice guy underdog, not worrying about it, and Obama trying too hard and irritating everyone with his constant barrage of boring politician-ads. I’m reminded that it doesn’t matter what happened last time or how things go in what percentage of times. All that matters is what is happening right now and how things are going this time.

So it’s a false sense of security to look at 95% likelihood of winning… That site is based on a baseball stat model, which is hardly based on beliefs and psychology at all, and mostly on facts and abilities. BUt politics is all about opinions and group tendencies. It’s a whole different ball game, so to speak. Also, teams actually win and lose multiple times a week, whereas in politics it’s just polls multiple times a week that are providing numbers – the actual “game” only happens once, and could be totally misrepresented by polls the whole time, for a whole host of reasons.

I know the Tribune endorsed him, and that overall more newspapers have gone with Obama. Plus today Colin Powell endorsed Obama. But this is all for people who are following politics on purpose, not for people who just catch sight of things here or there. And Colin is sort of part of the old school anyway. So even with all this I feel like things are less secure now than they were, that McCain has found more of his groove, talking anti-socialism and being a fun guy. Not that it will work, but I think it will be closer.

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6 Responses to “what you never know”

  1. rushmc Says:

    Three things trouble me still at this point:

    1) The fact that despite having the best candidate in my lifetime vs. a terrible candidate of the same party (and policies, for the most part) as the incumbent–the worst president in history–the polls still hover around 50/50;
    2) “Hidden” racism that may show up in the privacy of the voting booth;
    3) Dirty tricks and vote theft, which have clearly contributed to the Republican “wins” in the past two elections.

    No euphoria over “won” debates or ephemeral poll numbers can erase these fears.

  2. drinkme Says:

    I think I read too much stuff online and not enough in real-world news, as I keep seeing much bigger spreads than that. All the blogs seem to have the Obama ahead by at least 7 or 8 points, though they will often mention how the “mainstream media” is acting like it’s a close race. I was going to do a post about that, actually…

    I don’t know if Obama is the best candidate of my lifetime; in a lot of ways he’s a pretty unlikely candidate and it’s luck that he could run at such a bad time so he has such a good chance. That americans are going to vote for a black guy with the middle name Hussein who is kind of academic/ boring when it comes to debates / talk shows / impressions, is sort of fantastic already… he was excellent at running the primary, and is a great orator, but he has plenty of down sides, and if the Repubs had a stronger candidate or it weren’t such a bad year, they’d be able to squash him. If it were just 00 or 04, they’d have squashed him.

    I am somewhat worried about racism and I don’t know about vote theft stuff…

  3. peacay Says:

    I hope one of the longer form journalists decides to elaborate on Powell’s nugget regarding Muslims. It was an important message on inclusiveness that deserves to be highlighted and discussed, but is obviously far overshadowed by his announcement of support for BO. It must have been some awful life for a lot of non-traditional named peoples these last 7 or so years I’d be thinking.

  4. rushmc Says:


    What are his “plenty of down sides”?

  5. drinkme Says:

    As a standard candidate trying to beat a strong republican candidate? That he’s black, has a weird name, has associations with terrorists, that there are pictures of him not crossing his heart by a flag, that he has no military experience, that he comes out of dirty chicago, that he’s a professor, his father was muslim, his mother was atheist, he seems half hearted in his christianity, his pastor hates america, there’s video of him laughing during bible study…

    These things have been brought up but not very effectively, or just haven’t been very effective. I think part of that is that McCain just doesn’t have the money, part of it is obama is good at deflecting, and part of it is the situation this year is too serious to get caught on such things. I think in other years, those things would have been huge, the way swift boat and riding in a tank and whatever other nonsense became big. I like Obama, but this is a weird race, kind of right place, right time… and even so, it isn’t universal – that’s why Palin has become a symbol for some other people (since McCain is not a symbol for anyone…)

    And then there are people like me, not looking for symbols, a little mystified by the whole thing. I just want someone who will be a decent president, no religious crowds, please. I’ll vote Obama, even don’t mind if he wants to be transformational, but I’m not counting on it or anything. Just some common sense.

    Peacay, I think anyone who’d read the longer form journalists already felt that way about muslims – sort of preaching to converted.

  6. rushmc Says:

    Oh, my bad. I thought you meant ACTUAL downsides, not just things which might keep ignorant people from voting for him.

    And I would submit that the “savior” mantle laid on Obama is not his doing or his choice, but is the result of a) media coverage choices and b) the great relief of much of the voting population for a sane, reasonable, somewhat progressive candidate after such a long drought. Kind of churlish to blame him for it.

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