Monday, September 01, 2008

Obama's dead cat bounce

Larry Sabato collects the data on post convention bounces. They almost always happen, but they often don't always say much about November. In the past twelve elections, the Democratic nominee failed, like Obama has failed, to bounce three times. The most pertinent example is, I suspect, John Kerry who remained at 48% - a point or so over where Obama is now and about where Kerry wound up in the end.

My theory is that we are entrenched. If I am right, McCain won't move either. If Palin knocks one out, it may rub off on the ticket. If, ironically, McCain finds the post-partisan voice that Obama turned away from, he may move. But I don't expect the numbers to change.


Anonymous said...

Not sure if Palin will "knock one out" but the daughter's boyfriend "knocked one up"...

T.F. said...


What he said:

"I have said before and I will repeat again: People's families are off limits," Obama said. "And people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18 and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be a topic of our politics."

And what she--liberal blogger Hilzoy--said:

It's easy, in the midst of a political campaign, to forget that the people involved are, after all, people. Some of them -- Sarah Palin, for instance -- place themselves under a media spotlight of their own free will. Others -- her daughter, for instance -- wind up there through no fault of their own. Imagine yourself in her position: there you are, seventeen years old, pregnant, unmarried. Maybe you understand what happened and why; and maybe your parents and friends do as well. But zillions of bloggers and reporters and pundits are about to make the most personal details of your life into a political issue, and they don't understand it at all. And yet, despite that, they are about to use you and your unborn child to score points on one another, without any regard whatsoever for you and your actual situation.

I want no part of this. None at all. To those of you who think otherwise: that's your right. But ask yourself how you felt when Republicans scored points using Chelsea Clinton, who didn't ask to be dragged into the spotlight either.

As far as I'm concerned, it's fair game to consider Sarah Palin's statements about her daughter's decision, and to compare them to her own views about abortion. That's a story about whether or not Sarah Palin sticks to her beliefs when they affect her own family, not about her daughter. But it is not fair game to use her daughter, or any of her kids, as pawns in a political argument. To my mind, this extends to using her daughter as evidence that abstinence-only education doesn't work: presumably, no one thinks that it works 100% of the time, and that's the only claim to which this one counterexample could possibly be relevant. (That's why God created large-scale studies.) Likewise, I think that arguing about whether Sarah Palin is a good mother is out of line: we have no idea at all what arrangements she and her husband have made for child care, how their relationship works, and so forth. Assuming that Sarah Palin would have to be her children's primary caregiver is just sexist.

Seth Zlotocha said...

the post-partisan voice that Obama turned away from

Huh? How are you defining post-partisan here? I hope its something less superficial than the biographies of the two respective VP selections (i.e., Biden as veteran senator, Palin as outsider). Obama's conception of post-partisanship is an approach to problem-solving, not merely stacking the deck with fresh-faces. More specifically, it's based on moving away from the unilateralist politics of the current administration (utilizing blatant divisiveness) and the triangulation of the Clinton administration (utilizing subtle divisiveness). It's based on remaining issue-oriented rather than character-driven. And, as the Obama statement pointed out by Jim C. above makes clear, Obama is as committed to that position as ever. Granted, I'm sure you don't buy any of it, but how exactly has Obama turned away from it?

And, while I hold to my belief expressed in your last comment thread that a bounce (and the national polls in general) means little compared to breakdowns of the electoral map, it's probably worth pointing out the CBS poll released today.

Rick Esenberg said...

The reason that I don't buy into is that it is incoherent. You have tried many times to explain it here and have never succeeded. That's not a knock on you. I'm not sure anyone could.

Obama decided to use his speech to go after John McCain - and it didn't help him much.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with this choice to do so. But when Obama attacks McCain, he doesn't do it any differently or in any different spirit than any other pol. You think that it's divisive to emphasize social issues or foreign policy differences because you don't like the position of those who emphasize them.

But why is it any less divisive or more issue-oriented to emphasize class issues and run on economic populism?

As for the polls, I tend to look at them together and discount the outliers. Zogby has one out that shows McCain in the lead. I'm not dancing behind that one.

Seth Zlotocha said...

The reason that I don't buy into is that it is incoherent. You have tried many times to explain it here and have never succeeded. That's not a knock on you. I'm not sure anyone could.

You've never explained what's incoherent about it. You've merely done what you do here and confuse it with ideology.

Yes, Obama has a liberal set of positions on most issues. That's different than how you approach policymaking and problem-solving. It's like the difference between a Rick Warren and a James Dobson; both maintain an equally strong belief in Christianity, but how they approach advocating on behalf of those beliefs is entirely different. How is that incoherent or difficult to understand?

But when Obama attacks McCain, he doesn't do it any differently or in any different spirit than any other pol.

That's not true at all. Yes, Obama has criticized McCain, but he's done so through issues, as opposed to the pure character assassination offered up by the McCain camp.

I'd say the Obama camp came closest to diverging from the issues on the houses gaffe, but even that was at least tied to explaining how McCain views the economy in a top-down manner as a means for critiquing his trickle down policies, unlike the celeb ads and the accusations that Obama puts his own ambition ahead of the country's security. Those tactics didn't involve saying Obama perceives the world in this way, therefore he is misguided in his policy positions. Those were blatant attempts to say Obama knew better but was still acting against the interests of the nation, that he cares more about himself than the country. The equivalent would be Obama saying McCain doesn't care about the economic struggles of Americans because he's selfish, which Obama's never done.

That difference is significant since it represents a clear line that McCain has crossed and Obama hasn't (but easily could given the flip-flops McCain has made in recent years).

Obama obviously isn't perfect. He knows how and is willing to throw a punch. He knows how and is willing to be political. But he also, as demonstrated in his statement about Palin's daughter, has an impulse for and interest in taking our policy discussions to a different level than they've been for quite some time; combined with his ability to inspire, that has the potential to be a powerful thing.

I know the McCain of 2000 (-2003ish) has those same impulses and interests, too, and there's some evidence that the current McCain still does, but he's unfortunately let those impulses and interests get overrun by the pressures of an election year that offers him little hope to win on policy discussions.

As for the polls, I'd say CNN -- which you highlighted alone earlier today -- is one of those outliers. USA Today puts Obama's margin at 7, CBS puts it at 8, Gallup Daily puts it at 6, Rasmussen puts it at 4, CNN puts it at 1, and Zogby (the only online poll out of the bunch) puts McCain up 2. The actual number is probably in the 4-6 range, which, as depicted by here, does constitute a bounce; but, as I've said, the electoral map breakdowns mean much more since that's actually how our presidential elections are decided, and on that score Obama doesn't even need a bounce to be widely ahead.

Anonymous said...

The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. Turns out that the Governor was pregnant when she married Mr. Palin. So much for abstinence-only education, apparently.

T.F. said...

The reason that I don't buy into is that it is incoherent. You have tried many times to explain it here and have never succeeded. That's not a knock on you. I'm not sure anyone could.

This is lazy and even a bit rude. Why? How?