Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anecdotal election evidence and the state of the race

El Paso County, Colorado is one of the most Republican counties in the country of any significant size (This is a semi-official list but few of these counties cast more than 10,000 votes). Home to plenty of retired military personnel, rural voters and social conservatives, it is so deeply red that it was profiled by journalists Adrian Woolridge and John Micklethwait in their book The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America. Bush defeated Kerry there by a 2 to 1 margin and the county has sufficient weight that it said to nearly offset the Democratic vote produced by Denver. It's also where my parents live.

Today I received a call from my mom saying that she went to participate in early voting and the line to do so was an hour long, adding that she heard the line to vote yesteday was even longer.

As I see it this means one of two things: either Barack Obama is set to score an overwhelming victory, in which he truly is bringing out new voters and/or persuading a considerable number of Republicans to vote for him, or -- perhaps spurred by Sarah Palin and the dawning realization of what a Pelosi-Reid-Obama trifecta would mean for the country -- the base is rallied. I don't pretend to know the answer, but given the tightening that has taken place in the polls and Obama's inabilitity to crosss the 50 percent mark in a number of them, I would guess it is the latter. This election could be a dogfight after all.

As Howard Fineman notes:
I find that [McCain has not disappeared as a viable candidate] astonishing. And, if you are in the Obama campaign, you have to find that at the very least a teeny bit troubling in these last days.

Let me repeat the following litany, just for the sake of wonder if nothing else:

Consumer confidence is at an all-time low. The job performance rating of the outgoing Republican president is at Nixon-Carter levels. Nine out of ten voters think the country is off on the wrong track. The Democrats lead in the generic congressional preference vote by a double-digit margin.

Obama has outspent McCain on TV advertising three or four to one (though McCain is matching him in some key states here at the end). Obama has four thousand paid organizers in key states, an unheard of number. Most voters think that McCain’s running mate is not qualified to be president. Many people wonder aloud if McCain is in fact too old (72) to be president. Much of the media coverage of Obama has been fawning to say the least, and with good reason. He is one of the most winsome, charismatic candidates to have appeared on the scene in decades.
I still expect Obama to prevail in the end, but it may not quite be the coronation we have been led to expect.

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