Saturday, August 02, 2008


With unemployment on Friday jumping by 51,000 to take this year’s job losses to almost half a million, Mr Obama is mining a potentially rich seam. But a number of Democrats, including advisers to the Obama campaign, are worried that the Democratic party’s overall electoral advantage this year has not yet translated into comfortable leads for Mr Obama. On Friday Gallup showed Mr Obama just one point ahead of John McCain – a significant tightening in the past two weeks.

Bullshit alert #1: using Gallup's national polling. Gallup has already forfeited its claim to credibility on the presidential race this election cycle by fudging the numbers "just to see under a scenario where McCain supporters are energized" while pretending the poll represented a normal result, and by showing consistently closer margins than almost any other pollster in the field. If you're intending to write a hit piece against Obama, cherry-picking the closest poll you can find (and one that still shows him ahead) is a good place to start.

But that's only the beginning. Mentioned only briefly and misleadingly in the article is the state-by-state polling tally, where Obama holds a huge edge and is playing heavily on red-state turf. Given Obama's huge polling deficits in Appalachia and certain southern states, the fact is that Obama could easily be almost tied with McCain in the popular vote, yet win by a landslide in the electoral college. One of the most infuriating aspects of any traditional media on the campaign horse race is the seemingly intentional refusal to get into the details of electoral vote projections, and how those results are going to impact targeted advertising campaigns. In short, just as in the primary campaign against Clinton, if Obama wanted to shore up his national popularity, all he would need to do is reinforce his popularity in blue states. But that's not where elections are won or lost. One would think that the 4th estate, charged with informed the general public, would take greater care with such a seemingly simple fact of campaign politics.

But it gets worse. Next come a few grafs praising the supposed efficacy of McCain's recent ad campaigns painting Obama as a celebrity messianic elitist:

the signs are that Mr McCain’s continuing attacks – most recently in a commercial that portrayed Mr Obama as a vapid celebrity against images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears – may be striking a chord with the white working class voters who shunned Mr Obama so emphatically in many of his primary contests with Hillary Clinton.

With just one month to go before Labour Day – the traditional beginning of the general election – and only three weeks before the Democratic convention, many Democrats fear that time is running out for Mr Obama to overcome the suspicions of this key swing vote.

These "many Democrats" who are so concerned are mostly anonymous in the article, of course. It is extraordinarily tiresome to hear pundits and journalists consistently refer euphemistically to the "white working class" voters: the sort of people susceptible to dog-whistle racism, suspicious of a candidate who might be too fit and skinny, and deeply distrustful of a candidate who can produce adoring throngs overseas--mostly because they've never been overseas themselves.

There used to be a simpler way to refer to this kind of voter: a conservative. These are not "moderates": real moderates are turned off by McCain's recent approach. Or, with more nuance, this kind of voter might be called a "Reagan Democrat", the sort of "Democrat" that makes up the majority of PUMA's and No Quarter's consistuency. The Democratic party of the DLC and Bob Shrum has spent countless hours and untold dollars attempting to woo back these conservative "Reagan Democrats", largely to no avail. Bill Clinton won some of them back (with a great deal of help from Ross Perot), but the larger Democratic Party never did. The traditional media needs to understand something very clearly: the Democrats do not need to cater to the conservative social values of "Reagan Democrats". Those that are swayed by Democratic economic messaging will come our way; those that don't will be overwhelmed by the youth vote, the Hispanic vote, and the midwestern and western Obamacans that are making up part of this year's realignment election.

After more piddling, the article continues:

The numbers back up the concern. Although Mr Obama has a good shot at winning traditional Republican states such as Colorado, Virginia and even North Carolina, he cannot capture the White House if he loses more than one of Pennsylvania, Ohio or Michigan – the more traditional, blue-collar swing states, which Mrs Clinton won by huge margins in the primary contests. Polls suggest these states are too close to call.

Too close to call. Um...ok. Let's look at this. States were Obama has "a good shot" include Colorado (Obama currently ahead by 1.5% according to average), Virginia (Obama currently ahead by an averaged 2.6%), and North Carolina (McCain ahead by under 3% averaged). States that are too close to call, meanwhile, are Michigan where Obama has a 6 point lead with excellent trendlines, Ohio where Obama has a 3.6% lead, again with excellent trendlines, and Pennsylvania where Obama holds a commanding 9-point lead with damning trendlines for McCain. In other words, the states listed as "too close to call" in the article are, by and large, much more uneven in Obama's favor than the states in which Obama has "a good shot"--two of which are already in Obama's favor.

Meanwhile, the article makes no mention of former red states Florida (Obama ahead by over 2%), New Mexico (Obama ahead by almost ten points), Colorado (Obama slightly ahead), Montana (Obama ahead), or Iowa (Obama ahead by about 7 points). To say nothing of all the other red states about as close as North Carolina, including Nevada, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, McCain's own home state of Arizona, and even--if the latest polls are to be believed--Alaska.

And none of this makes any mention of the massive voter registration efforts by the DNC and the Obama campaign that will boost Democratic numbers beyond those shown in the polls. But then, none of these inconvenient facts would fit the "why isn't Obama further ahead" narrative, would they?

At this stage in the 1988 presidential race, Michael Dukakis, the Democratic candidate, had a 17 percentage point lead over George H.W. Bush, who went on to win the election. John Kerry emerged from the 2004 Democratic convention with a strong lead over George W. Bush only to lose the election as well. In 2008, conventional wisdom says Mr McCain is running a much less effective campaign than either of the Bushes.

Hmmm....let me think for a second. Do you think that could possibly be because of the hyperpolarization of American politics since 1988? Show me any modern presidential candidate in the America of the Bush-Gore and Bush-Kerry races with a 17-point lead in the polls, and I'll show you a squadron of flying pigs still sporting the icicles they carried out of hell. But surely the Financial Times will find some idiot to shamelessly reinforce this meme...

That reinforces disquiet about Mr Obama’s inability so far to take a decisive lead. “Even on his worst day, Bill Clinton was able to signal that he understood voters’ concerns and that he felt their pain,” said Douglas Schoen, a Democratic consultant. “Obama has no trouble with the campaign stagecraft. But this isn’t Harvard, it’s the beer hall. He has to talk in language that people understand.”

Ah, yes. When you need an idiot to back up Republican ideas with the cover of a "Democratic consultant", look no further than world's biggest moron Doug Schoen, who also happens to be partner of fellow idiot Mark Penn. Do you get the feeling, somehow, that this entire article is the bitter backlash of a few diehard DLC and neoliberal Clinton backers, attempting to subterfuge the Obama campaign? I do.

The article closes by once again taking Obama unapologetically out of context over his quote about being a symbol of restoring America's traditions, followed by McCain operatives quoted as saying that Obama thinks highly of himself. In the interest of fair use--and of preventing symptoms reminiscent of ipecac in my readers--I'll omit the last few sections.

So I guess the question is this: is the Financial Times a merely stupid tool of Republicans and DLC "Democrats", or is it actively attempting to subterfuge the Obama campaign?

Because an article this lack in journalistic ethics and this devoid of basic respect for the truth--much less balance--brooks no other alternatives.