The Locker Room

October 26, 2004

October Surprise watch

Posted by Jon Sanders at 9:21 PM

With just a week remaining until Election Day litigation officially begins, I thought it would be an entertaining way to pass the time by chronicling the various October surprises as they crop up this final, crucial, Very Silly week.

October Surprise No. 1 (yes, admittedly the numbering system is arbitrary, based solely upon the starting of this thread and not from any discrete dirty trick): George Bush allowed a huge cache of weapons in Iraq to disappear! He can't be trusted with this quagmire! We need a change! even though the actual event took place at least 18 months ago...

October Surprise No. 2: al Qaeda endorses George Bush! The enemies of America tell "foolish Bush" that, "We cannot get anyone who is more foolish than you, who uses force instead of wisdom and diplomacy" and accuses him of "stupidity and religious extremism" but worry that "Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation."

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Another nuclear threat

Posted by Andrew Cline at 4:54 PM

This one in The Bronx.

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My article on Kerry's half-truth about rising college costs

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:24 PM

"College Tuition Has Increased 46 percent Since Bush Took Office, Largest Four Year Increase on Record." So states the Kerry campaign. But as I explain in this article, Kerry ignores that his own source for that information also shows that (emphasis added)

the net price for public four-year institutions is $200 less (in 2003 dollars) now that in was in 1994-95. Back then, the net price of attending a public four-year institution was $1,500 per student, and the net price of attending a public two-year institution was $400 per student.

Incidentally, the net price of attending a public two-year institution is now minus $400

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A fine distinction which misses the point

Posted by Hal Young at 12:41 AM

Erskine Bowles' latest radio ad features a cancer survivor giving a lively denunciation of Richard Burr's voting record concerning breast cancer research funds. The logic of the ad is that Richard Burr received $238,338 in campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry, therefore he voted against federal breast cancer research, therefore he's in the pocket of "special interests".

Time for a little quiz?

Question 1: How small a population is necessary to qualify as a "special interest"? For example, are there more research oncologists looking for federal grant money than pharmaceutical employees working in North Carolina? How big is the population of breast cancer patients in our state? Would they be too numerous to fit the definition?

(For that matter, how can the Bowles campaign see a supposed vote against research as a payback benefit to drug companies? I don't get it.)

Question 2: If Erskine Bowles received $109,050 in donations from the textile industry, and if his wife is the CEO of a $2.2 billion textile corporation, then isn't Bowles' statement that China "is without question our number one problem" and his call to "extend indefinitely existing quotas on Chinese textile imports" (item one in A Jobs Plan for North Carolina) also playing to special interests?

Question 3: In fact, if pharmaceutical companies only represent 14% of Burr's support from the business community, but textiles are 84% of Bowles' contributions from business, what should we make of it? Now who's special?

The way I see it, we're all special, it just depends on your definition. This ad and the one released just before it, playing a similar theme, are just so much hair splitting and special pleading (no pun intended), and I wonder if an intelligent man like Mr. Bowles doesn't cringe a little bit whenever he hears it. The question for the voter is not whether one candidate or the other has a connection, familial, financial, political, or whatever, but does or would it turn his judgement away from fulfilling his responsibilities as our elected official.

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Re: Voting with your head

Posted by Hal Young at 11:31 AM

It's not just voting but all things political, Paul. When we lived in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., a town where school district boundaries are absolutely critical to real estate value and said boundaries have not been re-drawn since the time of the First World War, we looked at one home where the line passed through a corner of the house. We were told that the previous owners had to choose the children's bedroom to place them in the [desireable] city school district.

As they say, you have to draw a line somewhere, but occasionally it starts to look like the surveyors also worked on the Berlin Wall.

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Voting with your head

Posted by Hal Young at 10:19 AM

I have always wondered how exactly county and district lines may affect how citizens vote. It is completely conceivable that one day you may be a citizen of one county, then the next day, you could become a citizen of a neighboring county, depending on where the lines are drawn. But – and I'm honest when I say this – I NEVER thought that these arbitrary lines could become so insidious that they would divide a house (literally). What's more, I am still having trouble swallowing the fact that,

"'In cases where a county line splits a residence, election law requires residents to register in the county of their bedroom, or where they lay their head at night,' said Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the state Board of Elections."

This definitely gives new credence to the power of sleep.

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No, political diversity is not a problem

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:06 AM

Here's a funny snippet from today's Daily Tar Heel:

Members of the College Republicans and UNC Young Democrats intently watched as professors discussed issues of the presidential election in a debate Monday in Gerrard Hall.

The debate, organized by both student groups, fostered talks by professors from UNC and Duke University on foreign and domestic policy. ...

Timothy McKeown, a UNC political science professor, was chosen by the Young Democrats to argue for Sen. John Kerry's campaign.

The College Republicans could not find a UNC professor to represent Bush's administration, so Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University, participated in the debate.

"I thought it was a sad commentary on higher education," Feaver said, disappointed that no UNC professors offered to represent Republican issues.

Although it was originally planned that two professors would debate domestic policy, a Republican representative was not present, so UNC economic Professor Ralph Byrns side-stepped from left to right and debated the economic policies of both candidates. ...

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Choose your flavor of fruit drink and chug

Posted by John Hood at 08:17 AM

If you like your political spin Bush-friendly, John Zogby’s latest tracking poll and comments will be most welcome:

President Bush holds a slim three-point lead over Democratic rival John Kerry one week before the Nov. 2 presidential election, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Tuesday.

Bush led Kerry 49-46 percent in the latest three-day national tracking poll, maintaining a stable lead on the Massachusetts senator as the White House rivals head down the stretch. Bush led Kerry 48-45 percent the day before.

With the campaign winding down, the poll added voters leaning toward either Bush or Kerry into their totals for the first time. That left only about 3 percent of likely voters undecided.

"If Kerry, as suggested, is looking to undecideds, look again -- there may not be enough left," pollster John Zogby said.

John Podhoretz expounds on the theme of undecided voters and how and whether they will vote in a New York Post bit, including this kicker:

In the other 10 presidential elections featuring incumbents in the past 68 years, the voters from the second-to-last Gallup either broke for the incumbent or broke evenly.

And let's be clear what "break" means. It's not that 100 percent of undecideds go one way — it means that 60 to 65 percent do. Using yesterday's Gallup poll as a benchmark, Kerry would need an even greater break than that to catch up to Bush — 70 to 75 percent of the undecided voters at least.

That huge margin for Kerry just doesn't seem likely right now.

Ah, but what about all the excitement over the newly registered?

Look at the numbers here. Some people are talking about a staggering increase of 10 million voters this year. Both parties have spent vast sums looking for these new voters and registering them, and there's reason to believe their efforts will basically cancel each other out.

But let's assign 55 percent of them to Kerry. That's 5.5 million voters. With those 5.5 million voters, surely then Kerry will win.

Um, no, he won't. Because Bush will get 4.5 million new votes. This would make Kerry's margin among new voters only 1 million votes — in an electorate of 115 million. That's not even a single percentage point increase. Kerry can't win that way.

But then again, the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne says that there is an “intensity gap” favoring Democrats:

In the torrent of polling information released over the weekend, the most significant finding was this one: John Kerry's supporters are more likely than George W. Bush's to believe that this year's election is the most important of their lifetimes.

According to Newsweek's poll, 37 percent of Kerry's voters felt this way, compared with only 27 percent of Bush's. Of the rest, 40 percent of Kerry supporters thought 2004 was more important than most other elections, while 35 percent of Bush's backers did.

As a political matter, this intensity gap suggests that even if Bush has been successful in mobilizing the Republican Party's political base, he has been even more successful in mobilizing Democrats.

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Hitting a sour vote

Posted by John Hood at 07:52 AM

Brace yourself for the potential for legal wrangling and extreme contentiousness about next Tuesday’s balloting. Jeff Taylor has some thoughts over at the JLF-Charlotte site.

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