I wasn't surprised by what I found in the mail yesterday. This close to Election Day, with early voting underway in Tennessee, it is not uncommon to find the dirty mailers in the post from candidates of all stripes about their opponents. You know, the bulk mail pieces that essentially say "candidate X is the devil." The one I happened to come across yesterday listed a series of half-truths about the career of Mike Faulk and warned us all that if Faulk is elected to the State Senate, rapists will run free all over the State of Tennessee.
I expected to see the obligatory bulk mailer portraying Mike Faulk as one of Satan's Legions after several days worth of circular cards portraying Mike Williams as Jesus Christ (the really phony part was the quote from Bunker Phil calling his tool Williams "my friend"). It only follows that after days of trying to convince voters that you are the Messiah of the 4th District through the Post Office, you must then offer up the notion through the same medium that your opponent represents the Prince of Darkness. Knowing this reality, I would just have shrugged the mail piece off and nearly did until I noticed the fine print: "Paid for by the Tennessee Democratic Party."
From the day Mike Williams left the Republican Party, he said he was becoming an independent. He attempted to say that he would not be tied to either of the two parties, but many of us have long suspected that he is really a Democrat who is not running as one because he knows, as the rest of us do, that the day a candidate wins in this district running as the Democratic nominee, it will be a universal signal that the Apocalypse is upon us. I have a better chance of defeating Barack Obama as a write-in candidate than a Democrat has of winning in the 4th Senate District of Tennessee.
Williams should not be called a Democrat merely because he voted for John Wilder. Yes, the circumstances of that vote were shady because it appears that Williams was out for his own advancement, but in John Wilder's 36 years as Lieutenant Governor, he received many Republican votes at roll call on the day the General Assembly opened. Williams' Democratic sympathies are better ascertained by looking at the company he keeps and the enemies he makes. He is cozy with Democratic Leadership in ways that make it appear as though he is one of their number, and they've even been known to invite him to Caucus meetings. Through the latest anti-Faulk mailer, we now see that the extent of Mike Williams' relationship with the Democrats is so thorough that the Democratic Party is paying for campaign mailings on Williams' behalf.
If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...
The biggest problem with Mike Williams is the reality that he is operating under a cloud of partisan deception wherein he is hiding the reality from his constituents of what his real political party is and where his sympathies truly lay. He is doing so because he knows that to come out and say "I am a Democrat" will likely get him defeated in November. Hence, for fear of losing, he cannot face his constituents and tell them the truth.
Don't look now, but the polls are starting to reflect a closer presidential race in the closing days and weeks of the contest. Gallup's Likely Voter poll has Barack Obama and John McCain in a statistical dead heat, with Obama up only by two points-that is within the margin of error. Meanwhile, Zogby has Obama up by an even five percentage points in its daily tracker today. This is a certain lead, to be sure, but a five point lead is hardly insurmountable with less than three weeks to go. Rasmussen shows Barack Obama up by four points. Again, if McCain campaigns in the right places with the right message, there is enough time to make this campaign an even split going into Election Day.
Now we hear concern from our friends on the Left about the so-called Bradley Effect, the idea that because Barack Obama is an African-American, people may be lying to the pollsters, but may be racist and will not vote for Obama because he is black. I do not normally like to quote political columnist Ann Coulter because while I agree with her personal politics, she often comes across as hateful and brash. However, I think Coulter hit the nail on the head in her October 15th column. If there is such an effect in this year's election, it won't be because everyone who voted differently than they told the pollsters is a racist. It may be that people fibbed to the questioner out of fear that their vote for McCain will be seen as racism whether it is or not:
First of all, if true, this is the opposite of racism: It is fear of being accused of racism. For most Americans, there is nothing more terrifying than the prospect of being called a racist. It's scarier than flood or famine, terrorist attacks or flesh-eating bacteria. To some, it's even scarier than "food insecurity."
Political correctness has taught people to lie to pollsters rather than be forced to explain why they're not voting for the African-American.
To oppose someone who happens to be African-American in our modern climate of political correctness can get a person labeled as a racist in the minds of others while they may not be racist at all. People do not want to be labeled as a racist in today's society, and that really is a testament to how far we've come in a relatively short period of time in our national history on the question of equal protection under the law for all citizens. What the media and certain people on the Left fail to realize is that the notion that people may be afraid to share their true political feelings for fear of being labeled a racist is because the Left has made anything seen to oppose an African-American to be "racist." The Left has created a new sort of racism where it is politically incorrect to oppose black Democratic candidates, and that makes for real racism, because it follows that those candidates will not stand up to the same scrutiny as a white candidate. The Left's notion of modern racism is descriminatory to African-Americans, and many people of all races don't even realize that.
Coulter also points out that the press has been known to run polls in the past which later prove to be entirely too favorable to the Democrat, regardless of their skin color:
In 1976, Jimmy Carter narrowly beat Gerald Ford 50.1 percent to 48 percent. And yet, on Sept. 1, Carter led Ford by 15 points. Just weeks before the election, on Oct. 16, 1976, Carter led Ford in the Gallup Poll by 6 percentage points -- down from his 33-point Gallup Poll lead in August.
Reading newspaper coverage of presidential elections in 1980 and 1984, I found myself paralyzed by the fear that Reagan was going to lose.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan beat Carter by nearly 10 points, 51 percent to 41 percent. In a Gallup Poll released days before the election on Oct. 27, it was Carter who led Reagan 45 percent to 42 percent.
In 1984, Reagan walloped Walter Mondale 58.8 percent to 40 percent, -- the largest electoral landslide in U.S. history. But on Oct. 15, The New York Daily News published a poll showing Mondale with only a 4-point deficit to Reagan, 45 percent to 41 percent. A Harris Poll about the same time showed Reagan with only a 9-point lead. The Oct. 19 New York Times/CBS News Poll had Mr. Reagan ahead of Mondale by 13 points. All these polls underestimated Reagan's actual margin of victory by 6 to 15 points.
In 1988, George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis by a whopping 53.4 percent to 45.6 percent. A New York Times/CBS News Poll on Oct. 5 had Bush leading the Greek homunculus by a statistically insignificant 2 points -- 45 percent to 43 percent.
This leads to a larger question: I am not one to disregard polls. As a political columnist and a political scientist, not to mention someone who has worked on several political campaigns, polls are something that I live and die by. However, polls can be manipulated either by the pollsters or the agencies they are polling for to say what those groups might want them to say. In the case of the mainstream press, whose Democratic sympathies are an open secret in 2008, could they be manipulating some of these poll results that have shown Barack Obama with ever-widening leads in order to sway the outcome of the election? One may never really know for sure, but there exists at least some strong circumstancial evidence that the press has attempted to engage in that kind of behavior before.
We already know from 2000 and 2004 what poor prognosticators and election callers the media really are.
Of the three presidential debates, last night's was by far the best performance by John McCain. McCain had Barack Obama on the ropes, and on at least three occasions that I counted, Obama flatly made untruthful statements. Senator McCain finally pressed Obama on his relationship with unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, and all Obama could say is "that's not true." Of course it is true and Obama lied again-note that he didn't press the issue or try to defend himself. This is because as more becomes known about the scale of Obama's associations with the radical Ayers, the worse Obama begins to look to the American people. Obviously, the Obama camp wants to keep this kind of talk to a minimum, and Obama didn't even try to defend himself.
How close will this election be? If one believes certain media outlets, the Democrats are gearing up for a landslide. However, parties that anticipate vast victories to not fight court orders to do more to halt voter fraud, as Ohio's rabidly partisan, Obama-supporting Secretary of State is now trying to do. Political formations which are confident of victory do not engage in tactics designed to inflate vote totals and register false voters as the real thing. Parties which fear that they may not be able to win legitimately, however, are known to engage in those kinds of tactics in every banana republic and Third World despotism known to humanity. Since the party opposite aims to turn this country into something resembling a banana republic, their agents are getting a head start on the creative electoral tactics used in socialist hotbeds.
The election will be close enough that the Democratic Party and its agents and assigns think it prudent to engage in fraud, sham registration drives, and even Republican vote supression in order to win on November 4th. Parties which anticipate victory do not behave in this way, but those who know that they may face defeat and are willing to cheat in order to avert losing.
If you think this will not be a close election, just look at how the two sides are behaving. We are in for some surprises over the next three weeks.
As promised, here are the results from yesterday's Canadian national General Election:
Overall Election Results
Vote Share (%)
Updated: Oct. 15, 2008, 3:53 AM EDT
The Conservatives gain 19 seats, while the Liberals have an absolutely disastrous night, losing 27 seats to both the Tories and the New Democratic Party, which picked up eight seats last night from their previous parliamentary total. Once again the Conservatives cannot capture a majority (155 seats are needed to achieve a majority government), and like deja-vu, theBloc Quebecois is what keeps the Tories from a majority, because outside of Quebec, the results were a Tory tide almost everywhere there was a significant population center except Newfoundland (and there were good reasons why the Conservatives fared poorly in the land of some of my anscestors and cousins, and where my maternal Grandmother was born).
In the Westminster System, a minority Government collapses and forces the dissolution of Parliament when either a major piece of Government Legislation is defeated in the House of Commons/Lower House, or a motion of no confidence in the Government passes (or a motion of confidence in the Government fails). In theory, if all of the opposition parties voted together, they could still bring down the Conservative Government and force Parliament to be dissolved-and they could do it on the very first day of the new Parliament by rejecting the Speech from the Throne.
However, the Conservatives are in a very good spot after these results, because the Official Opposition, the Liberals, have sunk to numbers so low that it is the least amount of seats won ever recorded for the Liberal Party in Canadian electoral history. The Bloc Quebecois does not campaign outside of Quebec, and the New Democrats have become a party-at least for the purposes of the federal parliament-of the inner cities and the downtown bouroughs. Unless the Liberals can canvass enough support to threaten to remove the Conservatives from power, there is unlikely to be any move to dissolve Parliament any time soon. This was the fourth Canadian General Election in six years, and if the opposing parties move for dissolution, they may get blamed at the polls for taking the country into another election far too early.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is almost certainly out of his party leadership post. In a weakening economy under a Tory Government, the Liberals had the best opportunity they were going to have for some time to regain power, and Dion failed to deliver. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the other hand, may be safely living in 24 Sussex Drive for some years to come.
Canadian elections have never been the same as their American counterparts, but they sometimes indicate larger political trends, and they certainly have sent signals in the recent past as to the direction the continent may be moving over the long haul. If you support the Republican ticket in this country, and you are hoping for an upset in three weeks' time, this result might give you a bit of hope that the polls are not accurately reflecting the situation on the ground. If that were to prove to be the case, it would be a bittersweet victory-expect Democrats to gain Congressional seats regardless of the presidential outcome.
A few so-called "non-partisan" philosophers seem highly disappointed that the era of "post-partisanship" that they believed was going to be ushered in at this election cycle appears to be non-existent:
Idealists once looked at this presidential campaign, between two candidates who fancy themselves as free of conventional party ties, and thought it might produce the election that finally pulls Washington out of the deep rut of partisan divisiveness it fell into in the 1990s.
Today, three weeks before Election Day, it sure doesn't look that way.
Pollster Peter Hart has found some startling new evidence of high tensions. In surveying voters over the weekend, Mr. Hart found that more than a third of each candidate's supporters say they have grown to "detest" either John McCain or Sen. Obama so deeply that they would have a hard time accepting the one they don't support as president.
None of this bodes particularly well for bipartisanship after the election. In fact, it's starting to appear that the only way for Washington to overcome partisan divides may be if one party -- the Democrats, in this case -- wins by such commanding margins that it can overpower the other party.
That might be good for efficiency, but it would be bad for building the kind of national consensus that's desirable to overcome the enormous economic challenges the nation will face after Nov. 4. Building entirely new economic institutions, and figuring out how to pay for hundreds of billions of dollars in rescues and bailouts, are the kinds of enterprises best undertaken with broad bipartisan majorities, not narrow partisan ones.
While I share The Wall Street Journal seeming antipathy for partisan majorities of either hue which are so large that opposition is stifled, partisanship is as much a part of our heritage as a people as the Liberty Bell. George Washington dreamed of a nation without party, but it wasn't to work out that way. "Liberty is to faction as air is to fire," James Madison wrote in The Federalist Number 10. Just as surely as the founders stepped up their rhetoric about non-partisanship, they were busy laying the groundwork for party politics in the United States.
Political parties exist as a means to achieve political power. Beyond that, however, they exist because decent people simply disagree on the best means to govern the country. Our ideas are radically different and, in some cases, members of the other party nominate candidates which others believe are inherently bad or represent things which are inherently wrong.
The parties themselves are a means to an end, but the ideas they represent are diametrically opposed and cannot reasonably be expected to coexist without heavy public friction. This is a fact of political life, and if some folks can't handle that, politics isn't something they need to be meddling in.
The only way to characterize this week's map is one of bad news if you support the Republican ticket. &amp;lt;p&amp;gt;&amp;lt;strong&amp;gt;&amp;gt;&amp;lt;a href='http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/electoral-college/'&amp;gt;Electoral College Prediction Map&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;lt;/strong&amp;gt; - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Virginia and North Carolina are now toss-ups in a bona fide way. Internal numbers in North Carolina from last week seem to give John McCain a small advantage there, but not enough to move the State from toss-up to McCain. If numbers stabilize in Virginia, this would force us to move Virginia into the blue column, and this would give Barack Obama well over 270 electoral votes.
More signs of trouble for John McCain? West Virginia, the bulwark of traditional Appalachian working-class anger toward Barack Obama is now a toss-up. I have to confess that I never believed I would see John McCain's lead in the Mountaineer State come anywhere near ebbing away. McCain may yet win West Virginia, but the very reality that he had to fight for votes in a State where suspicion of his opponent still runs extremely high is not a good indicator of the direction his campaign is taking.
Perhaps the most serious turn is Missouri into the toss-up column. John McCain was in a position to carry Missouri until as late as last week. With Missouri now beginning to move, the bellwether is showing that the election could be turning. Every winner in a presidential election since 1960 has won Missouri, and the Show Me State has chosen the winner in every presidential election since 1904 with the exception of 1956.
Amid news that Barack Obama is leading nationally and may fracture the Republican Solid South, can John McCain turn this race around? Hatton Humphrey of the East Coast Conservative Podcast joins the show.
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