Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate Deblogging: Parting Shots

One final note: The snap polls have Obama winning even more handily in this debate than the last two.

The first snap polls on the debate are out, and they're giving a resounding win to Barack Obama.

In the CBS poll of undecided debate-watchers, 53% say Obama won, only 22% say McCain won, and 24% say it was a tie.

The CNN poll was just read on the air, surveying all debate-watchers in general. It shows 58% saying Obama won, to 31% saying McCain won. Barack Obama's personal ratings are 66% favorable to 33% unfavorable, way ahead of McCain's score of 49%-49%.

Late Update: Some more numbers from the CNN poll were just read on TV. Obama was seen as stating his ideas more clearly by 66%-25%, was seen as the stronger leader by 56%-39%, and was more likable by 70%-22%. McCain did win in one category: He's the candidate who launched more attacks on his opponent, by a whopping 80%-7%.

Late Late Update: Independents, who made up 30% of CNN's sample, gave it to Obama 57%-31%, essentially the same as the overall margin for Obama.

Despite my economic worries...I'm glad it's most likely Obama at the helm and not McSame.

Late Night Econ

Oh, Nikkei's down 911 at the lunch break. Japan's PM Taro Aso called the US out on its bank plan. After today's nasty drop, more will come.
Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso said the U.S. government must accelerate steps to prop up financial institutions or face mounting consequences that include slumping stock values.

The Bush administration said this week it plans to spend $250 million buying stakes in thousands of financial firms to help halt a credit freeze.

``People think the $250 billion plan is insufficient and that's why markets are falling,'' Aso told lawmakers in parliament in Tokyo today. ``They need to make a quick decision to inject capital.''

Aso, who made similar remarks to lawmakers yesterday, said the lesson from Japan's bank bailout 10 years ago was that time is of essence. ``Looking at Japan's experience from 1997 to 1998, unless you take action quickly, you end up paying a higher price,'' he said.

I love it. Aso thinks we haven't thrown enough money at the problem and wants to know when we're going to get serious about saving our economy.

We haven't even started being serious about saving our economy yet. The credit markets are glacially thawing, at this rate we might see bank lending in six months...far too late. What makes anybody think we're going to start now? Did anyone here see the debate? Both candidates talked about wild programs that will never happen. We're not getting health care. We're not getting tax cuts. We're not getting tax credits on things.

We're in the poorhouse. Our standard of living is going to evaporate over the next several months and years. If gas was $8 a gallon and food was twice the cost, could you afford things? You'd better think about that. That's where we are headed. How many more 700 point drops can we take?

By my math, 11. Do you think this country can survive another 2 weeks of 700 point losses? This is not a healthy market when we are losing 9-10% a day and gaining 10% another day. We're in dire, serious trouble still and this is happening worldwide, in real time. Like the vibrations of a loose jet engine part, something's going to break off and when it does we're going to crash. Hard. It's going to take years and years to recover from this and when we do recover we're not going to be a world power any longer. Our time is done. It's China or India's turn soon. Unless we see a major turnaround in confidence in a few days, it's over, folks. The bank nationalization plan is not working. There's too much bad news. Confidence is key and there is no confidence out there.

America will not be the same. Pundits are still talking about a "probable recession" in much the same way a volcano forming in your living room is a probable source of geothermal heat.

Can you imagine the mood of the country as we vote with the Dow at something ridiculous like 2,800? Is Dow 2,800 really that insane after this week?

I'm going to bed. I'm scaring myself again.

Debate Deblogging: Final Round -- FIGHT!

9:00 PM From Zandardad's alma mater of Hofstra University, Obama vs McSame live. Format is both candidates sit at a large desk with moderator Bob Scheiffer in the middle.

9:01 PM Bob lays out the rules, Domestic Policy, 10 questions, 2 minutes for each then 5 minutes of discussion, 9 minutes total on each question.

Question 1: The economic crisis. Why is your plan better? McSame first. Shoutouts to Nan Reagan. Americans are angry. Short and long term fixes. One short term fix: must put a floor on the housing market, buy mortgages. Disappointed at Paulson.

Obama: Looks at camera, not Bob. Talks about bailout lacking rescue plan for middle class, four points. Job tax breaks, tax cuts for middle class, I agree with my opponent on helping homeowners, I disagree with how he does it. Long term, fix energy, health care. Discussion. McSame tells story about how Obama will put small businesses out of business. No tax increase for you, Joe the Plumber! Obama discusses his tax policy: McSame cuts taxes on corporate America, I wand tax cut for 95% of America. McSame looking patient. My conversation with Joe was that fact he needed at tax cuts. 98% of small businesses will get tax decrease! McSame: Obama's gonna take Joe's money! Class warfare! Why increase ANYONE'S taxes right now? Obama: ExxonMobil and Warren Buffet can afford it. Nobody likes taxes. But we got em. McSame: TAXES! TAX RATE iS 35%! WE'LL LOSE JOBS! CUT BUSINESS TAXES!

Bob: Shut it. Wash, really.

9:13 Question 2: We ran the numbers. Each of you will add $200 billion to the deficit with your plans. I want specifics on what you will cut. Obama: I'm going paygo here, Bob. $15 billion on insurance subsidies and programs that don't work, we cut. We differ on investing in America. If we invest now in health care, we save later, energy too. McSame: HOLC bought up mortgages, they made money, Clinton brought that up. Bob: what are you cutting? McSame: Foreign aid to countries that don't like us. I like energy programs. Spending freeze, I will take the hatchet, ethanol subsidies, tarrifs, I can save billions! I will veto earmarks! Obama likes earmarks! I cut pork! Obama: Across the board spending is a hatchet, John. We need a scalpel. Earmarks are crap in the long run. Bush came in with a surplus, he then doubled the debt and the deficit. McSame voted for Bush. Bob: Can you balance the budget? McSame. Yep, and I'm NOT BUSH YOU WHIPPERSNAPPER! YOU RAISED TAXES! WE CAN TAKE A HATCHET! I will balance the budget, we can do it! OBAMA LOVES PORK! LOOK AT OUR RECORDS! You tell me ONE TIME you stood up to your leaders of your party!
Obama: Tort reform. Charter schools. Clean coal. Yeah, I stood up. If if mistake your policies for Bush's, it's because at the core THEY ARE. You stood up on torture. Economics? 8 more years Bush.
McSame: I got scars! I disagreed! I reject your argument.

Sorry John, you lost this one.

Question 3: Both of you ran mean ass commercials and had attack dogs. Are each of you willing to make those accusations in person, right here, right now? McSame: Town hall meetings would have stopped this. Obama refused. I blame him. I regret how we both attacked...BUT I'm calling Obama out on John Lewis. I repudiated all of the bad attacks unlike Obama. I took the high road and I tell the truth. Obama spent more money on negative ads than anyone in history! He gave up on campaign finance limits! He lied!
Obama: We expect campaigns to be tough. 100% of McSame's ads are negative. People want to hear about the issues instead. The notion that the town hall meetings justify your negative crap is silly. I don't mind being attacked. We can't afford your negative stuff. Stick to the issues. He's changing the subject. I want to see him talk on the economy. He won't. He's politics as usual.
McSame: CARDINALS! You attack my stuff. Your ads are terrible! Unprecedented negative attack ad spending! I'm talking about the economy! I'm talking about Joe the Plumber! I didn't hear your repudiation.
Obama: OK fine, you want to open this can of worms? Let's talk about Palin's hate rallies and people yelling "terrorist! Kill him!" Let's talk about how John Lewis called you on it. I did repudiate him. We have difference on real issues.
McSame: I'm proud of our people, and yeah we call em on it. I'm not gonna stand for anyone picking on my people! I won't stand for it! Yeah let's talk about your rallies! I have repudiated it all, you haven't! Won't stand for it.
Obama: We don't have time for this crap. We've have real issues.
Obama: Fine. Bill Ayers is a professor. Let's talk about him. Let's talk about all the people who worked with Ayers, all the REPUBLICANS. ACORN? I helped them along with the Motor Voter laws. Here's who I associate with, Volker, Luger, Buffet, Joe Biden.
McSame: AYERS! ACORN! AYERS! FACTS ARE FACTS! WHAT ARE HIS DETAILS! WE MUST KNOW! Oh, an I'm about the economy. I won't raise taxes like he will.

Obama killed him.

Question 4: Why would your running mate make a better President than the other guy's? Obama: Easy. Joe Biden would kick ass in foreign policy, he's from Scranton, he's been through tough stuff and he's fought for the little guy. McSame: SHE'S A REFORMER! FRESH AIR! TAKE OUT THE OLD BOY NETWORK! Oh and she has a special needs kid. Bob: Hey Barry, you think she's qualified? Obama: She's done some commendable stuff. But we can't do what she wants if we TAKE A HATCHET TO SPENDING. McSame: Biden's a nice guy, but he's been wrong on policy. Obama wants to spend more! REFORM! REFORM! NEW SPENDING! MORE TAXES!

Obama by a mile.

Question 5: Give me a number. How much can we reduce foreign oil in your first term? McSame: We'll cut all Middle East and Venezualan oil. Obama's a punk. Obama: Ten years is realistic. We have to stop borrowing money from China for starters. Expand domestic production, use em or lose em on oil company leases...but we have to use less oil. We must invest in energy. And hey, let's talk about trade agreements we're getting our asses kicked on John. I make no apology for doing that.
McSame: DRILL NOW! Also I love free trade. Also Obama hates Colombia and likes drugs. Free trade is a no brainer. Hey, maybe you should go there you dumb ass. Obama: Yeah, let's talk about Columbia, and the human rights abuses they have against workers, unlike Peru. We have to use free trade, but we need to stand up on bad trade agreements. We need to make efficient autos and cut down on oil and make 5 million new jobs.

Nope. Obama.

Question 6: Bob: Control health care costs or expand coverage? Obama: We gotta do both. Two women laid off, have no healthcare. We'll cut costs. You have coverage? You're fine. You don't? We'll combine for a huge pool and negotiate the best rates and prevent discrimination. It'll cost up front, but it'll fix it in the long run.
McSame: It's terrible, but the problem is cost, not coverage. We gotta have healthy people to save money. $5,000 Tax credit! Joe! Obama will fine you! TELL US THE FINE! HEALTH CARE BUREAUCRACY! Obama: The fine is zero you jagoff. I exempt small businesses, like I said LAST DEBATE. Uninsured people are costing you money. Let's talk about McCain's plan again...that $5,000 won't cover if, and YOU CHARGE TAXES ON HEALTH CARE FOR THE FIRST TIME! McSame: YOU'LL PAY A FINE JOE! BIG GOVERNMENT! My plan will save people money and shop plans and don't have to take the employer plan! BIG GOVERNMENT! HE'S SENATOR GOVERNMENT! I WANT YOU TO DO THE JOB! DEMOCRATS' FAULT!
Obama: Look, the US Chamber of Commerce says his plan sucks.


Question 7: Bob: Would you appoint a person who disagrees with you on Roe v Wade?
McSame: No litmus tests. I voted for a long list of current justices. Obama voted against Roberts. I will find strict constitutionists. Bob: But would you nominate a pro-choice judge: McSame: Pro-choice judges aren't qualified. Obama: No litmus tests. But PEOPLE have the right to choose, right to privacy. I'd vote for qualified judges. We disagree. Like the Ledbetter case. Judges have to understand fairness and justice.
McSame: We have to change the culture of America. OBAMA VOTES TO KILL BABIES! HE'S AN EXTREMIST PRO-ABORTIONIST! Obama: Not true. I didn't get an exception for the health of the mother. But look, there's common ground: preventing unintended pregancy and options for adoptions. McSame: HE'S PRO ABORTION! WE ADOPTED KIDS! WE MUST DEFEND THE UNBORN!

Wash. Personal views here.

Question 8: Bob: We spend more than anyone on education, but we suck. Obama: The debate is more money vs reform, we need both. Early education, reduce dropout rates, recruit an army of new teachers, more pay in exchange for accountability, make college affordable. $4,000 tuition credit for community service. But the real key are parents. Take responsibility.
McSame: Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. We need charter schools and school choice. Competition! Free market! But money's not the answer. We must improve education. More loans, adjust loans.
Bob: More federal money/involvement in education? Obama: Yeah...just not like Bush's NCLB. We never funded the programs and it failed. I agreed with my opponent on charter schools and getting rid of bad teachers. Where we disagree? Vouchers...oh and McSame's record on college affordability. Gotta pay for it. McSame: Gee, vouchers worked in DC. School choice is the key, pay more attention son. Reauthorize NCLB. Head Start sucks though. Let's reform programs! Rewards! Accountability! Sarah Palin! We'll cure autism! Reform! I'm a reformer! Vouchers work!
Obama: He's right about DC schools sucking. But there's 50 states to worry about too. McSame: Hahahah! JACKASS!

Wash. Same crap we've heard before.

Bob: Make your closing statements.
McSame: I'm a new direction! I'm a reformer! I can do this! You can trust me! I'm asking you to look at me. I've served my country like my father and grandfather. I'll serve as your President.
Obama: Tough out there for ya. Worst crisis in 75 years, we need change, I'll bring it. We can do it. We must invest in health care, college, energy jobs. Not gonna be easy or quick, but we can do it. Sacrifice and service.
They shake hands.

It's done.

Obama 5, 3 contest.

Debate Deblogging: Final Round Preview

And we open up going into the last hurrah for McSame to stop the blood loss. What honestly can the old man do? If he goes on the attack, he reinforces the "mean old man" routine. If he doesn't go on the attack, he loses the base as he pusses out. All Obama has to do is keep counter-punching at his leisure, and he wins. McSame is unstable and is likely to make another "That one!" reference.

Short of the best debate of his life, Obama's lead will continue to grow. We'll see in about ten minutes. I predict another Obama win, but we'll see what the old man has left in the tank. He's not a quitter...and that might ultimately finish him.


Is the Dow, down 300+ at noonish. LIBOR/TED spreads continue to fall very, very, very slowly. Already grumblings from Wall Street today that -- surprise! -- the bailout's not working!
Confidence in the global economy plunged in October after a deepening freeze in financial markets increased the chances of a recession, a survey of Bloomberg users on six continents showed.

The Bloomberg Professional Global Confidence Index fell to 4 from 11.3 in September, the lowest reading since the survey started in November. Sentiment dropped the most in Asia and Europe and was weakest in Japan. The results reflect responses from 3,764 Bloomberg users in more than 100 countries.

Stock markets slumped the most since at least 1970 last week as concerns about a potential collapse of the banking system reverberated through the world economy. That's sapping confidence just as the U.S. and Europe hurtle toward recession, forcing central banks to slash interest rates in tandem and governments to rescue financial institutions.

``There's a vicious circle developing between the financial sector and the real economy,'' said Martin van Vliet, an economist at ING Group in Amsterdam, who took part in the survey. ``Further economic weakness is certainly in the pipeline.''

Bloomberg users from Dubai to New York posted responses to the survey between Oct. 6 and Oct. 10 after the U.S. Congress's decision to approve a $700 billion rescue plan for banks. The U.K. unveiled plans to buy stakes in banks as well as lending guarantees on Oct. 8. The survey didn't reflect a decision by euro-region governments on Oct. 12 to back similar measures.

Third quarter numbers are coming in and they are dismal, and while it took trillions to get us through this heart attack, the economy is still in the ICU.

Numbers will continue to drop long term. We've given back half of Monday's gains. We'll give back more. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a down week by Friday afternoon.

[UPDATE] Dow closes down 733 to 8,577, and in 2 days that huge Monday gain is now gone in a flash.

The GOP Plan For Stealing The Election Becomes Clear

With yesterday's decision that Ohio's Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has to come up with a new plan to verify every one of Ohio's 666,000 new registered voters by Friday, the GOP is licking its chops and waiting for its chance to strike.
The stunning reversal of fortune for Ohio's chief election officer, Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, is sweet victory for Ohio Republicans, who have been waging war with her since she took office in 2007. With only weeks before Election Day, Ohio Republicans have become exercised over reports of voter registration fraud, especially by the national community organizing group ACORN, which has undertaken a voter registration drive in other states that produced 1.3 million new voters, a figure Republicans and the campaign of John S. McCain dispute as valid and are challenging as fraudulent.

The AP story reported by Philip Elliott is that the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court's ruling that Brunner must use other government records to check the thousands of new voters for registration fraud. This "enbanc" decision overrules the decision last Friday by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit that said, for reasons including the lack of time before the election, state election officials did not have to inform local boards of elections of mismatches so they could investigate further or help resolve discrepancies that might only be the result of unintentional administrative errors.

Bob Bennett, Ohio GOP chairman since 1988, is getting his political pound of flesh. "Her delay in providing this matching system leaves little time for election officials to act on questionable registrations," Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said Tuesday night, according to the AP. The man who Brunner fired from his job of running the Cuyahoga Board of Elections in early 2007, just a few weeks after she took office, is no doubt reveling in the political ramifications of the court's decision.

"Once again, Jennifer Brunner has wasted valuable taxpayer dollars only to have her partisan agenda rejected by a court of law. Her shameful actions to disenfranchise Republican absentee voters, block the transparency of early voting and refuse the proper verification of newly registered voters have rightfully damaged her credibility as a nonpartisan election administrator. She is destroying the public trust in Ohio's elections system." [Bob Bennett, Ohio GOP Chairman]

Here's how I see this playing out if I were the Ohio GOP:

With polls showing that Obama's lead in Ohio is growing daily, the Ohio GOP will almost certainly use this decision as a basis to sue Brunner in the state should Obama win, claiming that the majority of these new voters could not possibly have been properly vetted in 18 days. The margin of victory in Ohio will certainly be closer than 666,000 votes.

The GOP will sue to get these votes thrown out, claiming that they are fradulent until proven valid. That's quite a nasty precedent. I'm not sure if it will be enough to stop the Obama landslide, but if Obama wins by less than 42 electoral votes, it might just give McSame the election. It's unlikely, as the numbers show Obama more likely to have something of a 180 EV lead or so.

Still, the GOP may use the decision to challenge, oh, I don't know, every voter registration period or something insaneo like that. I know, horrendously unlikely.

You know, like Florida in 2000.

You think this GOP is going down without a fight? Not me.

The Man Who Knew Just Enough

New York Magazine has an excellent article on the stats master behind and the story of a man who was king of the baseball predictions taking his models and applying them with wild success this year to become king of the electoral punditry sites: Nate Silver.

Silver, who’s 30, thin, and lives in Chicago, had been flown to New York at the invitation of a hedge fund to give a talk. “They just said, ‘Why don’t you come in, talk about your models,’ ” he said with a shrug. “I’ll probably just take a lot of questions.” Silver doesn’t know all that much about high finance; these days, he’s spending most of his energy on his political Website, FiveThirtyEight (the total number of Electoral College votes), where he uses data analysis to track and interpret political polls and project the outcome of November’s election. The site earned some national recognition back in May, during the Democratic primaries, when almost every other commentator was celebrating Hillary Clinton’s resurgent momentum. Reading the polls, most pundits predicted she’d win Indiana by five points and noted she’d narrowed the gap with Obama in North Carolina to just eight.

Silver, who was writing anonymously as “Poblano” and receiving about 800 visits a day, disagreed with this consensus. He’d broken the numbers down demographically and come up with a much less encouraging outcome for Clinton: a two-point squeaker in Indiana, and a seventeen-point drubbing in North Carolina. On the night of the primaries, Clinton took Indiana by one and lost North Carolina by fifteen. The national pundits were doubly shocked: one, because the results were so divergent from the polls, and two, because some guy named after a chili pepper had predicted the outcome better than anyone else.

Silver’s site now gets about 600,000 visits daily. And as more and more people started wondering who he was, in May, Silver decided to unmask himself. To most people, the fact that Poblano turned out to be a guy named Nate Silver meant nothing. But to anyone who follows baseball seriously, this was like finding out that a guy anonymously running a high-fashion Website turned out to be Howard Cosell. At his day job, Silver works for Baseball Prospectus, a loosely organized think tank that, in the last ten years, has revolutionized the interpretation of baseball stats. Furthermore, Silver himself invented a system called PECOTA, an algorithm for predicting future performance by baseball players and teams. (It stands for “player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithm,” but is named, with a wink, after the mediocre Kansas City Royals infielder Bill Pecota.) Baseball Prospectus has a reputation in sports-media circles for being unfailingly rigorous, occasionally arrogant, and almost always correct.

This season, for example, the PECOTA system predicted that the Tampa Bay Rays would win 90 games. This seemed bold, even amusing, given that the Rays were arguably the worst team in baseball. In 2007, they’d lost 96 games. They’d finished last in all but one season of their ten-year existence. (In 2004, they finished fourth.) They had some young talent, sure, but most people, even those in the Rays’ front office, thought that if the team simply managed to win more games than it lost, that would represent a quantum leap.

PECOTA, however, saw it differently. PECOTA recognized that the past Rays weren’t a hopelessly bad team so much as a good team hampered by a few fixable problems—which, thanks to some key off-season changes, had been largely remedied. Silver argued on the Baseball Prospectus Website that the long-suffering team had finally “decided to transform themselves from a sort of hedge fund for undervalued assets into a real, functional baseball club.”

PECOTA, as it turns out, wasn’t exactly right. The Rays didn’t win 90 games this year. They won 97 games and are currently playing the Red Sox for the American League championship.

Not a bad job if you can get it. Looking at the most current FiveThirtyEight map:

Nate's system currently has Obama pitching a landslide victory with over 360 votes with wins in nearly all the battleground states and even having a fair shot (46%) at West Virginia. Obama rolls across the country including a 61% chance to win Indiana, 65% in NC, 71% in MO and 93% in VA now. He even has a 15% shot in Georgia with 3 weeks to go, 21% in Montana and 29% in North Dakota(!).

Keep a close eye on FiveThirtyEight. Sadly, Nate still has a 99% win chance for McSame in Kentucky (annoyed by that) but again, three weeks and tonight's final debate could be enough time for the Obama landslide to roll across the country and weaken the GOP even further.

Be sure to check out Nate's Senate and House predictions, too.


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