Friday, November 07, 2008

Why Didn't Obama Visit Minnesota?

I asked this question at an informal roundtable of colleagues today at lunch. Having invested $75 of my hard-earned money in the Franken campaign, I'm really pissed that it has become such a close vote, now simply a matter of hoping that this .011 percent gap can be overcome in a recount of the optical-scan equivalent of "hanging chads." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune now (as of 11:30 am Friday morning) reports that the official lead of Coleman over Franken is down to 239 votes -- in Pine County (just south of Duluth), "exhausted" election officials mistakenly listed Al with 24 votes in Partridge Township, and then they discovered they missed an important "1" - he had actually received 124 votes!

Now I still hope that a recount will eventually produce a different result -- but why did it have to be so close? As an "investor," I've got two questions:

1) Why didn't Al Franken speak at the Democratic National Convention, as did most of the other Democratic senatorial candidates? The official story has it that Al decided on his own not to speak. Andy Barr, his campaign spokesman, explained that Al had to rush back from Denver to campaign at the Minnesota State Fair. Said Barr to the Strib: "It would be cool to be part of history and the spectacle of the convention, but there's a pretty good spectacle going on here, too." I always suspected that all this was a "warm and fuzzy" cover story for an embargo against Al, who might not have played well with the national audience. The national media loves Franken, and would have highlighted his 3 minutes of air time above all the other obscure Senate candidates -- and someone in the Obama campaign or the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee didn't want the blowback. That's what I suspect.

2) But that leads me to the second & more important question: Why didn't Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama visit Minnesota (where he won the state by 10 points), not even one time, to help a Democratic candidate locked in a tight race? Sure, the Clintons showed up, and Hilary even recorded a misguided television ad whose main point in advocating for Franken was "let's get that 60-seat super majority" -- a hardly ringing issues-oriented message. But where the hell was Obama? Other than a short too-little, too-late and half-hearted phone call to WCCO Radio on election eve, Obama personally stayed out of this race. And there are only two answers:

a) the Franken campaign never asked; or
b) the Obama campaign declined, either because it wanted to distance Obama from a slightly tarnished and "controversial" candidate, or because the Obama campaign was in it only for the "top of the ticket," and couldn't care less about the Senate. And it isn't just in Minnesota: why didn't Obama campaign, not even one time, in Georgia with Democratic senate candidate Jim Martin, who had a chance to unseat the Republican incumbent?

There is something very disturbing about how the Obama campaign allocated the candidate's time in the weeks of the campaign. Would one visit to Minnesota have undermined some grand strategy? And while we're at it, the "assstance" that Senator Charles Schumer (NY) and the DSCC gave to Franken is also worth noting.

Now to give the Franken campaign their credit, they were hounded from the primaries through the Democratic nomination, and then into the general election, by alternate candidates, and I believe they were therefore locked in "tactical mode" the entire duration of the campaign. The Franken campaign did not ever have the opportunity to run a strategic campaign based "on message" -- it was constantly fending off attacks from within the Minnesota Democratic party while trying to keep its focus on Norm Coleman. Apparently, it was more than the Franken campaign could handle. And that's why an Obama visit would've made a great deal of sense.

Like I said, I am pissed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

SK meets SS

What a lame blog title. Read and kvell!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Boy, Was I Ever Wrong

Got the electoral vote wrong; got the raw vote wrong; got the Jewish vote wrong (early and vague reports say 77% of Jewish voters voted for Obama -- better than Kerry); got the Minnesota senate race wrong (Franken is losing by 474 votes out of over 2.8 million votes cast - this number has bounced around all day) . There was no apparent Bradley effect. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong & wrong.

I did vote for the presidential winner, though -- haven't done that recently! Okay, so I was dragged kicking and screaming to that one correct thing by Sara, but I still got one thing right.

Maybe today is a day to lighten up a bit on cynicism about America and the world. Maybe we're not all the racist goobers I thought we were.

Update 5:15 pm: I think I know where I went wrong, at least on the Jewish vote prediction. Spending the entire spring in Israel, and watching the primary season from afar, I must have internalized Israelis' support for McCain and fear of Obama and transferred that to my analysis of the American Jewish vote. I was wrong, and it colored all my writing about Obama and the Jews both in print and on this blog.

Ironic that I was hoping for entertaining close calls and reversed calls for Election Night. I got my wish -- but in a race I had hoped would be decisive -- the Minnesota Senate race. Last night, at 7:44 pm, I received a phone call from the Franken campaign asking for "one last contribution" and asking me to help make sure my neighbors went out to vote. I explained that I lived in Connecticut, and that I was honored to have helped with my contributions, but that I was done contributing. I thought at the time what a strange phone call. Now I understand.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My vote

Dear daughter Sara,

Here is the proof - a picture of my fully filled-in ballot just before I put it into the optical scanner.

As you can see, I voted for Obama/Biden. I kept up my end of the deal -- now send me the picture of your Jewish fiance.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Prediction

I am hoping for an entertaining election night. For me, "entertaining" means a long night, full of upsets and surprises that will leave the analysts sputtering, with lots of too-close-to-calls and even a reversal or two late in the night. All accompanied by lots of Scotch. At my school, there is a prediction pool, and I have put in the following guess:

Electoral Votes
Obama/Biden - 278
McCain/Palin - 260

Vote Percentage
+2 for Obama (I didn't have to specify, but I think it will be 49.7-47)

I'll take one more prediction: the Jewish vote nationally will be 68-32 in favor of Obama

I'm not confident about these predictions, but if I am close, it will make for an entertaining night.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Poll Looks at Jewish Vote

The Washington Post-ABC tracking poll reports American Jews as breaking 70-29 for Obama. This result is much closer to the outcome I expect, certainly lower than the recent national Gallup & Florida Quinnipiac numbers, which reported Obama at the mid-to-upper 70's with Jews. Remember -- Kerry got 76% in 2004; Dukakis in 1988 got 64%. My buddy Silk thinks Obama will hit 70; I think Obama is going to do worse than that.

Here's a theory: if any white demographic group will manifest the "Bradley effect," it will be the Jews. Jews are liberal and subject to guilt and insecurity; certainly if there are Jews who are going to be peeled away from their traditional Democratic home, there may be a hesitancy to announce aloud to a pollster, even an exit pollster, a renunciation of long-held political views because of the list of troubling stories -- many of them manufactured -- which dog the Obama narrative and "Jewish issues."