Another "shellacking" for Obama?
In the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections two years ago, President Obama admitted he had been "shellacked." I don't think the results this time will be quite that decisive, but almost anything is possible. With the demographic shifts and changes in telephone technology, which calls into question traditional survey sampling methods, the poll numbers are especially vulnerable to measurement error this election cycle. I'm cautiously optimistic that Romney will at least make a good showing in most of the swing states, and I don't totally discount the predictions by some Republicans that a subterranean anti-Obama "tsunami" is about to emerge, but I'm preparing for the worst-case scenario just in case.
One sign of hope for Romney is that the Des Moines Register has endorsed him for president, the first Republican that paper has endorsed in over a generation. Iowa is one of the swing states that may be decisive in deciding who will win the election. That editorial endorsement elicited a barrage of angry letters from readers and others. There is something about the extreme bitter attitudes among many Democrats ("Romney's a liar!") that makes me suspect that they realize that things aren't going their way...
I was a bit surprised to learn that former South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler (a Republican) has endorsed Barack Obama for reelection. He's relatively moderate, so it wasn't a total shock. Same thing goes for Colin Powell, a man I strongly respect but happen to disagree with as far as Obama. I was practically dumbfounded to learn that Pressler made a visit here in Staunton on Friday; see newsleader.com. Like George McGovern, Pressler is an old friend of my father and it would have been nice to chat. The Democrats have a very prominent headquarters in a rented storefront on Beverley Street downtown, and they seem determined to keep Staunton moving in a "blue" direction, as it has been for the past several years.
On the other hand, the nation's first black governor, Douglas Wilder, has decided not to endorse the nation's first black president; see timesdispatch.com. Wilder is known as a fiercely independent man with a chip or two on his shoulder, so it's not as strange as one might think.
Can Allen catch up to Kaine?
Nearly all polls indicate that Tim Kaine has a lead of at least a few points over George Allen. According to Friday's Richmond Times Dispatch, "The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News survey released Wednesday shows Kaine leading Allen 50 percent to 46 percent." In the end, it will come down to whether Mitt Romney can win Virginia, and pull George Allen across the finish line on his partisan "coat tails." Allen has hit Kaine hard on the issue of using coal as an energy source (which Obama and most Democrats oppose) and on the issue of military spending, since thousands of jobs in Virginia, especially the area around Norfolk, depend on Navy and Defense Department contracts. Compared to his failed run for reelection six years ago, Allen has run a more sophisticate, mostly positive campaign that at least puts him within range of Kaine, who has higher favorability ratings, i.e., friendlier press coverage.
Allen made a campaign stop in Staunton on Friday, but regrettably I wasn't able to get there.
Are Kaine's TV ads misleading?
One of Kaine's more effective campaign tools has been a TV ad that has run on many stations across Virginia, sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It features a mature, well-spoken man who says "I count on Social Security and and I don't want Washington politicians like George Allen privatizing it." Frankly, I was never fond of proposals to privatize Social Security, which the Bush administration tried to push early in 2005. Well, it turns out that the person in that ad is not just some average Joe who really needs those Social Security checks, he's actually a highly paid trial lawyer who has long been active in Democratic politics: Edwin Williams. See washingtonexaminer.com; from Mike Thomas, who works on the Allen campaign.
Tim Kaine being deceptive? He's such a swell guy, so how can that be?? Well it happened before, seven years ago in fact. My blog post from November 2005 shows an image of the offending campign mailer that I received, showing a big GOP elephant icon and falsely implying that it came from a conservative activist group. If you squint at the fine print, it says "This mailing was authorized and paid for by Kaine for Governor." It's about as bogus as you can get in campaign hijinks without going to jail.