Aug. 30 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 278   McCain 247   Ties 13
Senate Dem 56   GOP 43   Ties 1
House Dem 243   GOP 192  

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PW logo Smart Tactical Pick? Quote of the Day
Worst Pick Ever? Palin Backs Teaching Creationism
Bonus Quote of the Day McCain Barely Knows Running Mate

News from the Votemaster

The Reaction to Sarah Palin

John McCain's surprise pick of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) to be his running mate has already achieved one of its goals: it wiped Barack Obama's acceptance speech, which many people of both parties saw as a great speech, from the news completely. Palin is the only story today. Here are a few photos of her. The first one is from her run at the Miss Alaska contest, where she was runner up.

Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin Sarah Palin

Most reaction to Palin was predictable. Republicans see her as a staunch conservative, a fresh new face, a reformer from outside Washington, and someone with executive experience, which neither Obama nor Biden have. Furthermore, as a woman, a mother with five children, and a moose hunter (and life member of the NRA) she will appeal to women, moderates, Westerners and cement the GOP base. She even rides a motorcycle, which working-class men will applaud. A brilliant pick. But even among dyed-in-the-wool conservatives there were some dissenters, like David Frum.

Democrats don't quite see it like that. They say she is a featherweight who is completely unprepared to be commander in chief. Her executive experience is primarily 21 months as governor of a state with a quarter the population of Brooklyn. She is strongly antiabortion, not exactly what the disgruntled Clinton supporters are looking for. In short, a disastrous pick for the GOP.

Most neutral observers are scratching their heads. McCain's strongest argument against Obama is that he doesn't have the experience to be President. How can his first major personnel choice be someone with demonstrably less experience than Obama (6 years as mayor of a village with 5400 people and 21 months as governor vs. 8 years in the Illinois state senate and 3 1/2 years in the U.S. Senate)? Doesn't that undermine his whole campaign? With so many solid choices available like governors Romney, Pawlenty, Sanford, and Ridge, why a total unknown who is being investigated by her own (Republican-controlled) legislature for possible ethical violations. What is McCain thinking?

The Veep: A Short Play in One Act

Sometimes fiction is a better vehicle for getting inside someone's mind. Besides, it's all we have. Here is a short play for two actors. Let's call them Schmidt, a tough, savvy consultant, and McCain, a candidate. All names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Schmidt: McCain, Get your ass over here and look at this map.

McCain: It's the U.S. with the states red and blue. Seen it before. What's your point?

Schmidt: Obama's gonna win all the Kerry States. You have a small chance to pick off New Hampshire but 60% of the people think you're pro choice. When they find out you've been pro life for 25 years, forget New Hampshire.

McCain: Where does that leave me?

Schmidt: Bush won 286 to 252.

McCain: Fine with me.

Schmidt: But wait a minute. Obama campaigned like crazy in Iowa. Won the caucuses big time. You barely set foot in the state. The people of Iowa take their caucuses very, very seriously. You insulted them. Make that 279 to 259.

McCain: I still win.

Schmidt: We're not done yet. Obama has been leading in New Mexico all year. State's full of Latinos. They preferred Clinton but they're still Democrats at heart. I think we're toast there. Now its 274 to 264.

McCain: A win is a win. Still better than Florida was.

Schmidt: Yeah, but now Obama is just 5 EVs short of a tie (which means it goes to the House and he'll win there) and 6 EVs short of a clean win. Look, there are six swing states this time: Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada. We have to win all six of them. Can't lose a single state or we're dead meat.

McCain: I'm a fighter. You know that. The gooks couldn't break me. I'll campaign like hell in all six. Don't worry.

Schmidt: I'm worried. We're 50-50 on all six. It's like flipping a coin six times and getting six heads. One chance in 64, roughly 2%. We have to do something dramatic. Something that will throw all calculations out the window. Something that completely shakes up everything. Something that gives us a fresh start. Gotta hit the RESET button.

McCain: Have something in mind?

Schmidt: Yeah. Pick a black or a woman for Veep.

McCain: You mean I can't pick Joe? He's my friend and a great guy.

Schmidt: Half the convention would walk out. Besides, Jews aren't a novelty any more. Thank Gore for that.

McCain:. Shit. But blacks are fine with me. Colin Powell is a great American and one of the most respected people in the country.

Schmidt: He doesn't want the job

McCain: No sweat. Condi's the smartest woman I know. Mind like a bear trap. She'll run rings around Biden at the debate. She'll say: "I've been there. I talk to Putin every week. You're just an old windbag"

Schmidt: She's got "BUSH III" emblazoned on her forehead. And Obama is a happily married man with two adorable little girls, Condi's a single black woman who is apparently not much into families. Won't work. What about Kay [Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)]?

McCain: She's tired of the Washington rat race. She wants to go back to Texas. Be governor or something, you know like Ma Ferguson.

Schmidt: Ma's husband, the governor, was impeached and convicted. Ann Richards would be a better role model. What other women do we have?

McCain: Jodi [Rell] and Olympia [Snowe] are smart and popular but pro choice. The Base distrusts me already. They'd mutiny.

Schmidt: Elizabeth Dole? Susan Collins?

McCain: With either of those we lose a Senate seat. I don't want to have 60 Democrats to deal with over there. Reid might grow a spine. Can't encourage that.

Schmidt: Lisa Murkowski?

McCain: Her dad appointed her. She won on her own later, but I don't need to deal with nepotism and cronyism. Smells like Bush. I'm a maverick, remember?

Schmidt: Got it. Some businesswomen? Sarah Palin?

McCain: Carly [Fiorina] is great on economics, but she nearly she ran her company into the ground so the board fired her and then gave her $40 million so she wouldn't feel bad. The 20,000 people she fired aren't too keen on her. Meg Whitman did a fantastic job at eBay but nobody's ever heard of her.

Schmidt: So Palin's the only one left? What about her?

McCain: I met her once, at a governors meeting. Cute as a button. She ran for Miss Alaska. Came in second. I woulda voted for her. But it's a real Hail Mary pass. She's popular up north there where the sun never shines (except for some minor problems when she tried to fire her state trooper brother-in-law). She was pregnant with a Down syndrome baby and didn't abort him. The Base will love that. Her hobbies are riding her motorcycle and hunting moose. The coal miners in Appalachia will go wild over her. How fast can we print a million 8x10 color photos of her for their lockers?

Schmidt: Fast. But what about her experience. I mean, she's only been governor a year and a half. What did she do before that?

McCain: I think she was mayor of some village with six igloos. Who cares? I think you're right we have to shake things up completely. Change the game. The Base will eat her up on abortion, the Hillary fans will see that we respect women (unlike their guy). We grab the mantle of reformers. The white guys will be transfixed by this hot chick who hunts moose. I get to be Maverick-in-chief. Sounds like a winner.

Schmidt: What about the debate with Biden? What if the moderator says: "What would you do if Russia invaded Georgia again?" and she says: "I'll get on Air Force One and fly to Atlanta immediately."

McCain: Most Americans can't find Georgia the state on a map, let alone Georgia the country. I'll get Lugar to tutor her on foreign policy. He knows everything about it. I'm sold. Let's go for it.

Curtain falls.

Well, maybe that wasn't the exact dialog, but the core idea is true: they had to do something dramatic to have a chance and picking a woman was probably their best shot. And most of the candidates had some flaw or other. Palin had the fewest problems.

Today's Polls

No state polls today [hence, the play--got to have some copy :-) ]. However, Obama is getting a bounce in the national polls. Gallup's tracking poll puts him ahead 49% to 41% and Rasmussen's tracking poll puts him ahead 49% to 45%. These are three day averages and all the interviews were done before Obama's acceptance speech. We could see more bounce tomorrow. But with the Republican convention starting Monday, it might fade fast.

Ramussen ran a poll Thursday on the various Veep picks, including Sarah Palin. The results: 14% have a favorable view of her, 18% have an unfavorable view of her, 67% have never heard of her. This means that both parties are going to scramble to define her. The Republicans will push the young reformer from outside Washington angle. The Democrats will say she makes Dan Quayle like look a graybeard. Traditionally, tickets are balanced by geography. This time they are balanced by age. Obama the newbie, picked one of the most inside of all the insiders. McCain the sage old warrior went for fresh blood to revitalize the party.

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