Sep. 03 absentee ballot for overseas voters

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Republican Convention News

With the danger from hurricane Gustav past, the Republican National Convention is back on track. Yesterday President Bush addressed the delegates by video from the White House. He praised John McCain as a courageous and forceful leader who always puts country ahead of party. Bush turned his frequent disagreements with McCain into a plus, saying: "He's not afraid to tell you when he disagrees. Believe me, I know." For example, McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts twice, calling them irresponsible. Immediately after Bush spoke, a video about Ronald Reagan was shown, praising him as another great and fearless leader.

The attack dog role fell to former Tennessee senator and short-lived candidate Fred Thompson. He began by talking about McCain's long imprisonment in North Vietnam as a POW and his status as a great American hero. Then he lit into Barack Obama, calling him the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee ever to run for President. Thompson was chosen to speak not because he he is a rising star in the Republican Party (he ran one of the worst campaigns in memory), but because he, like Lieberman, is a close personal friend of McCain's dating from the time they served together in the Senate. McCain puts up with campaign professionals like Steve Schmidt, who is de facto running his campaign, but the people he really trusts are his close personal and political friends (like Joe Lieberman and Thompson), who in private no doubt give him the unvarnished truth, something hired hands are probably hesitant to do, given his volcanic temper.

Independent Democrat and 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman also spoke. Lieberman said that McCain was willing to buck his party and work with the Democrats when he thought that was in the best interests of the country. He said McCain's long history of bipartisanship would make him an effective President because he could work with the Democrats and get things done. He said McCain is a maverick and will do what is best for the country and let the chips fall where they may. McCain and Lieberman have been close personal friends for many years. Politics makes for strange bedfellows it is said, sometimes literally. The strangest political couple is probably James Carville, a top Democratic strategist, and Mary Matalin, a top Republican strategist, who are married to each other. Both are immensely passionate about politics and defeating the other party. It is said that at home they don't talk politics because they so violently disagree with each other about it. Lieberman and McCain agree on the war in Iraq but don't really agree on much else, but they clearly like and respect each other.

All in all, the convention is back on track, but Tuesday was just to get everyone warmed up. The real action starts tonight with a speech from Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. More below, but first a bit of background material.

Is Palin the Best Qualified Potential Veep?

For the first half of this year, whenever John McCain was asked what qualities he would look for in a potential Vice President he always said he wanted the most qualified person in the country to be available for the presidency should the need arise. This is without a doubt a very strong answer and he was often praised for putting the country ahead of political expediency. Now that his choice is known, some people (although not McCain personally) have added it is executive experience that counts, something that neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden has any of.

Taking executive experience as the benchmark, who might he have chosen? The obvious pool is sitting Republican governors, of whom there are 22, one of whom (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is ineligible because he is foreign born. An interesting question is then how does Sarah Palin rank in executive experience compared to the 21 eligible Republican governors. The answer is given in the table below: she ranks 17th. If executive experience were indeed the criterion McCain really valued most, then Gov. John Hoeven (R-ND) or Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) would have been the top choices, with 2819 and 2813 days of experience as governor, respectively. If he insisted that the job be given to a woman, then Gov. Linda Lingle (R-HI) comes in next.

# Governor St Inaugurated Days   Senator St Inaugurated Days
1 John Hoeven ND Dec. 15, 2000 2,819   Ted Stevens AK Dec. 24, 1968 14,498
2 Rick Perry TX Dec. 21, 2000 2,813   Pete Domenici NM Jan. 3, 1973 13,027
3 Linda Lingle HI Dec. 2, 2002 2,102   Richard Lugar IN Jan. 4, 1977 11,565
4 Tim Pawlenty MN Jan. 6, 2003 2,067   Orrin Hatch UT Jan. 4, 1977 11,565
5 Donald Carcieri RI Jan. 7, 2003 2,066   Thad Cochran MS Dec. 27, 1978 10,843
6 Mike Rounds SD Jan. 7, 2003 2,066   John Warner VA Jan. 2, 1979 10,837
7 Jim Douglas VT Jan. 9, 2003 2,064   Charles Grassley IA Jan. 5, 1981 10,103
8 Sonny Perdue GA Jan. 13, 2003 2,060   Arlen Specter PA Jan. 5, 1981 10,103
9 Mark Sanford SC Jan. 15, 2003 2,058   Mitch McConnell KY Jan. 3, 1985 8,644
10 Bob Riley AL Jan. 21, 2003 2,052   John McCain AZ Jan. 3, 1987 7,914
11 Arnold Schwarzenegger CA Nov. 17, 2003 1,752   Richard Shelby AL Jan. 6, 1987 7,911
12 Haley Barbour MS Jan. 13, 2004 1,695   Kit Bond MO Jan. 6, 1987 7,911
13 Jodi Rell CT July 1, 2004 1,525   Larry Craig ID Jan. 3, 1991 6,453
14 Jon Huntsman UT Jan. 3, 2005 1,339   Judd Gregg NH Jan. 5, 1993 5,720
15 Mitch Daniels IN Jan. 10, 2005 1,332   Robert Bennett UT Jan. 5, 1993 5,720
16 Matt Blunt MO Jan. 10, 2005 1,332   Kay Bailey Hutchison TX June 14, 1993 5,560
17 Dave Heineman NE Jan. 20, 2005 1,322   James Inhofe OK Nov. 17, 1994 5,039
18 Sarah Palin AK Dec. 4, 2006 639   Jon Kyl AZ Jan. 4, 1995 4,991
19 Butch Otter ID Jan. 1, 2007 611   Olympia Snowe ME Jan. 4, 1995 4,991
20 Jim Gibbons NV Jan. 1, 2007 611   Sam Brownback KS Nov. 7, 1996 4,318
21 Charlie Crist FL Jan. 2, 2007 610   Jeff Sessions AL Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
22 Bobby Jindal LA Jan. 14, 2008 233   Wayne Allard CO Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
23           Pat Roberts KS Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
24           Susan Collins ME Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
25           Chuck Hagel NE Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
26           Gordon Smith OR Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
27           Michael Enzi WY Jan. 7, 1997 4,257
28           Michael Crapo ID Jan. 6, 1999 3,528
29           Jim Bunning KY Jan. 6, 1999 3,528
30           George Voinovich OH Jan. 6, 1999 3,528
31           John Ensign NV Jan. 3, 2001 2,800
32           John Cornyn TX Dec. 2, 2002 2,102
33           Lisa Murkowski AK Dec. 20, 2002 2,084
34           Saxby Chambliss GA Jan. 3, 2003 2,070
35           Norm Coleman MN Jan. 7, 2003 2,066
36           John Sununu NH Jan. 7, 2003 2,066
37           Elizabeth Dole NC Jan. 7, 2003 2,066
38           Lindsey Graham SC Jan. 7, 2003 2,066
39           Lamar Alexander TN Jan. 7, 2003 2,066
40           Mel Martinez FL Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
41           Johnny Isakson GA Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
42           David Vitter LA Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
43           Richard Burr NC Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
44           Tom Coburn OK Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
45           Jim DeMint SC Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
46           John Thune SD Jan. 3, 2005 1,339
47           Bob Corker TN Jan. 3, 2007 609
48           John Barrasso WY June 25, 2007 436
49           Roger Wicker MS Dec. 31, 2007 247

Now suppose the experience does not have to be executive (something McCain himself has none of). This opens the pool to the 49 sitting Republican senators at the very least. If we remove McCain, Cuba-born Mel Martinez, and the other Arizona senator Jon Kyl (although he would be allowed if the Arizona electors voted for McCain/Biden) there are 46 left. With 639 days of experience as of today, Palin ranks behind 43 eligible Republican senators If we consider the pool of eligible Republican governors and Republican senators there are 59 who have more experience than she does. And of course, if the pool is expanded to include former Republican governors and senators and current and former Republican members of the House, the pool becomes several hundred and it is still likely that Palin would rank near the very bottom of the list in terms of experience.

The data seems to point to the conclusion that McCain really doesn't believe experience is so important a qualification since he skipped over a large number of more experienced Republicans in making his choice.

Palin Will Speak Tonight

Sarah Palin will address the convention and the nation tonight. With the above information as background, it is pretty clear she cannot tout her long experience as her primary qualification to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, something Joe Biden can certainly do. But working for her is the fact that she is still largely a blank page. People don't know much about her and are eager to learn more. Tonight is her big chance. Will she emphasize her strong opposition to abortion--even in the case of rape and incest--something the delegates will love but many independent women will not like at all? Will she emphasize her support for drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge--something John McCain opposes? Since she has all of five days' experience on the national stage, there is a good chance that McCain's speechwriter, Mark Salter, will write her speech and she will just read it from the TelePrompter.

Monday Rasmussen ran a poll asking about Palin. The first question asked if she was the right choice. The results were evenly split: 39% yes, 39% no, with the rest undecided. Then he asked if she was ready to be President. Here 29% said yes and 48% said no. Surprisingly women were less impressed with her than men as 32% of the men thought she was ready to be President and only 26% of the women did. Partisan identification played a big role here, with 60% of the Republicans saying she is ready to be President and 74% of the Democrats saying she is not ready.

Today's Polls

We have no state polls today but there are several noteworthy national polls. Here are the results.

Pollster Obama McCain Leader
ARG 49% 43% Obama +6%
CBS 48% 40% Obama +8%
Gallup 50% 43% Obama +7%
Gallup tracking 50% 42% Obama +8%
Hotline 48% 39% Obama +9%
Rasmussen tracking 48% 43% Obama +5%

It is clear that Obama got a substantial bounce from his convention, as expected. It is also expected that McCain will get one from his convention. Usually, the two bounces tend to cancel out. We'll know that next week.

We have one House poll today, in the open seat in AL-02 being vacated by Republican Terry Everett. The district is R+13 and sure enough, the Republican candidate is way ahead.

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
AL-02 Bobby Bright 39% Jay Love* 56% Aug 26 Aug 28 SurveyUSA

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