By most usual measures, this is the Democrats' year.
For example, it is unusual for a party to win three consecutive terms in the White House as this
shows. But Obama could make some gaffe that fails to convince people that he is ready for the job, upsetting the
Correction to yesterday's posting: If Alaska governor Sarah Palin is elected Vice President and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell
is elected to Congress, Parnell will be sworn in Jan. 3, 2009 and the lieutenant governor's office will become vacant.
Alaska law says that the governor must choose a backup lieutenant governor, and she has already done so:
state attorney general Talis Colberg. So if Parnell resigns, Colberg becomes lieutenant governor and if Palin resigns
two weeks later, he becomes governor and nominates a new lieutenant governor.
So McCain can pick Palin as his Veep without making Alaska rudderless.
Speaking of Vice Presidents, CQ Politics has a
story saying that
Dick Cheney has changed the nature of the office forever. Rather than being a kind of useless appendage,
future Veeps may actually get something to do all day, but of course that depends on the President as the
Veeps only constitutional duty is to preside over the Senate and break ties there, a rare occurrence now with
the Senate split 51-49 and even less likely in the 111th Senate where the Democrats are probably going to have
55-60 seats or so. With an inexperienced President like Obama, the Vice President is undoubtedly going to be
called on for advice and help relatively often. With an experienced one like McCain, help from the VP is
less likely to be requested unless the person has special expertise in some area, for example, former representative and budget director Rob Portman
on the economy.
Six new polls today. In Iowa, this is the 12th consecutive poll showing Obama ahead, this time with a solid 10-point
margin. Iowa is where it all began and Obama campaigned throughout the state and the people there apparently feel
they know him and like him. He also has a large lead in Minnesota, something he has had all year, too, although a
few polls have shown it to be close there. This poll could have an impact on the Vice Presidential choices.
With the Republican convention in St. Paul, a choice of Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) could be a sign that McCain
wants to go all out for Minnesota. But if Obama is really ahead by 10 points or more, the state won't be
salvageable for McCain even with Pawlenty on the ticket.
Having a local politician on the ticket is worth a few percent, which
matters in a close race but not when it is a blowout.
South Dakota is also noteworthy. Bush won this state twice by 22 points each time.
Now McCain's lead is only 4 points. Obama is currently tied in North Dakota and even ahead in
Montana. These states have similar demographics. If we see another half dozen polls like this
it might be time to start thinking there will be a real horse race in this area, but not yet.
In the four presidential elections starting with 1992 in all three states, only one of the 12 contests (3 states x 4 elections)
has gone to a Democrat, when Bill Clinton carried Montana with 38% of the vote in 1992 (courtesy of Ross Perot).
Another significant poll is Michigan. It is the second most likely Kerry state for McCain to pick off
(after New Hampshire). Right now that seems a bit iffy and with the economy getting worse, it is hard to
see how McCain will be able to pick it up by talking about free markets when the unemployed workers here
want the government to help them.