Jul. 27 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 292   McCain 195   Ties 51
Senate Dem 57   GOP 43  
House Dem 239   GOP 196  

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strong Dem Strong Dem (197)
weak Dem Weak Dem (49)
barely Dem Barely Dem (46)
tied Exactly tied (51)
barely GOP Barely GOP (21)
weak GOP Weak GOP (83)
strong GOP Strong GOP (91)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
Map algorithm explained
Presidential polls today: CA RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO IN IA MT NV NM GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo Another McCain Veep Rumor Obama Gets Bounce From Overseas Trip
Quote of the Day R2000: McCain Way Ahead in South Carolina
Extra Bonus Quote of the Day Obama Considers Republican for Veep

News from the Votemaster

Yesterday Barack Obama said that he expected his polls to drop since he hadn't been campaigning for a week (as if he didn't know the effect of having Americans watch 200,000 Germans cheering and waving American flags). To his "surprise," Obama got a bounce in the national polls. Gallup has him ahead 48% to 41% (was 45% to 43% before the trip). Rasmussen has him ahead 49% to 43% (was tied at 46%). An NBC/WSJ poll has Obama on top 47% to 41%. A 5% win in the popular vote will almost assuredly result in a landslide in the electoral college.

John Weaver, for many years Mcain's top political strategist, said it was a big mistake for McCain to dare Obama to go to Iraq, only to have the country's Prime Minister endorse Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops in 2010. It is going to be very hard for McCain to continue to argue that American troops should be in Iraq for 100 years if the elected Iraqi government doesn't want them there. McCain can probably change his position without being accused of flip-flopping (e.g., by saying something like "If the Iraqis now feel we have secured their country, it is fine to leave") but it will be very difficult for McCain to claim he has better judgement than Obama on foreign affairs. This trip was a huge gamble for Obama, but he pulled it off flawlessly. He may not have any executive experience in government, but his political instincts exhibit perfect pitch.

Yesterday there was a miniboomlet for former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman as a potential running mate for Barack Obama, something we pooh-poohed. Here's more pooh. Three senators from the Midwest, two Democrats and one Republican, have now stated in public that she would be a poor choice. One of them, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), asked President Bush to fire her after she refused to ban the import of Canadian beef possibily infected by mad cow disease, something she didn't want to do because she is cosy with large agribusinesses. A few months after Conrad's call for her ouster, she abruptly quit. If Obama thinks it would be a good idea to have a failed Bush cabinet member on his team, he could at least pick one with better name recognition, like, say, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But he's not going to pick anyone associated with the Bush administration. If he does pick a Republican, which is very unlikely because his base would be furious, it would be a Republican who has publicly and virulently attacked the current administration, such as Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). The problem with Hagel is that not only does he oppose Bush, he also opposes abortion, gay marriage, gun control, and a lot of other things Democrats are not keen on opposing. The moral of this story is don't believe everything you read (not even this sentence). Ask the question: "Does this make any sense?" If it doesn't, it's probably not true.

Every four years around this time Veepleaking becomes a cottage industry, with all kinds of people who are clueless throwing out names (see: Veneman, Ann). The buzz now is that John McCain is having a big powwow at his Arizona home today to introduce his VP choice to Republican insiders today in preparation for an announcement tomorrow. That may or may not be true, but it makes at least a little sense. If McCain waits until next week, he will be competing with the olympics for air time. If he waits until after the olympics, he will be competing with the oncoming Democratic National Convention. The only downside of an announcement this week is that Obama has no particular reason to announce now as his world trip is still in the news, so if McCain makes his choice first, Obama can respond to it by changing his pick at the last minute if need be (e.g., if McCain picks Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Obama could pick a woman, too). McCain's problem at this point is there is no obvious pick who has no downside. Of the names bandied about so far, here is a brief rundown of what is wrong with each one (the good points will be highlighted by every other news source in glowing detail, fear not). (The Democratic possibilities also have downsides, but that is for another time.)

Veep Candidate Job Downside
Charlie Crist Gov. of Florida Can he make decisions? (He is now engaged for the fifth time)
Carly Forinia ex HP CEO Nearly ran HP into the ground, fired by the board, given $40 million severance pay
Bobby Jindal Gov. of Louisiana Performs amateur exorcisms; late-night comics would go wild
Mike Huckabee ex Gov. of Arkansas McCain thinks he's crazy
Kay Hutchison Sen. from. Texas Might not play well with working-class men
Sarah Palin Gov. of Alaska Under investigation for possibly breaking the law trying to fire her brother in law
Tim Pawlenty Gov. of Minnesota Unknown nationally and Dems will win Minnesota even with him on the ticket
Rob Portman ex OMB Director Like the economy? Good. Hire Bush's budget director for a repeat performance
Tom Ridge ex Gov. of Pennsylvania Pro choice, which will infuriate the Base
Mitt Romney ex Gov. of Mass. Flip-flops are all over You Tube; antiMormon bigotry is widespread in the South
Mark Sanford Gov. of South Carolina Unknown outside his state
John Thune Sen. from South Dakota Only three years in the Senate and unknown outside his state

Only one poll today, in California. Obama is comfortably ahead and will win the state easily. Neither Obama nor McCain is likely to campaign much here. It is one of the ironies of the electoral college system that a state with 12% of the country's population will basically be ignored.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
California 50% 38% Jul 24 Jul 24 Rasmussen

-- The Votemaster

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