News from the Votemaster
John McCain celebrated Memorial Day by attacking the new G.I. bill that passed the Senate last week 75 to 22. The bill offers tuition payments and other benefits to veterans after one enlistment. McCain wants the benefits to depend on how long you serve--the longer you serve the more benefits you get. While this position is certainly defensible, it may come back to haunt him. One of the key sponsors of the bill is Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), himself a Vietnam veteran and an oft-mentioned possible Veep for Obama. If the Democratic ticket ends up being Obama/Webb, Webb is going to spend months saying: "I proposed benefits to help our men and women who foughtly bravely in Iraq and curmudgeon McCain opposes it." That position will be tough to defend.
Arianna Huffington makes a point today that has been made here repeatedly for weeks: John McCain is solidly pro-life and has been opposing abortions during his whole Senate career. His Website proudly states that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortions. But poll after poll shows that most women do not know this, including women who support Hillary Clinton and say that they will vote for McCain if Clinton is not the Democratic nominee. It is unlikely that McCain can keep his position on abortion secret for 5 months; in fact, he probably won't even try. He needs to keep it out front to keep the Base happy.
Glenn Greenwald hit the nail on the head yesterday with a column on political reporting. The column was stimulated by the admission of Politico's editor in chief that all he cares about is more traffic to his site. If ignoring real news and running eight stories on John Edwards' haircut gets more traffic, that's the road they travel there. Greenwald suspects that practically all the news organizations work that way. This is why completely irrelevant "stories" dominate the news (like Barack Obama's remark about working people clinging to religion or Hillary Clinton's observation that Bobby Kennedy was killed after a June primary, both of which were off-hand comments made to private groups). In contrast, "unimportant" stories, like a side-by-side comparison of the health plans proposed by Clinton, Obama, and McCain never see the light of day. Maybe this is why the public rates the press lower than local, state, and federal government, business, educational and religious organizations, the supreme court, the medical establishment, and the military (Greenwald has a chart). Case in point: our lead story yesterday (Bob Barr's nomination on the Libertarian ticket, which could flip several states in November), didn't even make the front page of the Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, or the San Francisco Chronicle.
No new primary polls today, but we have general election polls in Kentucky and Minnesota. Kentucky is fairly dramatic: Clinton beats McCain solidly, but McCain beats Obama by a huge margin. This is Clinton's case: Obama can't win in Appalachia. But November is a long time from now and many Clinton supporters who now say they will never vote for Obama may change their minds if he is ultimately the nominee. Bitter primary fights are always like this initially.
On the Senate side, we have a couple of new polls. In Nebraska, Mike Johanns (R) is going to wipe out Scott Kleeb (D). Research 2000 puts Johanns 27 points ahead for the seat of the retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R). In New Hampshire, former governor Jeanne Shaheen (D) maintains a comfortable 10-point lead over the incumbent, Sen. John Sununu (R-NH). In Oregon, it is a statistical tie between Jeff Merkley (D) and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), but the poll was taken before Merkley won the primary.
Obama's lead is now 195 delegates, if you average the six news sources below. As discussed here yesterday, a strong Clinton win in Puerto Rico will net her about seven delegates. Obama will pick up a couple in Montana and South Dakota, so if no more supers get off the fence, Obama will have a lead of roughly 190 delegates once the primaries have finished. Clinton's big hope now is that the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which meets Saturday, will seat the Michigan and Florida delegations in full. Don't count on it. The DNC is pretty annoyed with those states and wants to see them punished. Punishments might include seating the delegates from Florida with half a vote each and splitting Michigan's delegates 50-50, since Obama wasn't even on the ballot there. Both states will definitely be seated, the only question is how the delegates will be selected. Thirteen of the RBC members support Clinton, eight support Obama, and the rest are uncommitted. But remember, these are party activists who are likely to do they think is good for the party, regardless of which candidate they support.
Needed to win: 2026
Here is another source for delegate totals.
-- The Votemaster