Monday, November 5, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Armin Shimerman, 63. Had to just use the imdb page, since there's no way to choose between Quark and Principal Snyder, is there?

Day-before good stuff:

1. Kevin Drum on Obama vs. Romney on civil liberties.

2. Eric McGhee and Boris Shor: "party trumps constituency."

3. David Beard is collecting voting irregularities.

4. Wonkblog is interviewing voters; here's one example, Sarah Kliff interviewing a Florida man who wants to prevent Obama from ending Medicare.

5. There's a new issue of The Forum just out -- I haven't had a chance to read any of it yet, but several of these pieces look interesting: Bill Mayer on swing voters, Magleby and Nelson on independent "leaners," Lin and Stonecash on House elections, and more.

6. And Tim Murphy collected all the "game changers" of the last year. He concludes that "we're still really bad at predicting the future." But that's not quite it; it's that most events, and especially most campaign events, don't really make a large difference.


  1. When I first read on your blog that campaign events don't really make a huge difference, I didn't really believe you. Likewise, I didn't really know what to make of the models like 538 that seemed to be confidently suggesting a narrow Obama victory (in the absence of a major world event) months and months ago. I was definitely a subscriber to the traditional way of viewing a campaign as a massive tug-of-war between two guys. But here we are, the polls showing exactly the kind of race that 538 and similar models predicted months ago... all the gaffes and debate performances and endorsements doing very little to impact the race. I'm walking away from this election with a very different understanding of national politics thanks to your blog and others like it.

  2. Found this, by Sam Wang, a very clear and helpful guide to the pollsters:

  3. Read stuff:

    Fallows' has an Ask Dr. Popkin post up. The examination myths explaining a Republican loss this year is excellent.

    This, in particular:

    Whenever you hear politicians say an election is not about the party, you can be sure it is about the party. The Romney campaign had some serious shortcomings but their major errors were made in the primary, when they miscalculated how much red meat they could feed their voracious base and still win in November. Either they overestimated how damaged Obama would be by the bad economy or they overestimated how much damage Romney could sustain in the primaries and still recover. Either way, the underlying fault lies with the Republican Party's increasingly radical policies, which placed Romney in the perilous position of reconciling the concerns of the independents needed to win the general election with the demands of primary voters who had been promised the moon.

  4. A Romney administration would be better for civil liberties, transparency and possibly foreign policy as well. Why? Because the main constituencies that are concerned with these issues have proven that they will give a Democratic President a pass. (It's hard to imagine that Bush could have obtained presidential power to indefinitely detain Americans without trial and been greeted with the almost total silence that greeted Obama after signing the NDAA on New Years' Eve.)

    It may be counterintuitive, but electing another Republican seems to be the only way to wake up the rump army of civil liberties advocates. Unless Democratic Party Actors can be mobilized on behalf of civil liberties, all you're left with are the ACLU, Ron Paul and a small handful of feckless bloggers. It's sad that rank partisanship is the only bulwark for the defense of freedom... but if electing a Republican is the only way to wake people up, so be it.


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