Go Vote!

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 2:30 PM EST

GO VOTE!....I believe I shall take my quadrennial morning constitutional and perform my civic duty now. Back in a bit.

TRIP REPORT: The weather was fine here in Irvine. The line at Springbrook Elementary School was zero people long. Total wait time was approximately 90 seconds. I was assigned voter number 5797. The electronic voting machine was properly programmed and easy to use. Paper ballots were available for anyone who preferred them. The audit trail on the voting machine correctly recorded my votes.

That is all.

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Are You Smarter Than a Blogger?

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 1:57 PM EST

ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A BLOGGER?....Want to amuse yourself while you wait for election results? In 2004 the Guardian entertained us with a campaign quiz on election day, and I blew it, getting only 33 out of 40 correct. Pretty poor for a political blogger, I thought. This year's quiz, however, is way harder, chock full of questions that require specific dates and numerical answers. The final two questions were gimmes, but even so I only got 20 out of 30 right. I guess that means I should turn in my keyboard.

Anyway, the quiz is here. Have fun.

Voter Turnout: Get Out the Weather Map

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 1:35 PM EST

We're in for a record turnout, but just how high will it be? Political scientist Michael McDonald, who excludes noncitizens, felons, and other ineligble over-18ers, predicts we'll sit right next to the high from 100 years ago, 65.4% of eligible voters when, in 1908, William Henry Howard Taft defeated anti-evolution Dem William Jennings Bryan in a landslide.

One predictor of turnout? The weather. Though with people as pissed off as they are with eight years of corruption, wars, and debacle after debacle, rain and long lines likely won't keep many people away. Overall, bad weather and rain will help McCain though, if only on the margins. Here's the latest Weather Channel map, with rain and showers scattered throughout the battleground states of North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Colorado, and Montana. (Fox is already reporting rain-related problems in Virginia.)


The Difference Two Years Makes

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 1:33 PM EST

Two years ago yesterday, SurveyUSA interviewed 600 Americans in each state of the union. Those 30,000 voters were asked who they would vote for in 2008 if the candidates were Barack Obama and John McCain. In that (mock) election, Senator McCain won 510 electoral votes. Obama carried his home state of Illinois, his birth state of Hawaii, and the overwhelmingly Democratic District of Columbia. The map looked like this:


Even if the polls are wrong and Obama loses, no one thinks the map will look like that tonight. Guess Obama was serious about that "Change" business. Now that's what you call expanding the map.

A Missing Voice in Ohio

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 1:28 PM EST

mccain-rod-parsley250x200.jpg The New York Times notes that the evangelical power broker Reverend Rod Parsley of Ohio does not have his same swagger this year.

Six months ago, Rev. Rod Parsley was one of the more prominent evangelicals to hail Sen. John McCain as a "strong, true, consistent conservative."
But two days before the election, in a state central to Mr. McCain's hopes, Rev. Rod Parsley preached to his vast congregation at World Harvest Church of hellfire and "circling in on a fight with the eternal forces of darkness" without ever mentioning Mr. McCain.

The reason is pretty simple. Mother Jones revealed that Parsley, a major megacurch pastor who holds sway over a good number of swing state Ohio voters, leads a not-so-secret life as an intolerant anti-Muslim bigot. In one of his books, he argued that America is at war with Islam:

Final Poll Porn

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 1:20 PM EST

FINAL POLL PORN....Just for the record, here's the final RCP national poll average for the 2008 race. They've got Obama winning the popular vote 52%-44%. projects 52%-46% and 346 electoral votes for Obama. Pollster has it at 52%-44% for Obama. Sam Wang, after adding in a cell-phone bias adjustment, projects 53%-46% and 364 electoral votes for Obama.

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Do Not Pay Attention to Exit Polls

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 1:05 PM EST

Consider this a public service announcement. Do not pay attention to exit polls on the night of a presidential election. For the full explanation, check out Nate Silver, but here's a crib sheet.

(1) The margin of error is 50-90% higher for exit polls than for regular polls. That means a margin of error as large as 7 or 8 points, a huge number. (2) Exit polling was badly wrong during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, as well as many of the 2008 primaries. (3) The folks who willingly participate in exit polls are never truly random; this time around, they are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans because of Democrats' well-established greater enthusiasm for their candidate. (4) A whole host of other reasons.

The solution? Breathe deep and know that you'll have some serious results from all over the country by 8 pm.

Cap and Fade

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 12:10 PM EST

CAP AND FADE....Matt Yglesias on media misconduct:

I don't, for example, think I ever saw a television network or mass-media publication provide a cogent explanation of the differences between Barack Obama's climate change proposal and John McCain's climate change proposal even though the proposals contained some important differences. I have no idea whether this was attributable to "bias" or even how I would know. Nor am I sure which candidate would benefit from exploring this question. I am, however, sure that I've several times seen their plans described as being the same on the grounds that they're both "cap and trade" plans. That's false. Does the habit of saying it reflect bias? And bias toward whom?

The biggest difference between the two cap-and-trade plans, of course, is that Obama seems to actually believe in his proposal whereas McCain pretty plainly doesn't. For him, it's just window dressing that would almost certainly have been forgotten as soon as he got in office.

But how do you get that across? I'm pretty sure I'm right about this, but I certainly can't prove it. And any straight news reporters who took my line would (rightfully) be accused of massive bias. They could work around this by quoting other people on McCain's priorities and making clear that the GOP base hates cap-and-trade and would fight it, and then hoping that readers got the point. But maybe readers would and maybe they wouldn't. And if they didn't, the story would be fundamentally flawed.

But there's also another problem: on policy issues, the media tends to follow the campaigns. And neither campaign talked about cap-and-trade much. In McCain's case, I assume it's because Republicans hate cap-and-trade and he really didn't want to remind them that he supports it. In Obama's case, I assume it's because cap-and-trade would raise the price of energy and that's not exactly a winning campaign plank during a summer in which gasoline prices broke four bucks. So for different reasons they both kept quiet about it, and since they weren't attacking each other over cap-and-trade, the media ignored it too.

Which is kinda too bad because it had all the elements of an epic battle. It really is true that Obama's version of cap-and-trade amounts to a tax increase, and that would have been an issue right in McCain's share-the-wealth-tax-raising-socialist wheelhouse. Conversely, McCain's version of cap-and-trade really would have provided enormous windfall profits to coal plants and other carbon emitters (explanation here), and that would been right in Obama's fat-cat-more-of-the-same wheelhouse. It could have been a great fight.

Instead we got Joe the Plumber and Obama the terrorist lover. Oh well. We'll do better next time, right?

Handy Map: Poll Closing Times Nationwide

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 11:42 AM EST

From the pros over at Swing State Project. Click the map to head over to their site, where they have key Senate and House races broken down by poll closing time.


Also, for a photo diary of voting lines across the country, check out Open Left.

Der Tag

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 11:36 AM EST

DER TAG....Are the early exit polls out? Have the nets called a winner yet?

No? Well, then, go vote!