26 October 2008

Why I still think McCain will win

The media would have us believe the Presidential race is already over; Obama, so we are told, has as good as won. I still stand by my prediction here; McCain will win, even if not by such a large margin as I expected back in September. Obama's weird and disturbing past alliances (Wright, Ayers, and Rezko) raise valid issues which have never been satisfactorily addressed; his lack of experience is similarly a serious concern in a potential President; PUMA alienation remains deep; McCain's resume is a far better fit for what Americans traditionally want in a leader. In the end all this will tell.

So why are the polls saying otherwise? Here's what I think is really going on behind the numbers.

1. The more reliable polls have the race closer. Gallup's three-day rolling-average poll ("traditional" weighting) has it at 50%-45% today, a gap of only 5 points. It's the polls associated with media groups that have shown the really huge Obama leads. I suspect they're weighting their samples to match the narratives they are pushing (huge youth turnout that won't actually materialize on Nov. 4, etc.). During the period of Oct. 12-15, Obama's lead (per Gallup) shrank from 51%-44% to 49%-47%; the current lead of 50%-45% is surmountable. And the IBD/TIPP poll, which turned out to be the most accurate predictor of the actual result in 2004, now has Obama ahead only 44.8%-43.7% -- a mere 1.1 points.

2. Remember the "Bradley effect": individuals who for perfectly-legitimate non-racist reasons intend to vote against a candidate who happens to be black, are often reluctant to tell pollsters that fact due to fear of being thought racist. You have probably seen articles claiming that recent elections show the Bradley effect no longer exists. What those elections really show, in my opinion, is that the degree to which the Bradley effect manifests itself mainly depends on how likely people feel they are to be accused of being racist if they vote the "wrong" way. In recent years there has often not been much of that fear, but with today's relentless campaign of insinuation that any opposition to Obama is racist in essence, I think the incentive to lie to pollsters has increased. Remember that most polls are done by calling people's home phones. If you're a typical voter who's worried about being thought racist, you're going to be particularly nervous expressing the "wrong" opinion to somebody who has just called you on your home phone and is gathering a bunch of other data about you. So I think the Bradley effect will be a significant factor.

3. McCain's numbers really started looking bad after the financial-crisis story broke. I think this largely reflected broad anger and disgust at Republicans in general (the Bush administration being perceived as responsible for the problem). But what people say in the first flush of initial anger is often not what they end up actually doing. When it comes time to vote, many will decide they want the experienced leader in charge for the crisis more than they want to vent anger at the Republicans with their actual votes (especially since the Republicans are going to be trounced in Congress and thus "punished" anyway). That is, the shift against McCain due to the financial crisis is a "soft" shift, not a solid change in voter intentions.

4. I think most undecideds and some weak Obama-leaners will end up voting McCain -- when they get into the voting booth, their gut will tell them that Obama's lack of experience is just too much of a gamble. Most people are now answering poll questions with the economy uppermost in their minds, but foreign policy (which guy do we want going face-to-face with Putin and Ahmadinejad?) will count for more when the actual decision day arrives than it does in people's thinking now.

5. Republicans who now talk unenthusiastically about McCain will still vote for him in the end. Remember, they're going to get blown out of the water across the board -- House, Senate, everything -- and they know it. McCain is their only chance to win something important.

Mind you, I'm a lot less confident now about McCain winning than I was a couple of weeks ago. But I still think he's the more likely to win of the two.

5 Comments:

Blogger FranIAm said...

You know where I stand on this and yet I do not disagree with you.

Which is why I will retain my focus on the candidate of my choice.

Nothing is ever over until the last vote is counted and no one in a race like this should be so jubilant or so despairing this early on.

8 days is a long time in election-land.

26 October, 2008 15:26  
Blogger handmaiden said...

Well, I'm not quite so confident about my earlier prediction, either. :) I'm a lot more confident about my own chances.

It's just hard not to get emotional & lose one's head, occasionally.

26 October, 2008 16:28  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

I been telling folks on the local level I know that voted Obama about this poll nonsense,they seem to have this shit eating grin on their face that Obama has a cake walk...this is not the case.I voted Obama already..first in line..but I knew a few that just think it doesnt matter,because of the talk/poll's..thats why as I said earlier to you,I dont place much faith in polls besides to entertain me.I wonder if there could be a "reverse" Bradley effect? In other words..those who never would admit that they would vote Obama,but in the privacy of the booth when no one is looking...heh,heh,heh...they do. :) As far as Ahmadinejad (dont ever ask me to try to pronounce that damn name!)..I would like Obama to deal with him...and McCain to deal with Putin. I know some of your readers might not like this,but I actually admire Mr.Putin..I'll not elaborate.As far as Ahmadinejad..I think he will talk...he's just playing hard ball,he's civilized,he wears suits,not sheets.. :) Someone needs to buy that boy a tie though. I suggest Obama when meeting him...brings him a couple of his! :) Good to see you back on the front guy!

27 October, 2008 05:46  
Blogger Christy said...

I agree about number 2 (Bradley effect?) and also think that gas prices might cheer people (as people as "what have you done for/to me lately" types, at the end of the day) to vote for McCain.

I'm not pro-McCain, but I can still see how it might happen.....

You sound like your old self.

Good.

(Oh, one BAD thing is the Sarah Palin effect. For whatever reasons, some unfair ones, I'm sure, she's a drag on the ticket. But still, I don't think she'll take away any moderate GOP)

27 October, 2008 10:56  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Palin's effect is debatable -- she did fire up the "base". But, yes, she's been the target of a largely-successful MSM hatchet job to portray her as a ditz and a fanatic. Luckily, history seems to show that running mates don't have much impact. If Quayle couldn't sink Bush I.....

27 October, 2008 11:55  

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