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Election Day Live Blogging

It’s November 4, Election Day. Why Tuesday? Because it made sense in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It does need to be changed now, however.

7:12am: I am at the Obama campaign Roswell office printing walk packets, volunteer lists and directions etc for our team. I’ll be on my way to South Atlanta as soon as the print job’s finished.

Voting here in Georgia started at 7am.

8:35am: I am at the staging location in South Atlanta. Already at one of the polling places here, the line is more than 2 hours long.

10:39am: The morning rush at the polls has lessened now.

11:51am: Sent out volunteers to go knock on doors to get people out to vote. Also, sent phone lists to volunteers to call.

12:55pm: There are so many people here to volunteer, it’s difficult to even find work for them.

2:07pm: This liveblogging will probably only pick up later tonight when results start coming in. For now, do read my last post about how Georgia is competitive this election.

2:55pm: Intrade has McCain overall win at around 7.3 right now and a Dem win in Georgia at 27.5.

3:21pm: Turnout here in South Atlanta is okay today but add in the early vote numbers and it’s pretty high.

5:01pm: The last shift just went out. Polls close in 2 hours.

Looking at the midday numbers, 25-30% more people had already voted in our precincts than did four years ago.

5:49pm: I am making last minute Get-Out-the-Vote phone calls.

6:28pm: Not sure what to think of the data coming in from the precincts. Did we do good but not as well as needed in this area?

7:00pm: Polls close in Georgia. We are packing up and going home.

8:00pm: Home.

8:13pm: With Pennsylvania being called for Obama, the chances of McCain winning have dropped below 1%.

8:16pm: Godless Hagan defeats Liddy Dole. God has spoken!

8:38pm: NBC has called Georgia for McCain. Looking at the exit polls, African Americans made up 30% of the voters which is equal to their proportion among registered voters and 5% more than their proportion in 2004. However, Obama got only 25% of the white vote.

The Senate race between Chambliss and Martin is closer due to the Libertarian candidate Buckley and might head to a December run-off.

9:25pm: With Ohio projected as an Obama win by NBC and Fox News, I now project Barack Obama as the next President of the United States. Go Obama!

9:47pm: I didn’t blog it but told my fellow volunteers on the Obama campaign that Obama will net around 350 electoral votes and he looks on track for that.

9:59pm: I have been watching CNN since coming home. Now I am switching to Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert special.

11:00pm: Polls close on the West Coast and it’s official. President-elect Barack Obama!

11:32pm: A very nice concession speech by McCain, despite some booing from the crowd.

Nov 5 11:50am: I went to sleep after Obama’s victory speech feeling dazed. I had full confidence from the start that Obama would win but the actual win did affect me a lot. I was a little bummed out last night about Georgia but feel better about it today. More thoughts on Georgia and the neighborhoods our team worked in during this campaign after we have official precinct results.

12:09pm: What’s wrong with Alaska? Did they just re-elect a convicted felon to the Senate?

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Electoral Vote Predictors

Being a political junkie means I follow polls and electoral projections. Add to it the nerd factor and I love to see all sorts of prediction algorithms used to figure out the electoral votes for Obama and McCain.

The best such site is Pollster.com which is very comprehensive and now with their flash applications very customizable too. You can even embed their poll trend graphs on your own website. They use LOESS local regression to calculate the current vote share for the candidates.

In 2004, I discovered Electoral-Vote.com which is run by Andrew Tanenbaum who I knew because of his Computer Science textbooks.

Click for www.electoral-vote.com

I like the Princeton Election Consortium site because not only do they provide details of their methods but also their code.

FiveThirtyEight weights pollsters by reliability and also takes into account the demographics of each state for their projection.

RealClear Politics averages recent polls to arrive at their electoral map.

Andrea Moro uses statistical simulations to assign the winner for each state.

Finally, 3BlueDudes has a huge list of election projection websites.

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Torture and Public Opinion

It was heartening to hear the following from Senator McCain at the first debate especially after his support for allowing the CIA to use torture during interrogations.

I have opposed the president on spending, on climate change, on torture of prisoner, on – on Guantanamo Bay. […] And we’ve got to — to make sure that we have people who are trained interrogators so that we don’t ever torture a prisoner ever again.

And Obama said:

And this is the greatest country on Earth. But because of some of the mistakes that have been made — and I give Senator McCain great credit on the torture issue, for having identified that as something that undermines our long-term security — because of those things, we, I think, are going to have a lot of work to do in the next administration to restore that sense that America is that shining beacon on a hill.

To my utter dismay, torture hasn’t become an issue in the US election. Today I want to focus on how popular or unpopular torture has been among the people of the United States and the world, which explains why Senator Obama hasn’t brought up the use of torture by the Bush administration more often and why Senator McCain has been sliding away from his opposition to torture.

Here is a poll from May 2004.

Given pro and con arguments, 63 percent in an ABC News/Washington Post poll say torture is never acceptable, even when other methods fail and authorities believe the suspect has information that could prevent terrorist attacks. Thirty-five percent say torture is acceptable in some such cases.

There’s more of a division, though, on physical abuse that falls short of torture: Forty-six percent say it’s acceptable in some cases, while 52 percent say not.

Majorities identify three specific coercive practices as acceptable: sleep deprivation (66 percent call it acceptable), hooding (57 percent) and “noise bombing” (54 percent), in which a suspect is subjected to loud noises for long periods.

Far fewer Americans accept other practices. Four in 10 call it acceptable to threaten to shoot a suspect, or expose a suspect to extreme heat or cold. Punching or kicking is deemed acceptable by 29 percent. And 16 percent call sexual humiliation — alleged to have occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad — acceptable in some cases.

[…] Whatever their personal tolerance for various practices, 51 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government is employing torture “as a matter of policy” as part of the war against terrorism. And two-thirds think the government is using physical abuse that stops short of torture.

[…] Regarding the Abu Ghraib case, which has resulted in charges against some U.S. soldiers and calls for congressional investigations, the public is twice as likely to see what occurred there as abuse (60 percent) rather than torture (29 percent).

In December 2005, an opinion poll tried to measure attitudes to torture around the world.

In America, 61 percent of those surveyed agreed torture is justified at least on rare occasions. Almost nine in 10 in South Korea and just over half in France and Britain felt that way.

[…] In Canada, Mexico and Germany people are divided on whether torture is ever justified. Most people opposed torture under any circumstances in Spain and Italy.

A Harris Poll in December 2005 makes the American populace look quite pro-torture.

55 percent of all adults believe that rendition is justified either often (14%) or sometimes (41%), when interrogating suspected terrorists. 60 percent of adults believe that the use of “secret prison camps in Europe or elsewhere” is justified either often (14%) or sometimes (46%). 52 percent of all adults believe that the use of torture is justified either often (12%) or sometimes (40%).

82 percent of all adults believe that the U.S. uses rendition, as defined above, often (25%) or sometimes (58%). 81 percent believes that the U.S. uses secret prison camps outside the country often (23 ) or sometimes (58). 83 percent believe that the U.S. uses torture often (17%) or sometimes (66%).

At least it seems that the public doesn’t take Bush’s statements about “we do not torture” at face value.

A BBC Global Poll in October 2006 found that majorities in 19 countries are in favor of clear rules against torture. In order of decreasing popularity, those countries are Italy, France, Australia, Canada, Britain, Germany, South Korea, Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Poland, Chile, Brazil, United States, Philippines, Iraq, Ukraine, Kenya, Indonesia. Note the position of the United States in that list; it’s near the bottom with developing countries. torture is more popular here than in most of the developed world.

There are some uncivilized countries where there is no clear majority for or against torture: Israel (43-48), Nigeria (39-49), Russia (37-43), China (37-49), India (32-23), and Mexico (24-50).

According to a CNN poll of the US in November 2007,

Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

In the procedure, water is used on restrained prisoners to make them feel like they are drowning.

A World Public Opinion Poll in June 2008 found that:

A WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 19 nations finds that in 14 of them most people favor an unequivocal rule against torture, even in the case of terrorists who have information that could save innocent lives. Four nations lean toward favoring an exception in the case of terrorists.

However, large majorities in all 19 nations favor a general prohibition against torture. In all nations polled, the number saying that the government should generally be able to use torture is less than one in five.

On average across all nations polled, 57 percent opt for unequivocal rules against torture. Thirty-five percent favor an exception when innocent lives are at risk. Just 9 percent favor the government being able to use torture in general.

The four publics that favor an exception for terrorists when innocent lives are at risk include majorities in India (59%), Nigeria (54%), and Turkey (51%), and a plurality in Thailand (44%).

Support for the unequivocal position was highest in Spain (82%), Great Britain (82%) and France (82%), followed by Mexico (73%), China (66%), the Palestinian territories (66%), Poland (62%), Indonesia (61%), and the Ukraine (59%). In five countries either modest majorities or pluralities support a ban on all torture: Azerbaijan (54%), Egypt (54%), the United States (53%), Russia (49%), and Iran (43%). South Koreans are divided.

Again, notice where US public opinion lies. Near Russia, Egypt and Azerbaijan! Is that what we aspire to be? As Andrew Sullivan said:

So America’s peers in the fight against torture, in terms of public opinion are Azerbaijan, Egypt, Russia, and Iran. This is what America now is: a country with the moral values of countries that routinely torture and abuse prisoners, like Egypt and Iran. Even the Chinese, living in a neo-fascist market state, oppose torture in all circumstances by 66 percent, compared to Americans where only 53 percent do! More horrifying: a higher percentage of Americans – 13 percent – believe that torture should generally be allowed than in any other country save China, Turkey and Nigeria. And in the last two years, as the American president celebrates and authorizes the torture of people who have not been allowed a fair trail, support for torturing terror suspects has increased from 36 percent to 44 percent.

Why are so many Americans morally bankrupt about torture now? It turns out it might be the fault of the religious, or more specifically the Southern Evangelicals.

A new poll released Thursday (Sept. 11) finds that nearly six in 10 white Southern evangelicals believe torture is justified, but their views can shift when they consider the Christian principle of the golden rule.

The poll, commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Mercer University, found that 57 percent of respondents said torture can be often or sometimes justified to gain important information from suspected terrorists. Thirty-eight percent said it was never or rarely justified.

But when asked if they agree that “the U.S. government should not use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers,” the percentage who said torture was rarely or never justified rose to 52 percent.

[…] The findings of this poll, which did not define torture, compared to a Pew Research Center poll from February that found that 48 percent of the general public think torture can be justified.

The new poll found that 44 percent of white Southern evangelicals rely on life experiences and common sense to determine their views about torture. A lower percentage, 28 percent, said they relied on Christian teachings or beliefs.

[…] Pollsters also found that 53 percent of white Southern evangelicals believe the government uses torture in its anti-terrorism campaign, despite claims by government officials to the contrary. About one-third, or 32 percent, said the government does not use torture as a matter of policy.

Wow, so a majority of white Southern evangelicals are not only pro-torture, but they do not rely on Christian teachings either. Who would have thought they would be so immoral?

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Obama Campaign Volunteer

I first got contacted by the Obama campaign some time in Spring 2007 for a donation. I refused, not because I didn’t support Senator Obama but because I thought it was too early for a Presidential campaign.

After the primary campaign was over, I signed up online to volunteer for the campaign and soon received a call to do voter registration with the GA-400 for Obama group. So one Saturday morning, I went to the Roswell Farmer’s Market where the group was meeting. Someone from the group told us the basics of how to register voters, went through the registration form etc and sent us on our way in teams. I was paired with two others to go to Sandy Springs.

We drove to a strip mall and stood in the parking lot in front of Whole Foods, asking everyone if they were registered to vote. The reaction we got varied from person to person. Most people just said they were registered and thanked us. Others just tried to ignore us. Some said they were Republicans or supported McCain. We also ran into some Obama supporters who seemed excited to see our Obama buttons and shirts. A few people were rude as well. One woman told us she had complained to the store management because our Obama paraphernalia was screaming to her or something. So we were asked by the store to move and we went to the next strip mall and registered some voters there. We also handed out a few voter registration forms to people who wanted them for someone else. Overall, it was a decent experience for about 3 hours of work, though we didn’t get too many registrations. That was expected since most people up here in north Fulton are already registered. It’s in downtown and south of the city that there are a large number of unregistered voters.

Georgia is a very red state — Kerry lost 41%-58% to Bush in 2004 — but the Obama campaign is the first Democratic Presidential candidate to compete here since Clinton won here in 1992. There has been a large number of staff and thousands of volunteers plus 40 offices.

So I joined the local neighborhood team here in Milton organized by Alex from the campaign staff. We have had several meetings to decide our course of action, recruit volunteers and have fun.

I have been to two more voter registration events. Once our local team took Marta to Five Points. As I got on the train, someone saw my clipboard and the voter registration forms and asked me for one so she could register. We actually registered quite a few people on the train ride. Then we stood outside the Five Points station and asked everyone if they were registered to vote. Later we tried to register voters in Underground Atlanta, but it was almost deserted there and we didn’t register anyone until the mall security asked us to leave.

On the Friday before Labor day, I was in Atlanta and so I joined a group registering voters in Westside. We registered a few voters, but someone stole a volunteer’s blackberry.

We have also organized several phone bank meetings where we call voters. We have called Democrats to firm up their support. We have called Obama supporters to ask them to volunteer. Also, we have called voters who could be persuaded to support Obama.

Last Saturday, we went door-to-door canvassing in teams of two. We printed out maps and voter lists and knocked on doors. We asked them about their Presidential preference and gave undecided voters some campaign literature about issues they might be interested in. It was a pleasant experience. Most McCain supporters were very nice to us too. Only one person told us not to come campaigning to their house.

While the Obama campaign is moving some staffers out of Georgia and into more competitive states, even more local offices are opening and the volunteer network is still in place and we are still registering voters, making phone calls and going door to door.

Volunteering for the campaign has been an interesting experience. I’ve met a lot of people who are passionate about politics. Also, I have been amazed at the way modern campaigns work in a systematic fashion with a lot of available data. I think Alex related an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln sorting voters into different groups based on their support for him and then targeting voters to move them to the next group which was more supportive, e.g. from supporter of other candidate to undecided or undecided to leaning towards Lincoln, etc. So this systematic approach has a long history, though now we have computers and databases. BTW, if anyone has a reference for this anecdote, please let me know.

Please do donate to the Obama campaign (US citizens and permanent residents only).

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Obama for President

If you read my blog regularly, you already know that I support Barack Obama for President. Why do I support him? Because I support him on the issues; not on every single item but enough to matter.

Senator Obama has detailed policy papers on his campaign site. You can read his blueprint for change which provides the basics of his positions and plans, or you could go to each one of the issue pages and find lots of details:

Compared to the Republican nominee John McCain, there is a lot more detail in Obama’s issue pages.

Only Senator Obama offers a break from the last eight years’ disastrous policies. Senator McCain wants to stay in Iraq and start even more wars which would be worse than even the Bush administration. While Senator McCain has been confused between Sunni and Shia, the two major sects of Muslims, Senator Obama can pronounce Pakistan and Gandhi correctly, understands the region better and is humble enough to realize the limits of our knowledge. While McCain would lash out without thinking against Iraq, Iran, Russia or China, Obama has a smart plan to defeat the terrorists who attacked us on September 11.

Senator McCain has admitted that he doesn’t know a lot about economics while Senator Obama is focused on making life better for the average American. If you are worried about taxes, you shouldn’t be because you will be better off under the Obama tax plan compared to the McCain plan unless you are one of the super-rich top 0.1%. Also, David Leonhart shows that Obama is a pragmatic liberal with influence from the Chicago school of economics.

Senator Obama is somewhat new on the national stage and questions have been raised about his accomplishments. There is no doubt that Obama is a very intelligent guy and has risen fast due to his intelligence and a confluence of events where the American public is dissatisfied with the status quo and wants change. However, it’s not true that Senator Obama doesn’t have any accomplishments.

There [Senator Obama] was, working for nuclear non-proliferation and securing loose stockpiles of conventional weapons, like shoulder-fired missiles. There he was again, passing what the Washington Post called “the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet” — though not as strong as Obama would have liked. Look — he’s over there, passing a bill that created a searchable database of recipients of federal contracts and grants, proposing legislation on avian flu back when most people hadn’t even heard of it, working to make sure that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were screened for traumatic brain injury and to prevent homelessness among veterans, successfully fighting a proposal by the VA to reexamine all PTSD cases in which full benefits had been awarded, working to ban no-bid contracts in Katrina reconstruction, and introducing legislation to criminalize deceptive political tactics and voter intimidation. And there he was again, introducing a tech plan.

Or consider Obama’s efforts to get all police interrogations recorded when he was in the Illinois legislature.

Consider a bill into which Obama clearly put his heart and soul. The problem he wanted to address was that too many confessions, rather than being voluntary, were coerced — by beating the daylights out of the accused.

Obama proposed requiring that interrogations and confessions be videotaped.

This seemed likely to stop the beatings, but the bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama’s bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to “solve” crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it.

Obama had his work cut out for him.

He responded with an all-out campaign of cajolery. It had not been easy for a Harvard man to become a regular guy to his colleagues. Obama had managed to do so by playing basketball and poker with them and, most of all, by listening to their concerns. Even Republicans came to respect him. One Republican state senator, Kirk Dillard, has said that “Barack had a way both intellectually and in demeanor that defused skeptics.”

The police proved to be Obama’s toughest opponent. Legislators tend to quail when cops say things like, “This means we won’t be able to protect your children.” The police tried to limit the videotaping to confessions, but Obama, knowing that the beatings were most likely to occur during questioning, fought — successfully — to keep interrogations included in the required videotaping.

By showing officers that he shared many of their concerns, even going so far as to help pass other legislation they wanted, he was able to quiet the fears of many.

Obama proved persuasive enough that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0. Then he talked Blagojevich into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

Obama’s ethics reform bill in the Illinois legislature was called by the Washington Post as “the most ambitious campaign reform in nearly 25 years, making Illinois one of the best in the nation on campaign finance disclosure.”

You can read a summary about Obama’s efforts in the Senate or go in detail (1, 2, 3).

Being a cynic, I don’t believe Barack Obama to be perfect. But nobody is. He is, however, the better candidate by far. Therefore, instead of just voting for him or contributing to his campaign, I decided to take some action and volunteer to make Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

I was going to write about my experience with the volunteering effort here in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, but it’s too long already. So that will be next week. For now, I do want to point out the campaign donation graphic on the sidebar. Please donate to the Obama campaign by clicking here.

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Super Tuesday

Today is Super Tuesday with lots of primaries and caucuses happening. If you live in any of the following states,

Primaries:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. Georgia
  8. Illinois
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Minnesota
  11. Missouri
  12. New Jersey
  13. New Mexico (Democrats only)
  14. New York
  15. North Dakota
  16. Oklahoma
  17. Tennessee
  18. Utah

Caucuses:

  1. Alaska
  2. Colorado
  3. Idaho (Democrats only)
  4. Kansas (Democrats only)
  5. Montana (Republican only)
  6. West Virginia (Republican only)

go out and vote for Obama.

Georgia is also voting today and we are supporting Senator Obama.

Since the opinion polls on the Democratic side show a close race and the delegates are awarded to candidates proportionately, I expect Senators Clinton and Obama to divide the delegates almost equally. Hence the Democratic nomination battle will go on.

On the Republican side, Huckabee should be able to do well here in the South. McCain is expected to do better overall since he has a huge poll advantage over Romney. Also a number of the Republican contests are winner-take-all which is expected to help Senator McCain.

Let’s go over the candidates still in the field.

Barack Obama is a great orator. I admit sometimes his poetic flourishes leave me high and dry but at other times he’s really good, for example, his speech at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. As for Obama being all talk and no substance, that’s not true at all. Read Hilzoy and Katherine as they write better about their support for Obama than I can and I agree completely with them. I also admit that I like wowing my Pakistani friends with Obama’s full name: Barack Hussein Obama.

Hillary Clinton is an okay candidate and she’s definitely much better than the Republicans. However, her concept of executive power is closer to Bush than I am comfortable with. Plus she has never really explained her Iraq war vote and I am all for punishing politicians for wrong votes. She has also surrounded herself with the hawkish elements of the Democratic foreign policy experts, all of whom were dead wrong about Iraq. As for her argument about experience, that’s just wrong. Let’s face it, if we wanted to vote for an experienced candidate, we would have voted for Biden or Dodd. The three Democratic frontrunners all don’t have much experience.

John McCain wants to stay in Iraq till hell freezes over and I ask is he senile? McCain also thinks that generals decide policy. May be as President, McCain will be working under General Petraeus. McCain is for war and for surges. All of that repels me a lot. On the other hand, McCain is the only Republican against torture and for immigration.

Mitt Romney was a moderate governor of Massachusetts. Then he saw an opportunity to be a real conservative for the Republican Presidential nomination. Now nobody knows what Romney stands for. My guess is if Romney becomes President (very unlikely), he’ll rule like the technocrat that he was in Massachusetts, but I might be wrong.

Mike Huckabee sounds like an average, decent guy. You can at least see some humanity in him. And his populist talk, though not backed up with any policy plans, is good too. But then he wants to bring the constitution in accord with the laws of God. And Huckabee is really ignorant too, with no policy shop in his campaign and no knowledge of international affairs at all.

Ron Paul is batshit crazy. He might be right about Iraq, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but he sees conspiracy theories (Trilateral commission, NAFTA superhighway, etc, etc) everywhere. And then there are the racist remarks in his newsletters in the 1990s. According to Reason, Paul didn’t write those newsletters. But his associates that did are still with him even now and Paul raised a lot of funds on the basis of these newsletters which went under his name. While in the debates Ron Paul has talked about the Iraq war and the constitution, he has campaigned a lot more like a conservative, focused on immigration, abortion, etc. See his anti-immigrant ad for example.

Go vote for Barack Obama!

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American Muslim Women Literary Anthology

Baraka is working on a literary anthology of non-fiction, personal stories by American Muslim women on courtship and/or dating.

Announcing a call for non-fiction, personal stories by American Muslim women on courtship and/or dating to be published in an anthology.

We are looking for talented writers to pitch well-written, surprising and compelling anecdotes for a book on loving and looking for love while Muslim.

WHY A BOOK ABOUT COURTSHIP/DATING?

There is a stereotype about Muslim women out there that does not show them as the thinking, feeling, lively people with loving hearts and independent minds that we know them to be. Partially, this is because there just aren’t enough real-life stories about Muslim women being told by Muslim women themselves.

The purpose of this collection is to take control of our narrative by telling our own stories, emphasizing the humanity we all share and celebrating the quirks that make us unique. We hope to do that through stories about courtship/dating because these rituals exist in every societal context; the search for a partner is universal.

We’re excited at the prospect of amplifying the voices of American Muslim women. If you think such perspectives need to be heard too, we invite you to contribute your story!

The deadline to send in a 300-500 word pitch describing the highlights of your story is January 15. Go read the details on Baraka’s blog.

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Power Texting Men!: The Best Texting Attraction Book to Get the Guy (Dating and Relationship Advice for Women) (Volume 3)
Dating with Pure Passion: More than Rules, More than Courtship, More than a Formula
The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible
The Introvert's Guide To Dating
The Courtship (Sherbrooke)

New Hampshire Primary

Today is the first primary. Most polls in New Hampshire show Barack Obama and John McCain ahead among the Democrats and the Republicans respectively. Here are my predictions.

Democrat My prediction Actual vote
Barack Obama 43% 37%
Hillary Clinton 30% 39%
John Edwards 20% 17%
Bill Richardson 6% 5%
Dennis Kucinich 1% 1%
Republicans My prediction Actual vote
John McCain 35% 37%
Mitt Romney 31% 32%
Mike Huckabee 12% 11%
Ron Paul 10% 8%
Rudy Giuliani 9% 9%
Fred Thompson 3% 1%

Winning both Iowa and New Hampshire is going to do wonders for Senator Obama’s campaign. He already got a big boost from Iowa. This is going to make things tough for Hillary Clinton. Looking back at elections since 1972, there are only two instances when the eventual Democratic or Republican nominee lost in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Once in 1972 when Senator Muskie won both and George McGovern won the Democratic nomination. Then in 1992, local Senator Tom Harkin won in Iowa while the eventual Democratic nominee Bill Clinton didn’t take part. In New Hampshire, Bill Clinton came a strong second but Paul Tsongas won the primary. Can Senator Clinton repeat her husband’s feat? It definitely is possible, but I would say it’s going to be difficult. The betting markets seem to agree as Obama is now a 2:1 favorite for the nomination there.

There is also the matter of the African American vote for Obama. Consider South Carolina where half the Democratic voters are African American. In mid-December, Obama was winning barely half of this vote. This should definitely change with Obama’s wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. Let’s recall Jesse Jackson, a very different candidate but still instructive. In 1984 Democratic primaries, he came in third and won 77% of the African American vote. Then in 1988, he did very well, coming in 2nd and winning 11 primaries. He also got 92% of the African American vote.

UPDATE I: John “Thousand Years in Iraq” McCain has been projected the Republican winner by CNN.
UPDATE II: Hillary Clinton wins!

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Primary Campaign

The Presidential campaign this time around has been strange. It started really early, immediately after the 2006 Congressional elections. By Spring, I had received my first call from a campaign asking for a donation. I told them that I will not consider donating until the actual election year (2008). Then Barack Obama was on campus in April.

Now election season is finally starting with the Iowa Caucus tomorrow and the New Hampshire Primary on January 8. This is earlier than previous elections and a stupid idea to boot. I think the primaries should take place over 3-4 months in spring and summer, after which the candidates would still have 3-4 months of campaigning for the general election which is held on the first Tuesday of November.

Looking at the opinion polls for Iowa Democrats and Republicans, it looks like a close contest between the top three Democrats (Clinton, Obama and Edwards) and the top two Republicans (Huckabee and Romney). My guess is that it is anyone’s game among the Democrats but Obama will squeeze out a win followed closed by Edwards and Clinton in that order. On the Republican side, Huckabee should win easily. I am also very happy to report that the small man in search of a balcony (Giuliani) is going to end up last.

I already blogged about my impressions of the Presidential candidates, so you know that like Photodude I am an Obama supporter. Amber, on the other hand, supports Bill Richardson.

As for who to vote for, I am a fan of the idea of strategic voting. Since Job One in my opinion is making sure Giuliani does not win, so I might consider voting for whoever from among Romney, McCain or Huckabee seems the most likely to defeat Giuliani for the nomination. But our open primary isn’t until Super Tuesday, February 5. If Giuliani is gone by that date, then I can vote for the Democratic candidature of Senator Obama.

UPDATE: Go Obama! More than Obama’s win I am happy to report that Giuliani got only 3%.

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Presidential Candidate Quiz

I decided to take a quiz about the Presidential candidates and here is the result:

  1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100%)
  2. Barack Obama (71%)
  3. Al Gore (not announced) (70%)
  4. Wesley Clark (not announced) (68%)
  5. Dennis Kucinich (67%)
  6. Christopher Dodd (65%)
  7. Hillary Clinton (63%)
  8. John Edwards (63%)
  9. Joseph Biden (61%)
  10. Bill Richardson (61%)
  11. Michael Bloomberg (not announced) (57%)
  12. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (54%)
  13. Ron Paul (48%)
  14. Mike Gravel (45%)
  15. Kent McManigal (campaign suspended) (35%)
  16. Elaine Brown (31%)
  17. John McCain (30%)
  18. Mike Huckabee (29%)
  19. Mitt Romney (29%)
  20. Chuck Hagel (not announced) (28%)
  21. Rudolph Giuliani (28%)
  22. Tommy Thompson (withdrawn) (26%)
  23. Newt Gingrich (not announced) (21%)
  24. Sam Brownback (18%)
  25. Tom Tancredo (18%)
  26. Fred Thompson (not announced) (16%)
  27. Jim Gilmore (withdrawn) (10%)
  28. Duncan Hunter (10%)

Not completely accurate, though I am a mild supporter of Senator Obama.

And here are my thoughts about some of these candidates.

Barack Obama says he is an agent of change, but he hasn’t come up with any policy that could be described as a major departure from the mainstream. He is a very good orator and seems to have decent positions on most issues but where are the winds of change?

Hillary Clinton is a deeply divisive figure so I am not sure how she would do in the general election, though she’s expected to do very well in the primaries. I think there are two major faults with her. One, she hasn’t really changed her opinion on the Iraq war. And two, she is probably the one Democrat with the most expansive ideas about executive authority. Hence she cannot be relied on to roll back the excesses of the Bush administration.

John Edwards is a generally likable politician who has offered a mea culpa on Iraq and is one of the few candidates to focus on poverty.

Can Joseph Biden please stop shouting during the debates? Thank you!

Bill Richardson has a lot of experience as a cabinet member, ambassador and governor. He is also one of the few candidates to commit to complete withdrawal from Iraq without leaving any residual forces. However, he is prone to gaffes every now and then and hasn’t really broken through to the first tier.

Let’s talk about the Republicans now, even though no Republican should be voted in even as a dogcatcher next year.

Ron Paul’s opposition to the Iraq war and some of his libertarian ideas interest me but then he does sound like the crazy uncle at times, sort of like Mike Gravel does in the Democratic debates.

John McCain has only one place to go: Down! What happened to McCain? A darling of the independents in 2000, he’s now stuck with not one but two unpopular policies: Immigration reform and the Iraq war. How did the Iraq war become his?

Mitt Romney sounds like such a fake. Was he always like that or is it a new thing? Did the Massachusetts voters elect him despite his fakery? Does his disowning of Massachusetts even convince anyone?

Tom Tancredo is after the bigot vote and thus won’t get anywhere because who wants to be identified as hater.

Fred Thompson sounds like the farcical version of Reagan or something. His acting doesn’t impress me and neither does his political persona or his positions.

Mike Huckabee is the religious politician and you know how that combo irritates me. So it speaks to the qualities of the Republican field that Huckabee is the one Republican who has impressed me a little. He seems to be a down to earth fellow who believes in Biblical literalism but does care about the poor and the ordinary.

And finally we come to Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. If you think we are screwed now due to Bush, wait till Giuliani becomes President. The guy is absolutely nuts. Every single New Yorker I know, even those who voted for him as mayor, thinks Giuliani should not be within a million miles of the White House. Listen, for example, to Rudy Giuliani going crazy over ferret ownership.

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