Well, who would have thunk it a year and a half ago when we were all expecting a Hillary/McCain bash-fest, but here we are on election day watching the first major party African American candidate take a polling lead into the election.

Obama has run a superb campaign from start to finish and has a realistic shot at winning today. McCain has a serious problem in that he’s identified (correctly) with the party and people who brought us the economic calamity we’re facing. He made a couple of other errors, although I don’t believe Palin is one of them. She managed to get the Republicans all excited and ready to participate. All the folks making Sarah jokes weren’t going to vote McCain anyway.

Perhaps the mistake that took Obama over the top was McCain’s weird flip-flopping the week of the Bailout vote. It showed him to be indecisive and unable to make solid decisions in a time of crisis. It also revealed that despite his 372 years in the Senate, he doesn’t hold much sway over his brethern.

The media has played this out poorly. Obama has gotten a pass. While Hillary was pilloried, Palin excoriated, McCain judged severely, Obama got to walk into the fray and back out untouched. If McCain had a religious leader such as Wright leading his congregation for a couple of decades, he would be labeled all kinds of nasty things and the op-ed writers would come out with sharp knives. Not Obama, though. Perhaps it’s because it’s harder to attack a black candidate without being accused of crossing a line – a bitter lesson taught by the Obama campaign to the Clintons. Perhaps it’s because Obama is so inexperienced that he’s untouchable without a record on which to run. Perhaps it’s because people instinctively sense that change is necessary and he’s been perceived as the embodiment of change throughout the primaries and election season.

For the Jewish community, this has been a weird election. A huge number of emails circulated trying to tap into Jewish areas of concern by attacking Obama’s ancestry, religion, views about Israel, friends, etc. To fight those off, pro-Obama Jews circulated counter-emails, logged into discussion forums and blogs to debate their accusations, and hailed Obama as some sort of prince of goodness and wisdom. Revelations like Rev. Wright’s views and Obama’s faithful attendance at Wright’s church were attacked but mostly dismissed. Obama’s friendships with anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian pundits, diplomats, strategists and scholars were likewise mostly dismissed even as Obama opponents yelled and screamed to pay attention.

Ultimately, it appears the community will vote 70/30 Obama/McCain (our own unscientific poll below shows a similar divide). Not a bad showing for Obama, but not typical Democratic support, which usually hovers between 75-83% among Jews.

Unless some miracle happens, such as the Bradley Effect being a real issue, or voting dirty tricks winning the day, it looks as if Obama will preside over a country with a solid Democratic House – possibly even a filibuster proof Senate. The Republicans have been laying the groundwork for legal challenges, but a strong Democratic showing will eliminate that strategy rapidly.

Obama is an interesting candidate. He is a creature of the Left, not the Center. He does represent the people who are not in the center of the voting public and brings an understanding of being a member of a minority such as no President before him. No matter, the Republicans have handicapped the next President or three with Iraq, a destroyed economy and a national debt with such high interest payments that little is left for social projects. Obama will also face a House that may perceive their chances of being re-elected are stronger if they don’t follow Obama’s wish-list but stick to that of the lobbyists.

But make no mistake, if Obama is elected today, this will be extraordinary on many different levels. It will speak to the evolution of the United States away from the Leave it to Beaver age and into the multi-cultural age.

About the author

themiddle

34 Comments

  • Obama has run a superb campaign from start to finish and has a realistic shot at winning today.

    Ahhh, so you think he’s got a chance, huh? With Obama’s “realistic shot” and McCain’s “serious problem,” what do you figure the odds are on a Obama win, maybe a toss-up?

    Also, I can’t help but be just a bit curious about your conclusion that Sarah Palin wasn’t among McCain’s “couple of mistakes.” Specifically, my own view is that the election was over the second McCain selected someone as fanatical and abysmally ignorant as Palin, someone – in my personal experience – that elicits more fear and loathing than any candidate for national office I’ve been aware of since George Wallace, and that actually inspires people to spend hours on line just to vote against her. Indeed, I regard Palin as the greatest gift Republicans have given this country in my lifetime, as she will never come close to being elected to any national office, but will surely retain the allegiance of the delusional far right for years to come.

    Of course, it would be rather ludicrous for me to project my conclusions to the electorate as a whole based on my perceptions of her divisiveness, since I have no way of knowing how broadly those views are shared by the couple of hundred million voters across the country. It seems to me the only way to assess the wisdom of Palin’s nomination is by use of that neat new trick known as empirical evidence, and the only such statistical evidence I’m aware of is the Times poll indicating that 59% of respondents regard Palin as unqualified to serve as vice president (as well as the 30% who have a lot of confidence in McCain’s ability to appoint qualified personnel.)

    Just wondering: how do you reconcile the notion that Palin helps McCain’s candidacy in light of the fact that 59% of the electorate think she’s unqualified to be vice president (much less president)?

  • Snarky much, DS?

    The reason I don’t think she’s a mistake that cost him the election is that prior to her nomination he did not have the Republican base fully behind him. As you may or may not know, depending on the snarkiness of your mood, not everybody who is eligible to vote actually votes. People need to feel connected to vote and McCain had a very lukewarm reception from the Republican faithful on the far Right, particularly the Christian Right. To remind you, it is their enthusiastic voting patterns that help Republicans win elections (in fact, you can win an election – easily – with just 41% of the electorate supporting you). Well, their lackluster interest in this election was rectified mighty quick with the nomination of the Babe From the Tundra.

    Don’t kid yourself, oh Snarky One, it wasn’t Palin that may have cost McCain the election. It was the economy, stupid.

  • Oh, and the reason I am not calling the election for Obama despite the polls is that polls don’t count all the people who won’t wait in line or who will think Obama has it in the bag and they don’t need to vote. I don’t discount the passion of people who pray against abortion when it comes to voting and getting out the vote. I don’t discount (Republican) dirty tricks and strange voting machines without paper trails. In 2000 I learned that elections can be stolen legally. I also don’t discount the skin color of the Democratic candidate and don’t dismiss for a minute that people might vote on the basis of race.

  • The middle:
    I don’t discount (Republican) dirty tricks and strange voting machines without paper trails.
    – – – – – – – – –
    … ever hear of a little outfit called ACORN?

    The people trying to steal the election this year are Democrats.

    Their voter-registration shenanigans have cast serious doubts about the voter rolls in Ohio and Pennsylvania – and give a good idea of the total lack of scruples among Obamaniacs – including those with public responsibility.

    futher:
    In 2000 I learned that elections can be stolen legally.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    In 2000 the media announced that polls were closed in Florida – even though polls were still open in the Panhandle area (which is on CST). This resulted in many people not voting after work, as they planned to.

    The media did this because Gore was being trounced in that area of Florida – which has a different demographic than the southern part of Florida.

    Talk about stealing an election…

    Link:

  • And all you 20-30 somethings:
    YOU will be the ones paying for all the social programs the Dems want to introduce.

    All. Your. Working. Lives.

    Universal healthcare = YOU will be paying for the Boomers’ hip replacements and pacemakers – and by the time you need it, the system will be broke. Just like in England and other European countries.

    A vote for Obama = voting your generation into wage slavery.

  • Bush has “handicapped” the next three presidents with Iraq? Really?

    In any event– not so fast, Middle, not so fast.

  • Oh please, Ben David. To this day Scalia simply grunts and laughs when asked about the reasoning of their 2000 election decision. The Republicans stole that election with their Republican Florida governor (Bush Jr. II?) and his little helper mate whatever her name is doing everything in their power to minimize Democratic voters’ access to votes.

    Tom, between the actual costs of Iraq and the manpower stress it has caused the military – and by that I include the loss of many capable officers who would have been the future of the military and instead opted to leave because even 5 figure re-up bonuses couldn’t get them to go back to Iraq – it will take years for the US to recover. The additional burden to our country’s finances will be felt for decades to come (quick, how much is 5 years times $100 billion a year multiplied by bond interest over thirty years?). Oh, and did I mention the emotional and social toll it has taken on the US? Whoever is the next President will be saddled with that as well.

  • Middle:
    The Republicans stole that election with their Republican Florida governor
    – – – – – – – – –
    Exactly how – could you document it, please?

    Could you also explain what’s wrong with the evidence I cited – a story which ended with a 2002 court order that the media not make projections about states where polling has not yet closed?

    Instead of just dismissing me from your Valhalla of perfect O(ba)mniscience.

    further:
    it will take years for the US to recover.
    – – – – – – – – –
    How long would it have taken us to recover from continued 9-11 attacks on our soil?

    Get a clue.

  • FWIW, I showed up a half-hour early at my pricinct, 6:45 a.m., and it took me an hour to vote. Lines all the way down the block.

    Kudos to Middle for steering clear of Palin Derangement Syndrome and conceding she’s been an asset to McCain (looking just at the politics). If McCain wins he’ll have her to thank.

  • Excuse me, Ben David, are you on heroin? I’m asking because I know you’re not stupid and yet there you are justifying this idiotic, unnecessary, poorly run, expensive, deadly war on some lame excuse that somehow it has been the reason we have not had another terror attack in the US. Ridiculous.

    As for the 2000 elections, you must have forgotten Katherine Harris and the ex-felon rolls which just happened to take away the right to vote of a few thousand men skewed heavily to the Democrats.

    Here’s the nice version where nobody can prove anything:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A99749-2001May30?language=printer

  • Tom, I’ve just accidentally deleted some comment by you on another thread as my touchpad got stuck and the cursor clicked automatically. So sorry! I don’t even know what thread it was. 🙁

  • Middle, your focus on Iraq is curious because that war is over, for all intents and purposes. Afghanistan, though, has turned truly scary. That’s the principal defense policy challenge for the next president.

    Don’t let it happen again, froylein. btw, Election Night party at my place. No worries, it’s no Plato’s Retreat (more like Palin’s Retreat).

  • Iraq isn’t over at all. You have to get the troops out and you have to pay for it.

    But yes, Afghanistan is the war for now and it’s going to be brutal and expensive as well. At least that war can be justified by references to 9/11.

  • We’ll see what Petraeus will do in managing the two conflicts in his new gig at CENTCOM.

  • Oh well, Tom, I owe you…
    Shall I bring anything to the election party? Still got two bottles of dry, red Rothschild in the cellar. I’ll stick to orange juice though.

    Afghanistan’s a big mess. A student of mine that attends night college classes is a full-time military paramedic / nurse; he was in Afghanistan a while ago to help with the exhumation and pathological examination of mass graves. There mostly were kids’s, old people’s and women’s bodies in there; autopsies showed that several of the kids had been tortured, their skulls smashed and then sexually abused. His impression was that extremism over there is alive and thriving, that there is more backing of terrorism by the general public than media care to show and that bottom line, the general public there is opposed to help from the West.

  • We’ll have to pace ourselves, froylein. It’s going to be a long night. By the time CNN gets done calling PA for Obama, then pulling it back as too close to call, then tallying the rural vote and giving it to McCain— figure 3-4 bottles of wine on PA alone. And that’s just the eastern time zone. We’ll be onto Glenlivet by the time we hit CO and NM.

  • Right down to today’s Black Panther incident in Philly, Middle, the planets are aligned in McPalin’s favor in the Keystone State.

  • Well, I’d have thunk it.

    Instead of going to war with the media, does it ever occur that the media might actually report what people are interested in hearing about? Perhaps it’s just more comfortable than attacking the people.

    There really is a difference between a criticism and an attack. And some criticisms just don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. Perhaps that’s the difference.

    The foregone conclusion that McCain “needs” his base (as well as the disgusting campaign he waged to satiate its nauseating appetites) pretends that he couldn’t have fought more competitively over the middle. With a respectable running mate (such as Kay Bailey Hutchison) I think he could have done so. The Palin selection has to do with insuring that the GOP remains as nativist, theocratic and corrupt as the self-appointed movement leaders at The National Review want it to remain. Of course, true conservative intellectuals disagree fervently, and have done so publicly – for good reason. Their foresight and honesty will be recognized more broadly in due time.

  • Middle, I don’t know where NYT got their data, but it hardly seems more informative than what Nate Silver’s predicted for quite some time.

  • That’s pretty ballsy to put NM into play, Tom.

    Regarding the more likely swing state scenario, (including, if you want to look at it that way, PA).

    Silver’s predictions are that McCain is now 1.1% likely to win. Even Karl Rove predicts a landslide for Obama.

    Your real problem Tom, is that the Dems are almost 50% likely to have 59 Senate seats, assuming one includes Lieberman and Bernie Sanders (who really defines himself as a Socialist. But given the way McCain/Wurzelbacher have redefined socialism lately, does it even matter at this point? ;-))

    Love the McCain/Obama figures at the bottm of the page here.

  • Still wiating for PA to flip…

    Likewise, MUL. You’re team’s in charge now, and best of luck to the President-elect. He’s got a tough job ahead of him, and we all pray (well, all excepting Muffti) he succeeds.

    My take on Obama is very similar to Ross Douthat’s election post over at the Atlantic. (Douthat’s been my favorite campaign blogger.) During the primaries, he seemed to promise a new kind of politics and an easing of the Rovean divides that have kept us from crafting solutions on health care, immigration reform, and a host of other issues. His general election campaign, though, was long on often-contradictory promises and short on uplift and conciliation. I hope he now returns to the letter and spirit of, for example, his Iowa primary victory speech.

    As for the other guys– McCain’s defeat is that of a whole sixtysomething-plus generation of Republican pols. Guiliani, Thompson, Jeb Bush et al., they’re all history. Maybe Romney remains a player on account of his money. But conservatives must do what the Dems have done- turn the page toward a new generation of leaders. The future rests with the likes of Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and David Petraeus. The message has to be retooled as well, obviously. One wonders about the future of social conservatives in the party. Good thing Mike Huckabee has a steady job with Fox.

    As for Israel– hold tight for the shakedown cruise to come, as Iran and others test the new administration. Here’s one prediction: if John Kerry is named Secretary of State, Obama’s nat’l. security advisor will be one very powerful man or woman.

  • A level-headed approach is always a good thing no matter from whom or from which side it comes, and I do hope that there will be elements from both within and outside of Obama’s party that would keep any potentially excessive inclinations on his part in check. Appealing to a sense of shared responsibility isn’t a bad thing, but I’m starting to get a clearer perspective post-election on the concern that people had about his penchant for rhetorical excess. I’m looking forward to an opposition that will help steer the administration to the exercise of successful leadership of the country.

    I’m also looking back at some of my own rhetoric over the past year and it’s making me cringe.

    😉

  • I hope Obama returns to the approach he struck in Iowa as well.

    If the ideas of Douthat (and Salaam) do turn out to be the future of the Republican party, I think things will turn out really well for both sides. Douthat’s a good writer (I liked his book Privilege), and listening to him discuss issues with Matthew Yglesias when they were both at The Atlantic was enjoyable and edifying.

    I didn’t used to like Yglesias, and on his own I still tend to find him pedantic and overly technocratic, but I think they especially struck a thoughtful chord together. (Maybe it was watching the two young bearded Harvard grads being moderated by a political scientist). He seems to achieve a good sense of intellectual synergy with those outside of his partisan box; I’m grateful for the time he had at The Atlantic that was likely made possible by Andrew Sullivan’s recruitment of him (and Douthat?).

    Yeah. The idea of a return to an excessive 1930s Democratic ethos and pabulum is something I won’t like either. You guys – make sure to do your best to make sure that Obama and friends stick to doing the relevant thing for the country that they do too.

  • The opportunity for Barack is immense, but so are the dangers. The Democrats should be delighted this morning, but Republicans can celebrate being out from under Bush. I hope the latter are responsible as an opposition party. (The temptations to irresponsibility– like rooting for failure in the Middle East, Russia and elsewhere– will be great.)

    Republicans have this going for them, too: they can assume outsider status, pick a non-Washington figure in 2012, and run against a Federal apparat dominated by the other party. This is a good place to be in trying to reclaim power.

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