Oct 12, 2012

Joe Biden Takes the Fight to the Republicans and Delivers!

Are you serious congressman? Stop lying.. (Mr. Prez are you watching this?)
The first and only VP debate of 2012 is over and Biden did what Obama should have done last week, so I chalk this one for the Dems. Ryan did well enough too. But, let me explain how I see this election shaping up.

The two campaigns are not trying to convince the "undecideds" or convert new followers. Instead, they're trying to appeal to their political base and excite it to come out and vote. Yes, it's about turnout and the more energized base usually wins the election. The so-called independents that are already registered to vote [note that the "likely voters" are not necessarily actual voters] have already picked their pony. Only something major event, really big, will make them change their minds, and even so, many will simply not vote instead of voting for the other ticket.

We like to believe that voters are acting on good information and rational choices, but this is not the case. If someone is undecided at this stage, they are either very uninformed about the candidates or seriously confused. 

What these debates actually do is to motivate the troops, and in this regard I thought both candidates delivered. As a general impression, I thought Biden clearly won the match by not conceding any points, appearing in command of the facts, and as one who could step into the presidency if need be. Ryan didn't come across like that, but it hardly matters.

About Polls and Polling

All of us have been aware of the narrative after the first presidential debate, that is, how the polls showed a big Romney surge and how some key states became more competitive for the red team, while national polls showed Romney either ahead or tying Obama. I have had my doubts about how this new narrative is being dished out. Even though no one can claim to be a total agnostic without a shred of bias, I'm trying not to rely on wishful thinking in order to feel good.

It's been very, very rare that a candidate wins the electoral vote and loses the national. Even in 2000, Gore should have won Florida easily. He would have if the recount had continued or some other voting problems had been remedied before the election. The battleground states barely moved [well, depends who's doing the polling. Russmussen polls are especially biased], and that's why I'm suspicious of the national numbers. Levels of excitement or disappointment affect the polls. After all, not everyone answers their phone!

Polling is as much as art as science. There are a lot of assumptions, and corrective measures, and techniques, and, yes, insufficient data upon which to design a poll. Many (it's a dirty secret) pollsters buy into the consensus narrative and tweak their numbers to reflect that.

Again, performances during the debates help motivate the two parties' political base and may create the sense of inevitability--that's why Obama's failure to close the curtain on Romney pissed most of us off.  At any rate, the second presidential debate is next Tuesday. We'll be watching. Hopefully Obama will be much better and regain the narrative.

The best we can hope for is that the majority (as it did before the debates) thinks Obama is going to be reelected, this way turnout will be higher among his political base and maybe this will help win back the House. The Senate seems safe for the Dems, but the president needs to make the case for a Democratic Congress since the Republican House, and the minority in the Senate, have been obstructionists and nothing more.

You've got to love Joe. He took the fight to Ryan and not only. Maybe he can coach his boss, we only hope...