Patterico's Pontifications

8/19/2008

Governor Schwarzenegger calls in

Filed under: Current Events,Environment,Government — Justin Levine @ 8:19 pm

The Sacramento Bee managed to monitor the broadcast and reports on it here.

– Justin Levine

Did The Obama Campaign Sense Trouble in Its Announcement of July Fundraising Totals? Updated

Filed under: General — WLS @ 6:11 pm

[Posted By WLS]

Bracketed by the end of Obama’s Pleasant Hawaiian Holiday on Friday and the Showdown at Saddleback on Saturday night, the Obama campaign quietly announced Saturday morning that it had raised $51 million in July, and had cash on hand totaling $68 million. That seems like they were expecting it to be treated as bad news by the press– which it is – and were hoping that it would quickly drop off the radar screen with the coverage of Saddleback – which it did.  If they thought his fundraising was a blowout story, they would have played it up and gotten some positive press.

You can see that they think it was bad news by the fact that they led off the press release with a comment about the number of new donors – 65,000 – rather than the fundraising numbers themselves. The new donors total is a non-issue – anyone could have anticipated that a large number of former Clinton supporters would gravitate to the Obama camp in June and July.

 

If my memory is correct, the campaign previously announced that it had raised $52 million in June, and had $72 million cash on hand. Now math has always been hard, but the college engineering professor who gave me a C- would probably agree that Obama’s campaign spent $4 million more than he raised in July, meaning that his monthly burn rate right now is about $55 million – and that was in a month when he spent 9 days in Europe and the Middle East, a big chunk of which was paid for by taxpayer dollars (appropriately). Lets call his burn rate right now about $2 million a day.

McCain raised $27 million in July, and has $21 million to spend at the beginning of the month. The difference is that McCain must spend all his remaining money before the GOP convention, after which he will receive $84 million from the FEC.

The RNC raised $26 million in July, and has $75 million on hand to start August. But with McCain needing to burn through his cash, the RNC can sit quiet and save its money for the stretch run. So its possible with August fundraising the RNC could be sitting on a cash pile of better than $100 million after the convention. Combined with McCain’s taxpayer funds, the GOP candidate will have about $185 million for the 10 weeks from the convention to election day.  

If Obama burns through $60 million in August (at $2 million a day, including convention costs), he’ll have only $8 million left from the money he started the August with. He’s already spent a week in Hawaii this month, directly raising only about $3 million in two events he held there. If he raises $50 million again for the month – not a certainty with falling poll numbers, declining fundraising, and doubts beginning to be expressed about his readiness for the job – he’ll have only $58 million in his own money on Sept. 1.

The DNC began August with $28 million, after raising $27 million during the month.  If the DNC raises another $30 million in August, it might have $50 million left after the convention. So Obama and the DNC start off the general election campaign after Labor Day with a combined total of $108 million — or about $80 million less than McCain and the GOP.

Obama can continue raising money, while McCain can’t (though the RNC can).  But Obama’s attendance at fundraisers – including ones like George Clooney is hosting in Switzerland – takes Obama off the campaign trail. Fundraising takes place at parties and dinners with a few hundred check-writers, and not at campaign events where thousands or potential voters show up. There’s a reason why candidates don’t want to raise money in the 10 weeks of the general election campaign, and the Obama camp is starting to see it.

Remember that when Obama announced this fundraising gambit in early June, some of his supporters projected that he might raise as much as $250-300 million after he became the presumptive nominee. In the first 60 of the 150 days (2/5’s for those challenged by large numbers) between becoming the presumptive nominee and election day, he has raised $103 million. So the $300 million number seems out of the question – he would need to increase his fundraising pace by better than 40% to raise another $200 million from Aug 1 to Oct. 31. Since fundraising will begin to start competing with campaigning after September 1, the lower end of the range is probably also no longer realistic either — he would have to maintain the same fundraising pace he is on now.  If the new realistic total is $220 million, then he’ll raise only another $120 million between Aug 1 and Oct. 31. That would give him a total of $188 million to spend between Aug 1 and Oct 31 (he began Aug. with $68 million). But if he is burning $2 million a day, he needs $180 million just to break even over that same period. And that amount would not allow for increases above current spending levels as election day draws nearer.

We know Obama has built a huge campaign staff in anticipation of running a 50 state strategy – and has paid campaign staffers in no-win states like Utah and Texas. I expect those plans are under serious review. That strategy has kept his advertising limited in places like Nevada and Colorado, where his early leads have become current polling deficits. I was in the Reno area last week, and it is being bombarded with ads from both candidates – but McCain is easily running twice as many ads as Obama, both on radio and TV. I thought it was curious that Obama’s first post-Saddleback appearance was in Reno – and although it was proclaimed publicly to be a “townhall” event, in actuality it was invitation-only and the invitations went out to union leaders and labor activists. That’s a strange call unless your support in the state is slipping and you’re really trying to rally the troops who feel the race beginning to slip away.

When Obama begins to alter his spending habits, and paid staff are eliminated in places like Texas, and ads quit running in places like Indiana and North Carolina, the press is going to notice that Obama’s 50 state strategy is no more.  The questions will then begin about whether Obama’s decision to opt out of public financing was wise or foolish.  I think the GOP money guys are laughing right about now as Obama and his camp continue chasing dollars as much as voters.

Update:  Interesting local TV News story out of Denver yesterday about prime up-front tickets to Obama’s Invesco Field speech being sold by the Obama campaign for $1000 a pop, even though the campaign has trumpeted the fact that attendance is free for those given tickets.  Could the fund-raising opportunity be the real reason the speech was moved to Invesco?   Given my complete inability to successfully embed a video, I’m dubious about whether this works, but here it is.

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/RUD6tvSvUd8&color1=291787617&color2=325161297&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/RUD6tvSvUd8&color1=291787617&color2=325161297&hl=en&fs=1” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” wmode=”transparent” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

If that doesn’t work maybe DRJ can fix it, or you can look for it over at the  weeklystandard blog.

An interesting point brough up by the piece is that the ability to purchase these special tickets is restricted to big donors who are solicited and given a special address on the Obama website.  A general member of the public cannot get to the website page to make the purchase.   As the reporter notes, once she started making inquiries on the topic, the special page was shut down, and now says that tickets are no longer available.

Polls Show a Presidential Dead Heat

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 5:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s poll news:

The Gallup Daily poll of registered voters shows Obama at 45% and McCain at 44%.

In a similar result, the LA Times/Bloomberg poll of registered voters has Obama at 45% and McCain at 43% – a statistical dead heat made even more striking because Obama led by 12 points in June, although that poll now appears to be an outlier.

Respondees in the LA Times/Bloomberg poll like McCain’s experience and patriotism. They question Obama’s patriotism and 17% say the country is not ready for a black President, but they like his views on the economy and the economy is most important issue for most Americans.

However, Obama’s favorability ratings have changed for the worse while McCain’s have remained stable:

“Obama’s favorable rating has sunk to 48% from 59% since the last Times/Bloomberg poll in June. At the same time, his negative rating has risen to 35% from 27%.

By comparison, McCain’s ratings have hardly budged during the same period: 46% of voters have a positive feeling about him; 38% give him negative ratings.”

McCain has had slightly more success than Obama at rallying his base: “Nine out of 10 Republicans favor McCain, while just under 8 in 10 Democrats support Obama,” but overall Democrats are more enthusiastic about Obama than Republicans are about McCain. Finally, independents favor Obama 47% to 36%.

H/T Rick Ballard.

— DRJ

Obama’s VP Pick…

Filed under: 2008 Election — Justin Levine @ 4:30 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

Will almost certainly be [Delaware Senator] Joe Biden – and will almost certainly be announced Thursday.

Howard Fineman has convinced me.  I have to admit, it is probably the best choice that Obama could make going up against McCain.

If you think that derailing a Presidential contest based on past charges of plagiarism is somehow going to work, think again. I didn’t even think it was that big a deal when Biden decided to drop out of the race over it in 1988. Embarrassing, yes – but a recoverable mistake even then. Twenty years later? A total non-issue.  On to the substantive issues…

– Justin Levine

Obama’s Speech at the VFW Convention

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I watched most of Barack Obama’s speech at the VFW Convention. I’ve become accustomed to his careful parsing of language when he speaks to groups that are not enthusiastic about his message so I won’t belabor that here. Suffice it to say Obama focused on presenting himself as a patriotic American who supports the military but not its recent mission in Iraq.

What was particularly noticeable was how cold and arguably angry he was compared to other speeches I’ve seen him give. Here’s how the New York Times’ blog The Caucus charitably described Obama’s delivery and his reception by the veterans:

“Mr. Obama appeared before the V.F.W. a day after his presumed Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, criticized him for advocating a policy of defeat in Iraq and suggested Mr. Obama put personal ambition before the interests of the country.

Mr. Obama struck back with tough language, although his delivery was largely without passion. He received a polite but not enthusiastic response from the estimated 3,000 veterans assembled in a cavernous convention hall here. Many seats were empty because a number of veterans left Orlando ahead of the advancing tropical storm Fay.”

If “largely without passion” means scowling throughout the speech, that’s a good description. Obama also delivered his speech quickly, probably because he was rarely interrupted by applause, and his demeanor reminded me of the cold attitude we’ve occasionally seen in his wife Michelle. He was also ‘on the attack’ to a degree I don’t recall seeing before. Here’s the The Caucus’ description:

“[Obama] paid the obligatory homage to Mr. McCain’s military service and sacrifice as a Vietnam prisoner of war, but then raked him for impugning his motives and patriotism.”

“Obligatory homage” to “service and sacrifice.” Got it.

Nevertheless, I doubt we will see much more of this Obama for a while since his Convention speech and appearances in the near future will be before enthusiastic crowds. It will be easy for Obama to stay upbeat in those environments. After all, Americans want their candidates to have hope and good will. I suspect Obama will either remember that from now on or be reminded of it by his campaign staff.

— DRJ

The Amethyst Initiative

Filed under: Education — DRJ @ 11:40 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Amethyst Initiative was launched to rethink the drinking age. Its founder and supporters are all college chancellors and presidents:

“Launched in July 2008, the Amethyst Initiative is made up of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States. These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.”

Amethyst Initiative supporters include over 100 chancellors and presidents, most of whom represent private liberal arts colleges. The list includes the Presidents of Duke, Dartmouth and the Ohio State University. The Initiative’s Statement of principles clearly shows the supporters believe the drinking age should be lowered.

However, there are a range of opinions on the legal drinking age:

“Raising the drinking age to 21 was passed with the very best of intentions, but it’s had the very worst of outcomes,” said David J. Hanson, an alcohol policy expert at the State University of New York-Potsdam. “Just like during national Prohibition, the law has pushed and forced underage drinking and youthful drinking underground, where we have no control over it.”

But Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, countered: “Why would we repeal or weaken laws that save lives? It doesn’t make sense.”

The response to the Amethyst Initiative has also been mixed.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia from MSNBC — There is no federal law that sets a minimum age for drinking. Instead, laws are set by each state:

“As it happens, there is no such thing as a “federal legal drinking age.” Many states do not expressly prohibit minors from drinking alcohol, although most of those do set certain conditions, such as its use in a religious ceremony or in the presence of a parent or other guardian.

The phrase refers instead to a patchwork of state laws adopted in the mid-1980s under pressure from Congress, which threatened in 1984 to withhold 10 percent of federal highway funds from states that did not prohibit selling alcohol to those under the age of 21. By 1988, 49 states had complied; after years of court fights, Louisiana joined the crowd in 1995.”

The MSNBC link has more information on how the laws vary among the states.

— DRJ

First FLDS Trial Concludes; Decision Pending (Updated: Judge Removes 1 Child)

Filed under: Civil Liberties — DRJ @ 10:22 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The trial in the first FLDS child custody case has concluded and Judge Barbara Walther is preparing to rule. It’s unwise to predict court decisions but, after reading this section of today’s San Angelo Standard-Times’ article, my guess is the court will remove the children from their parents’ custody:

“The children, a 14-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, want to be with their mother, attorneys for the children said in closing arguments. Barbara Jessop’s attorney, San Angelo lawyer Gonzalo Rios, argued that Walther could impose additional restrictions on his client, but that she should retain custody of her children.

Walther seemed skeptical of his arguments, noting Jessop had pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 50 times Monday, including on such questions as whether she believes she should prevent her children from participating in underage marriages.”

UPDATE: Judge Walther has issued a Solomon-like ruling, deciding that the 14-year-old girl will be placed in foster care and the 11-year-old boy will remain in his mother’s custody. Here is what Judge Walther said:

“The court has heard incontrovertible evidence of the marriage of the child,” Walther read from her ruling shortly after noon. “The court is concerned that the mother was unable to provide assurances that she would be able to protect the child in the future.”

Regarding pleading the Fifth in child custody cases:

“Walther seemed skeptical of his [Rios’] arguments, noting [Rios’ client Barbara] Jessop had pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 50 times Monday, including on such questions as whether she believes she should prevent her children from participating in underage marriages.

The pleas – 56 of them in 57 questions from CPS attorney Jeff Schmidt – seemed particularly damaging because, in civil cases, pleading the Fifth can be used as a factor in reaching decisions.

“It obviously did” hurt Jessop’s case, said Rios after the hearing.”

UPDATE: The Austin American-Statesman reports agreements were approved by the court today authorizing that 5 FLDS girls remain with their mothers subject to CPS supervision. Gonzalo Rios, the attorney for Barbara Jessop, said his client was the only mother that the CPS refused to negotiate with regarding custody.
— DRJ

Obama Vows “I Will Win”

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:04 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Every sports fan knows not to promise a win before a close game but apparently that’s where sports and politics diverge because Barack Obama promises he will win in November:

“Democrat Barack Obama piled up nearly eight million fundraising dollars in a single lucrative night, as anticipation built over his looming choice of White House running mate.

“I will win, don’t worry about that,” Obama told a crowd of 1,300 people at a fundraiser Sunday night in California, one of three back-to-back events which netted a staggering 7.8 million dollars, his campaign said.”

Obama told the crowd it should be easy to win … but for some reason it’s not:

“Given the deteriorating economy, “bungled” foreign policy and unpopular Iraq war, Obama said it would be nice if voters would simply think “‘Toss the bums out, we’re starting from scratch, we’re starting over.'”

“These are the knuckleheads who have been in charge — throw em out. But American politics aren’t that simple,” he said, arguing people needed to be prodded into voting for change.”

San Francisco has been very, very good to Obama but the rest of the country are a bunch of bitter, clingy knuckleheads who need to be warned how bad Republicans are:

“And he warned Republicans had a “whole machinery that they’re cranking out” full of negative character attacks designed to scare people away from him.

But the Illinois senator, introduced in San Francisco by House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “leader that God has blessed us with at this time,” vowed not to make the mistake of previous Democratic nominees in failing to sufficiently repel Repubican assaults.”

It’s amazing how revealingly direct Obama is when he speaks to a friendly crowd and how restrained he can be everywhere else.

— DRJ

Predictions on the Edwards Saga

Filed under: 2008 Election,Politics — DRJ @ 8:26 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Lee Stranahan reviews where the John Edwards story is now:

“As we head into the the Democratic convention, the Edwards scandal isn’t over. It’s really just beginning. Don’t blame the media, blame John Edwards.
***
So instead of a responsible and swift end to this mess we’ll get the Edwards Water Torture that reduces all politicians (especially idealistic ones) to same lying bastards that cynics always believed they are.

Cynicism is exactly what Republicans want when their opponent’s message is ‘hope’.”

… and predicts where it will go next:

“It’s His Baby.

The Other Meetings At The Beverly Hilton.

Some Democrats Will Want Their Money Back.

Some Democrats Will Remain In Denial.

The Youngs Speak.

Elizabeth Splits.

Rielle Talks.

John Edward’s Ultimate Confession … And the bonus, pointless, ‘it’s just sex’ prediction.

The Other Other Woman ?”

More speculation at the link from Stranahan, who’s been right about this before.

— DRJ


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