Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Guide to Bellwethers

You can't swing a baseball bat in an election year without hitting a bellwether, or so it's beginning to seem. Here is a collection of the bellwethers that people SWEAR will determine the election this November:

1. The state of Missouri. ACCURACY: "Missouri is a traditional bellwether that has picked every presidential contest since 1960" and "all but one election since 1904." ADVANTAGE: Currently: Obama. But everyone knows Missouri is full of white people who are totally unreliable!
[Obama] he will have to overcome latent racism among rural whites, an element more than one expert described as an "unknown quantity" in Missouri particularly because residents have seen so few black candidates run for state or national office.
2. Chillicothe, Ohio. ACCURACY: "No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio ... Inside the bellwether state is the bellwether town of Chillicothe, a town that often mirrors the state's election results." Often? How scientific. ADVANTAGE: Split. Ohio in general is pretty blue these days, though.

3. Hillsborough County, Florida. ACCURACY: Doesn't say. Its claim to be a bellwether may be bullshit. Still, it's Florida, which we know is an important state. Let it stand. ADVANTAGE: Currently Obama.
Obama not only won 49 percent of women voters, to McCain's 43 percent, but he captured a plurality of male voters, beating McCain 45 percent to 39 percent.
Florida's looking pretty good too -- the conservatives are freaking out! and even Gov. Charlie Crist, still pouting about not being tapped for Veep, went to Disney World instead of helping McCain! -- but I don't trust it. FL's biggest import is old white people, and they are even more racist than regular white people.

4. The size of the candidates. Apparently the bigger candidate almost always wins, except when the smaller/lighter candidate is George W. Bush, who is a magical elf. ADVANTAGE: Obama has several inches and about 15 lbs on McCain. But Teddy Roosevelt was shorter than the other guy in 1904 and won, and was heavier than the other guy in 1912 but lost. What a maverick. (BTW: Who knew Roosevelt ran again in '12? I didn't and I majored in American History!)

5. The Scholastic kids election. ACCURACY: "Since 1940, the results of the student vote in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000) have mirrored the outcome of the general election, except twice: in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy." E for Effort, kidlets. ADVANTAGE: Colbert.
Boys favored Obama 49% to 46% for McCain, while girls chose Obama more definitively, 57% to 39%. Rounding out this year's vote, 4% of students voted for other candidates, the highest percentage of write-in votes in the history of the poll. Student write-ins included Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman Ron Paul, Independent candidate Ralph Nader, and a handful of votes for television personality Stephen Colbert.
ALSO: Obama, who is like Colbert in that he is young and looks good on the teevee.

BONUS FUN: I say the real bellwether is just what folks expect to happen. So what do Republicans think will happen this year?
"A poll of 100 leading Republican political consultants by the conservative National Journal found that 80 believe Mr McCain will lose the election, while the remaining 20 think it could go either way."
Margin of error: +/- 20%.

Three nerve racking weeks to go! Bellwethers are known to be all mavericky so there will be no counting of chickens. Also, did I miss any, also? Feel free to point out your favorite other ways we can tell what's going to happen and so don't need to bother to vote.

13 comments:

Jessica said...

It's pretty well-known that the candidate who has ingested larger quantities of milkshake in his lifetime has won the last 563 elections.

ari said...

Virginia! Since 1952, except for a bid for LBJ, the state's gone Republican. Right now it's leaning Obama. And the good news...no racists in VA!

BG said...

Don't forget my Russian grandmother!

sorelle said...

well... did you go see stewart and colbert?!

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Rebecca said...

Ester, I am seriously worried about your sanity. I almost feel like going to your house tonight to watch the debate makes me an enabler.

ester said...

thank you, my sanity is in good condition. it is somewhat the worse for wear, perhaps, but that is to be expected.

i did not get to see colbert though! they never sent me a confirmation email. i feel used and betrayed and other things too. monsters.

nathan said...

In the tiniest of ways in the tiniest of corners, with weeks of door knocks and what cash I could spare, I have helped turn Missouri blue. I have to say, it is the most profound sense of pride I have ever felt, in terms of political activism. Granted, my atomized drop in an ocean-sized bucket got a huge assist from Fannie, Freddie, one mavericky "suspended" campaign, and Katie Couric... But Still. I really worked this time. And I watched those little red and blue graph lines get closer and closer, until one day last week, they crossed. And I'm on a cloud. Moments like these I wouldn't want to be anywhere else besides this Battleground State, this year. I pity you liberal east coast elites. ;-)

That is a joke.

Of course, we still have to be around things like this.

ester said...

that was you, nathan? thanks, man!

nathan said...

That was me. I take full credit. Some pundits will say it's the collapse of capitalism as we know it, but don't listen to them. It was my 5 sessions of neighborhood canvassing, a pathetically small monetary donation which I will not disclose because I am classy, and one yard sign. Which was stolen after two weeks. I await the gratitude of the free world on November 5th.

Andrew said...

You forgot the Washington Redskins. Go Steelers!

(Hi, Ester!...I've occassionally dropped in on your blog in the past year or two, and finally subscribed a couple months ago.)

ester said...

andrew, you are quite right: according to this, "A win for Washington in their Sunday game preceding an election has coincided with a win for the incumbent." I guess it's accurate often enough but it did not hold true in 2004.