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Monday, November 03, 2008

Down to the wire

As confident as I am about this election, I sometimes find myself frozen in my tracks by this one question: What if McCain wins?

My stomach gets queasy and my head gets tight at the question.

Many of my friends are saying that they'll move to Canada if that happens. Me? I'm heading for the south of France. All the original French cultural amenities, in addition to a warmer climate and better wine - which I'll need every time I get a postcard, letter or phone call from home.

There are two editorials in the NY Times this morning about what will happen to the Republican Party if Obama loses and what will happen to the Democrats if McCain wins.

One, by Paul Krugman entitled "The Republican Rump," contains this:

What will defeat do to the Republicans?

You might think, perhaps hope, that Republicans will engage in some soul-searching, that they’ll ask themselves whether and how they lost touch with the national mainstream. But my prediction is that this won’t happen any time soon.

Instead, the Republican rump, the party that’s left after the election, will be the party that attends Sarah Palin’s rallies, where crowds chant “Vote McCain, not Hussein!” It will be the party of Saxby Chambliss, the senator from Georgia, who, observing large-scale early voting by African-Americans, warns his supporters that “the other folks are voting.” It will be the party that harbors menacing fantasies about Barack Obama’s Marxist — or was that Islamic? — roots.

Besides the economy, health care, education, the environment, reproductive rights, The War(s), and immigration, a President Obama will have at least eight years of work to turn this nation around and put her back on course.

It was this section of William Krostol's "Hey Liberals, Don't Worry," that caught my attention.

So liberals shouldn’t be too upset at the idea of McCain winning. Could it happen?

It’s possible. What if the polls, for various reasons, are overstating Obama’s support by a couple points? And what if the late deciders break overwhelmingly against Obama, as they did in the Democratic primaries? McCain could then thread the Electoral College needle.

McCain would have to win every state where he now leads or is effectively even in the polls (including North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri). He’d have to take Florida and Ohio, where he’s about four points down but where operatives on the ground give him a pretty good shot. That gets him to 247 of the 270 votes needed.

McCain’s path to victory is then to snatch Pennsylvania (which gets him to 268), and win either Virginia, Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico (states where he trails by about four to seven points) — or New Hampshire, where he’s 10 points behind but twice won dramatic primary victories.

As for Pennsylvania, two recent polls have McCain closing to within four points. Pennsylvania is the state whose small-town residents were famously patronized by Obama as “bitter.” One of Pennsylvania’s Democratic congressmen, John Murtha, recently accused many of his western Pennsylvania constituents of being racist. Perhaps Pennsylvanians will want to send a little message to the Democratic Party. And that could tip the election to McCain.

It’s an inside straight. But I’ve seen gamblers draw them.

This is the best articulation of the situation I've read. The good news is that it's even closer than I thought.

I'm working the phones today and tonight and will be driving people to the polls in Newark tomorrow.

You can help, too. The Obama campaign has built an online tool that lets you call voters in swing states and they urgently need help to call everyone on their list. All you need is a phone and a computer.

Can you make some calls? Here's the link to sign up.

Whatever you do, whatever you believe, please, please, please VOTE!

Except, of course, for my son-in-law, the Republican, who won't vote for McCain-Palin and can't bring himself to vote for a Democrat, even though he really likes Obama. For years, he and his Democrat wife have canceled out each other's vote. This year, they won't.

Te absolve tuum, darlin'.

The only time I want to see my grandchildren in the south of France is on vacation.


VTcrone said...

We recently rented the movie "The Valley of Elah," which I believe you had a post about sometime last year. At the end of the movie Tommy Lee Jones hangs an American flag upside down. Hanging our flag this way is a distress call, a call for help. There's a tall flag pole here at our home in VT and on sunny days my husband hangs our American flag. Should McCain win the election, I'll be the one hanging the flag on Wed.-and it will be upside down.

I voted last week.

Dean Wormer said...

I read that Kristol article and laughed. His idea that conservatives face everything with a sense of humor is absurd. They face everything with a crispy grouchiness. They don't laugh anything off. C'mon.

David@Montreal said...

dear Elizabeth+
I've never known my fellow Canadians to indentifyso very strongly with the outcome of your current election.
Yesterday, on CBC ( national radio) a survey was quoted that in Canada Mr. Obama would have won by more than 70 percent, and of the callers less than one percent was Republican.
Tomorrow will be a unique opportunity for personal retreat for me- praying for your country and the world's election- praying for your personal safety on the roads driving folks.
History in the making chere soeur, and I'm holding out for sheer wonder.


Hiram said...

I have been deeply disappointed by George Bush. His father was a good president, but he has been too weak; I have come to the conclusion that he has been either a fool or a knave, for he did not act in accord with his professed values. He seems to have trusted certain of his staff or his Veep far more than he should have.

I am not that excited about McCain - but I am horrified at the possibility of Obama winning. He will plunge the nation into debt. It seems quite possible that he will send the Thought Police to work on the conservatives who do not believe that homosexual behavior is right - for as many "liberals" seem to do, he thinks that our opposition is due to meanspiritedness or to ignorance, not to principles and convictions.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is always at work. It affects both liberal and conservative plans and actions. however, I think that it affects liberal ideas more than conservative ones, because liberals believe that human beings are perfectible, if we can only manage to install the right system, whereas conservatives know that even the best of us is filled with flaws, and any system needs to take into account human fallibility - and not only fallibility, but cussedness. A true conservative distrusts human organizations, knowing that they are needed, but also knowing that restraints need to be built in to mitigate the effects of selfishness.

I expect that Obama will win. I expect that there will be euphoria. I expect that there will be change with noble intentions. I expect a few years of positive results. And then the Law if Unintended Consequences will kick in, and we will have troubles we did not expect and do not want, flowing out of the solutions to today's problems.

If we are fortunate, we will be able to backtrack somewhat. But perhaps we will have changed the structure of our society so completely that we will have lost very precious freedoms.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hiram: You said, "But perhaps we will have changed the structure of our society so completely that we will have lost very precious freedoms."

You know, this is exactly what has happened under W and what I fear most about McCain and (shudder) Palin.

Hmm . . . I have a sense that what you mean by loosing our "very precious freedoms" is probably very different from my meaning of that.

Hiram said...

I expect so, Elizabeth. We are a nation divided. We used to differ on means to achieve the good we all held in common - now we not only differ in means but in a vision of what the good is. Not entirely; there is at least a 50% overlap - but the vision is different in significant ways.

PS to Dean Wormer - if I could not face things with a sense of humor, I would perish.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

What is pulling my last nerve is the whisper campaign that, no matter what happens, there will be riots in the Black community.

The racism simply takes my breath away.

MarkBrunson said...

Saxby Chambliss is - unfortunately - my senator. I had hoped we'd shake him loose this election, but no such luck.

It should come as no surprise that he belongs to an ACN church. I wonder how he'd feel about a Nigerian archbishop?