Saturday, November 6, 2004
So much for the massive turnover prediction
Prior to the election, many conservatives e-mailed me stating that they shared my qualms about aspects of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, and that of course Bush was going to clean house after the election.
Reading Mike Allen's story in today's Washington Post, I have my doubts:
What astonishes me is not that Bush wants to keep most of his cabinet officers on board -- that is certainly true to Bush's style. What's amazing is that these people want to stay on. Forgetting partisanship or performance, these jobs are just exhausting. Prior to this administration, the average length of tenure for cabinet or subcabinet position was somewhere between eighteen months and two years.
To paraphrase Michael Jackson, this Bush administration isn't like other administrations.
UPDATE: This site is getting rather worked up about this issue.
Friday, November 5, 2004
Media whore alert -- ABC edition!!
I may (or may not) be on ABC World News Tonight this evening. The story is about the merits of releasing exit poll information to the public the day of the election. My mantra: the democratization of information is a good thing, but exit polls should be treated like cigarettes -- warning labels like this one are appropriate.
They say I'll be on, but given what happened last time, I'll believe it when I see it -- three months from now.
If I go on, readers may get the extra-special bonus of seeing my patented one-fingered typing style. That's what I was doing when they shot the b-roll -- you know the "action" footage of an interviewee as you hear, "Daniel Drezner, assistant professor..." on the voiceover.
UPDATE: Alas, no b-roll, but they did use an excerpt. Note that when I'm interviewed as a blogger, I dress more casually.
One thing that bugged me about the closing of the piece was the assertion that Internet content providers somehow did something "wrong" in posting the exit polls. None of the sources I looked at posted wrong numbers -- the flaws lay in the exit polls themselves. Furthermore, none of those who posted them said anything remotely close to, "with these exit polls, we're calling the election for Kerry."
LAST UPDATE: Wow, this is a first -- after reading this post, someone from ABC World News Tonight just called to apologize for the last sentence in the story (it was put in there at the last minute).
Blogs, American politics, and international relations
Subscribers to the paper version of Foreign Policy already know this, but Henry Farrell and I have an article on the blogosphere's influence on world politics and foreign affairs in the November/December issue. It's entitled "Web of Influence," but actually I like the teaser on the cover even better: How Blogs Have Changed the World. Here's the abstract:
Go check it out -- critiques have already been posted elsewhere in the blogosphere. Oh, and if your blog was not mentioned in the "Around The World in Blogs" section, don't blame us, blame the staff at FP!!
Thursday, November 4, 2004
The social construction of television punditry
Virginia Postrel has two good posts up riffing on Fareed Zakaria's column bemoaning the Crossfiring of American politics. Zakaria's key point:
Postrel argues that Zakaria's thesis stops at the edge of the TV screen:
However, Zakaria's hypothesis does seem to hold for television, as this e-mail missive to Postrel points out:
My experience with the TV thing is that bookers tend to go with a two-person or three-person format when discussing anything of substance. In the two-person format, it's necessary that the commentators take clear positions on clear sides of the partisan fence. In three-person formats, the third person is allowed to be an "expert" or "referee" that's somehow above the fray.
Either way, you're confined to a stereotype.
Tyler Cowen reports from Bangalore
The good economist's assessment of the capital of offshore outsourcing:
Megan McArdle has further thoughts on this. Key line: "Trendline extrapolation is a silly business in almost any economic situation, but never more so than where trade is concerned."
What next for U.S. foreign policy?
The answer to the title question depends in part on who stays and who goes for Bush's second term. The New York Times had a Sunday piece about this ten days ago (sorry, no link) where one Bush official admitted that the variance for Bush's second-term foreign policy was wider than what could be expected of a Kerry administration.
This anonymous foreign service officer wrote in Salon last month that Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage are not staying for a second Bush term:
James Mann is the author of Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet -- and he disagrees on Foreign Policy's web site:
I don't know what the right answer is, but I do know this -- regardless of cabinet shuffles, the one guaranteed constant in the second term is that Richard B. Cheney remains the Vice President, and will remain a very active player in the foreign policy machinery.
Cheney may be extremely intelligent, but as I've said before, I'm not sure it's healthy to have the sitting vice president be that active in the foreign policy process.
UPDATE: Some of the commenters are puzzled by my concern about Cheney's activism in the foreign policy process.
I have two problems with this. The first is Cheney's Ahab-like obsession with the unchecked expansion of the executive branch powers. The second is that even compared to Al Gore, Cheney has participated more actively in the NSC decision-making process. And rank matters. As I said back in January, "the difficulty is that even cabinet-level officials can be reluctant in disagreeing with him because he's the vice-president. This leads to a stunted policy debate, which ill-serves both the President and the country." So unless you think Cheney is clairvoyant, this is not a good thing in terms of weighing the costs and benefits of different policy options.
I might add that Bush himself recognized the need for a good policy process in today's press conference:
Here's hoping he gets well-served on this front in his second term. I remain apprehensive.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Always look on the bright side of life.
The guy I voted for lost. Worse, the median voter in the United States appears to be a populist -- not exactly encouraging for a libertarian.
But you know what? The last time my candidate for president lost (1996), the next four years turned out swimmingly for most people in the country. So in the spirit of optimism, here are the good things to think about in the wake of Bush's re-election [What about the bad things?--ed. I'm sure those will come up in the comments section. And here.]:
My one useful prediction for today....
Thomas Frank's lecture fee just tripled.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmmm.... perhaps someone at the the New York Times op-ed page has been reading this blog.
Glenn Reynolds reminds me to link to Josh Chafetz's takedown of Frank's thesis in The New York Times Book Review. However, that doesn't vitiate my argument that Frank's star going to be on the rise in the market of public intellectuals, for three reasons. First, regardless of whether Frank's normative distaste of the free market is correct, his positive analysis -- that Red State voters identify with the Republicans because of cultural issues -- seems pretty trenchant. Second, Frank's materialist theory of politics plays well in the places that will pay for Frank to talk. Third, contra Chafetz, I can't completely dismiss Frank's thesis -- that economic populism might resonate with Red State voters.
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
Open election night thread
Comment on the election returns here. Some useful links:
Wisconsin's Election Bard, alas, "does not provide unofficial results."
UPDATE: Megan McArdle cheers me up -- a swap of free-trader Jim DeMint for uber-protectionist Fritz Holling in South Carolina is a good thing for foreign economic policy.
ANOTHER UPDATE: James Carville just said on CNN that Bush has the upper hand -- Kerry needs to "draw an inside straight" to win.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Four idle thoughts before I go to sleep:
OK, TWO MORE THOUGHTS: First, I just heard Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio Secretary of State say (quite cogently) on ABC that the provisonal ballots cannot be counted until 11 days after the election. So if it's close there, and everything else breaks as expected, it could be a long two weeks.
That said, the current numbers have Bush up by 191,000 votes with about 80% of the vote counted. Even if there are 130,000-150,000 provisional votes, Kerry would have to close the gap significantly for those votes to really tip the election.
Second, Fox News is now calling Ohio for Bush. Intriguingly, their vote totals are higher than the Ohio Secretary of State's figures.
FINAL UPDATE: Good morning!! OK, if this count of provisional ballots is accurate (link via Jim Lindgren), the total nomber of provisional votes is still less than Bush's margin of victory in the counted votes. Which means Bush takes Ohio, which means the worst he can do would be a 269-269 split, which Bush would win in the House -- which would be appropriate, since he won the popular vote by more than 3.5 million votes.
That is larger than Bush's current margin -- but those votes would have to go to Kerry by 85-15 for it to matter. This Daily Kos e-mail suggests that this is how that vote split in 2000, but that would still be an extraordinary outcome. So I'm sticking with my call.]
Open exit poll thread
I always favor more information over less information, so any exit poll info I get my hands on will be posted here.
However, please, please, PLEASE read Mark Blumenthal on the inherent uncertainty and limited utility of exit polls (particularly the early ones) before reading further. Hell, read what I wrote about this two years ago (and forgot about until James Joyner linked to it!!). Remember, when you're looking at exit polls, you're looking at raw sausage [Wonkette will love that analogy!!--ed.]
OK, done with that? Let the rumors, extrapolation, and mindless speculation commence!!
3:00 PM ET: Very strange -- Drudge had early figures from the National Election Pool posted. As I was looking at them, the screen refreshed, and poof, they were gone! Fortunately, Jonah Goldberg has posted them -- as has Wonkette.
Here's the full set of numbers that have been floating around (first number is Kerry, second is Bush):
The raw data has Kerry up by 20 points in Pennsylavania and up by 16 points in New Hampshire. That should tell you the size of the variance in these polls, because there's just no way Kerry wins by twenty points in Pennsylvania. Drudge says that the "early sample was based on a 59- 41 women to men ratio" -- which would partially explain those numbers. [59-41 for which states??!!--ed. Damned if I know -- though Cliff May has a silly theory for why this is true.]
UPDATE: Jonah has more:
Slate promises to post the numbers on their site, so be sure to check them out on a semi-regular basis.
3:25 PM: Now Wonkette has new numbers (first number is for Kerry):
Those numbers are all way too tight to extrapolate anything for anyone.
4:10 PM: See, this is why I'm glad danieldrezner.com's audience is so.... selective.
4:20 PM: Slate's first set of numbers -- which appear to be a mixture of morning and early afternoon polls:
4:40 PM: Wonkette has new numbers:
Drudge says, "One block from ground zero in NYC, 2 hour wait to vote..."
5:40: Slate now has the 4 PM exit polls [UPDATE: OK, these have now mysteriously disappeared from their web site -- may be due to the problem alluded to by Wonkette's source below]:
NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez proffers the following set of numbers at 5:28 PM:
Both Drudge and NRO point out that early exit polls had Gore up in Florida by 3 and that didn't pan out as expected. This is true -- but if memory serves, those same polls had Bush winning the Electoral College pretty easily when you added up states -- Bush was winning in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the early exit polls of 2000.
6:05 PM: According to MSNBC, with "0% of precincts reporting," it's 61% to 38% for Bush nationwide!!! Seriously, I have no idea where those numbers are coming from.
UPDATE: Kudos to MSNBC for this page, which suggests that they'll be posting exit polls once the voting officially ends in each state.
6:06 PM: Scott Elliott says that, "My understanding is that exit polling does not include absentee and early voting. That is a very important point, given that as many as 20-30% of voters have already voted in some spots, and just re-emphasizes the worthlessness ofs exit polling." I don't think that's entirely correct -- I believe National Election Pool is trying to incorporate early voting, but they're doing it via phone polls -- less reliable than exit polls. Cleck here for more on early voting.
6:15 PM: Wonkette has fresh, hot, supple numbers:
Furthermore a source tells her, "There appear be problems with exits in the following states that could be tipping numbers toward kerry: MN, NH, VT, PA, VA, CT, DE. described only as 'serious' issues we're looking at. so i would not put too much faith in those results." UPDATE: Go check out Noam Scheiber on possible biases in exit polling and what they mean.
6:32 PM: Drudge now has Ohio tied, Kerry up by 2 in Florida and Minnesota, and up by 4 points in Wisconsin. I can't tell what he's saying about Pennsylvania, and Bush is up by seven in New Hampshire.
FINAL UPDATE: OK, go to this page at CNN or this one at MSNBC for
So you say you're still undecided....
Looking for a last-minute guide to make up your mind?
Postrel's detached endorsement of Bush is the mirror image of my attitude towards Kerry:
I feel somewhat despondent about voting against my party -- but reading this Guardian story about Tom Wolfe's attitudes towards New York society, particularly the closing paragraph, reminds me of the occasional virtues of going against the grain:
Monday, November 1, 2004
Hey, network news producers!! Over here!!!
Joe Flint and Shailagh Murray have a great Wall Street Journal front-pager on the major networks' plans for reporting on the election Tuesday night:
I have a humble request for the nets -- show us how the sausage is made. In other words, instead of hiding the data from the exit polls from us, explain as the returns come in what the polls say and compare and contrast them to the incoing returns.
[Won't that be kind of... dull?--ed. It would still be much more interesting than Tim Russert and his f@#$ing midget whiteboard, or Dan Rather and his nonsensical similes.]
UPDATE: Some network should really hire myster pollster Mark Blumenthal to explain how the sausage is made -- go read his infomative post on the merit of exit polls.
A question for polling geeks
This Josh Marshall post raises a question that's been bugging me for the last 48 hours:
Here's a more in-depth story by Dana Blanton on Fox's results, which notes, "about one in five voters report they have already voted by early or absentee ballot, and these voters break for Sen. Kerry by 48 percent to 43 percent." I can't find that figure anywhere in Fox's .pdf report of the results, but there it is.
Here's my question -- this confirms other reports I've heard saying that the early vote favors Kerry [But see the update to this post below--ed.] So what does this mean for the election? There are three possibilities:
Most cognoscenti seem to assume (2). My question is, why? The one argument that makes sense to me is that early voting is a sign of intensity of preferences, and the ABB vote is more intense than the ABK vote.
UPDATE: Stop the presses! CBS News also has early voting results -- but they have Bush beating Kerry!
Let's take a moment to allow the heads of those obsessed with media bias to explode at the thought that FOX has a poll favorable to Kerry while CBS has one favorable to Bush.
However, the large contrast between the CBS and FOX results lead me to think that the answer to my original question is actually (3).
One final question -- the Fox result has 9% of voters voting for someone other than Bush or Kerry, and the CBS result has 6% of voters doing that. Who else are they voting for besides Nader?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Over at Tapped, Garance Franke-Ruta has early voting numbers for Florida (a third of the vote cast; 51 to 43 Kerry) and Iowa (a quarter of the vote cast; 52 to 41 Kerry). However, Franke-Ruta seems to buy hypothesis (2) -- early voters are more likely to go for Kerry. Link via Kevin Drum, who offers a hypothesis on why this might be true: "memories of Florida combined with news of Republican efforts to suppress voting have probably motivated Kerry voters to vote early in greater numbers than Bush voters due to their distrust of the voting process."
Tentative answers to some big voting questions
A quick follow-up to my last election post about possibilities not included in the polls:
1) Looking at the latest batch of polls, I notice that some of them include Nader, but I haven't seen any of them include Badnarik (if I'm wrong about this plase post a comment). Again, my hunch is that the Libertarian party candidate will be the equivalent of Nader for disaffected right-leaning voters.
2) Peter Wallsten wrote a story last week in the Los Angeles Times suggesting that the evangelical vote -- a vital Bush constituency -- might not turn out as much as the administration hopes:
UPDATE: Chris Sullentrop speculates that there's another problem -- the Republican effort to get out the evangelical vote also triggered greater turnout among Democratic-leaning non-voters:
3) The cell phone vote tilts towards Kerry -- maybe. Zogby has a poll:
The problem with this poll is that while it went after cell phone users, it apparently did not identify those people who have no land line -- so there's no way to know the magnitude of any sample bias in more traditional polls. [Isn't another problem with this poll that they used Rock the Vote's database, which might be nonpartisan in theory but is undoubtedly Democrat-heavy in practice?--ed. Zogby says "The results of the survey are weighted for region, gender, and political party," so I'm assuming he's compensated for that kind of sample bias -- but this is open for debate.]
Again, remember the electoral projection motto of danieldrezner.com: "I don't know who's going to win -- and you don't know either."
UPDATE: The three things mentioned in this post trend towards Kerry, so here's a thought that trends towards Bush. If I remember correctly, last time around Zogby's polling trended strongly towards Bush in the last week or two of the election, leading to one poll suggesting that California was a dead heat between Bush and Gore. Obviously, those polls underestimated Gore's growing strength over the final few days.
Now a lot of people are assuming that the polls will kick the same way this time, and that therefore a tie really means Kerry is up by a few percentage points. Click here for an example. However, what if the trend that the polls missed wasn't the late surge towards a Democrat, but the last surge towards the incumbent party? I know this flies in the face of the incumbent rule, but it's still worth keeping in mind.
LAST UPDATE: Will Saletan et al at Slate get the final word:
Sunday, October 31, 2004
The two narratives on Iraq
There is one point in this narrative on which I absolutely agree -- the observable costs of the insurgency in Iraq, measured in either men or material, is nowhere near the cost of what transpired in Vietnam. We're talking about differences by several orders of magnitude.
There is, of course, the question of unobservable costs -- and read Ambassador Peter Galbraith's disturbing account in the Boston Globe on that issue.
More importantly, there is the question of trend -- are things betting better or worse in Iraq over time? And here's where I part company with the above narrative. According to Newsweek International's Rod Nordland, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Michael Hirsh, Secretary of State Colin Powell thinks things are getting worse:
This account is buttressed by Eric Schmitt's New York Times report:
The fact is that just about every official sources expresses a lot of concern about the current situation in Iraq. And I don't see a Rumsfeld-led DoD altering its in-country force levels or its in-country strategy, and I fear that this can lead to disaster.
Again, I have my doubts that a Kerry administration will do a great job -- this National Journal story by Carl Cannon lists the possibilities in a Kerry administration, and what scares the crap out of me is the overwhelming number of