Archive for the ‘Joe Biden’ Category

TPM’s Greg Sargent has the schedules. This speaks volumes about the morale in the two campaigns and who’s got momentum.

Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia

Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia

The final days of the campaign are going to be fought out by the candidates on the ground in Bush states, with the exception of Pennsylvania – which McCain needs to reach 270 votes, and the four states (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware and Illinois) where the candidates go to cast their ballot and watch the results come in. This has been the dynamic of the campaign for much of the final weeks. If somebody had told me four years ago that this year would come down to a handful of what were reliably Republican states for years, in some cases decades, I wouldn’t have believed it.


This is a look at the race in the battleground states during the last week before the election.   They will ultimately decide whether Barack Obama or John McCain wins the presidency.  As I have said repeatedly, Obama has more options than McCain to reach the 270-vote threshold to win the race.  There is even a possible scenario where Obama can win the race without Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania – four out of the five biggest swing states up for grabs.   To use a poker analogy, McCain has an inside straight and has no room for error.


The Obama campaign had conceded Arizona months ago on the assumption that it was a lock to vote for McCain.  A series of polls during the final week before the election showed Obama cutting the deficit to single digits within the margin of error, leading to a last-minute blitz in ad spending.  Now, they have forced McCain to play defense in his home state when time and money is running out, which is good for the Obama campaign at this point because it means he has less time and money to spend in more competitive states.

Prediction: McCain wins by 2-5 points.


Multiple polls show Obama leading here.  The McCain campaign publicly insists that they’re competitive here, but in private some are saying the state is gone.  Given that the NRSC has also given up on spending money on behalf of the Republican candidate in this race, it is an implicit concession that the GOP will lose the state up and down the ballot.

Prediction: Obama wins by 4-7 points.

With all due respect to the late Tim Russert, this election will not come down to Florida, Florida, Florida. McCain was ahead for a long time but Obama caught up to him and it is now a tossup. McCain and the Republicans will manage to hang on to it.

Prediction: McCain wins by 1-4 points.


This has been a solidly Republican state for years, but given record numbers of African Americans who are going out to vote and a surprisingly close Senate race between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin, the Obama campaign sees an opening and is spending money on TV time there in hopes of pulling off an unlikely upset.

Prediction: McCain wins by 7-10 points.


This is one of the most reliably Republican states in the country, although they have been known to elect Democrats for congress and governor.  Obama is competitive here in large part because of the Chicago suburbs in northwest Indiana, many of which have large African American populations.  He almost pulled off an upset against Hillary Clinton here, losing the primary only by single digits. It’s given Republicans a scare, but they will hang on to it.

Prediction: McCain wins by 3-6 points.


This is where it all began for Barack Obama’s improbable quest for the presidency, with an upset win over Hillary Clinton 10 months ago.   This was one of only two states that Bush was able to flip in his favor during his 2004 bid.  But Obama’s ground operatin in the state, as well as voter concerns about the economy mean it’s pretty much a lock for him.  Political observers have been skeptical of the McCain campaign’s decision to spend time and money here when most polls indicate the state was not competitive.

Prediction: Obama wins by 8-11 points.


Considered by many political observers to be the bellweather state to watch, since it usually winds up in the winner’s column in every election. There are signs of optimism on the ground for the Democrats but in the end, it will stay in the Republican column.

Prediction: McCain wins by 2-5 points.


Montana has not voted for a Democrat since 1992, and that was largely due to the fact that Ross Perot siphoned off a majority of his votes in the state from President George H.W. Bush. A similar scenario might be in play this year: Ron Paul is on the ballot as the Constitution Party candidate, and you also have to remember Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. In a close race, Paul and Barr could take away enough votes from McCain to play spoiler and tip the state for Obama. Also in Obama’s favor is the fact that the highly popular Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer is up for reelection, and that Republicans failed to find a meaningful challenger to Democratic senator Max Baucus.

Prediction: Obama wins by 1-4 points.

New Hampshire

John McCain has a long history and deep affection for New Hampshire voters, since they were the ones who gave him key victories in the state’s primary in 2000 and 2008.  However, given the Democratic tilt of New England, especially after the 2006 elections when many moderate Northeastern Republicans were ousted by voters, it will be very difficult for McCain to win this state.

Prediction: Obama wins by 6-9 points.

New Mexico
A significant Hispanic population, a popular Democratic governor, and an open Senate seat, all good signs for the Democrats.  This was the other state that flipped from the Democrats to the Republicans in 2004.  The NRSC has given up on its efforts to hold on to the seat of retiring Republican senator Pete Domenici, and the McCain campaign has practically conceded this state already, even if they didn’t state so explicitly.

Prediction: Obama wins by 9-12 points.


Two things working in Obama’s favor: the state’s large Hispanic population and that the urban areas in the southern part of the state (Las Vegas and the suburbs and exurbs) are his strongholds in the state. Kerry narrowly lost here in 2004, but political oddsmakers in Vegas and elsewhere expect an Obama win this time around.

Prediction: Obama wins by 3-6 points.

North Carolina

North Carolina has not voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and they did not get behind native son John Edwards when he was on the ticket four years ago. There are two reasons why this state is competitive now: a large African American population and economic woes in the region. Also helping Obama is a Senate race where the unpopular incumbent is likely to lose, which could help his chances at the top of the ticket. In the end, these are enough to make the state competitive, but not enough to put it in the Obama column.

Prediction: McCain wins by 1-4 points.

North Dakota

This has been another reliably Republican state until late polling showed the spread within single digits, leading to a last-minute ad blitz by the Obama campaign. They’ve elected Democrats to the Senate and the House in the past. It’s going to be close, but Republicans should be able to keep it.

Prediction: McCain wins by 1-4 points.


Two historical facts you will hear over and over again on Election Night: First, this is the state that got George W. Bush reelected four years ago.  Second, no Republican has ever been elected to the White House without carrying Ohio. The state has been hit hard economically, making it a ripe pickup opportunity for the Democrats this year.  Polls give Obama a narrow lead, but McCain can still pull it off, especially if the Joe the Plumber attacks proved effective at raising economic doubts about Obama among undecided voters.

Prediction: McCain wins by 1-4 points.


John McCain’s strategy for victory hinges entirely on winning Pennsylvania, where polls show him trailing Obama by as much as double digits.  The Obama campaign must be feeling pretty good about this state, considering they don’t have any visits planned there between now and Tuesday.   McCain may make his last stand here.  If the networks call this state for Obama, he will have to make up the difference elsewhere, and he has very little room for error.

Prediction: Obama wins by 5-8 points.


This state has been a lock for Republicans since 1964, but Obama’s early organizing and spending efforts have paid off.  Democrats have won three consecutive statewide races (two gubernatorial elections in 2001 and 2005, a Senate seat in 2006) and former governor Mark Warner is a slam dunk to win the Senate seat being vacated by John Warner. When McCain surrogates insult the Washington DC suburbs which account for one third of the population of the state, that’s not going to do them much good.  Expect Virginia to go blue for the first time since another Arizona Republican was the presidential nominee.

Prediction: Obama by 4-7

West Virginia

The blue collar states in the Appalachia region were considered Obama’s big geographic weak spot during the primaries against Hillary Clinton. But despite having two Democratic senators and a Democratic governor, the rural socially conservative West Virginia tilts to the GOP. Once the race became about the economy, the polls tightened again here, as in the rest of the country.

Prediction: McCain wins by 1-4 points.

If my predictions are correct, this is what the map will look like once the dust clears:

Barack Obama – 294
John McCain – 244
Percentage Difference – 49-44
Popular Vote Difference – 6 million

The state that puts Obama past 270 is an interesting question this year because of the number of reliably Republican states Obama has made competitive. If Obama wins North Carolina and Virginia, it will be a relatively early election night because those two states combined are worth 28 votes, one more than Florida. If Obama manages to pull off an upset in an early state on the East Coast (Georgia, Indiana), then it will be game over very quickly, potentially by midnight Eastern time once the numbers for Midwestern states start coming in.

Based on my projections, my sense is that the evening progresses and states on the East Coast and Midwest begin falling in line, it will be a state from the mountain West that puts him over the top. My prediction is it will be Colorado or New Mexico.

538 The total number of votes in the Electoral College.

270 The number of votes in the Electoral College needed to win the White House.

72 – John McCain’s age. If elected, he would be the oldest first term president in American history.

65 – Joe Biden’s age.

47 – Barack Obama’s age.

44 – Sarah Palin’s age.

9The number of candidates who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.

11 The number of candidates who ran for the Republican presidential nomination.

43 The number of men who have been President of the United States.

46 The number of men who have been Vice President of the United States.

14 The number of vice presidents who have become president.

0 – The number of women and African Americans who have been President or Vice President of the United States.

41 The number of states that lost jobs during the month of September.

11 The percentage of people who think the country is going in the right direction, according to a recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times.

15The approval rating of Congress in a recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times.

22 President George W. Bush’s approval rating in recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times.

435 The number of members in the House of Representatives. All of them are up for re-election.

34 The number of senators up for re-election.

60 The number of senators necessary to break a filibuster.

9 The number of Senate seats Democrats need to win on Election Day to reach a 60-seat filibuster-proof supermajority.

150,000The amount of money the Republican National Committee spent on shopping for clothes for Sarah Palin and her family after she was chosen to be John McCain’s running mate.

150,000,000The record amount of money the Obama campaign raised during the month of September.

134,000,000The amount of money the Obama campaign had at its disposal to spend during the final month of the election.

640,000,000The amount of money raised by the Obama campaign.

360,000,000The amount of money raised by the McCain campaign.

84,000,000The amount of money from public financing John McCain could spend during the last two months of the campaign after securing his party’s presidential nomination.

4,191The number of U.S. military casualties killed in Iraq since 2003.

554The number of U.S. military casualties killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

537 The number of votes that decided who won Florida and the 2000 presidential election.

123,535,883The number of people who voted in the 2004 presidential election.

19,549,291The number of ballots cast during early voting in the 2008 election.

Note: All statistics are updated as of Friday, October 31.

Saturday Night Live has a little fun at Joe Biden and John Murtha’s expense.

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Following the example set by Tina Fey’s devastating mockery of the Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric, Biden’s SNL impersonator Jason Sudeikis uses Biden’s own words during the skit.

Ken Vogel has this interesting story on what records or other relevant information the four major candidates (McCain, Obama, Palin and Biden) are not releasing to the public.

So the big event came and went, and nearly 70 million people tuned in, second only to the Reagan-Carter debate in 1980.

The bar was not very high for Palin following the disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, so even showing up and being able to say a complete sentence would have made the debate a success for her. She didn’t make any major gaffes that came anywhere close to the train wreck spectacle that the Couric clips did. She was very folksy in her mannerisms and language (“Say it ain’t so, Joe”) which I think helped her to connect more directly with the audiences watching on TV in a way that they could relate to her. Thematically, she sounded most comfortable talking about energy.

Some liberal bloggers were alleging that Palin was reading off cheat sheets or prepared notes. Both candidates had a notebook to write on the podium. While she definitely looked down at times like she was reading from prepared text, the truth is not so sinister.

When I took the GRE to apply for grad schools, you are given several blank pages of paper. Before the test begins, you are allowed to write down mathematical formulas and the outlines for the essay questions so you can have them handy and not waste any time during the test itself. My assumption is that something similar happened here: Palin wrote down several prepared responses during the course of the debate and read off of her notes when she had to.

When the focus shifted to foreign policy in the second half, Joe Biden turned on the jets and never looked back. Given years of experience on the Foreign Relations Committee, he has a near encyclopedic understanding of every major issue in American foreign policy. He sounded confident, authoritative without coming off as condescending to Palin and the audience, and based on my impression, did not appear to hesitate in responding to any topic.

Most post-debate polls and analysis declared Biden the winner, and I agree. He looked and sounded like a President, Vice President, or Secretary of State (he was rumored to be on the shortlist for this job if John Kerry had won in 2004). While Palin showed she had clearly prepared and learned from her interview experiences and was able to connect more on an emotional level than Biden (except for when he choked up) and snuck in a few jabs at Barack Obama, she was essentially running the same play over and over again. It was substance without depth, and it became blatantly obvious as the debate progressed when you compared Biden’s responses on some questions to hers.

On to McCain-Obama Round 2 on Tuesday…

This time with her Vice Presidential Questions series, which are pretty timely given the high level of interest in the VP debate on Thursday night.

Couric asks both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin for their views on Roe v. Wade. Biden gives a pretty standard answer in defending it, and his disagreement of a Supreme Court decision striking down a provision in the Violence Against Women Act, a bill he wrote.

Couric and Palin make news (again) on two points in discussing the Roe v. Wade issue. First: Palin says that she believes there is an inherent right to privacy in the constitution, which is the fundamental underpinning of the Roe v. Wade decision and is a judicial interpretation or loophole many conservatives have railed against since 1973.

Second: as reported in the Politico a few days ago, it appears (based on the transcript, no video online yet) that Palin was unable to name another Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade, or at best handled it in the same way that she answered Couric’s question about what newspapers she reads.

Couric also asked them for their views on separation of church and state. Neither response was particularly newsworthy.

Update: Ben Smith at Politico has link to video.

Take it away, Senator McCaskill….

Of Biden, McCaskill said, he “has a tendency to talk forever and sometimes say things that are kind of stupid.”

Asked to elaborate on fears she has about Biden’s penchant for gaffes, McCaskill tried to put the best light on her remarks.

“He a regular guy and … he doesn’t parse his words and he’s not hyper-careful,” she said. “He’s very authentic,” McCaskill added, before seeming to regret her own candor. “I was probably having a Joe Biden moment myself,” she said of her initial remarks.

There are roughly just over 24 hours to go until the vice presidential debate between Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin. The VP debate usually does not get as much attention as the ones involving the presidential candidates, but this year could be an exception. Also keep in mind that the most famous debate zinger in political history (“You’re no Jack Kennedy”) happened during the VP debate. Here’s a look at the two candidates:

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has captured the attention of the political world, in large part due to a well-received convention speech and extremely limited access to the press. But her poll numbers and public image have taken a turn for the worse throughout the month of September, hitting what could be a low point after her interview with Katie Couric, which has gone viral on the Internet and led to a brutal Saturday Night Live parody. What makes the parody stand out is the fact that Tina Fey used Sarah Palin’s response almost verbatim from the interview.

As I said before, the only upside to that interview was that the bar has been lowered as much as humanly possible for Palin going into the debate. However, political journalists have been going over her past debate footage and the general consensus is that while she might not be as knowledgable or experienced as some of her opponents, she can hold her own and score a point.

If she can make an eloquent but forceful case against Barack Obama, and not make any major gaffes or repeat lines from the stump speech that have been factchecked repeatedly and proven inaccurate (i.e. her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere), then her surrogates and the press will be able to say she held her own against Joe Biden for 90 minutes and declare her the winner.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden has two personal habits he must overcome if he wants to win the debate.

First: Senators are notoriously longwinded, and Biden is no exception. I remember when I was covering the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings for CNN that at one point Biden used his entire 25 minute round of Q and A to vent (what it was about I don’t remember) without asking Alito a single question.

But for all his ego and his love of hearing himself speak, Biden is a sharp man with decades of experience in the U.S. Senate with a profound understanding of many domestic and international issues. He was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, and is currently the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The trick for him I suspect, will be to keep his answers short and to the point within the parameters of the debate format. If he gives longwinded responses or goes off on too many tangents, he may lose the audience.

Brevity is the soul of wit, as the saying goes. Biden had what has so far been the most memorable zinger of the 2008 campaign cycle when he hit Rudy Giuliani during a Democratic debate: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11.” If he can keep it simple and to the point, without coming off as rude or condescending, it will be a good debate for him.

Second: Biden is notorious for being blunt in his manner and delivery, on the stump, during interviews, or debating in the Senate. This could be a problem for two reasons. First is his well-known propensity for making gaffes (like his recent claim of Franklin Roosevelt making a televised address after the Great Depression hit in 1929) or going off message (criticizing an Obama campaign ad attacking John McCain and then having to reverse himself later).

The second problem is he has a bit of a temper, which I’ve seen and heard firsthand. During the 2004 campaign, he was a top foreign policy surrogate for John Kerry, and during a campaign conference call I remember hearing his voice get progressively angrier and louder as his criticism of George W. Bush grew more intense. While covering contentious Senate hearings where Biden is involved, I’ve noticed he can show flashes of his intensity or temper from time to time. If he and his staffers can keep Angry Joe under control during the debate, he’ll be fine.

Some food for thought Thursday night: A pre-debate poll by Marist College shows that voters expect Biden to win the debate and be more informed, but they also expect to find Palin to be more likable. Their favorable/unfavorable ratings in the poll are roughly similar, but it’s necessary to point out that Palin’s have been on the way down for the past few weeks.

Finally, the New York Times wrote articles profiling Biden and Palin’s debate history and style. I highly recommend both of them.