Monthly Archives: November 2008

Inside Tiger stuff

A minor effect of Obama’s win is that the country will have the first Princetonian first lady, Michelle Obama, class of 1985. As a Princetonian I’m very proud of that, and I do think the very presence of Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama in the White House will have an enormous impact on the country and its image in the world.

But I’m also ashamed of Ralph Nader, Princeton class of 1955. When I was at Princeton in the ’70s, Nader was probably the most admired Princeton alumnus for me and my friends. He had, after all, largely created the consumer movement, and had made corporations and government far more accountable than they had any desire to be. His role in the 2000 election was disastrous, and I thought so at the time. Now he has descended further into the muck with his post-election comments this year questioning whether president-elect Obama will be Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom. What a disgrace.


There are so many emotions flooding through me tonight, with the great — even if long expected — news that Barack Obama is president-elect. He’s the right man for a crucial time for our country. His talents are extraordinary, and his race certainly isn’t the most remarkable thing about Obama. But the most visibly momentous aspect of Obama’s election is certainly his race. It would have been unthinkable that a black man could become president a short while ago. I have some friends, in fact, who were convinced a few months ago that it couldn’t happen.

The only sadness I have on this great night is that neither of my parents survived to see it. Both of them devoted a good portion of their life — at great personal cost — to fighting injustice and inequality. My father died in 1990 and my mother in 1994. I have no doubt that neither would believe that less than 20 years later a young black man from their own city, Chicago, would be elected president.

I equally have no doubt that both of them would have thrown themselves heart and soul into the Obama campaign. They’d worked hard for Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, and that achievement was remarkable at that time. How it pales in comparison to tonight.

Many people have equally personal reflections on tonight’s historic achievement. One of the most moving moments in the coverage I saw tonight was the civil rights great John Lewis on MSNBC:

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A chart to stop the worrying

If there are still nervous Obama supporters out there, Sam Wang at Princeton has the perfect tonic.

His bias analysis enable you to discount whatever worries you may have — Bradley effect, impact of voter suppression, whatever — into an electoral vote calculation. So if you believe the latest polls are completely accurate, Wang’s calculation is that Obama will end up with 352 electoral votes. If your a complete worrier, and you think the polls are overstating Obama’s lead by 5 per cent, then he’ll end up with 278 — still enough to win.

There is a lot more interesting statistical stuff at Wang’s site.

No complacency

I’ve been crowing about an Obama victory for some time. But I’m not complacent. I went again today to my local Obama office to do phone bank calls. Last time I went, a few weeks ago, the office on Adeline Street in Berkeley was filled and busy. Today, when every poll and pundit is forecasting an easy Obama win? The main office was so packed that they opened an overflow office down the street. That in turn was so crowded they opened a second overflow office in the pizzeria down the street. Wow.

I made calls to Virginia to GOTV (get out the vote). Very heartening experience all round. Nice Virginian bit of trivia. One of my calls was to Robert Lee. Quite a name for a Virginian.

My prediction

Just for my own record, I’m plumping for Obama to win 349 electoral votes to McCain’s 189. Obama will win the Kerry states plus Ohio, Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Florida and Missouri. I wavered for a while about Indiana, Montana and North Carolina (which would bring Obama to 378), but I wanted to be conservative in my picks.

As for the Senate, I think the Democrats will end up with 59 seats. I’m not terribly bothered, as someone I met the other day, that this will mean that the odious Joe Lieberman will have the crucial 60th vote. The Democrats are going to kick Lieberman into another state, if he doesn’t leap to the Republicans before they have a chance. There may well be Republicans the administration can pick off on various issues if they need to get to 60.

Incidentally, the always interesting Kevin Drum has a valuable observation:

The upshot is that both parties get moved to the right. Most of the Democratic pickups will be in centrist states and districts, which will move the Democratic caucus moderately toward the center. At the same time, it will remove these centrist states and districts from the Republican side, which will make the GOP caucus not just smaller, but even more conservative than it is now.

It also means, as a number of others have observed, is that the Republicans will be reduced to a regional party. Outside the South, Republicans will be few and far between. That’s not a great platform for returning to national power.