Is Dem Turnout So High Because They Like Us … Or Because We’re Spending Money?

This is a question I’ve been pondering for about a week. We know that, in just about every state–including many bright red ones–Democratic turnout for the primaries has dwarfed Republican turnout. Nevertheless, national head-to-head polls still show a fairly even race, particularly when polling McCain against either Hillary or Obama. So what does the big turnout tell us? Some possibilities are:

  • The national polls are wrong, and either Democratic candidate would have, in reality, a much larger lead on McCain or any other Republican
  • Democrats and anti-Bush independents and Republicans are just so determined to get someone better, they’re turning out in larger numbers
  • Democrats are spending more money on every kind of campaign expenditure–ads, ground game, calls, candidate appearances–than Republicans, which has resulted in higher turnout
  • Democrats are finally building grassroots support in every state, which is resulting in greater turnout

These aren’t mutually exclusive. It could be the money invested in offices and local campaign staff is resulting in the grassroots networks that will build turnout, and that while this doesn’t show in national polls, yet, it will lead to greater support. And undoubtedly, the anti-Bush energy is real, but so is the pro-great candidates (both of them) energy.

Check out the analysis below. But I’m going to make a really rough guesstimate that about 5% of our increased turnout stems from enthusiasm for Democrats, whereas we’re getting about 5-10% greater turnout because we’re spending money in states. I consider this post an outtamyarse speculation at this point, but I’d love your opinion.

Candidate Spending

Here’s the candidate fundraising and spending through the end of last year.

Candidate Total Raised Total Spent COH Debt
Clinton $118,301,658 $80,353,784 $37,947,874 $4,987,425
Obama $103,802,535 $85,176,287 $18,626,248 $792,681
Edwards $44,259,384 $36,468,927 $7,792,217 $9,400,863
Dem Total $266,363,577 $201,998,998 $64,366,339 $15,180,969
Giuliani $60,238,856 $48,476,576 $12,776,812 $1,166,509
Huckabee $9,003,808 $7,107,362 $1,896,445 $97,676
McCain $40,383,022 $37,907,049 $2,948,427 $4,516,030
Paul $28,219,349 $20,379,929 $7,839,420 $0
Romney $90,076,401 $87,644,953 $2,431,447 $35,350,000
Thompson $21,812,644 $19,672,377 $2,140,266 $404,221
  $249,734,080 $221,188,246 $30,032,817 $41,534,436

The top three Democrats had actually spent less than the top five Republicans through the end of last year (though eventual losers Giuliani, Paul, and Thompson account for a huge chunk of that; and Hillary and Obama spent close to what Romney spent). But the Democrats had a lot more cash-on-hand left to spend after Iowa and New Hampshire–almost 10 times as much of the viable Republicans. And while I have seen estimates for how much the Republicans raised in January, we know that Obama and Hillary, between them, raised more than $40 million, with an added $15 million since Super Tuesday (though no one is saying how much of both these figures represent general election funds).

These numbers are really just rough estimates. But they suggest that Hillary and Obama have probably spent at least three times as much in all post-New Hampshire states as the Republicans, and possibly quite a bit more.

There are just two exceptions. We know that McCain and Romney spent a lot in MI, where Hillary and Obama spent nothing. And all McCain, Romey, and Giuliani spent a lot in FL, where Hillary and Obama spent nothing (see, I knew I could make the clusterfucks useful somehow).

Turnout percentages

Here’s the percentage of total turnout we’re getting compared to 2004. In this table, I’m comparing the Democratic percentage of total turnout from the 2004 presidential election against the percentage of total primary turnout this year.

  2004 Dem % 2008 Dem % Difference Democratic Republican
AL 37% 48.91% 11.91% 539,743 563,822
AK 36% 39.81% 3.81% 8,600 13,000
AZ 44% 45.29% 1.29% 397,642 480,351
AR 45% 57.68% 12.68% 298,338 218,897
CA 54% 63.90% 9.90% 4,059,731 2,293,212
CO 47% 68.09% 21.09% 119,184 55,845
CT 54% 70.01% 16.01% 350,595 150,159
DE 53% 65.72% 12.72% 95,979 50,062
FL 47% 46.73% -0.27% 1,684,390 1,920,350
GA 41% 52.30% 11.30% 1,046,485 954,462
IL 55% 69.36% 14.36% 2,003,800 885,009
IA 49% 65.93% 16.93% 220,588 114,000
KS 37% 65.73% 28.73% 36,695 19,133
LA 42% 69.61% 27.61% 357,547 156,101
MA 62% 71.49% 9.49% 1,244,133 496,171
MI 51% 40.64% -10.36% 593,837 867,271
MN 51% 77.34% 26.34% 212,251 62,200
MO 46% 58.39% 12.39% 820,453 584,618
NV 48% 72.50% 24.50% 116,000 44,000
NH 50% 54.90% 4.90% 284,104 233,381
NJ 53% 66.58% 13.58% 1,109,369 556,855
NY 59% 74.06% 15.06% 1,721,262 602,747
ND 36% 65.93% 29.93% 18,856 9,743
OK 34% 54.88% 20.88% 401,230 329,843
SC 41% 54.49% 13.49% 530,322 442,918
TN 43% 52.86% 9.86% 614,096 547,614
UT 26% 30.17% 4.17% 122,617 283,759

Several things are clear. In general, we’re outperforming our 2004 percentages in primaries by 10-17% (we’re outperforming in caucuses by much more). There are some key exceptions:

  • In the native or near-native son states of Arizona and Utah we’re outperforming by just 1-4%
  • In Alaska and New Hampshire, we’re out-performing our 2004 percentages by 4-5%
  • In the great clusterfuck of Michigan, we under-performed by 10% (some of this may be attributed to native son support for Romney)
  • In the moderate clusterfuck of Florida, we just barely (less than 1%) underperformed

Let’s start with Alaska and New Hampshire. I suspect they’re both states in which Democratic and Republican spending was about even–that is, lots for New Hampshire, particularly with McCain focusing on it by himself for several months, and no spending in Alaska. This suggests that roughly 4-5% of our turnout comes from excitement about Democrats, independent of any spending we’re doing. The results in California (which shows us out-performing in the low end of the range) may support that, too. Since it’s so big and so expensive, there were few if any state wide ads.

The Florida results also seem to support this general estimate. If you assume the Republicans got 5% greater turnout because they were spending money; but we got 5% greater turnout because of the excitement surrounding Democrats this year, the results would be a wash, which is, indeed, what we got.

You might explain the Michigan turnout by a few percentage points support for native son Romney, the 5% for the spending Republicans were doing, and roughly 4% because the election was purportedly meaningless (there may be a bit attributable to cross-over voting).

One more thing. The fact that Democrats are out-performing by even higher margins in caucus states, particularly in dark red states like Kansas and Nebraska, may mean that grassroots organization is having a bigger effect than money. But that’d primarily be true for Obama, since almost all the people who would make the difference between a primary and a caucus result seem to be caucusing for Obama.

Now, it’s unclear whether this is showing up in polls. Against almost any Republican, either Hillary or Obama had been leading by about 5% or more. That’s not true of McCain, who currently ties Hillary in head-to-head polls (though Obama is pulling out a margin in head-to-heads). So you might think the 5% or so of turnout that stems from excitement comes from more people being excited about our top candidates than the top Republican candidates. Though even yesterday’s turnout, at least for Louisiana (I haven’t found good turnout numbers for Washington yet) beat the pattern, even though there were a lot of voters coming out to support a Huckabee upset.

Finally, here’s another question. I think we can assume at least some of our greater turnout comes from the money we’re spending. But will our campaigning in these states now have benefits come November? That is, can we expect to retain some of this bump for the general election?

119 replies
  1. Loo Hoo. says:

    Hell, even Colin Powell may vote for a democrat!

    People are disgusted, and I don’t see any way the republicans can win this one. McCain is warming up to Rove, though.

  2. freepatriot says:

    you want the short answer

    george bush sucks

    george bush sucks really bad

    and America’s voters KNOW THIS

    the repuglitards are about to learn a vicious lesson in politics

    once you’re dead, you stay dead

    mccain isn’t enjoying a “revitalization”

    he’s pulling the rest of his party down tyo his own FLATLINING level

  3. mamayaga says:

    I think the mystery is why McCain is polling so high nationally, given the wild enthusiasm for both candidates among Dem partisans and the chilliness toward McCain among Repugs. One possible reason may be that the national polls are using an outdated sampling model, undercounting the young people and women turning out in such large numbers in the primaries. Of course, when one Dem candidate inevitably loses, the disappointed demographic may not turn out in such great numbers in November.

    Another possibility for McCain’s national competitiveness could be just plain ol’ racism and sexism, which certainly still exists as a strong undercurrent in this country (See this from the Rude Pundit).

    • phred says:

      You raise a good point about the accuracy of the polling… I’ve been wondering how much of an effect Caller ID has on the polling sample? I screen my calls because I got tired of the incessant interruptions by: “unknown caller”, “out-of-area”, “private caller”, and numbers that just come up as 800 or 866 numbers. If a company doesn’t tell me who they are, I don’t pick up. I wonder how polling companies identify themselves and whether people getting the calls don’t pick up.

      • freepatriot says:

        I’ve been wondering how much of an effect Caller ID has on the polling sample?

        cell phones have an even greater effect

        I got friends who have never had a hard-wired phone, and they have Never participated in a phone poll

        between the people who never get polled,and the people who screen their calls (I don’t bother to) modern phone polls are about as useless as an internets poll

        I can’t understand why people still care about polls

        other than measuring how wrong the media is, polls serve no purpose

        wanna see something that DOES serve a purpose ???

        go nchech the comparative voter totals in that list

        Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri

        think about that

        • phred says:

          Good point about cell phones, I hadn’t thought of that. That’s going to skew the polling sample to an older age bracket. I suspect us “screeners” probably also skew the sample to an older age bracket. I wonder, if one looks at the poll numbers for the over 50 set (just as an example, no idea what the age threshold for cells and screeners would be), if those numbers are similar to the “national” polls.

          • bmaz says:

            Cells are a HUGE factor in this polling discussion. The polling firms can’t deal with them within their constructs yet and there is the issue of not being able to just ring people up out of the blue on them, because it may cost the person money for the call. Monkeywrenches all kinds of stuff I should think. I have a land line, but can go weeks without using it other than the fax machine. People who want or need me call my cell. Even if the land line phone is right by my hand, there is no way I answer any call on it, from anybody, much less “unknown”, unless I specifically see some reason to. So the cell phone phenomenon is not just with young people, because I sure as hell, and quite unfortunately, am not young anymore.

            • phred says:

              That’s why I should have chosen a higher age limit. As an anecdotal example, when I made some phone calls for MoveOn leading up to the 2006 elections, most of the people who actually picked up the phone were elderly (so I should have used a cut off maybe of 70 or 75). I know for a fact my folks do not screen their calls (and don’t have cell phones). So I wonder whether national polls have an age bias.

            • emptywheel says:

              Well, except the good pollsters at the state levels and SUSA are still able to call this.

              The biggest exception is that the Field poll did very poorly in CA, when it usually polls right on the money. But SUSA remains able to poll with great accuracy.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s part of why I wanted to see the turnout numbers compared to past performance. If we’re consistently outperforming 5% regardless of money spent (which is what I’m positing here), then it suggests the national screen for likely voter may not be taking into account the women and youth who are turning out this year.

      • Rayne says:

        And yes, I think it’s the women-youth factor that is making a difference — in no small part because of cell phones as mentioned up thread.

        More than a year ago, the installed base of cell phones globally exceeded computer ownership on a 1.25-to-1.00 ratio; how much organization now targets users who do not consume internet or news on a PC, but on their cell phone? It’s also much, much cheaper to do this kind of organizing, too.

      • bmaz says:

        Agreed; and Hispanics and blacks it appears to me are unusually engaged this year and I am not sure that the polling models are dealing with this effectively yet either.

  4. MadDog says:

    Personally, I have great distrust for the methodology used in these nation-wide polls.

    Almost all of the polls shown in the above link use either Registered Voters (RV) or Likely Voters (LV). That means they do not reflect any of the great masses of folks who have shown up for the 1st time at the caucas or primary votes.

    Secondly, and coupled with the first point, the national polls use exceedingly small samples of people (RV and LV) for their “predictiveness”.

    I have little trust in polls that use such small numbers of people, that use only RV or LV folks for their samples, and finally, that cannot or will not explain the methods used to select their sample “voters”.

    Given the consistent failure of these pollsters to accurately predict/poll the outcome of numerous causus/primary votes this election season, I can confidently predict:

    – that the pollsters are wrong wrt to the national polls,
    – that they underestimate the antipathy towards the Repugs nationally
    – and that the MSM will continue to believe and promote these inaccurate polls until the MSM is proved “astonishingly” wrong once again come November 2008.

  5. freepatriot says:

    mccain is overpolling because the polling companies are OVERESTIMATING the number of repuglitards in the world

    you have to be really stubborn and morally bankrupt to be a repuglitard these days

    I watched them come in to my garage

    democrats walked in proudly and asked for their ballots

    repuglitards mostly crept in quietly, and whispered their ballot choice

    at least the more intelligent repuglitards did

  6. Loo Hoo. says:

    Stolen from cinnamonape, the evangelicals might go for Obama.

    Maybe NPR has finally gotten a dose of antiseptic sunshine?

    There was an interesting report on “Morning Edition” about how evangelicals are “not following their leaders” and may actually turn around and vote for Obama rather than McCain because the “litmus test” issues have sudeenly become less important than fiscal responsibility, the economy, antagonism against the war in Iraq, outrage against torture, etc.

  7. ThingsComeUndone says:

    I wonder how the GOP is reacting or not reacting to these turnout numbers? If Karl takes them seriously then he has to steal more votes or declare martial law for the GOP to win. Or Karl could be looking at the ”math ” again and be in denial.
    A few changes in voting percentages in the right states and we will have a landslide.
    The growing perception that their is no way in hell the GOP can win will keep GOPers home on election day.

    • freepatriot says:

      The growing perception that their is no way in hell the GOP can win will keep GOPers home on election day.

      I’ve heard even better news

      the repuglitards are supposedly SO PISSED about mccain’s nomination that they’re going to stay home in November to PURPOSELY punish their own party

      I don’t believe a fucking word that a repuglitard says, so I’m not counting on this happening

      and we’re gonna bury these criminal fuckers even if it isn’t true

    • emptywheel says:

      If we assume we get 5% more than in 2004, that would give us the following additional states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. Which would, indeed, be a blowout.

      I think that’s particularly doable since in CO and VA we’ll have the winning Senator on our ticket. Arkansas, obviously, is more likely if Hillary is the nominee.

      Arizona would be close, but not with McCain on the ballot. And North Carolina is close, though we don’t yet have a top tier candidate running against Liddy Dole.

  8. bmaz says:

    I dunno; but since we are talking in wild arsed guesses, here are my impressions. I don’t think it is advertising and the money spent on it, by any of the parties or entities; at least not much and not to date. I don’t think it is the effect of the cable news horserace horse manure. I think that we junkies give that a lot more focus than it really may be entitled in the greater whole. Those are things that I don’t think are big factors.

    As to what I do think it is. It seems to me that almost every person in the country, irrespective of their party or other stripes, has figured out that this country is in a world of hurt. It may be the war, it may be the economy, it may be privacy, it may be education; it may be all of the above, or none of the above specifically but as an amorphous whole. But they have a sense that things are bad and something needs to be done, even if they don’t really know why or what. And, at least for the time being, young people are interested and participating. I think part of it is the internet; but not the way we think it is. We think of the internet in terms of the netroots and blogosphere; but, believe it or not, we are effective primarily as lobbyists, not as the participatory home and voice of the masses. When I say internet here, I am talking more about the ability of the average person to get many different sources of news in general. A person in Arizona doesn’t have to rely on the local paper and local news, they have access to the New York Times, Washington Post, teh Google, etc. and every site they go to have freaking Google ads that they subliminally see at a minimum. All of this is starting to feed into political ground games, although it is a bit scattershot yet.

    I think the much discussed “caucus effect” is pretty much attributable to two things: young people crashing the party and expensive and organized operations by the well funded candidates; for this reason i tend to discount them as a true barometer somewhat as opposed to the good old who and how many are showing up at the polls factor. As to the last question in the post; yes, I think it will carry over to November, because I don’t think all of our problems are going to fix themselves in between now and then. Make no mistake however, once people feel okay again, they will disappear back into the woodwork unless some major shift in things occurs.

    Freepatriot @2 – Good to see you; don’t be such a stranger. Where has Neil been lately?

    • freepatriot says:

      hi bmaz

      I’m not sure I could be any stranger …

      how bout them GNTS (you guys really know how to have a superbowl n stuff)

      between the script problems I have on my computer, an the constant rain we had for amonth, an the election,an the springtime weather that just broke out here, I ain’t been in the tubes much lately

      but I got the laptop back, so the script problems are avoidable for a while, the rain stopped (I can’t get phone service when it rains, go figure), and these people are really LATE (damn relatives), so I got a little time

      so free patriotis back on the innertubes

      and those turnout numbers have put a permenant smile on my face lately

      HI everybody

      • BlueStateRedHead says:

        Welcome back and while you were away they got named the Gents. Some of us are in football withdrawal. The BlueBayState has turned it mind and especially hearts to that other team who,if I understand the custom here, play-the-sport-that shall not be named.

        • emptywheel says:

          Oh, other sports can be named. I jsut won’t likely post on it or do a trash talk thread. Turning teh teevee off for the (ha! it’s 3 degrees here) summer.

    • BlueStateRedHead says:

      Bmaz, have you recovered from your election day ordeal? What will happen to the provisional votes? Has there been a public reaction? Will any good come of this beside your getting an new license? Can AZ get the F**ing law changed; after all some of the turned away who own the foreign import cars may actually have wanted to vote Republican.

  9. allan says:

    Does Marcy ever sleep?

    Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy should receive at least a little credit,
    especially in the red states.

  10. Rayne says:

    There’s another wrinkle in this mix. What states may have had ballot initiatives at the same time as the primary? Florida had a tax initiative, for example, suggesting to me that Dem turn-out might have been worse and more like MI’s clusterfuck had there not been a ballot initiative.

    Besides Florida, are you folks aware of any other states with ballot initiatives on the primary ballot?

  11. masaccio says:

    I think a big part of the increase is simply due to the fact that primary season isn’t over by the time it hit in a whole bunch of states. I don’t ever remember voting in a primary when my vote or the results in Tennessee mattered. I think this is especially important in caucus states, where a few votes really matter. Look at the turnout in Alaska: 8600 for the good guys. A couple of hundred more or less could make a real difference. That may be the internet margin, all by itself.

    And look, bmaz, how fortunate you are to get the chance to be not young anymore.

    • emptywheel says:

      Sure. But that doesn’t explain why the turnout would be greater than in a Presidential. For the really Republican states, I guess, you coudl say that the turnout is so much bigger because a Democratic vote in this year’s SC primary, to take one example, is going to be much more valuable than a Dem vote in this year’s presidential (since the state will go to the GOP).

      But that doesn’t explain the greater turnout for MO or CO or WA or MN, where votes always count to try to win a purple state.

  12. Minnesotachuck says:

    FP @ 12:

    I think the evangelical turn-out will be determined by 1) who the Dems nominate for prez; and 2) who the Goopers nominate for VP (assuming McCain goes on to win the prez nomination. As I see it the least optimistic scenario for the Dems pits Clinton/some-other-white-northern-whoever against McCain/Huckabee.

  13. WilliamOckham says:

    I question the notion that the huge increases in turnout are incompatible with the national poll numbers. The national polls ask a meaningless hypothetical question in an attempt to gauge the state of the electorate. Most of the people covered by the national polls (likely voters or registered voters) aren’t actually confronted with a meaningful decision. The depth of the opinion expressed is quite shallow. In general, people have a favorable opinion of John McCain (due mostly to the fawning press he has earned by working the press corps for years). His performance in current national polls bears little relationship to the eventual outcome of the election (even if he gets the same result, it won’t be because everybody’s opinion has stayed the same). Answering a pollster’s question is a low effort exercise with corresponding low value.

    Primary voters, on the other hand, are making a real choice with consequences. It’s not surprising that the results vary. The contrast with caucus-goers is even more striking. Participating in a caucus takes a much deeper commitment than answering a phone call in your own home.

    In the end, the national election result will not look anything like any of the above. Rather, it will be the result of a complex interplay of the campaign.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agreed on all counts.

      Though at this point, pollsters are polling a majority of people who have already had an oppotunity to make a meaningful. And in some states, primary turnout almost approaches what we can expect from the general.

  14. AZ Matt says:

    No doubt spending the money helps but then you need to ask yourself – where is all the money coming from and why. I beleive Democrats across the spectrum are so angry why Bush and his cronies, his policies(especially the war) and the results of those policies, that they were paying attention all along. And given the fact the the race is wide open then and now, and really good people running, and candidates talking about issues that matter in an adult way they are ready to participate. Advertising is secondary. People know campaigning takes money and they are willing to fund Dems as long as they believe they can win the White House.

  15. lllphd says:

    this has been an interest of mine all week, as just the basic NUMBERS of votes coming across the TV screens were pretty impressive, in many cases dems 3X the repug turnout.

    but narrowing down the meaning/s of that observation is a good exercise.

    first, i’d be careful how much consideration i put into money spent cf. votes achieved, as romney and rudy clearly showed us. on the dem side, however, the money spent and votes achieved appears to be somewhat reflected in the percentages of votes cast, at least in the top three. so that’s of some interest. i’d add here that the percentages edwards got, when considering the near complete media diss he got, are pretty impressive.

    second, associated with the first consideration, it appears repugs outspent dems in total dollars and campaigns, and their turnout STILL does not compare in the overall numbers.

    third, one thing to keep in mind with regard to NH is that, no matter how much money has been spent there by whomever, there is simply a shift in the political profile of that state, a very real and palpable increase in dems that is at least in part of spillover moves from MA. this is my stomping grounds, and i can tell you, this is very much the case; the old libertarian NH diehard is becoming something of a relic.

    fourth, underperformance in FL and MI, to the extent that it was that, was almost certainly affected by the decision not to seat those delegates. i mean, why vote the primary if it won’t matter at the convention? the FL tax initiative i’m sure affected that, so there are mitigating factors, but the delegate seating thing should not be underestimated as an influence.

    fifth, just a brief point to loohoo on the evangelical vote, i agree this could easily swing toward the left in a significant way, especially for the latino voters. moyers interviewed a very charismatic evangelical latino pastor the other night (damn, cannot recall his name), who made a compelling argument for the power of this demographic. his strongest point was that, despite the ‘values’ issues of abortion and gay marriage, there remain the other real values issues of war and poverty, not to mention immigration, which the repugs have just failed miserably on in every way.

    sixth, i am likewise shocked that marcy missed the DEAN strategy influence AND the net influence. not at all trivial, either one of them.

    and last, but not least, the polling issue. on that count, i have several comments. first, please, i beg everyone, do NOT fall into the rove/repug trap of trashing polls because they have erred in the past. this is most definitely a ploy, you can see the history of it emerging since the late 90s, and it has everything to do with the conscious intent of these demons to destroy THE most reliable means – the world over – of spotting a rigged election. exit polls are of course different than these daily predictive polls, but most people don’t make that distinction, and we need to be very careful that we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    that being said, there are most definitely certain statistical problems associated with these annoying daily polls. many of those problems have been touched on already in these comments. first and foremost is the phones; cell phones, caller id, the donotcall list, call blocking, all these narrow the polled populations down to the older generation of voters, which are often more conservative.

    this narrowing is repeated with the whole business of weighting for likely and registered voters, especially the likely voters. many of the folks who showed up to make the dems numbers look so damn good have NEVER voted in their lives. that’s why the youth vote is THE most likely demographic to upset any predictive polls.

    and it’s why, i think, that mccain is polling so well in these particular national polls. none of those polls can in any way account for the HUGE youth and first-time voter effect.

    an aside on the youth point, i find it fascinating that so many youth are showing up for the caucuses, as these do not offer the ease and anonymous trappings of the polling booth. which bodes well for commitment on the part of these participants (which is nowhere to be found on the repug side of this observation).

    so, in sum, i’m just chuckling snarkfully in anticipation of rove’s references this election cycle to THE math. it worked so well for him last time, doncha thin’?

    • emptywheel says:

      One of the reasons I looked at 2007 year end money (aside from its ready availability) was to separate out IA and NH spending from what came afterward. That is, to separate out the states where Romney and McCain, at least, were matching or exceeding Dem spending, with those where they almost certainly weren’t. So when you say this:

      second, associated with the first consideration, it appears repugs outspent dems in total dollars and campaigns, and their turnout STILL does not compare in the overall numbers.

      Remember that that’s only really true in IA, not in subsequent states.

      And as for forgetting Dean, I didn’t so much forget as not look at ways to measure it. The question is, how much of turnout is real (that is, will remain in the general, assuming we spend the same as the GOP in the general) and how much is due to spending.

      I do think Dean’s 50 state strategy must result in some of that 5% enthusiasm amount, and it almost certainly relates to the huge caucus turnout. It’s just not clear how to measure the caucus effect on the general, though.

      • lllphd says:

        ah, sure; missed the IA distinction.

        there is a point, tho, where the ability to measure actual numbers can get so picayune angelsontheheadofapin gazing that it misses the big picture, which in this case clearly covers so many variables, often interacting ones, it nearly boggles the mind. and many of those interacting variables simply cannot be interpreted, either substantively or statistically.

        still, it’s a good exercise to try to determine how much money to spend in GOP strongholds, etc. and of course, that’s influenced as well by whether or not there will be congressional or senate seats in contention. i am mighty comforted knowing dean is running this show. mighty comforted.

        and still mighty delighted to think about rove and HIS math!

        • emptywheel says:

          Agree–We don’t have the numbers (and I certainly don’t have the training) to really assess what is going on. I was just trying to point to gross trends.

    • lllphd says:

      erm, rayne, that survey is almost TWO years old, and the increase of cell phones since then is close to astronomical.

      so your theory about the cell phone problem, i think, still holds.

      i actually had some exchange with zogby on a couple of these issues in 04, and he said then they were working on a way to obtain reliability and validity from internet polls. clearly that has not been an easy problem to solve; i don’t think it can, as you just will not get a random sample. but then, you aren’t now, either.

      on the zogby exchange, i was stunned at his response to my query about weighting exit poll results with ‘real’ vote count results; “oh, it’s been done that way for years.” he never gave me anything that resembled a good statistical justification. and i’m still not convinced that this is the way election polling for UN observations are done around the world.

      this is a media contamination, and it needs to be stopped, just as this poisoning of the public’s impression of exit polls needs to be stopped.

  16. emptywheel says:

    Explaining away the MI and FL turnout to clusterfuck status doesn’t work.

    MI matched turnout statewide this year with 2000’s turnout. It was a fairly equivalent year in that the Dem contest was already decided but it was McCain’s last stand against Bush. BUt there was a substantial turnout of cross-over Dem voting for McCain.

    And Florida’s turnout was actually 10% higher than its 2000 and 2004 primaries.

    So it’s not that people stayed home–even in the biggest clusterfuck of all, this was a good turnout year and in FL it was a great turnout year. Yes, FL had a very important initiative on the ballot so the state party did a lot of GOTV. But still–these are still impressive turnout numbers; it’s just that the GOP got more of them (and FWIW, remember that the GOP has taken half of MI’s and FL’s delegates away).

  17. perris says:

    empty wheel, your going to like reading this over at think progress, former navy airman;

    Waterboarding has, unfortunately, become a household word. Back then, we didn’t call it waterboarding — we called it “water torture.”

    and that is the mistake democrats have made, I pointed out we have to stop using the phrase “water boarding”, it’s too benign

    it’s drowning a person and reviving them,it’s giving them the fear of death over and over again

    it’s NOT “water boarding”, it’s water torture, plain and simple

    have a read

  18. WilliamOckham says:

    This article has some good data. Overall, in states with primaries, 27% of voters are participating (which would set a record). That’s still way below the expected general election turnout (55-60%).

  19. BlueStateRedHead says:

    While were are being number junkies. RE Dem delegate count.
    I thought because Josh and Kos told me that while exact numbers differed, the consensus was SuperTuesday left H and B more or less neck and neck in pledged delegates. The I had the unfortunate experience of eating in a restaurant that was almost wall TV with CNN (and in a far corner an Italian soccer game.)

    CNN seem to have started on the assumption that H was leading by 300 ++ P.Ds., that is, in opposition to what I believed the consensus was. As the night went one, they lowered her total as Obama’s went up. It was in a restaurant, so I could see but not hear. I was wondering if they had included her MI/FL delegates to get her there and then took them away? Did any poor soul watch and can they explain?

    • bmaz says:

      CNN i believe was including their own estimates on superdelegates into their figures and that was what you were seeing.

      Final outcome of bmaz’s Voter IDgate is yet to be determined. I went to school with the son of the pretty powerful county recorder/elections commissioner here and am lining up a little hookup to discuss things.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, I think they were making crappy estimates of what would happen in the west. It was fairly clear to me that their minds–and the first headlines for the morning news–were based on the results in the East, even though Obama was expected to win a lot more of the western contests and the caucuses (which reported later). And I’m not sure they accounted for the blowouts Obama managed in the caucus states.

  20. cinnamonape says:

    I suspect that there are a number of factors, but the spending of money is the least of the issue. The biggest is the fact that the national polls are simply based on the wrong predictive models…that is IF those involved in the Democratic primary actually do turn out.

    These same polling agencies have failed Time and Again to accurately predict the Democratic winner, or the numbers they are winning by, to even a reasonable range. The mispredicted the Iowa caucuses, and the nearness of Obama to Clinton in NH [and the Republican winner there as well, so there are issues on the Republican side, too.] South Carolina was off by over 15%, even recording a “surge” by Obama. That’s a massive error. Ditto estimates in Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, well…all of them.

    That might suggest that their sampling methods are wrong. But it’s not just their methods. People are unaware that the pollsters massage their raw data by using their raw sample and adjusting it to some hypothesized “Democrats who are likely to vote because they did the last eection” vs. “Republican who is likely to vote because they did last election” model.

    They use that, plus registration figures (often two or more years old), as well as other schemes to “adjust the data”…which they know is erroneous in actually measuring the population. They problem is that if new registrants, young people, or minorities come out and vote they are going to way off.

    • rapt says:

      Would it be OK if I mentioned again the effect of diebolding on your numbers? You’ve said I think that the mismatch between exit or pre-primary polls and the official tally is due to inaccuracy of the polls, and I’m saying that the mismatch is more likely due to somebody diddling with the voting machines.

      Either? Both?

      • lllphd says:

        please, i beg of you to avoid conflation of exit polls with any other polls. and then to make any comparison at all between polls and diebold effects; that’s talking apples and screwdrivers.

        exit polls, at least as they are conducted in most other countries, and by the UN in election observations, are unbelievably reliable! typically they weigh in within 1% of the count!! that is precisely why they are used as the standard against which to judge an election!

        this is a very serious matter that should NOT be overlooked, nor should it be misunderstood. rove and his henchmen have been actively sullying the exit polls for years for the express purpose of distracting the public from the problems with their rigged machines, be they diebold, es&s, you name it.

        but never forget, in order for their rigging to work effectively, they have to somehow get the polls to be somewhat close. if they’re not at all close, then any shift from the pre-election polling would automatically be suspicious; any discrepancy between results and exit polls would only be suspicious if exit polls are respected, which is why they’ve been trashing them. we really have to work hard to reverse that trend, which is why i’m harping on this matter so viciously! (do forgive)

        take note that if the polls end up being way skewed in favor of the dems, it will make it really really difficult for rove to work THE math. also, with all the new (and woefully belated by years) scrutiny of the machinery, it will be that much harder (tho not impossible) for them to rig some key states, as before, and thereby the whole election.

  21. BlueStateRedHead says:

    I am OT, but we are doing the numbers. Mainers are phoning in their causus results to a sites, from gigantic traffic snarling causcuses.…..iaryId=779

    they are dribbling in, but here is a large bunch. No Kennebunkport as yet.

    I counted three or so more towns for H.
    Obama wins Rockport, carrying 8 delegates to Hillary’s 3.

    Obama takes Fryeburg 67 to 17
    Obama takes York 414 to 225
    Clinton takes Rumford 52 to 37
    Clinton takes Dixfield 16 to 14
    Clinton takes Mexico 27 16* [watch for it, they also have a Paris, founded in 1792, in the middle of the Terror part of the French revolution. I have always wondered why. ]
    Clinton takes Byron 1 to 0
    Obama takes Hanover 6 to 2
    Obama takes Gardiner 129 47 with 2 uncommitted
    Clinton takes Old Orchard Beach 134 to 128
    Obama takes Hampden 179 to 70
    Obama takes Wilton 87 to 30
    Obama takes Cape Elizabeth 550 to 217
    Obama takes Deer Island 6 to 1
    Obama takes Winterport 7 to 4
    Obama takes Machiasport 2 delegates to 1O
    Obama takes Ellsworth 184 to 100
    Obama takes Bristol 7 to 2
    Obama takes Bangor (District 15) 16 to 8
    Obama takes Presque Isle 63 to 60
    Obama takes Stonington 48 to 24

  22. bmaz says:

    TPM reporting Maine caucus turnout is HUGE.

    Clinton reorganizing campaign team.

    Edwards is going to make an endorsement and is negotiating with Clinton and Obama to see who will give up more to get it. This ought to be an interesting little play.

  23. freepatriot says:

    according to TPM, Democratic voters are overwhelming the Maine Caucus

    forget zogby and the rest

    the real polls are going Democratic, in a way that has never been seen

    they’re gonna call this the “George Bush” effect when they discuss this election in the future

    does one man really make that much of a difference???

    george bush destroyed a whole fucking political party

    history ain’t gonna say what george thinks history is gonna say

    • sailmaker says:

      I notice that there is no mention of O’Brian prosecuting Yang’s case against Jerry Lewis, even though the article does make it seem like he, well, not exactly walks on water, but certainly is faster than a speeding bullet. I wonder what happened to make Jerry Lewis’s case go cold??

  24. Loo Hoo. says:

    There’s just no possibility that a candidate for POTUS in 2008 can win by stating that he wants another hundred years of war.

    • freepatriot says:

      hey, keep that to yourself

      (I wont even repeat it)

      don’t go offering the repuglitards free clues

      they’re having a hard time cutting their own throat in this election, and we don’t need to be telling them to use a sharp knife

      john mccain just lost two of three repuglitard primaries, and apparently he only won the third primary cuz they stopped counting ballots once mccain got the lead

      and we don’t want the repuglitards to throw us into that hucklberry patch

      (kinda hard to type that with a straight face)

    • bmaz says:

      Trust me, no one who sees and knows John McCain is going to like him; the problem is the fawning media that prevent people from taking a square look at him. Obama is the flavor de jour in the battle against Clinton; but anyone who thinks this will maintain head to head against McCain in the general is nuts. McCain will be the serious, experienced hand and maverick blah, blah blah; and they will not beat up on the racial dogwhistles against the McCain backers that will be inevitably played (hey they are Goopers, you know its coming) like they did the Clintons. In the first place, McCain and the GOP won’t be attacked like the Clintons have been, nobody is; but, also, the big media are still awfully traditional and awfully white. I don’t like thinking or saying these things, but I think they are there. McCain is a horrid candidate on a lot of fronts, and he is not a likable guy, but the problem will be in getting an unfiltered presentation made to the general public so they can see the obvious for themselves.

  25. BayStateLibrul says:

    Here is my wacky theory.

    Could it be that the country has finally emerged from the nightmare of our collective 9-11 PTSD…
    Perhaps we have concluded that some things are beyond our control, that Bush’s revenge has turned countries against us, and as someone aptly noted “to worry about disasters is to waste precious energy”
    America had a lot of pent up anger. Are we channeling (sp) this anger in the right direction?
    The Republicans are STILL clinging to the fear and the anger motif (notice Romney’s fucking concession speech, McCain’s empty rhetoric, and the dickhead Bush).
    The Dems turnout is a reaction against the status quo…
    I just hope we don’t blow it, and that’s why we need to UNITE now…
    Just a thought…

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        White hats, black hats, a “sacred mission from God”, Kirk Radomski, the confessed steroids dealer, Novitzky, a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service, The Rocket, Brian McNamee, a former Radomski associate and Clemens’s former personal trainer, Clemens’s former teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, former clients of McNamee’s, the George J. Mitchell Report, McNamee’s lawyer, Richard Emery, and finally Rusty the Hardin who says of the IRS Agent, “I can tell you this: If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch.”

        Stay tuned, we got pizzas order for Wednesday.

        • freepatriot says:

          “I can tell you this: If he ever messes with Roger, Roger will eat his lunch.”

          this would be the same “roger” who first denied using steroids by saying “where would I get the needles ???”

          now he admits that he was using B-12 and an illegal lydocain substance, thru a syringe, and still expects us to believe ANYTHING that comes out of his mouth ???

          hey roger, you stupid fuck, I figure you got the needles you used to shoot up steroids at the same fucking store where you bought the needles you used to shoot up the lydacaine and the B-12

          you stupid fucking putz

          NEXT ???

  26. jnardo says:

    Great numbers. Mine are much rougher, but the conclusion is the same. By my count, in the Primary States, we’re up 59 electoral votes already over 2000 or 2004. Pity, it’s only speculative data. It’ll be interesting to see how it all comes out in November…

  27. Rayne says:

    bmaz (57) — I am still waiting for the mainstream media to really question McCain’s health. Trust me, this is much more serious issue than the attention it’s been getting.

    • rosalind says:

      agreed. both family members and friends have gone through recurrences of melanoma, particularly melanoma in the face/head area. the path this cancer can take is not pretty, and all sorts of neurological effects can come into play years down the line.

      • Rayne says:

        I don’t think it’s cancer-related. IMO, I think McCain may have a form of Parkinson’s. While folks like Michael J. Fox make it very obvious that people with Parkinson’s can be very productive, the family of Parkinson’s diseases is broad and has many different outcomes. My MIL suffers from a form that’s degenerated far more rapidly than other manifestations of the disease; she’s no longer able to care for herself and has progressed from being able to perform her own daily living tasks 3 years ago to complete inability to walk, have a conversation, make rational decisions for herself and express them clearly. That, inside the length of a term of office…

        Assuming it’s Parkinson’s — and I know that’s a huge assumption — the public deserves to know before the election about it and what the risks are.

    • sailmaker says:

      Notice that they did not question Dick Cheney’s health, even though he had had 3 heart attacks prior to nomination, and probably had one in June of 1999 as well. Some people politely asked, we never got answers, which should have been a major clue about how he was going to operate while in office. I wish they could get someone like Nancy Reagan to question McCain’s health. Aak. In my dreams.

      • Rayne says:

        And Cheney is EXACTLY the reason why we need to ask about McCain’s health; what if we have a Cheney puppet running for VP, and McCain is debilitated??

  28. sailmaker says:

    I was a poll worker here in California. A man asked me for an “R” ballot. As I handed it to him he said, “That is R for red with embarrassment.” I smiled and handed him a voter registration form – for next time. *

    My thinking is that maybe we should all be embarrassed at the amount of money spent on campaigns. Probably half a billion by Super Tuesday – and how much more before June? Nevermind November. I AM glad that the netroots and grassroots are voting with their pocketbooks now, especially since the legislation Congress enacts affects more of them than the super donners. Still a 1/2 billion here, a 1/2 billion there could do a lot for the 12% or so of Americans who live in poverty. /rant

    *Voter registration forms were mostly available so people would change their voter registration info to ‘vote at polls’ from ‘absentee’ – we ran out of provisional ballots (had to make about 50) because everyone in my neck of the woods thinks they will vote absentee – and then they do not.

  29. Rayne says:

    Interesting. There’s a study from Jan 2006 that says African-Americans and Hispanics use cell phones more than other groups. I’d like to see comparisons of call minutes by groups to internet usage on PC’s by groups.

    In the last two years, cell phone adoption by tweens/teens increased 26% compared to 45-54 y.o. age group’s adoption rate of 10%. Wonder how many cell phone-armed teens became new voters in that period, receiving their cell phone before the 2006 mid-terms and are now able to participate for the first time.

    This could be the first real impact on our primitive voting system by the emergent digital tribe; we were only the bleeding edge in 2004, are now seeing the rising tide of a generational shift of voters who expect the same kind of direct representation and immediacy from democracy that their cell phones enable in community interaction.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I’m relatively certain this is the case.
      In fact, I was intrigued to note a lot of Obama ads on an anime site last week. Interesting, no?

      If I were Obama, that’s where I’d advertise!

  30. lllphd says:

    yeah, rayne, what makes you think mccain has parkinson’s? i see no evidence of such, and i have experience diagnosing the effects of that disorder.

    of course, all i see of him is what everyone else sees via TV, so what do i know? or you, for that matter.

    hence my original question.

  31. ratbastahd says:

    Never been polled by phone…? Raising hand.

    Am I the only one around here with a tinfoil hat? We have all these polls saying how unhappy people are with Bush and the direction of the country. We’ve had a huge swing in voters party ID from R to D. We’ve got massive turnout for the primaries with the D’s thumping the R’s, and yet national polls show McCain tied with Clinton and barely behind Obama. I ain’t buying it! This is setting the stage for another stolen election. The only way any R, let alone McCain, wins this is through outright theft. I can’t imagine an electorate desperate for change will buy the result if an R wins, but I think the media is conspiring to make it close in hopes that they WILL buy it.

  32. BlueStateRedHead says:

    NBC just called Maine for Obama. Why no visit the nice people at for the results rather than MSNBC or even Josh

    Craig and his caucu people worked hard all day and are thrilled to have their domaine name seem to come true. they are networkers, in our sense.

    • lllphd says:

      shaking can mean any number of things, from hypoglycemia (not surprising given his age and the campaign pace) to parkinson’s or some other neurological or cerebrovascular problem.

      but the face observation intrigues me; can you link us to that photo?

      • Rayne says:

        There, finally remembered where I’d seen the pic; I’d commented there, too. Think that means I’m officially surfing too much…

        This is the same look my MIL has — could have been a lucky photo shot, but combined with the observations I’ve gotten from a trusted source and the reaction of his campaign to queries and I’m skeptical that he doesn’t have a health issue.

        • lllphd says:

          rayne, thanks so much for the trouble! appreciate the effort, as i’m forever forgetting where i saw some photo or article or other.

          that being said, i don’t find the photo compelling. it is, after all, a snapshot, and could have easily been taken in between moments, such as looking up from his notes to the audience, or whatever. a transition moment, if you will. i have, tho, seen enough of mccain ‘in action,’ if you will, from videos of him talking and chatting and delivering speeches and responding to questions. and i honestly do not see that this photo you linked to is representative of his countenance. the ‘masked facies’ you might be looking for that is generally associated with Parkinson’s is actually a state of the facial muscles that the patient is unable to change in any way, because they no longer have control over those muscles. moreover, typically when the disease has advanced to that stage where masked facies is prevailing, the other symptoms have become pretty dominant. but then, the disease can advance so differently for different folks, some advancing faster than others, etc. still, i honestly don’t see enough of those symptoms in mccain.

          all THAT being said, i would acknowledge that mccain’s history of 7 (?)years of being brutalized, confined, etc., may well place him at risk for another version of pyramidal cell or movement disorders with neuromuscular symptoms. nevertheless, longevity is highly genetic, and you’ll notice that he trots out his almost 96 year old mother at every opportunity, and she is sharp as a tack. in fact, almost too sharp for his campaign’s comfort!

          so bottom line here, from my humble perspective, is that we simply don’t have enough info to go diagnosing mccain with something like parkinson’s disease. tho i will admit that the behaviors of his campaign staff WRT his health issues raise some concerns, and the questions should not be left alone, there just isn’t enough to go down the parkinson’s route.

          thanks again.

          • bmaz says:

            I worked with/for Mo Udall around when his Parkinsons first manifested itself. I am not around, nor as informed about, McCain but, living in Arizona, we see plenty of the old gluehorse. For the record, I have not seen any Parkinsons symptoms, nor heard of any evidence thereof from anybody else. I have all kinds of issues with the old gasbag, but that isn’t one of them from anything I am aware of at this point.

  33. behindthefall says:

    Although it was great to have figures like President Clinton, Senator Clinton, Senator Kennedy, and Senator Obama visit the state, it’s not just famous politicans who have generated that excitement. Everywhere I go in the 1st District, I hear people talk about how much we need to take this country in a new direction. I know “change” is an overused word these days, but it really is what people want, and what we need.

    That’s from the site; written by a woman visiting the caucus being held in the Portland High School gym. I guess I find that convincing: people want things to be different. That gets the Ds out, and why would anybody vote for Hillary if they want something new?

  34. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, reporting in from a white collar, affluent suburb in the Puget Sound region, I’ll start by noting that: (1) my comments are entirely anecdotal, and therefore (2) these comments are not representative of the larger US. Nevertheless, I had my mind blown yesterday at my caucus in WA state. Extensive observations follow:

    I arrived 10 minutes early, but the place was so crowded the line was 1 1/2 blocks long! That gave me 25 minutes to talk in line with people from other precincts, before I reached the building where my own precinct caucus started late (they’d waited for everyone to get inside the building). The advantage of caucusing is that you get to hear what people in the neighborhood think, and I found it absolutely fascinating.

    We caucus by precincts, and I’d attended in 2004 – there were 7 of us then (5 of us for Howard Dean, and every one of us new to caucuses at that time).
    Four years later, there were 42 people in my precinct caucus yesterday — so a 700% turnout over 2004.
    I was gobsmacked.
    In fact, I’m still marveling over the miracle of it.

    In the 8 precincts caucusing at my location, caucus turnout was up between 400 – 700% in a suburb that has mostly ’swing voters’ and IIRC went for Bush in 2000, Kerry in 2004.
    Given the large number of Obama supporters, it was clear that his campaign had successfully educated people about how to caucus. (The day before, both Clinton and Obama had huge overflow Seattle events that snarled traffic, but that still does not explain this kind of caucus turnout. My precinct went 3 Clinton; 5 Obama.)

    Several people at my caucus were not really comfortable discussing politics publicly; clearly, they’re used to avoiding political conversations. That made it really interesting to watch. For some of them, the word ‘politics’ seems to be a synomym for ’sleazy stupidity’.
    FWIW, my impression is that most of them feel their own reputations have been stained by the actions of BushCo, and their sense of outrage seemed to be driving a need todo something that might make a difference. Because they could find the caucuses, they came, although they were completely overwhelmed — we all were! — by the turnout, the noise, the confusion, the lack of knowledge about procedures… Some left early, but quite a few stayed for the whole thing.

    Several caucus attendees seemed kind of torn about getting involved in something ‘political’, because they don’t want to associate with thuggery and nasty insults. The word ‘politics’ seems to conjure up all kinds of unpleasant, nasty things — including torture, illegal spying, and Katrina.

    It was interesting to watch them wrestle with expressing their political views. They seemed so incredibly frustrated that they just felt they had to do something. They weren’t rude or violent, but they were obviously absolutely appalled at what they’ve seen; as if they felt they can no longer avoid having to deal with politics, even if they hate spending time on it.
    If I simply focused on that fact alone, I’d predict that the turnout in November will be huge.

    That need to ‘do something!’ also probably explains some of the new money coming to the Dems. My fear is that the Dems will only take their money and not really ask anything else of them, so they’ll just fall back to cynical audience mode again.

    I had a very clear sense that they feel a need to do SOMETHING, but with no political experiences to draw from, they’re confused about what to do. Several people seemed overwhelmed at the prospect of getting involved and were very wary about the idea of serving as a delegate to the county convention.
    It was an absolutely fascinating experience to hear them talk; it was amazing to hear such deeply heartfelt angst from people that I’d never met before, and would not likely have met if my state didn’t hold caucuses.

    These people didn’t turn out b/c the Dems are spending money.
    They turned out b/c they are p*ssed like they’ve never been before.

    What I found most striking wasthe breadth of issues that were discussed — I think the polls may be assuming that people are ’single issue’ voters. But what struck me as I listened to people that I’d never met before was how complex their views were, how many issues they mentioned, how they seemed to connect the problems of corruption, and oil company profits, and global warming, and the lack of health care all into a cluster of related problems. I found that absolutely fascinating, and I had not expected it.

    These people could not possibly be described as ’single issue’ voters, and they listened very respectfully to one another, which also surprised me. Several were ex-military, and what they had to say about Halliburton, no-bid contracts, Blackwater, and Pentagon budgets was absolutely dripping with contempt. Two of the attendees had been in Desert Storm, and I doubt a herd of elephants could keep those two people from the polls in November — they are p*ssed. (FWIW, both have good jobs; they were called up in the National Guard and sent to Iraq. It’s hard to believe that any relative or friend of theirs still supports the war in Iraq. I didn’t get a chance to ask what they think about VoteVets. )

    The topics that seemed to spark the most intense interest:
    – the war
    – privacy, illegal surveillance
    – political corruption (no-bid contracts viewed as part of this)
    – Global Warming; environment, pollutants
    – health care
    – outsourcing (several people really hot about this topic)
    – the rising cost of college education, and shameful lack of federal help for families and students, especially given oil company profits)
    – torture, and ‘America going down the toilet’ while the citizens have no power to stop these policies
    – lies about WMD (people are really p*ssed about ‘being lied to’, and the press also came in for some castigation on this topic)
    – oil corporation profits (see corruption: political; see also: the war)

    Another theme that I heard — again, totally anecdotal and this was one precinct only — was how indignant, disgusted, p*ssed people are about negative campaigning. The ‘over 40s’ who went for Obama all referenced this as part of their decision-making in supporting Obama. The pointed comments on this topic alone made the afternoon worth my time and it really felt as if people may vote for any candidate who stays out of the gutter. (I realize there is a disconnect between opinions and action, but the intense discussion on this topic was notable.)

    Also, one of the fired USAG’s was from this region, and IIRC, two people summed up their recent political activism by saying: “I think the world of John McKay.” They did not need to elaborate. McKay comes from a big, Catholic family in Seattle, so it’s not surprising that an old schoolmate, law associate, or family friend of the McKay family would live in this precinct.

    Several of us stayed a bit later to chat (we’d never previously met). Several people at my precinct caucus voted for BushCheney in 2000. There were some pretty passionate Obama supporters, but overall the tone seemed to be — ANY of the candidates: McCain, Clinton, or Obama would be better than the sh*t we’re stuck with now. (Again, this was only one tiny group of citizens in a random suburb.)

    No clue whether any of these observations are of interest to anyone who happens along, but that’s one summary from one precinct from one state. But a 700% turnout, and from ’swing voters’, is unprecedented.

    So I’d agree with some of EW’s hypotheses:

    1. The national polls are all wrong. — I don’t think they’re wrong; I think Freepatriot makes some great points about who is called, but also I think that polls are too simplistic. I associate polls with kind of ‘push button’, one dimensional political views; however, what I heard yesterday was complex, thoughtful — and COHERENT. All the negative ads in the world aren’t going to break through the kind of political COHERENCE that results from people linking everything from torture to global warming to corruption to spying into a coherent conversation of deeply interconnected topics.

    2. Dems, anti-Bush Indys and Repubs are so intensely upset that they are motivated to engage more publicly in political activity — That describes what I saw yesterday.

    3. Dems have more dollars to spend. — Well..look at how much Romney and Guiliani spent. In fact, if the Dems spend like drunken sailors, I suspect it will bite them in the ass — if I correctly understand what I heard yesterday, people are absolutely fed up with big money, big negative ad campaigning. No candidate who promises ‘change’ and then pulls the same old negative ad sh*t will be credible. No one will believe that change is possible if they’re still operating under the Rovian Shitfest mode. That’s just going to boomerang and antagonize voters, IMHO.

    4. Dems grassroots infrastructure — Definitely true in Obama’s case, from what I saw. Those Obama supporters were smart, articulate, delightful, and they have a ton of enthusiasm; cool to see.

    I never dreamed that I would see so many people be interested in politics in my life!
    Whew… l-o-n-g comment!

    • bmaz says:

      Most excellent report and good news in it. Take a look at my miscellaneous ramblings @11 above; I find what you report very consistent with the first paragraph, but it sure sounds like I truly didn’t understand the meaning of the caucus effect/turnout I blathered about in the second paragraph. I am glad I had that wrong, I like what you report a heck of a lot better. I also am thinking/hoping that what we are seeing is why the national horserace polls of Clinton or Obama versus McCain are wrong. People are responding to the fictional John McCain; but once it is really John McCain the Republican conservative torch carrier that wants more war, continuation of the tax cut/benefit chopping policies etc. and they realize he is just an old dead gluehorse; the numbers won’t even be close irrespective of who the Dem candidate is. People are tired of what that line of thinking has to offer; it just isn’t going to sell again. Of course i thought that, although not nearly as strongly, in 2004 too….

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Well, bmaz, to respond to your points (as I understand them).
        1. Polling, kinds of polls, and what each poll means.
        2. the Internet, and how different groups use it.
        3. caucus effect
        and 4. my own concerns ‘what if there were another terror incident?’

        POLLING, KINDS OF POLLS, and what I think they mean, per IIIphd
        I suspect that lllphd is right on target in pointing out:
        Mixing up ‘phone polls’ with ‘exit polls’ (like mixing ‘Apples’ and ‘Oranges’ ) plays straight into the hands of creeps like Rove.
        *** “Apples” *** PHONE polls have more sources of error, and are therefore not as accurate. Nevertheless, phone polls are used by Rove to plant doubt about election outcomes, and by planting doubt, he (and his ilk) make people more receptive to being bamboozled by bogus, manipulated election results.
        ^^^”Oranges”^^^ EXIT polls are extremely accurate — people report how they just voted. Consequently, EXIT polls can indicate whether the voting process has been manipulated.
        By mixing up ‘Apples’ and ‘Oranges’, Rove confuses the press and the public to accept the false notion that ‘the poll results were wrong’, and accept bogus election information. But he also manipulates the PHONE polls ahead of time, to make it appear that an election is ‘too close to call’. Once he can get the polls to report a close race, then it’s pretty easy for he and his minions to dummy the real election data.

        I watched in 2000 as Bush vs Gore became ‘too close to call’, and although it made for exciting news stories, I realized afterward that it was very likely a Republican trick — as long as they could claim the PHONE polls were ‘too close to call’ they could get away with stealing the election.

        Because by presenting “Apples” as ‘Oranges,’ Rove (and Mehlman, and the GOP):
        1. created uncertainty, so the press was not confident in forming its own opinions — it waited for Rove and the GOP and James Baker III to tell it what the story would be.
        2. By claiming the polls were ‘too close to call’, the GOP eradicated authority of anyone who disagreed with them.
        3. The footage of hanging chads just led the public to think of elections as bogus operations, so they were more willing to accept whoever ‘looked more authoritative’. [The fact that they permanently damaged the credibility of SCOTUS is a separate, but important, point.]

        In 2004, the PHONE polls showed Bush behind but IIRC after the bin Laden video was released, the phone polls became ‘too close to call’. That allowed the GOP to ‘tweak’ the election results with hacks that no one would have accepted if the the polls had been far enough apart to give Kerry the clear edge. By creating an environment of uncertainty and confusion (via the PHONE polls, the ‘apples’), Rove, Mehlman, and their ilk created an environment in which people would willingly accept information that was not synching with the actual EXIT polls. The EXIT polls showed Kerry winning.
        Once again (this time in Ohio), the election was stolen by a mix of computer hacks + voter suppression. But if the polls leading up to the election had shown Kerry clearly ahead, people would not have been willing to swallow the idea that Bush ‘came from behind’.

        By conflating the PHONE polls with the EXIT polls, Rove et al created a whole bunch of ‘noise’ in the election news. Low signal:noise ratio meant higher chances of bamboozling the confused media and the confused public.

        2. People, the Internet, Politics
        Teens, 20s spend hours on MySpace and FaceBook.
        People often go to their own local newspaper websites for info that is clearly, specifically LOCAL — high school sports updates get tons of hits, or so I’m told by reliable sources. People also check out movies, restaurants, local stuff online. But yeah, for national news many use larger, national websites and/or blogs.

        So the user patterns are quite different depending on age, employment status, educational background, interests — at least, from what I hear. I happen to agree with Rayne (and you) that something’s happening in terms of a digital transition, but I wouldn’t pretend to grasp all the details (hey, if I did, I’d get a book contract and become obscenely wealthy

        3. The Caucus Effect
        Yeah, not at all surprising that if you graphed caucus outcomes against vote outcomes against PHONE poll outcomes, the three lines would not match.

        I think the caucus outcomes would be the most skew; the most ‘different from a bell curve’ shape, b/c I agree with WO that caucus behavior is not typical — except that this year’s incredible (phenomenal!) turnout numbers suggest the degree of intensity about political events. More than anything that I’ve ever seen; I don’t think we have any precedent, so I think a lot of the punditry is full of sh*t.

        We don’t know how much we don’t know.
        But we know something weird is happening, b/c we have never seen turnout like this.

        4. FWIW – What about claims that another terror incident would allow for martial law and/or allow for an ‘upset’ or McCain/wingnut win?
        **If** my non-PhD hunch is correct, before people started connecting all the issues into an integrated, cohesive narrative structure, the Rethugs could have even staged a ‘red flag’ incident and it would have worked. They could declare martial law, etc, etc.

        Only a hunch, but I’d be willing to wager that they’ve lost that chance, and here’s why — although, between me and George Lakoff, always take his views over mine!!

        If there were uncertainty, or if people didn’t see all these events as linked, they would be more persuadable that Bush, or Cheney, or martial law, were legitimate. I don’t think that would be the case at this point.

        Weird, huh?

        But if I match up my experience with things that I’ve been reading about what voters elsewhere are saying, then what I begin to see is a lot of complex ‘coherence’ and it looks really resilient to anything the GOP can dream up.

        People have years of bad experiences now, and the beliefs are so emotionally intense and deeply held that I don’t see how the GOP can overcome the ‘cognitive deficit’ their lies have created. They’ll try. And it doesn’t mean the Dems will win; lots of voters hate Hilary with a mad passion, others won’t vote Obama.

        Meanwhile, someone like Huckabee has a bizarre appeal IN PART because he hasn’t been out smearing, and he hasn’t been a big spender. Ironic, eh? He did very well in this state — VERY well. I’m not surprised; if anyone seems ‘authentic’ to several of my contacts, it’s Huckabee.

        Anyway, I also think this may be a year when the Vice Pres nominees matter like they never have before. Reasons given for supporting Hilary were that ’she’s tough, and she can take it.’ Reasons given for supporting Obama, “As a minority, he’s had to be tough to get where he is today.’ So ‘tough’ came up as a decision criteria — and we were all in agreement that GWB is a total wussie.

        Doesn’t sound like Minnesotachuck had nearly as much fun at his/her shebang as I had at mine, eh ;-)))

        I had a really engaging, interesting experience.
        WO: Looks like I need to read a Kinky Friedman Wikipedia entry to bring me up to speed; sounds like he’s quite the politico.

        LooHoo, very kind of you
        Writing helps me think things through, but like you my reaction is ‘inspirational’.

  35. WilliamOckham says:

    Completely and totally off-topic:

    I want to offer my services to the Firedoglake media empire as a live-blogger for the Dem debate in Houston on Feb. 28 (assuming there is a debate, will be pointless if Obama decides to skip it). Yes, this is a transparent attempt to get media credentials to get into the event without paying the $750.00 cover charge.

    • bmaz says:

      Heh. As the official Emptywheel Super Bowl Senior Correspondent, I can report that the wages are not exactly union scale; but you got my vote…..

      • WilliamOckham says:

        One thing I can say in my behalf, I actually understand how the Texas Democratic Party selects delegates to the National Convention. There aren’t very many people with media credentials who can make that claim.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Yeah, but you’ve probably translated the basic logic of the delegate selection procedures into some code skeleton consisting of something like:

          if A, then
          do A1, or else
          do A2
          if B, then
          do B1, or else
          do B2…

          So you could probably describe it in 200 words or less.
          And then, there are the rest of us…. (sigh…)

          • WilliamOckham says:

            Trust me, there’s no way to explain our system in 200 words or less (not even in ‘C’). Here’s the most important takeaway:

            Thanks to Kinky Friedman (former frontman for a country band called “The Texas Jewboys”), Texas is more friendly to Obama than it otherwise would be.

            • bmaz says:

              Boy, Kinky is a paradoxical piece of work. I really kind of appreciated his run for governor in spite of the fact that he had some bizarre positions and probably would have made a hash of things if he happened to ever actually win. But his willingness to call bullshit on Bush and Perry was worth the price of admission alone. I bet he did soften up the ground a bit and get some unusual groups and people activated a bit though, and that is good.

              • WilliamOckham says:

                Here’s Kinky’s impact on the Texas Dem. Presidential Primary:

                We apportion the vote based on State Senate Districts (not Congressional District). The number of national delegates awarded per district in the primary is based on the relationship between the total Dem vote and total vote in the last statewide election. Because we had a four-way race for Gov., the numbers are fairly skewed. There is an almost all black district in Dallas with 6 delegates where Obama should net 4 delegates. He’ll almost certainly net 2 in Austin. If he can pull 38% in South Texas he can actually split there (four Senate districts each have 4 delegates each; it takes 63.5% of the vote to get a 3-1 split). I expect to see Ted Kennedy show up in South Texas soon. He’s got pull down there. Houston’s over-represented because the Dem. candidate for Gov. was from here. We ended up with 5 districts with odd-numbers of delegates. If you carry all those with a simple majority, you net 5 delegates.

                And all this doesn’t even factor in the 67 delegates that will be awarded based on the results of the caucuses (yep, we have a primary and a caucus, it’s fun). Clinton’s got to win big in the primary vote to break even. Best case, I don’t see either side netting more than 20 delegates in the primary. On the other hand, based on prior caucus performance by Obama and my prior experiences in Texas, I can see Obama netting 21+ in the caucus. He could lose the primary 60-40 and split the total delegates. If it’s any closer than 55-45 for Clinton, she probably loses in the delegate count.

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  That is amazing…!

                  Looks like someone who played a whole lot of D&D was involved in making up those rules. You could almost replace the word ‘delegates’ with ’sword’ and ‘city’ with ‘forge’. What interesting economies, trading currencies, and rules we humans make, huh?

                  Those rules just make me grin.
                  But if I had to play by them, I’d want to tear my hair out ;-))

                  • WilliamOckham says:

                    Nah, it’s simple with a two-person race. Now, if Edwards had stayed in, then it would be complicated. Then the 15% rule would have played havoc with the delegate counts. Edwards’ strength in Texas was concentrated in a few districts, but he could have pulled enough voters away from Obama to throw a lot of delegates to Clinton.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      LOL ;-))
                      Isn’t there some way you could maybe tweak those delegate counts so as to make your illustrious Mr. Hightower more visible to the presidential campaigns? His remark in 1988 that “Dan Quayle is so stupid, he thinks Cheerios are donut seeds,” suggests he’d be a pithy, perceptive US Sec of Agriculture.

        • freepatriot says:

          One thing I can say in my behalf, I actually understand how the Texas Democratic Party selects delegates to the National Convention.

          and this is a good thing, yes ???

          so what type of decoder ring should we use, lucky charms ??? Trix ??? cherios ???

  36. Minnesotachuck says:

    ROTL @ 86: Great report! Pretty similar to my experience last Tuesday evening here in MN. Huge turnout! Sigh-up lines were so long that the call to order was postponed about a half hour. And people were p*ssed!

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Quick question – did people mention that number of topics? And then talk about them as if they were all linked?

      That’s what took me by surprise. These way they connected so many topics, and viewed them as interrelated. (I wasn’t expecting that level of detail and breadth from people that I’d only met once. I found it quite heartening.)

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        I didn’t schmooze as much as it sounds like you did, but the conversations I did have were quite diverse. A lot of people are POed about a lot of things.

  37. GulfCoastPirate says:

    How can the pollsters have accurate models when there has never been an election in which the certain winner for one of the two major parties wasn’t a white male?

  38. rxbusa says:

    Another thought I had after seeing how much crap the Rs are giving McCain and reading that Hillary has the backing of the core of the Democratic party is that the voters are saying “a pox on both your houses.” As much as W sucks, the polls have the approval rating of Congress way lower. I think it is fruit basket turnover time.

  39. frahse says:

    Why are only 3 Democrats shown in the money tallies?

    Where are Richardson, Kucinich, Dodd, Biden, Bayh, etc.

    That would raise the totals.

  40. Middento says:

    Naturally, I get to this post late — but I’ve actually been wondering what the increased turnouts I’ve been hearing will mean in a long-term sense. Thanks for even the speculation here.

    (PS. We are bracing ourselves here as we are about to have our turn. And I’ve been put in charge of a new district, funny enough. Smaller, and within walking distance! Woohoo! Wish us luck!)

  41. 4jkb4ia says:

    That was scary. My Mom is the one who talked me down from McCain in 2000 saying that he was “very conservative” and pro-life. Now, this was the Republican primary so it didn’t matter. I am not sure I even voted [IN THE PRIMARY!] that year. There is a very small part of me that rejoices that McCain will get the nomination because in 2000 he was so screwed.

  42. Rayne says:

    bmaz — this is what was relayed to me immediately following a campaign event by a reporter.

    They called McCain’s press guy and described what happened — that they were turning to leave the press area (where they’d been standing with reporters and asked a question from the pool) and McCain grabbed the reporter’s hand, and when McCain did they noticed that it was quite warm and shaking. They had a strong impression from this, particularly since McCain had just mentioned his visit to the funeral home more than once during his speech/chat with pool (believe the event was held at or near a funeral home – the repetition seemed odd).

    The campaign spokesman denied that McCain had any health problems and said that he was looking forward to a strong finish in Michigan that day.

    Moments later a woman called the reporter from the McCain campaign to ask if they were writing something about McCain having health problems. She said she wanted to talk to their editor if they were planning on mentioning anything about this. She suggested that perhaps McCain was shaking because he had come in from the cold. (Not the case.) She was REALLY aggressive and said she could send medical records to prove McCain’s clean bill of health. When the reporter asked her to repeat her name she refused.

    There was a phone call, too, in which the reporter conveyed how disconcerting and obviously the tremor was.

    Make your own assessment; I personally believe we should be asking more questions related to his personal health if this “old gasbag” has now received the nod from the Bushies/Cheneyites, well in advance of a VP candidate being named.

    • bmaz says:

      Fair enough for me; that gives me pause. I’ll ask around here, if there is any info available, I have a couple of friends that will know. If I find anything, I will report promptly.

  43. frahse says:

    Am I missing something here?

    Why are only 3 Democrats shown in the money tallies?

    Where are Richardson, Kucinich, Dodd, Biden, Bayh, etc.

    That would raise the totals.

    • bmaz says:

      It was merely an exercise to make a point and generate discussion, not the be all and end all of number crunching. It is what it is.

  44. stagemom says:

    thanks for this great post, mw.
    stagedad keeps hounding me about this!
    “blahblah how can mccain be tied blahblah”
    all. weekend. long.
    you’d think he was an INTP or sumpin’.
    have i told you recently how much i admire you!
    and all the commenters.
    the very best!!!!

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