27 October 2008

2008 Campaign Update

In just a few more days, I will find myself back in Seoul again. My absentee ballot is on the way there too.

Here are a few things that I've been uncovering around the Internet, mostly thanks to electoral-vote.com.
  • It'll be exceedingly difficult for John McCain to pull out an upset. It's definitely possible, but Barack Obama has a sizable lead in popular vote and a landslide in the electoral vote. No one has ever been able to overcome the kind of deficit that McCain now faces, this late in the game.
  • The Democrats are set to have at least 57-58 votes in the Senate. They may even have a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, if things go very well for them. The House will also give the Democrats two dozen extra votes, if not more. As my district is very safe Republican, and neither of my Democratic Senators are up for re-election this year, there won't be much I can do this year.
  • California has three hot-button ballot initiatives this year. Prop 4, which bans teen abortions until a 48-hour mandatory parental notification period passes (the third such attempt in three years), is slightly leading, but it doesn't have 50% support yet. Prop 8, the constitutional ban on gay marriage, is trailing 44%-52%, though since polls have historically underestimated the homophobic vote, it still has a good chance of passage. Prop 11, which will have a committee, instead of the state legislature, draw congressional districts in the state, is leading significantly, but there are lots of undecideds.
  • The Republicans will take a hammering this year, even if they somehow get McCain into the White House. In the most likely case that McCain loses, expect a major schism in the party. The social conservatives will blame McCain's supposed "moderatism" for the loss, and will shape 2012 as a full-blown culture war, with Palin as a possible standard-bearer; Palin herself can spend the next four years educating and grooming herself to be a more formidable candidate. The economic conservatives will not like that, and will rally around a pragmatist who emphasizes tax cuts more. These two factions may severely strain and handicap the Republican organization. In the short term, I'll be happy that the Democrats will have a larger role in reshaping the American political discourse and putting the nation back on track, but in the long term, I do want some common-sense Republicans to be able to check the Democrats as needed. Here in California, I disagree with many of the things that the Republican Governator has done, but I don't think leaving the state to the northern Democratic ideologues in the legislature would've been all that much better either.

I am making my choices as follows.

  • President: Obama/Biden. No questions about it. I do like the ballot showing three African-Americans for President, however! (The others are Alan Keyes of the Constitution Party and Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party.) But the stakes are too high, and Obama, while far from perfect, is the best candidate for the nation's current needs.
  • Congress, State Senate, State Assembly: all Democratic. The Republicans who represent me at those three levels are all social conservatives to the extreme. They do not represent my beliefs, and their Democratic challengers are more moderate than them (and certainly not the nutjobs that the NorCal Democrats of the legislature are, either). But I do expect the Republicans to hold on to all three offices.
  • Ballot initiatives: There are 12 (1A through 12), and I will oppose all, except for Prop 11, which I need to study further. Prop 1A had my attention for a while, as it wants to raise money for a study of a bullet train line in California. California does need a good alternative to the gridlock of the I-5 and the tyranny (and the carbon footprint) of the airlines. But this is not the right time to raise money, especially when it's not even clear if the bullet train line will ever be built at all. (And as demonstrated by the Channel Tunnel in the UK, bullet trains may actually hurt more than help.) And everyone knows I am extremely upset about Props 4 and 8, the darlings of the religious extremists, especially in the immigrant communities (and the 2MB government on the other side of the Pacific).
  • Other measures/offices: I will study them briefly, but may not vote on some of the local measures and judicial offices.

Looking forward to ensuring that my voice gets heard.