October 19, 2010

Double Standard...Again.

I'm going to rant a little bit.  I made a determination early on that I wasn't going to use this forum to complain or belly ache about perceived injustices in the world.  Instead, my goal is to inform and offer what I hope to be a unique perspective on things.  Today, however, I'm going to break my own rule.

I am absolutely stunned and disgusted by the lack of outrage surrounding "the slap heard round the world".  For those who are unaware what I am talking about, last Saturday in a debate between Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-fixin' to lose) and Republican challenger Ryan Frazier, Perlmutter slapped Frazier's hand away while Frazier was making a point.  In fairness, Perlmutter immediately apologized.  He should have, his action was immature and uncalled for.  That apology isn't enough for me.

This might be uncomfortable for some people, but if the situation had been reversed and Frazier had slapped Perlmutter there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth throughout the media and blogosphere.  Why?  Because Frazier is black, and he would be held to a different standard.  Now, for those of you who think I'm being overly racially sensitive, know that I am speaking from experience.

As the son of a black father and a white mother - and as someone who has run for office - I know of what I speak.  What is seen as confidence and intelligence in white candidates is seen as arrogance in black candidates.  What is seen as righteous indignation in white candidates is seen as "traits" of the angry black man in black candidates.  The point is black candidates are held to a different standard and they know it.  Add in the fact that Frazier is a Republican, and all hell would have broken lose if the shoe was on the other foot - which brings me to my next point.

If Perlmutter was a Republican slapping away the hand of a Black Democrat - the media swoon would have been felt from Wasilla to Wabash.  I can just see Geraldo Rivera holding a candlelight vigil in front of the home of the perceived victim.  Keith Olbermann would name Perlmutter his "Worst Person in the World" and Joy Behar and Whoopie Goldberg would have been near tears on The View as they discussed the mistreatment of this brave, unassuming, Black man.  Alas, Frazier is a Republican so he gets none of the benefits of mainstream media victim hood.

So that's my rant.  I don't expect it to change a thing, but let's not kid ourselves that a double standard doesn't exist.  Republicans are quick to point out the double standard that exists Republicans are treated unfairly in the media.  Another double standard exists, however, and it's a little more comfortable to remain silent on this one and pretend it doesn't exist.

October 17, 2010

3rd CD Polls All Over The Place

So, what to make of the most recent polls in Washington's 3rd Congressional District?  A recent Survey USA poll has the GOP candidate up 11 points while a recent poll by Washington, DC-based The Hill has the race a statistical tie.  Broadly, polls have been all over the map in the Washington State Senate race as well, so what gives?

Regardless of what pollsters might say, polling is an inexact science.  There are so many variables that can effect the outcome of a poll from phrasing of the question(s) to sample size and universe.  Looking at the internals of the two most recent WA-03 polls, it's pretty easy to see why there is such a big discrepancy - the samples are different.

This may be a bit simplistic, but it speaks to the discrepancy.  The Survey USA poll interviewed a sample of likely voters that identified 34% of the voters as Republican.  The Hill poll interviewed a sample of likely voters that identified 28% of the voters as Republican - a significant 4 point swing.  Most pundits agree that voter intensity among Republicans is much higher than it is among Democrats this year, so The Survey USA sample could be spot on.  However, commentators have also concluded that Washington appears to be somewhat of anomaly when it comes to Democrat intensity.  That is, Washington Democrats appear to be more motivated to vote than their counterparts in other states.  If that is true, than The Hill poll could very well be an accurate sample.  So the answer?  Who the heck knows which poll is right?

I think we can all agree that turnout in 2010 will nowhere near mirror turnout in 2008 where there was a highly motivated group of Democrats voting in their party across the country..  A more accurate turnout model would probably be the 2002 elections in which Republicans picked up a significant number of seats.  Interestingly though, the partisan breakdown of 2002 results in WA-03 more closely mirror the sample in The Hill poll than Survey USA.  Again, all very strange.

One last point.  Survey USA has been exceptionally accurate over the past few election cycles.  Even they concede, though, that this has been a difficult year to poll in Washington, so their hedging their bets.  So be it.  ballots are in the mail, people are voting, and, in the end, the only poll that matters is the one on election day.  Onward.

October 7, 2010

The VP Comes to Town

So Vice-President "Recovery Summer" Joe Biden is coming to town to raise money for Democrats in our great state.  More interesting, though, is the fact that our bumbling Vice-President is coming to raise money for Denny Heck, Democrat candidate for Congress in the 3rd District (http://bit.ly/9okb2j).  Because I am an American who actually believes in the greatness of this country (and chooses not to drop the F-bomb in public), I am no fan of Biden.  Here's a man who has been wrong on every major foreign policy question of the past 50 years standing within in a heartbeat of the presidency.  His presence in the White House keeps me up at night.  God help us!

I digress.  It's always intriguing to see which surrogates come in to districts to stump for candidates.  Biden's presence here, although distasteful to some, indicates, strongly, that Democrats believe they have a shot at winning in the 3rd District.  While working for the Bush Administration and on the 2004 campaign, I had the chance to sit in meetings wherein we discussed where to send high level surrogates (Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, etc.) I know for a fact that having the VP come into your district and raise money for you is a big deal.  And the decisions on where to send him are made after hours of scouring polls, looking at fundraising numbers, and getting the general political lay of the land.

I'll be interested to see how Republicans respond to Biden's presence.  It will be particularly interesting to see if high level surrogates come in to the 2nd and/or 3rd CDs to help boost GOP candidates in both of those races.  I saw Brian Walsh, Political Director of the NRCC mention the 2nd CD today as a race they feel has become winnable over the past few weeks.  It will be interesting to see if they send in a heavy hitter to get John Koster over the finish line.  The same goes for the 3rd CD. 

You can learn a great deal about how seriously the national parties are taking a race based upon which surrogates gallop in to help.  It's clear - just a handful of days before ballots drop - that the DCCC is going all in for Denny Heck.