Death Spiral

If you’re anything like me, the absolute rage, confusion and resignation you’ve been feeling since the phantasmagoric, brain-dead embrace of Palin 2 weeks ago, has threatened to turn you into more of a cynic about America than even you thought possible. By which, of course, I mean more than I ever thought possible. I was ready to throw in the towel after 2004 when I was so depressed for over a month I could barely do anything.

But this….

This is worse than that, and it hasn’t even happened yet. In 2004, after my prolonged grief period, I decided I wanted to stick around to not let all those Republican-voting, medieval neanderthals get their smug, idiotic way. What is happening in the United States right now, though, is beyond anything even I could have conceived of in my worst nightmares. I pray to a hateful god I don’t even believe in that it’s all media hype, that this…. this woman, this monster, this complete idiotic, bottom-feeder of a sub-human who represents everything I’ve spent my entire life fighting against, can’t possibly be real, that her “support” and the enthusiasm she generates among people who have no analytical skill to speak of can’t be this solid, this profoundly election-changing. This cannot be a country where I live. I refuse to believe it. And worse than Palin is McCain, a man who has so cynically and gleefully sold out any trace of integrity or soul he ever had (though it’s arguable that he ever had any; too bad Vietnam had to give him back) to appeal to the most base, deplorable, ignorant, bigoted, and outright stupid people in this country who could feasibly tip the scales of the election.

And the worst part, really, is that I don’t even blame McCain and Palin, though I think they’re both despicable, lying, cynical, barely-human beings. I really blame the voters, and there really ain’t shit you can do about that. You can talk to people all day long about what they believe, and what they feel, but as long as people continue to vote purely out of self-interest and/or bigoted, ignorant fear, and a fervent desire to live in some mythical past where wars were good and gays didn’t exist, people like McCain and Palin will continue to be in charge.

I wish I could make a joke about this, or toss off some flippant comment about letting all the Christianists drown in the consequences of their own imbecilic refutation of reality (“Drill, Baby, Drill…..”? Dear god, how utterly willfully stupid can you be….), but it’s too important.

Today I came across an email that a reader had sent to Andrew Sullivan the other day, and I thought I’d share it. It tosses a small bone to the miniscule hope I have left that we’re not all completely doomed, and that this election isn’t really nearly as close as the MSM would have us all believe. We all already know that we can’t trust polls, and it’s pretty well-known that polls also historically tend to skew conservative.

Like many Obama supporters, I’ve been in a poll-induced funk recently. So I went to the Obama HQ in downtown Orlando looking for a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, something, anything, to make myself not feel so damn worried. Here’s what I found:

1. A brisk campaign operation staffed mostly by 25-35 year olds, all at computers, all analyzing data on GOTV operations.

2. After speaking with my precinct captain who was present, she told me that since August 1, the downtown HQ has registered 80,000 new voters. Let that number sink in. In the last 40 days or so, they’ve registered an average of 2,000 voters per day.

I know they probably won’t keep up that pace, but even half that is good.

3. Consider that Florida was won by Bush in 2004 by 380,000 votes. Nader got 33,000 votes. I don’t even think he’s on the ballot in Florida this year. Assume that most of those go to Obama. The margin, to beat the Bush turnout in 2004, is 350,000 (give or take 50,000 votes.)

4. To win Florida, Obama needs everything Kerry got plus 400,000 votes.

5. Of those 80,000 newly registered voters (whose info won’t be available for pollsters for weeks, if not ever, before the election), the campaign has identified over 80% as Obama supporters. That’s 64,000 new Obama votes since Aug 1.

6. Assume they decrease their registration by 50% in September, and 50% in October. After all, there are only so many people not registered to vote. That would be another 60,000 voters, with approximately 48,000 new Obama votes, who can’t be polled. All together, that’s 112,000 new Obama votes. In Central Florida alone. Since Aug 1. 25% of the 400k to get Florida’s 27 electoral votes. Since Aug 1.

7. Of course, you have to get people to the polls. However, the precinct captain said that the 80% support of the newly registered voters has a built-in no-show formula.

8. I mentioned my worry over the polls. Without condescension, without a dirty look, or a snide quip, she said, calmly as possible, “we aren’t running the Florida campaign based on polls, we’re running it based on votes. There are so many people who have signed up to vote that pollsters can’t even reach, that the only thing the campaign is looking at right now is the GOTV operation and their own internal polls which are run much more specifically than, for instance, the state Mason-Dixon polls commissioned by the Florida newspapers.”

Patience and steel.

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