FiveThirtyEight Comes to Town

Photo by Brett Marty
Photo by Brett Marty/FiveThirtyEight.com

The folks at polling site FiveThirtyEight.com file a story from Troy, Ohio, which is just a couple cities over from me (it’s where I go when I want sushi — and yes, it’s actually good sushi. Honda has a plant in Troy, so there’s a not insignificant Japanese population here). The story mostly talks about the activity in the Obama field office there, and how the campaign is making significant inroads in a county that went about two-thirds for Bush in 2004; apparently 800 people have volunteered to canvass for Obama. In contrast, here’s what’s going down in the McCain office:

We tried to go to the McCain office just down the street in Troy at noon on Saturday. At the exact moment we arrived, we found two nice elderly women peering inside the locked, closed office. They’d come to volunteer. Unfortunately, McCain’s Troy office isn’t open on weekends, according to a sign in the window.

Sometimes you wonder just how much McCain actually wants to win this thing.

To be sure, McCain’s probably going to win Miami County, of which Troy is the county seat, and he’s likely to win Darke County, which I live in, and which went 70% for Bush in 2004. But I doubt he’s going to get the same winning margins Bush did, and unfortunately for him, they don’t apportion electoral votes by county. And he can’t exactly afford to lose Ohio. It’s got 20 electoral votes, ripe for the plucking. Having your field office take the weekend off less than four week before an election is not, shall we say, full of smart. Especially when you’re behind in the polls, both in Ohio and nationally. Since I’m voting for the other guy, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. But even so, it seems a little strange.

I wish I knew the FiveThirtyEight guys were around — it might have been interesting to meet them. But in any event, if you want to know a little more about the political scene in my neck of the woods, the write-up is worth checking out.

35 thoughts on “FiveThirtyEight Comes to Town

  1. When you say “Darke County, which I love in,” is that one of those “sharing too much personal information” things that I hear about bloggers doing?

  2. I caught that, too. But I just assumed John was typing away and then Krissy happened to walk by, perhaps pausing to plant a gentle kiss on that balding pate, thus distracting him from his post.

    Interesting article. I am not surprised at McCain’s offices being closed. His handlers have been making strange and counter-productive decisions throughout his campaign.

  3. From 3000 miles away this looks suspiciously like a stunt that has been suggested by my own country’s politicians: Tactical loss.

    The economy is in the deepest poo-hole since 1929, you are fighting 2 ground wars, oh, and global warming is developing some of the most extreme weather patterns ever seen.

    So why not throw the election now so you can come back in 4 years time and blame the other lot for the recession, loss (or phyrric victory) in Iraq, etc, etc?

    Now if that was your tactic you need to throw the election without being seen to do so. So you might try:

    1.) Running a hate-filled campaign which whilst ostensibly pandering to your own supporters is actually designed to put off floating voters.

    2.) Choose a running-mate who, whilst ticking a number of “soft” boxes (female, young) has so many flaws it’s difficult to know where to start (Picking a running mate who is under investigation for abuse of a government office? I’m mean WTF?)

    3.) Make sure your presidential candidate is not so old that they can’t walk without aid, but is old enough that potential voters can’t help looking at the aformentioned VP candidate without a subliminal heartbeat sounding.

    4.) Keeping normal office hours for all campaign staff (you wouldn’t want to get the support of people with jobs would you).

    Etc, Etc

    In 4 years time you have a main candidate who has been pensioned off and the VP has been banished to Alaska.

    Time for you to bring in some nice new shiney candidates untainted by the previous Administration or collection of losers.

    Maybe I’m cynical – but looks like a winning formula to me!

  4. I like the movie a lot more when it was Dan Ackroyd opposite Eddie Murphy. Jamie Lee Curtis was by far a much better Ophelia. Joe Biden is the only one that even tries. He’s slightly better then Denholm Elliott.

    The first version film was funny. This one seems like it was produced by Clive Barker or Gary Fleder.

  5. Considering McCain is getting absolutely spanked electorally right now (it’s gone from sound Obama win to almost landslide), you’d think he’d try harder.

  6. Political parties don’t do tactical losses, especially not at the Presidential level. Witness the increasing Republican worry about downticket losses if McCain goes down badly, and remember the power that incumbency has in the American system. 60 Democratic Senators would be 60 Democratic Senators for a *long* time.

  7. actually I was being ironic David

    Oops. You realize that it’s not fair to bring your foreign forms of humor to America, right? We don’t do irony here.

  8. I love, love, LOVE fivethirtyeight.com. I am so addicted to that website. The combination of the intense polling analysis and the town-by-town road trip reports is so fascinating.

    Of course they would never come anywhere near me. Maryland is probably the most boring state in the nation, electorally, and Baltimore is the second least-interesting city. We don’t go 95% for the Democrat the way DC does, but it’s easily 80-85%. So candidates ignore us.

  9. We, in Oz, have been seeing some canvassing of what appear to be your average middle class white rednecks voters attending McCain/Palin rallies of late and they seem to have turned nasty. I know you can’t form an opinion on a whole body of people from the comments of a few that have a camera stuck in their face but, gee whiz, talk about some nasty talk. I’ve heard words like muslim, terrorist, faggot, commie, socialist, un-American all used as epithets by these people. About the only thing I haven’t heard is the “N” word. What is wrong with these “normal” looking people? The nastiness I’ve seen is usually the type of stuff you see from skinheads or ferals or other fringe groups. Having said that though it isn’t exclusive to the US. Some pretty obnoxious things were said at some meetings in a suburb of Sydney where an islamic school was going to be built. NIMBY type stuff.

  10. Darke Country just sounds so wicked. I bet there are vampires and zombies and stuff wandering around there on the roadsides looking to hitch their way into Troy to fetch some sushi.

    Zombies love sushi.

  11. Interesting article, Christian.

    I’m tempted to mosey into the local McCain volunteer office – there MUST be one here.

  12. And it’s not just Ohio. I’ve seen other articles about similar problems in other states (Nevada, especially), where the GOP faithful are pretty bitter that they’ve essentially been abandoned.

    Fine by me. :)

  13. Sadly, this comment has nothing to do with the election and everything to do with sushi. You can see where my priorities lie.

    I only know about one sushi bar in Troy, but if it’s the same one I’m thinking of (by the river, a stone’s throw from where they have the Strawberry festival) it’s very good. Or at least, it was the last time I was there, which was a while ago.

  14. What the picture doesn’t really show is that the Obama headquarters takes up a 3 story building. They have posters in the 2nd and 3rd stories spelling out “Vote Obama” etc. This is the most presence that the democratic party has had in Miami Cty in decades. On the first day of early voting here in Ohio, about 50 people got up early and walked from the headquarters to the courthouse to publicize early voting and registration. This is really well organized and energizing. And then afterwards we all went and got sushi. (kidding…Arang wasn’t open that early)

  15. I think that if you can’t get an effective campaign going, it’s pretty much proof you can’t run the country, though the reverse isn’t necessarily true. Bush’s cronies ran effective campaigns and look how that turned out.

  16. As a fellow Darke Countian I can vouch for the county’s love for the GOP. My mom is making phone calls for the Obama campaign. I don’t envy her.

  17. Looking at things these days, I’d say ya gotta be cuh-razy to WANT the job right now. Does that mean McCain is saner than Obama? Waitaminit……

  18. The situation in Troy is not unique. I work the reference desk in an Ohio public library. The other day I got a call from a patron asking for the number of the local McCain campaign office. He called back 5 minutes later asking if that was the right number because it just rang and rang. This was a weekday, mid-afternoon.

    I double-checked and it was correct. I gave him the address if he wanted to drop by in-person, and I also gave him the phone number of the McCain office one county over.

    Remember, Ohio is a “battleground state” and McCain is down in all the polls. Unless he truly has given up, his campaign offices should be manned 24/7.

  19. Slightly OT, but, should Obama win, I’m starting to worry about what the right wing will do after the election when Obama’s inaugurated. I’m remembering the craziness of the right during the Clinton years, when they accused him of killing Ron Brown in a plane crash, of being a drug kingpin in Arkansas, of killing his close friend Vince Foster.

    (Quick check for the righties who claim, falsely, there hasn’t been violence against liberals–this is a link to an article about the guy in Tennessee who murdered 2 people and wounded 6 in a liberal church because they were liberals:
    http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/28/church-shooting-police-find-manifesto-suspects-car/ )

    And then there was the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic party.

    This country never really connected the dots with regard to the right’s craziness, and indeed, they were rewarded in 1995 with control of Congress, and 2000 with an election that was close enough to steal. Those of us who support Obama will need to be vigilant if we win.

  20. Darke Country just sounds so wicked.

    As Scalzi lives in Darke County I insist he stops writing this space opera stuff and write werewolf romances instead. Insist, I say. Right now.

    (Or not if you don’t want to. I’ll buy your next book either way.)

  21. I was just in Your neck of the woods this weekend. And by woods I mean Cleveland and Kent. My wife and I were visiting family. My Aunt and uncle are canvasing for Obama in Kent.

  22. Interesting – it’s been a while since I’ve been up in Troy, but I grew up nearby in West Milton. At my last job (which I just left 3 weeks ago) I worked with a LOT of people from Darke County, most of whom were far-right-leaning Republicans. After the Taste of Troy event in Sept, they were talking about this building and one of my co-workers wondered aloud why it was legal to cover a building in Obama paraphernalia. She seemed to think it was really wrong that the city would allow such a prominent building to be covered in “propaganda”.

    I pointed out that the building may not be a city building, and that it could very well be the county Democratic HQ. this hadn’t occurred to her at all, which I thought was weird. She really seemed to think that the city should step in and get the signs removed.

    Glad to see that FiveThirtyEight has positive things to report from Miami County, though I’d still be shocked if it “went blue”.

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