What It’s Like to Live In Ohio Right Now
Posted on October 23, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 116 Comments
In the comment thread of one of today’s earlier posts, I was asked what it’s like to be living in Ohio right now, i.e., in the thick of election season, when many people seem to be of the opinion that Ohio is likely to be a state (if not the state) that helps decide the 2012 election. I can’t speak for the entire state, but I can tell you a little bit of my experience of it.
First, note that I live in a very conservative, rural county. Darke County went 68% for McCain in 2008 and 68% for Bush in 2004, and I would be deeply surprised if it did not go at least 68% for Romney this year. In my little town of Bradford there are all sorts of signs for Republican candidates and only one or two for the Democratic candidates. There’s not even a Democrat running in my US Representative district of OH-8, which is Speaker of the House John Boehner’s territory, mostly because I think they asked themselves, why bother?
Basically, I’m used to the idea that I vote in the minority when it comes to my neighbors. They haven’t run me out of town on a rail yet, however, mostly because a) that would be rude, and b) most of my neighbors are good people who just don’t vote the same direction I do. It happens, you know?
So my day-to-day Ohio experience of the election tilts heavily towards Romney, just as it tilted heavily toward McCain in 2008 and Bush in 2004. If Ohio were Darke county, Romney could already be taking field trips to the Oval Office to take measurements for the drapes.
However, Ohio isn’t Darke County. There are 88 counties in Ohio; in 2008 Obama won 22 of them, but those 22 counties also had Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Akron in them, i.e., the heavily populated and industrialized counties. In this sense Ohio is a microcosm of the US in general, in which the rural areas, the largest by geography, are more conservative, and the urban areas, more compact but with substantially larger populations, are more liberal. Here in Ohio, it’s a pretty even split, and we have 18 electoral votes, which is why, of course, we’re being pandered to, or badgered, depending on your point of view.
Ohio’s media is being swamped by political ads of all sorts, but I personally am avoiding most of them. I don’t watch a lot of local or network television, so I don’t get carpetbombed in that way. Likewise, most of my car radio listening is satellite, which is blessedly free of commercials. I get mailings, but they don’t make it into the house; they all get deposited in the recycling bin in the garage, unread. Ironically, I’ve seen the most political ads through YouTube, which reads my ISP and serves me political ads that way; I hit the mute button and flip over to another tab until they’re done. I’m not a low-information voter, so all the political ads strike me as offensively simple. I don’t waste my time with any of them.
My phone rings a couple of times a day with robocalls, and you can tell they’re robocalls by the fact that there’s a brief delay before there’s anyone speaking; we hang up before they start speaking. I’ve been asked to poll several times and have given responses a couple of times; as I have a landline but otherwise profile as a cell phone user I suspect my answers skew the polling a tiny bit.
We had a bit of political nonsense regarding voting earlier in the election season when our Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, attempted to game the early voting procedures to disenfranchise Democratic voters and then was shocked, shocked when the Obama campaign and others called him on it. The courts eventually squashed the maneuver, as they should have, and we were reminded again that one of the least attractive aspects of the modern-day GOP is its willingness to attempt to win elections by keeping people from voting, rather than giving people a reason to vote for them.
As Ohio will likely continue to be central to the election hopes of both parties over the next two weeks, I don’t expect things to get any less noisy and aggravating around here. But on the other hand, as a believer in the voting experience and the idea that every vote does actually count — as part of the civic life of every American citizen if not strictly in the pedantic numerical sense of one’s vote being the deciding one in an election — I think it’s good to be living in a state where there’s the belief that we will be truly a factor in the future of our nation.
My belief is that in the end it will be fairly close, and that it probably is going to come down to the folks like the auto workers, who are probably pretty culturally conservative, but on the other hand got their jobs saved by Obama while Romney wrote an op-ed
suggesting that letting the automakers die was not a bad idea against the bailout (edit: I mischaracterized Romney’s position; my bad). I have my suspicions on how that’s going shake out in the voting booth, but I, like everyone else, will have to wait until election day to be sure.
That’s Ohio at the moment.
I wish more people would state so clearly that even if someone votes differently than you, it’s just a different perspective and not some terrible crisis that needs to be averted.
I’ve almost always lived in states that were reliably Democratic at the time, so not voting would have been a rational option, whatever my party might be. But I just don’t do that. People fought too long and too hard for the right to vote, and I can’t just say it doesn’t matter.
Before I forget, I’d like to note that what I really hope is that people won’t come here and read off note cards relating to the TERROR OF VOTE FRAUD, because I find people who read off note cards relating to the TERROR OF VOTE FRAUD are implicitly suggesting that I am stupid and don’t actually know the incidence of REAL VOTE FRAUD, and I don’t like people implicitly suggesting that I am stupid.
John, but there’s got to be space somewhere for a b-grade horror film involving zombies overrunning a polling place and stuffing the ballot box with ‘votes’ ….
John, would you be in favor of eliminating the Electoral College to prevent one state from having so much say-so in the Presidential Election, or does it still serve a purpose?
On a more serious note, it’s hard to believe that the early voting manuever in Ohio was remotely about voter fraud; cutting off early voting _only on one particular weekend_ while leaving it for other weekends would do nothing to prevent fraud, if it existed.
I find it so unlikely that thirty-seven states would go along with the idea to cede their power in the national election that I don’t spend any time thinking about eliminating the Electoral College at all.
Well, I know my vote won’t really count, as I live in Texas. But the fact of the matter is, it counts that I get counted for voting for the person I think will best run this country for all of the people, even if at the same time they must pander to some of the very few.
This satisfaction of knowing that the, er hum, good folks in Austin get a whiff of where this state is going, if as I suspect they will, more of my fellow voters vote the same as I do, is an added plus.
I always, always vote, even when it’s just for dog catcher. I think voting is really important in our society. A responsibility as well as a right. Here, here on the idea that a political party or candidate should give people a reason to vote for them, not just try to keep people from voting. If you can’t win when people vote, maybe you aren’t the best choice.
May I share this on my Facebook page? – sulizano
Hugs. And pecan pie, whenever you ask.
John, I always enjoy your site and the conversation. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.
You say, “Romney wrote an op-ed suggesting that letting the automakers die was not a bad idea.”
This is untrue.
Several fact-checking sites are calling out the President for perpetuating this myth, and say:
In the op-ed, Romney said he thought the government should play a role in handling a managed bankruptcy. “The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing,” Romney wrote in the op-ed. “A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.”
“In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check,” Romney added.
*** Under the Obama administration, Detroit still went bankrupt. General Motors and Chrysler sank into bankruptcy, but instead of having open bankruptcy proceedings in a court, the Obama White House ran the proceedings. ***
Many people won as a result of the bailout, but many others lost, too. Perhaps the biggest loss was that of the 20,000 non-union Delphi salaried retirees, who lost their pensions and benefits programs as they were headed into retirement as a result of a Treasury Department and White House decision.
How lucky for you that your voter disenfrachisement move failed. We’re not so lucky here in Brownbackistan (ne Kansas), where the country’s Cheif Disenfranchiser (ne Kris Kobach) is our Secretary of State. We’re still ramrodding ahead with voter ID laws. I’ll just be glad when this is all over. And I agree, we won’t know how this ends up until it actually ends. I forsee a rerun of 2000, with regards to vote counting, specifically.
No, he didn’t. The op-ed is rigt here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html?_r=0 In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You might disagree with his argument, but his claim was that a bailout would eventually doom the auto industry because it would enable them to continue to avoid grappling with the fundamental issues that are preventing them from being truly competitive. Thus: his goal was to save the industry, not kill it.
Furthermore, history seems to be bearing him out thus far. After the bailout GM returned to the #1 spot and the Obama Administration took credit, but the actual explanation was that the Japanes tsunami had wreaked havoc with Toyota’s supply lines. As soon as some of the damage to Japanese factories infrastructures and factories had been repaired, GM fell below Toyota (again) and is continuing it’s downward slide in global competitiveness.
The sad reality is that most Americans don’t understand what the word “bankruptcy” means. There are basically two types. Chapter 7 means a liquidation. That’s the death of a company (think: Circuit City). But Chapter 11 is a managed restructuring: think the airline companies (again and again, for that matter).
Here’s the relevant portion of the text (from the original op-ed):
And basic reading on Chapter 11 bankruptcy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapter_11,_Title_11,_United_States_Code
You pride yourself on not being a low-information voter (and of course, you’re absolutely right as a general rule), but even though I fully expect this to have no bearing on you broader political opinions, it’s a pretty important point to get right. (I think so, anyway.)
Ken, on the other hand, a managed bankruptcy at that time was impossible.
Part of a managed bankruptcy for a company which is losing money is that someone has to step in and provide bridge loans to keep the company afloat during the bankruptcy proceedings. In late 2008/early 2009, there was *nobody* willing to do that; the risk was too great, and the big financiers were all too risk-averse.
You beat me to it by 2 minutes, Ken! Curse these slow fingers!
Sorry for appearing to pile on, John. I didn’t see that I was duplicating a point until after I had posted.
Fair point, and I’ll correct, although Romney was wrong about the effect of the bailout. I think it’s a little convenient to suggest GM’s resurgence is due only to a natural disaster, however; likewise that GM’s being the global #1 manufacturer is the salient measure of the success of the government’s intervention.
Also, no worries about piling on.
Nate Silver’s 538 blog has a nice analysis of Ohio’s role in election this year:
“Ohio, Ohio, Ohio
We are now running about 40,000 Electoral College simulations each day. In the simulations that we ran on Monday, the candidate who won Ohio won the election roughly 38,000 times, or in about 95 percent of the cases. (Mr. Romney won in about 1,400 simulations despite losing Ohio, while Mr. Obama did so roughly 550 times.)
Whether you call Ohio a “must-win” is a matter of semantics, but its essential role in the Electoral College should not be hard to grasp.”
Check out the first link in the article.
D’oh! My bad.
With regards to the idea of eliminating the Electoral College, the folks at National Popular Vote have an interesting approach that will effectively eliminate it, without the need for a constitutional amendment. It’s based on the fact that states have the right to assign their electors any way they want to, and the US Supreme court has upheld that right. So, if enough states say “we assign all our electors to whoever won the national popular vote, regardless of who won our individual state” then that candidate will win the electoral college vote.
Why would states do this? Well, since only about nine states matter in this current election, that leaves 41 states who might want to have a little more say in future elections. NPV has been working at getting legislation passed in state after state. The key is that the states agree to assign their electors in such a fashion, but that agreement doesn’t take effect until enough states have passed this legislation to total 270 electoral votes.
I know this sounds quixotic and completely farfetched, but nine states have signed on for a total of 132 electoral votes so far. They are almost halfway to eliminating the Electoral College even as we speak.
I realize that blaming the tsunami sounds sketchy, but I didn’t want to include extra links and get lost in the moderation queue. It is, however, pretty widely accepted as a matter of fact among the business-types. GM wasn’t #1 before the tsunami, they aren’t #1 after the tsunami, and in fact they are about to fall *another* run down below VW.
“Toyota regains top global auto sales spot, with VW in pursuit”, Reuters
If you want even more specific examples, just Google something like “effect of japanese tsunami on toyota production”, and you’ll get the facts and figures. In April 2011, for example, Toyota announced that the tsunami had reduced their production by 260,000 cars. It’s really not hard for GM to get the #1 sales spot when Toyota can’t sell a quarter of a million cars because it couldn’t make them. At the same time (April 2011) Toyota announced they would be back at their usual output levels by around November / December of 2012. They did, and they took back their #1 spot from GM (which they had also held before the tsunami).
The evidence is actually pretty straight-forward on this one. The auto-bailout has been nothing but a band-aid at best, or a kickback to union supporters at the expense of bondholders at best.
I’m sure that the workers and stockholders of TWA and Pan Am are glad that bankruptcy driven by the market always have such wonderful results.
The problem with the NPV methodology is that any state which votes differently from the NPV, but has an NPV rule in place, has an incentive to change its electoral college allocation rules between the election and the day the electoral college meets.
I wouldn’t trust any state not to do that … and so I think the NPV movement is a bad idea.
Bah! Bad blog, a reason for reading any entertainer blog is not to hear them blather on about their personal politics, sex choices, etc. I can think on my own. (Compare to comment about human division)
In NC, I’m getting all sorts of ads from the Obama campaign to “Vote Early” since our polls are now open, and I cannot help but complete the phrase with “Vote Often.” If only.
It’s interesting you posted this little article…I have been wondering about your thoughts on the early voting situation in Ohio for some time, and refrained from emailing you only because you were busy writing or traveling. Thanks for sharing it. (I guess this cancels out Wonders’ comment@1:30)
The Washington DC area is getting carpetbombed with political ads too (even more than usual!), because Virginia is one of the battleground states in this election.
I’m turning off all the media for the next two weeks, and reading a good book!
(How Music Works, by David Byrne, thanks for asking.)
“The auto-bailout has been nothing but a band-aid at best, or a kickback to union supporters at the expense of bondholders at best.”
As may be (or not), but remember in this particular thread we’re speaking about Ohio electoral politics, and the effect of the presidential contenders’ positions on votes, particularly those of auto workers.
You’re not obliged to read any of the politically-oriented entries, you know. You can skip right over them! I won’t mind.
Look, there’s two separate issues here. First of all: failure is absolutely essential to any well-functioning economy. (Or maybe you think we’d be better off paying subsidies to blacksmiths to keep horse travel price-competitive with automobiles?) Just look up “creative destruction”.
But that has nothing to do with the bailout. TWA went through bankruptcy twice, once in 1992 and once in 1995. It didn’t go out of business, however, until AA acquired it in 2001. Only after the purchase–and as part of th deal–did TWA go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the third time. Pan Am also went through Chapter 11 once (in early 1991) before finally failing after coming out of restructuring at the end of the year.
But the point is that bankruptcy didn’t *make* Pan Am or TWA go out of business. Their inabaility to offer good services at a good price did. Blaming Chapter 11 for making companies go out of business is exactly like blaming a hospital for making people die. It’s not that hospitals make people die, it’s that sick people go to hospitals (where some of them die). Similarly: Chapter 11 doesn’t destroy companies. Companies already on the verge of collapse go into Chapter 11 for their protection. It doesn’t always work out. Failure is a part of life.
But there’s no reason to suspect that GM would have failed completely by going through bankrupcty, as even the history of TWA and Pan Am illustrate. Both eventually went under, but not before going into and out of Chapter 11 multiple times. Big companies with huge physical capital don’t just disappear overnight.
@ aphrael: I would agree that if this agreement depended on each state legislature acting in the best interest of the nation, rather their own best interest, that would be a worrisome situation. Fortunately, the NPV folks thought of just that concern and wrote in to the interstate compact a blackout period during which the states are forbidden by force of law from doing just what you are concerned about.
Where I live, we have both Lexington, KY and Cincinatti, OH stations. I watch the Lexington stations exclusively during election season, which cuts down on the ads. However, I have to watch some political ads for the Chandler/Barr race, and those have been pretty nasty.
Nathaniel, David —
Let’s not wander too far off into a general discussion of bankruptcy and instead keep it focused on the current election (and Ohio!), please.
Fair enough. The only misconception I really wanted to clear up was whether or not Romney had called for the death of the auto industry. He hadn’t, and you’ve already graciously acceeded to that point. The follow-up I was trying to make was economic: that the apparent revival of GM was illusory.
In terms of the eletoral politics of Ohio, however, the fate of GM after Nov 2012 doesn’t really matter and–sadly–in a way neither does what Romney actually said.
Interesting note on the EC question. There is a move afoot & it may have actually passed a couple of State Lege’s – sort of a “jury nullification” option. The deal is if a certain number of states agree each state that is part of the deal agree to cast all the EC votes for the winner of the national popular vote despite how their own state turned out.
It appears Constitutional. The only thing that might go wrong would be if some state or states went back on their promise. I have mixed emotions about it but its an interesting discussion
I know that feel, bro. Virginia is also one of these “swing states” now. Which means we’re getting bombarded with ads too, and Maryland and D.C. getting splash damaged too. I don’t see many ads aside from basic cable – I get my news from the internet and NPR’s morning edition on my clock radio in the mornings. Also, if you’re sick of YouTube ads, the AdBlock Plus extension will prevent them from loading (it’s available for both Firefox and Chrome).
On the Electoral College, I’m actually in favor of keeping it. First, a straight popular vote will not solve the problem of certain states being neglected in elections, it’s just that the ones that will be neglected will be the ones that are less populous, and I don’t think that’s OK. The bottom 21 states in the US have fewer people than California alone. They also have different values and interests, and theirs should be respected just as much as California’s. And it’s quite possible for states to become more or less important based on shifting political affiliations (that’s what happened to us in Virginia), a process that is much faster than shifting populations. But the more important reason is that the US is (or is supposed to be) a *federal* system, one where the states are not arbitrary divisions or wholly-owned subsidiaries of the national government, but independent sovereigns with general police powers who are rightfully supposed to be the ones in charge of local issues, where people can move to states that are well-run and leave states that are not. The Electoral College, IMO, is a reminder that the President is not and is not supposed to be elected based solely on the temporary whims of a temporary majority.
Ken: (quoting Romney) “A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs.
Romney’s solution: cannibalize, outsource, and sell off what you can. Then reward yourself with a big fat CEO paycheck. Yay! At least the man didn’t flip-flop on that one. Also, and just as an aside, I think the reason that American auto makers are having troubles might be because they’ve been trying to sell the 6000SUX for decades. It’s big. It’s back. It’s a dinosaur. And it gets 6mpg.
Sarah: I know this sounds quixotic and completely farfetched
Didn’t know of that movement. Very nice. I hate the EC for two reasons: voting power disparity and voter apathy.
Disparity: A lot of small states have more power than one big state of the same population. Voting power in a small state like Wyoming is more than voting power in a big state like California.
Apathy: Because most states are not battleground states, most states are predictably going to swing one way or another, and voters from the minority party in each non-swing state have no immediate incentive to vote, other than for idealistic purposes. Any system that, by design, causes vast swaths of voters to become disenfranchised is a bad system.
Also, as an aside, “Terror of Voter Fraud” is the name of my next band.
> during which the states are forbidden by force of law from doing just what you are concerned about.
how is this enforced?
imagine a state which has enacted the NPV by legislation rather than constitutional amendment violates this part of the compact by passing legislation to change the way it selects its electors, two days before the electoral vote meets.
so the disadvantaged party sues. in a *best case* you end up with the Supreme Court deciding the outcome after a rushed series of hearings at various court levels. But since the date the electoral college meets is fixed, this is unlikely to happen in time.
the more likely outcome is that both groups of electors meet, vote, and submit their votes claiming to be the officially selected electors of the state, and then the House decides which slate to accept.
Which is to say: even if the blackout period is enforceable *in theory*, the hard deadlines make it unenforceable *in practice*, at least not without triggering a constitutional crisis. Now, maybe the cost of that constitutional crisis will dissuade potential defector states. But maybe it won’t.
Even worse in VA, since we share our TV stations with Maryland, is all the damn casino ads. Who knew building a casino could be so contentious? Although I have to admit, the idea of a shiny new casino to play at only 45 minutes from home is kind of appealing.
No kidding. I live in Maryland, and Obama would have to commit some kind of atrocity to not win the state, even then who knows. So there aren’t really any presidential ads. But question 7 advertising is ridiculous. It’s been going on for months. I’m tempted to vote for it just so we don’t have to see the ads again. The shady way it got pushed through the legislature tempts me to vote against it though. But it seems pretty inevitable so I’ll likely vote for it.
First of all: failure is absolutely essential to any well-functioning economy. (Or maybe you think we’d be better off paying subsidies to blacksmiths to keep horse travel price-competitive with automobiles?) Just look up “creative destruction”.
Yes, I’m familiar with Schumpeter’s gale, thanks. You know he derived it from Karl Marx, right, and thus you’re making a Marxist argument here?
In any case, you’re making my point for me: bankruptcies often result in firms going completely out of business. This may or may not be what’s best for the economy (I’m sure all those perfectly healthy firms with reasonable debt levels that were knocked out by the credit freeze of 2008 would be quite willing to agree that they were ‘creatively destroyed.’ I’m just not sure that they would put the same meaning on it that you (and Schumpeter) were), but it surely would have put lots and lots of people in Ohio and Michigan out of work. Given that, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Ohioans to be unexcited about Romney’s op-ed solution, even if it wasn’t quite ‘Let Detroit Burn.’
The electoral college does also appear to offer an advantage of noise immunity. If you have a close election, then theoretically every hanging chad in the country has to be accounted for, and the 2000 Florida circus goes national.
@aphrael The Senate and House have the power to toss out a state’s electoral votes if they are protested:
“Can electoral votes be contested when Congress counts the votes in January?
Under federal law an objection to a state’s Electoral votes may be made to the President of the Senate during Congress’s counting of Electoral votes in January. The objection must be made in writing and signed by at least one Senator and one member of the House of Representatives. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives debate the objection separately. Debate is limited to two hours. After the debate, both the Senate and the House of Representatives rejoin and both must agree to reject the votes.”
You read about the Romneys’ arm’s-length investment in the voting machines that will decide Ohio, yes?
Regarding Ohio, it’s rough to be a stable swing state. At least some swing states get a break every now and then, but it’s been in play almost every election I can think of, that wasn’t a blowout.
Regarding the NPV, my main thought is that it’s a recount nightmare, since a close election popular vote wise would swing the electoral votes of a lot of states if it was instituted.
“[W]e were reminded again that one of the least attractive aspects of the modern-day GOP is its willingness to attempt to win elections by keeping people from voting, rather than giving people a reason to vote for them.”
David, granted that the Senate and the House have that power.
But if you expect them to exercise that power in a legalistic fashion rather than electing to select the slate of delegates which best helps them politically, then I think you’re not paying attention. :)
If we’re in a world where the House and Senate have to exercise that power, I think those of us who want orderly elections in which the result is due to the will of the people rather than the exercise of political power have already lost.
Thanks very much, Mr. Scalzi, for answering my question on your day off. As usual, the discussion has been fascinating.
But if you expect them to exercise that power in a legalistic fashion rather than electing to select the slate of delegates which best helps them politically, then I think you’re not paying attention. :)
I’m guessing that if one state tried to game the election like that, all the other states would be somewhat miffed, partisan differences be damned.
If we’re in a world where the House and Senate have to exercise that power, I think those of us who want orderly elections in which the result is due to the will of the people rather than the exercise of political power have already lost.
Dan Lafontaine called and wants his tagline back. More seriously, it’s a dumb formulation. We already live in a world in which several Presidential elections have been stolen (eg from Jackson, Tilden, Gore); “those of us who want orderly elections” lost a long time ago.
One of the interesting things about presidential elections is that campaigns are so efficient with their resources that most of the country pays little attention. Here in the Communist West of California I have yet to see even one presidential political add. I’d guess it’s the same way in Texas, Utah, NY, etc. No wonder most people feel like they don’t count.
Voter impersonation or double voting must be the most inefficient means of potential voter fraud. Given the winning margins for most elections, you would need to organize an army of fraudsters (who are willing to risk being charged with a felony) to influence any vote and you somehow have to insure they won’t blab after the election is over.
(If you have the chops to pull that sort of organization off, then you’re wasting your time in politics as you could make a killing in just about any industry.)
And yet a majority of people, other than our beloved host, are taking the TERROR OF VOTER FRAUD seriously. Is it somehow engrained into our psyche that elections are constantly being jobbed somehow? Do we just assume if the person we support doesn’t win then there must be someone cheating?
I wouldn’t mind the surveys if the questions applied to me.
“Press one if you are voting for Obama
Press two if you are voting for Romney
Press three if you are undecided”
Never Press four if you are voting for a third party, so I hang up.
@Nathaniel, you seem to be trying to argue more why Romney was right than to engage with the question of why blue-collar workers in the Midwest might be influenced by his stance on the GM bailout. (“Because they are foolish pawns if the evil unions” is not, in fact, the right answer.)
Minor correction: The Ohio Secretary of State is Jon Husted, not John Husted.
He spoke last Friday (Oct. 20) at a symposium at the University of Toledo college of law:
The degree of contention really varies depending on where you are in the state. In places where the vote is pretty much guaranteed to skew in one direction, it’s not that bad. In places like Toledo, where I live, it’s absurd. Supposedly, two out of every three calls to an exchange in the Toledo area are election related. Anecdotally, my experience would put it closer to 90%. My parents leave their phone off the hook between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. The election is more or less constant background noise. The sad thing is that after the last several election cycles, we all seem to be getting used to it.,
It’s funny, I live in Cincinnati and was just calling a client in Dayton and I punched in the number in wrong (1 digit off). The man who answered the phone started yelling at me and said he did not know anyone in Cincinnati and he was voting for Romney. People need to calm down!
Caller ID is a godsend. We never answer the phone unless we know the number and avoid commercial TV in favor of audiobooks and podcasts right now. (Oh, and read blogs…)
As Nevada is also a swing state, we have been bombarded with political ads in print, radio, television and telephone ad nauseum. Like you John, I don’t answer or hang up on the robocalls, round file the print ads, mute the television, close the door in the face of the children (my view) who were out getting people to vote – usually with their party candidate stickers all over. I am disgusted to the max by the negative ads for both major candidates and even the ones at the podunk level. The whole point is that we all get out and make our votes count. If my candidate loses, then my vote give me the right to disagree with and/or totally dislike/complain about the other fellow.
Glad you finished the book, son. Love, Mom
Big ups* to John’s mom!
*yes, I know the kids do not say “big ups” anymore. As a parent of teenagers I am obligated to be embarrassingly behind the curve.
Living here in Californistan, the only Presidential ads I see are on “The Daily Show” (and I boggled at seeing a Romney ad on there, b/c REALLY?). But, having a landline, I’m still getting a bazillion phone calls, for Rmoney and of course for/against the various propositions I get calls and incessant TV ads. And quit asking me about the props by number, pollsters, they’re all in the 30’s and I can’t keep them straight by number — use the description! So yay caller ID.
Mostly, I’m glad for TiVo, though that doesn’t help when watching one’s local beisbol team live (go Giants!). Then you’re at the mercy of at least hearing the ads while you run to the kitchen or loo.
HOWEVER, people everywhere should vote anyway. Your City Council and School Board and County Commissioners have a really direct impact on your world, whether you live in a big city or a large boondocks. Deciding your local zoning, educating your kids, setting the rates for garbage and sewers, keeping the roads paved — that’s stuff that goes on every day that the President and Congress don’t affect much. And your vote really does matter there; those races are often decided by very small margins. Ain’t no Electoral College for the Mayor’s race.
I’m terribly glad I don’t live in a swing state, although I will be crushed if my team doesn’t win. :-)
Jack Lint @ October 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm:
I’ve seen the poll that claims 64% of Americans believe that voter fraud is a problem, as well as the one that claims 71% believe so, and the 48% poll. Unfortunately, the conclusions drawn from the actual questions are sketchy. Read conservatively (i.e. strictest parameters, highest scrutiny), I think a better reading is that most Americans approve of voter photo ID laws, but not that respondents necessarily connect photo ID laws with an epidemic of in-person voter fraud. The secondary conclusion is that Americans take the idea of voter fraud seriously, but not (again) seriously in the sense of pandemic, but serious as in “of deep moral and/or ethical importance.”
I think it would be far more interesting to know what it was like to live in Ohio right after Lebron James left. Even though its a battle ground state, more people probably care about that.
I live in Northern Virginia which is a bubble state. What I find funny is that you always see negative Obama and Romney ads back to back. Makes me wonder if the networks sell to one side, then up the price and offer the very next spot to other side. There is also a close senate race going on so non-stop TV ads there.
All that being said people talk about RG3 far more than they do politics and we are right next to DC. This is from a Giants fan who likes that because I can gloat. If the Redskins played a game on election day, I would bet that voter participation in DC, Maryland, and Virginia would drop like a rock.
Living in a heavily Democratic area where “vote early and vote often” is the tradition, it’s not uncommon to have more people voting for a particular candidate than actually live in the district. Of course, in Missouri the dead not only vote, they also run for office and win.
Out here, the Presidential vote is mostly set in stone, so the ad money is going towards local races. Some of the vitriol is astonishing, on both sides of the fence; it makes Tammany Hall politics look like a kindergarden scuffle. The only thing lacking is actual violence, for which I am grateful.
We get no presidential attention here in Connecticut, a solid blue state, though I would probably miss it if we did (no television, no radio-listening). I do get a lot of campaign email, which I ignore, and we have a lively senatorial race that seems to be settling into the D column. Today I filled out and mailed my absentee ballot, so on a personal level, it’s all over for me.
I will be fascinated to see how much interest in American politics exists in Russia, which is where I will spend the week surrounding election day. I suspect I’d better prep some specialized vocabulary to add to my kindergarten-level Russian.
How is it possible to mischaracterize somebody’s position when their strategy seems to be to hold every conceivable one?
Why would it matter WHO said something? Does the source make you incapable of evaluating the logic of a position expressed?
Up here in Minnesota, we have two constitutional amendments to consider on the ballot: Voter ID and the Minnesota Marriage amendment(which would make same sex marriage unconstitutional in Minnesota). The partisan politics surrounding these two proposals is plenty irritating; however, our local Catholic Archbishop has inserted himself into the debate on the Marriage amendment in a big way, ratcheting up the rhetorical hysteria surrounding this divisive initiative. I will vote, always have, but November 7th(yes, the day after the election) cannot come soon enough for me. Politics is one thing, but religion and politics? Give me strength….
From a former advertising traffic coordinator: the back-to-back ads are almost certainly automatically scheduled by a computer and are getting thrown into the same commercial break because each buy is so large that they can’t manage to separate them. A commercial break often has only two local insertions, the other two being national buys, and on many cable networks, you only get two breaks per hour that allow for local insertions at all. So there aren’t a lot of options. I would have considered rival ads back to back to be aesthetically displeasing back when I was monitoring and tweaking ad schedules, but there might well have been nothing I could do about it even by manually reworking the ad schedule, if the buy was large enough and time-restricted enough. Everyone wants two ads per hour in prime-time.
Meant to include: if I think someone shows a tendency for clear thinking, as say a good writer is likely to, I personally am interested in what they might think on a topic. Even if I disagree.
Also, as our host pointed out, you don’t HAVE to read every post. For instance, I read Lawyers, Guns and Money pretty much every day but I skip most of the posts on sports (except Brockington’s occasional soccer posts) because I JUST DON’T CARE. It works out pretty well.
John, have you heard about Tagg Romney owning voting machines in Ohio? Doesn’t that just seem like a huge conflict of interest?
This is pretty interesting, especially given that my current exposure to politics in Ohio is the polar opposite. As a student at The Ohio State University, I’ve seen Obama and Democrats in general being heavily emphasized. The president has visited the university at least twice since August and there are very involved pro-Obama student groups canvasing the university. Of course, there is some Romney sentiment, but it is definitely the minority. Surprising as it may be to some of you, the university (i.e. the young people) have a high level of cognizance in the issues and are usually quite reasonable.
Susan de Guardiola, thanks for the explanation. The buy seems to be extremely large for political ads in Guess’s area:
According to the story, at least a couple of the TV stations in the market are tweaking their programming to provide more time for running political ads.
How’s the congressional race going? That seemed to be Obama’s major barrier last term.
As a cultural Brit, even though I have lived in NJ for the last 15 years, and I rarely see political ads.
A) what’s wrong with pencil and paper, I have never understood voting machines popularity here ( parenthetically you vote on a lot more things that Brits tend to, and it may be the ability to vote the ticket that made them popular?)
B) take the British approach to TV advertising, make it illegal to buy, but give the major parties huge blocks of time to run Party Political Broadcasts, every one finds something other to do rather than watch a 10 minute political ad
C) have a six week election cycle, everyone will be grateful
My thoughts, and not wanting to lecture the cradle of democracy, but it is a lot less painful in the UK
Can you vote out Husted ASAP? Even when the Supreme Court knocked him down, he’s still playing politics by having extremely short early voting hours.
Live in Maryland and because Virginia is a swing state, we are inundated by ads too. I usually either mute them or turn to Current TV (which doesn’t have any political ads).
@BW: Yep, local broadcast stations can do that, to a degree, depending on their exact affiliate agreement with their network about how much local time they get vs. how much (and what) national programming they must carry. That might well be flexible under these circumstances. And network traffic folks only have a single network to deal with, so even though they have more commercial breaks overall to use, they’d have enough time to fine-tune the schedules if they were willing to do so. You need to be motivated to go above and beyond the actual requirements of the job. I was, because I was bored stiff. Trying to achieve the best of all possible commercial schedules was a way to pass the time. No one ever appreciated my efforts to give them artistically varied commercial breaks. :)
But I worked in cable back in the days when we were only handling local insertions on maybe a dozen networks on half a dozen systems, so some human monitoring and tweaking of a day’s schedules was actually doable. I suspect that in the current zillion-channel environment it’s near-impossible on cable due to sheer volume. Processes that were only semiautomated then (with fairly primitive software) are probably fully automated now. But scheduling was automated even then (1990s): just put in the parameters (“six commercials on CNN between 6pm and midnight”) and hit the “schedule” button. You’d only have to intervene if something bounced out as an exception, such as more time sold than available. In election season we’d be going crazy, trying to squeeze all the extra political ads in among our regular advertisers and fielding complaints that all the regular advertisers who bought 24-hour schedules expecting an even distribution of ads were being stuck in the 00:00-06:00 dead zone, or not getting their full buys, or whatever.
Saying that Romney only wanted the auto industry to go to regular bankruptcy is disingenuous at best. He knew at the time it wasn’t a real option but he wanted to have his cake and eat it too basically taking both sides of the issue like he does with everything else.
Here’s how the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel, in a unanimous finding, framed the issue in a January 2011 report: “The circumstances in the global credit markets in November and December 2008 were unlike any the financial markets had seen in decades. U.S. domestic credit markets were frozen in the wake of the Lehman bankruptcy, and international sources of funding were extremely limited.”
There was basically no way the auto industry would have survived bankruptcy and Romney knew it.
A) After the Florida voting debacle in the 2000 election (and the infamous “hanging chads”) Congress mandated, in the Help America Vote Act of 2002, that states stop using punchcard and lever-based voting machines. HAVA also required that at least one voting system per precinct be accessible to persons with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired. Based on these criteria, and the expense of keeping and counting paper, most of the states using the deprecated voting machines switched to electronic ones… only to realize that they had their own set of problems. Yet another example of the “legislate first, ask questions later” mentality at work in Congress. Personally, I’d have no problem with using optical-scan machines for security and paper trail purposes, but the disability-rights crew has a problem with them.
B) Interesting idea, but would raise a big First Amendment red flag, especially post-Citizens United. Supreme Court is very leery of allowing restrictions on political speech (and I think, on balance, that’s a good thing.)
C) Unless and until both major political parties tell Iowa and New Hampshire to fuck off with their insistence on having the earliest primaries, nothing will change.
In response to commenter @Ken LaFrance, I’m not sure if you already read this, but according to Greg Palast’s research (http://www.thenation.com/article/170644/mitt-romneys-bailout-bonanza):
Delphi was in the “possession of its hedge fund creditors, who told the Treasury and GM to hand over $350 million immediately[…] His explanation was corroborated by Delphi’s chief financial officer, John Sheehan, who said in a sworn deposition in July 2009 that the hedge fund debt holders backed up their threat with “an analysis of the cost to GM if Delphi were unwilling or unable to provide supply to GM,” forcing a “shutdown.” At the time, GM concluded that “If Delphi laid siege to GM’s parts supply, the bailout would fail and GM would have to be liquidated or sold off—as would another Delphi dependent, Chrysler.”
“Once the hedge funders […] took control of the firm, they rid Delphi of every single one of its 25,200 unionized workers. Of the twenty-nine Delphi plants operating in the United States when the hedge funders began buying up control, only four remain, with not a single union production worker.”
Just wondering if the context changes or reinforces your impression about who failed to protect Delphi workers and retirees.
In principle, I agree with you Todd. What anyone does in the privacy of a booth with a consenting ballot paper is their business. But in practice? Hey, if you’re going to vote for someone who opines that women can magically repel semen from “legitimate rape”, or holds that gay men like me are morally equivalent to child molesters and animal-shaggers? Yeah, I think it’s a terrible crisis that such people have ANY influence over legislation that touches my life in any way, shape or form.
@masterthief yes, I agree the idea that things could change for the better is improbable to say the least, I am amazed that gerrymandering is so tolerated in the US
Douglas Adams had an impassioned plea for pizza delivery by an American character living in london in one of his books, countries can take a long time to learn best practice
The biggest difference between the US and The UK is the prime minister can pass a bill and more or less make it so, there are advantages and disadvantages about having a written constitution, in their defence I would say the founding fathers never thought that what they set up up would end up here
Rex: I have never understood voting machines popularity here
Where I vote, we do a paper ballot with some kind of scanner to read the results in. It’s got barcodes on the side and all that to help with automatic alignment and all that.
I’m not sure why its popular other than “computers make everything better”. The only other thing I can think of is having automatic tabulation mean that the moment voting closes, the results are known. The Gore/Bush counting of Florida was driving a lot of people crazy because it was manual and slow and took days then weeks and yada yada. I think the idea is that if we had computerized voting, then we’d have instantaneous results. We are an impatient lot, ya know.
But we wouldn’t need computerized counting if we hadn’t lost our minds somewhere along the line. We have a race between a moderate, center-right president and a extreme right wing doppleganger who’s business experience came from a wealthy family and wealthy connections, who’s made his millions buying companies, stripping them down, shipping jobs overseas, and cannibalizing the pieces, who thinks women come in binders, who will probably try to outlaw abortion even in the case of rape and incest, and who has as his VP pick, a Laissez-Faire “economist” (I can’t even say that phrase without scare quotes around something. Otherwise, it makes me throw up a little bit in the back of my mouth) who thinks John Galt is a real person and is president of his fan club.
With a choice between a moderate center-right president and a right wing doppleganger and his insane vice presidential pick, 538 is saying the election is going to be kinda close. Close???
It’s like “Cake Or Death”, but the republicans keep insisting on voting for Death. Really? How did Gore v. Bush come down to a hundred thousand votes in Florida? Really? There should be millions of poeple who voted for Bush Jr who should be feel completely remorseful and should be seriously questioning why oh why are they feeling the urge to vote for Romney?
Obama is more like a Fig Newton, I admit. Not exactly what I would call desert, but better than Death. And Romney/Ryan is the Theocracy/Plutocracy ticket if I ever saw it. We might as well go back to the Dark Ages, flat earth and leeches, and the Black Plague, if they get in.
We shouldn’t need computerized voting machines. We should be able to call the election now, cause it should be a landslide. “Fig Newton or Black Plague”? That’s the question???? That this election is actually close just boggles my mind.
@greg constituencies in the Uk are relatively small about 80,000 votes on average, I think so the vote count is in by the next morning usually
As far as the way people vote here, well I sympathise with your position, the typical UK voter
would to be the left of Obama, from my personal experience in NJ, the level of corruption is often under reported abroad and the Mediterranean style of government is familiar from my time there
I agree, Greg, it’s like “Cake or Death”, except that after casting his ballot for Death, the voter mutters, “I wanted MegaDeath, but he was eliminated in the primaries.”
If I’m understanding Mitt’s November ’08 op-ed correctly, he wanted the US automakers to go into Chapter 11, with federal guarantees for the private post-bankruptcy financiers who would have provided the capital for the restructuring.
So private equity firms would have gotten convertible debt instruments that would have given them windfall profits had the restructurings been successful, with the US Treasury on the hook to make them whole had the restructurings been unsuccessful.
In other words, business as usual, hey?
I don’t watch much TV, so I don’t know if Washington, a reliably Blue state, is airing a lot of political ads. I can say that I’m getting a zillion robocalls every night. (I know they’re robocalls even though I don’t answer because Voter ID says “Unknown Caller.”)
I couldn’t imagine anyone basing their vote on a bunch of commercials, any more than I could imagine someone choosing a car, or a bank, or an investment firm, based on paid ads. But a good friend of mine made the hair on my neck stand up when he confessed to being ignorant about the candidates and said he’d watch ads to learn about them.
I did refrain – just barely – from going on off on him about how ads are the worst possible sources of information about a candidate. Ads offer at best – at best – deliberately incomplete information; they are designed to elicit emotion, not thought; to sell a product, not enlighten you about issues that will directly affect peoples’ lives. I told him to find intelligent media sources; specifically, NPR, BBC, and the Economist (I don’t agree with the Economist at all, but that’s precisely why I recommended it: it’s conservative but not stupid). I said he should start listening/reading now in order to build up some context and background.
I don’t think he’s going to do any of that. I suspect he’s going to be one of the tens of millions who will cast their vote knowing nothing about the candidates except what the ads say. The knowledge makes me sick.
‘Douglas Adams had an impassioned plea for pizza delivery by an American character living in london in one of his books, countries can take a long time to learn best practice’
The odd thing about that was that at least in my part of London, pizzas had been delivered for years when he wrote that.
Sully linked to this post a couple of hours ago. I haven’t seen a rise in comments; have you seen a spike in page views? Just curious.
By comparison, here in NYC, you wouldn’t even be able to tell there’s an election on.
Am I the only one in whose head Geddy Lee is singing “Living in a swing state, the universal dream…”?
If I might suggest a tiny bit of civic activism: instead of hanging up that robocall, put your phone down but leave it off the hook for a few minutes. That’s a few minutes that you’ve prevented their robocaller from calling someone else. If enough people did this, it could significantly decrease the number of robocalls people get on average.
You know what’s really funny?
*I* get political youtube adds and I live in Germany. And no, I don’t use IP spoofer or anything like that.
Does that fall under “collateral damage”?
which is why, of course, we’re being pandered to, or badgered, depending on your point of view.
Pandas, badgers, it’s some kind of black and white mammal.
@Xopher: Dunno if you were the only one, but you aren’t now. Thanks for the earworm.
Washington is so blue that it is practically ultraviolet, so we don’t get ANY of the national ads here. The only Republican ads are for local election and the Republican candidate for Governor has posters all over Seattle saying to vote for Obama, the marriage equality referendum, and himself. Most un-Tea Party-like campaign from a Tea Party-aligned Republican ever. Everything is so skewed here, you forget what it is like in the rest of the country.
@CaseyL: Depending on where you are, I understand there’s a couple of House races that are looking tighter than either party expected, so you might just be the unhappy beneficiary of some last minute budget shifting. Also suspect a lot of those robocalls will be trying to influence your vote on the marriage equality ballot initiative.
Another WA resident, here. I live in a metro area, and according to polls, I’m pretty typical: no landline phone, no television, sturdily Democrat. I’ve been comparing notes with friends and coworkers, and most of the ads and robocalls seem to be for our gubernatorial and congressional races, and the charter school bill. In my neighborhood, I’m getting more door-knockers than I’ve ever had before, all for local issues and candidates. The only place I see presidential ads is on the intertoobs, and I watched the last debate on CSPAN in a SRO downtown bar. Once the show started, it was so quiet that one could hear a metaphorical pin drop. Even the bartender was whispering.
In addition to the marriage equality bill, we also have marijuana legalization on the ballot. Both are polling as strong wins. Romney, not so much.
With all the attention focused on Brown vs.Mandel, Obama vs. Romney, I really haven’t heard a single word on who wants to be my new representative. You’d think the major parties might find that to be a little bit important, don’t you?
Thom, McKenna has ads up telling people to vote *Yes* on Referendum 74? That’s … astonishing.
In Cincinnati, it seems like there are often 4 Romney ads in a row, followed by a couple of Obama ads during most of the 7-8am news. It’s relentless.
I did drive through one of the more racially-diverse areas of the suburbs yesterday and saw one of the voter fraud billboards with JIM CROW spray painted across it.
@aphrael- the prevailing theory is that it is basically a ploy to get Seattle to put more votes in for McKenna, since he needs Seattle to win and it is pretty obvious he would repeal marriage equality as soon as he got the job. As Dan Savage puts it, Rob McKenna thinks Seattlites are stupid and hopes he can trick us into voting for him.
I actually just had to explain to my co-worker what the Voter Fraud amendment in MN was all about. She had seen a ton of commercials but they were just confusing. I then had to explain what the impact of doing an amendment was versus passing an actual law. Don’t they still teach this stuff in 10th grade civics class??? MN is an island of blue in a sea of red every election but the local Republican party does pretty well since the local Democratic party is just plain elitist. This year I have seen more Republican fliers and billboards that don’t mention their party affiliation at all. I wonder what that means?
Thom, Fivethirtyeight says that Washington is quite blue, with a 99.6% chance of an Obama win (at the moment; they update everything whenever they get new data). That’s bluer than New Jersey (where I live, 99.2%) but not as blue as Massachusetts (99.9%), but there are six states which are currently rated with 100.0% chance of going for Obama:
Now THAT’s the deepest blue.
MNmom, it means they’ve judged that association with the national party will cost them more votes than it gives them. It means they’re hoping for split-ticket votes.
MNmom: Don’t they still teach this stuff in 10th grade civics class???
I think kids’ schools are designed to generate apathy and indifference towards the political process. The less people engage in the process, the more the political machine can do whatever it wants.
If they wanted kids engaged in learning about how the system worked, there’d be Schoolhouse Rock revamped for this generation. Instead we have Republicans trying to demonize Sesame Street, one of the few remaining educational programs that tries to engage kids.
“They were sufferin’ until suffrage!” is a damn catchy tune.
Xopher, the odd thing is that while CA is very blue, WA’s *brand* of blue seems to be more liberal. Both gay marriage and pot legalization seem likely to pass there this year, and both failed in CA.
Thom, how would McKenna repeal marriage equality? Wouldn’t the legislature have to do that?
@ Thom & aphrael: Ja, McKenna is a weasel, but the full page ads in the Seattle Times supporting both McKenna & Ref 74 were paid for by the Times, itself, not by the McKenna campaign. McKenna has already stated that he opposes marriage equality and will vote No on the referendum.
Neither McKenna and Inslee are going to vote Yes on 502, but McKenna’s position is firmly prohibitionist, while Inslee is lukewarm and has acknowledged that likely Inslee voters overwhelmingly support 502.
This site gives an excellent overview of our candidates: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Jay_Inslee_vs_Rob_McKenna
I live in Northern Kentucky…and I watch TV on occasion (from Cincinnati)…and I’m exhausted. All the ads meant for Ohio voters are wearing me out.
Your neighbors are depressing.
I missed their tour this year. First time in over two decades. Sigh…
Summit (Akron) check-in: I don’t have a land line anymore, so I’ve gotten zero robocalls. Direct mail, for reasons I can’t surmise, has been light, and that has gone straight to recycling. But the Cleveland TV market – covering a huge geography and about 1/3 of the state’s population – has been inundated. The pattern is: programming, Obama, Romney, Republican PAC, Obama, programming, Romney, Democratic PAC, etc. I can’t wait for Nov 7.
@mintwitch-Not the Times ad, which is the newspaper showing who they endorse, but the posters that were put up all over Capitol Hill. @aphrael- Repeal was the wrong word to use, but in some bizarro world where McKenna wins and Ref 74 passes, you know one of the first things he would do is try to get some Washington version of Prop 8 going. Do Republicans try to win over lefty voters like this in other places or is more of a Northwest thing?
At a couple of seasonal parties over the weekend, several different people mentioned, apropos of very little, just how incredibly sick of political ads they were. I told them all the same thing, “be thankful you don’t live in Ohio or Colorado.” They all expressed sympathy for you.
I live and breathe politics. My life interests are probably about 50% history, 45% politics, 5% science fiction. I’ve been hyper-political since I was 12. But I’ve been sick and tired of this election since August. At this point, I’m so sick of it that I don’t even really care who wins, I just want it to be over. And I don’t even live in a swing state! There aren’t even any even minimally competitive races on my ballot! Every single one has been a foregone conclusion for weeks or months, and still the barrage continues!
I’m in Massachusetts and while we don’t see too many presidential ads (except for collateral damage from New Hampshire), we are getting lots of ads for the senate race.
It gets annoying here, so Mr. Scalzi, you have my sympathy.
Its why I love Scalzi.
Reblogged this on Italian Blonde: Lost In Translation / Italiana Bionda: Perso Nella Traduzione and commented:
“Carpetbombed” is why I love Scalzi.