By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

In search of the fat lady

In my latest for the Guardian, I argue that liberals would be nuts if they start banking on an Obama victory. There are just too many things that could go wrong: Republican-led voter suppression, the Bradley effect and the possibility that the McCain campaign’s fear-and-smear efforts will finally catch fire.

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16 Comments

  1. Don, American

    I’m sorry, but the fear is real, and the truth is not a smear.

  2. Mark

    I hope that Republicans prove to be better losers than Democrats have been the past two presidential cycles. I think they will be.It’s been a long campaign, Obama looks like he has won fair and square.It is funny how Democrats are already laying the groundwork to raise Hell if Obama manages to blow it.They are already sounding the voter suppression alarm.I’d like to think this will be the biggest difference between a Republican loss and past Democratic losses. We won’t scream bloody murder about voting irregularities that just don’t exist. We won’t have lawyers on the ground ready to litigate our way to electoral victory (Let me pre-empt everybody by saying that George Bush did not steal the election in 2000 in court – and unless you have read the entire Supreme Court case, you have no right to say otherwise).If we have to lose, I hope it will be with grace – a grace the Democrats (John Kerry himself in 2004 excluded) failed to demonstrate in previous elections.

  3. Esther

    Dan, I’m being cautiously pessimistic. I definitely agree with you about the Bradley effect. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that people are simply lying to pollsters about their support for Obama. It may not even be a conscious thing. They may “say” they’re supporting him but when they get into the voting booth, it could be a different matter. This is an event of historic proportions in American history and I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out. There’s a lot of deeply and not-so-deeply suppressed racism out there. I hope we’ve risen above this as a nation but honestly, I’m not sure.

  4. zadig

    Don: It’s a smear if, for example, the McCain campaign takes an innocuous set of facts (Obama and Ayers happened to be on the same board promoting reasonable education causes) and spins them into something ominous (“Obama pals around with terrorists”). Obama doesn’t pal around with Ayers by any reasonable interpretation of “pals”, therefore it’s a smear, bordering on a lie.Mark: Republicans have already proven themselves to be bad losers. Regardless of how you interpret the Supreme Court case (nice try at pre-emption) in Florida 2000, it showed the Republicans ginning up fake riots to prevent a recount, and then lawyering up until they got their way. No stretch of the imagination can call that “good losing”. The Democrats are simply preparing themselves for the Republican shenanigans that have been demonstrated at the last two presidential elections, including widespread attempts at vote suppression.Finally, I hope the Bradley effect is an outdated concept that has no bearing on this election. But I guess we’ll see.

  5. O-FISH-L

    “There are just too many things that could go wrong: Republican-led voter suppression, the Bradley effect and the possibility that the McCain campaign’s fear-and-smear efforts will finally catch fire.”—Is there any better organized voter suppression effort than the Democrat media telling people the election is all over? As Rush Limbaugh has predicted all along, the pollsters, needing to preserve credibility for 2012, will in the final week start to reveal that this is truly a neck and neck race. Example, Gallup has it at 2% today.As for the Bradley Effect, I agree with Ann Coulter. The Bradley Effect isn’t racism, it’s the fear of being accused of racism. Big difference. Fear and smear? Launching your political career in the living room of a terrorist, writing a favorable book review for him and now the media hiding a tape of Obama apparently toasting a PLO man while in the company of said terrorist and terrorist’s terrorist wife, means that the fear is justified and the “smear” is actually surpressed news. You can’t put a shine on a sneaker Dan, but with the media supplying the polish, Obama has come close.

  6. O'Rion

    I understand the “Bradley” in concept, but don’t buy it in practice. This isn’t a year to prevaricate. The polling will be accurate. Even the one showing Obama closing in the Arizona desert.

  7. Amused

    There is a fundamental difference between working to prevent people from exercising their right to vote and using poll results to energize your base and discourage the opposition. But here we have the latest wacko right-wing theory.Smears are smears and they’re going to take hold. The Republicans are incapable of winning an election on ideas and agendas, so they’ve launched smears, starting with the Ayers nonsense, now the socialist nonsense.But it will work. Fear always works and it will cause Obama to crash and burn in the next five days.Democrats don’t use those tactics, otherwise we would have heard more about Palin being married to someone who was a member of a political party that hates the very idea of the United States; a lot more would have been made of McCain’s lousy record as a soldier and history of cooperating with the enemy in propaganda broadcasts; and Palin’s corruption in abusing her office would have been hammered constantly. But the Democrats ran on ideas, hope and issues.Obama is cooked. This time the democrat isn’t being cooked by Willie Horton, the nutbags have turned him INTO Willie Horton, the scary black guy

  8. zadig

    and now the media hiding a tape of Obama apparently toasting a PLO man while in the company of said terrorist and terrorist’s terrorist wife,Oh yes, Fish, we’ll all hold our breaths waiting for that tape, and it will turn up all in a rush with the Michelle Obama “whitey” tape and her interview with the African press trashing whites and America.The promising poll numbers showing an Obama victory gives me hope that the American public is finally getting wise to crap like you’re peddling.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Reading Michael Graham again? I would hope you’d know by now that you’re getting less than half the story.A few years ago, the person in question was funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from a democracy foundation headed by McCain. And despite accusations, there is no credible evidence that he was ever an associate of Yasser Arafat’s, as Graham and others charge.Read all about it.

  10. Jack

    Two other possible outcomes: 1) Obama assassination.2) George Bush declaring martial law, proclaiming the presidential term limits law null and void, and installing himself for a third term.

  11. Ani

    We’ve seen what happens when the financial markets freeze up when trust is gone; if our trust in the election process and our democracy were really to vanish too, we will all be in trouble.

  12. mike_b1

    jack: that will never happen. Cheney is tired of running the country, and Bush only wanted a second term so he wouldn’t have to hear it from his dad.

  13. Tunder

    O-Fish, where did this inane comment about the media get fed to you? “I’ll be the first to dance on the grave of the soon to die media.”Now that the liberal rag the Boston Herald has lost your subscription, I guess it’s only Rush and Sean’s e-newsletters for you and your comic books.Hilarious that the thrice-divorced, college drop-out and prescription-pill junkie Rush Limbaugh is your moral beacon. Did you get a chance to listen to the entire audio clip of Obama talking about the constitution? No? Oh, that’s right, Rush only played part of the clip. Obama’s point was that the constitution was written on the premise that blacks were considered only 3/5 citizens and that slavery was to continue as an excepted part of society. Obama, like most reasonable Americans, knows that the Constitition was written in its historical context and was purposely left open by the framers to be amended.But that kind of deeper look at important issues is obviously lost on you and Rush.

  14. mike_b1

    I would argue that Obama knows the Constitution better than anyone he’s running against and anyone who reports on what he says, not to mention anyone who reads this space.

  15. Tunder

    mike_b1: you’ve forgotten about Rush and Bellow O’Reilly: Constitutional scholars both…

  16. mike_b1

    Oh yeah…legends in their own minds.

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