Election Night Warmup #4

1916: Signaling election results via the Chicago Daily News searchlight.

  This, from the Nov. 6, 1904 New York Times, describes the general idea.


From the top of the tower of its new building in Times Square The Times on Tuesday night will announce by searchlight the result of the Presidential election, the contest in New York State for Governor, and the political complexion of the new House of Representatives.

The searchlight will throw a shaft of white light, and the results wil be indicated as follows by the direction.

   – Steady light to the west, Roosevelt elected.
   – Steady light to the east, Parker elected.
   – Steady light to the north, Higgins elected.
   – Steady light to the south, Herrick elected.
   – Light to west, up and down, Republican Congress elected.
   – Light to east, up and down, Democratic Congress elected.

And, just as CNN touts its Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall today, the Times didn’t miss the chance to illuminate the benefits of 1904 election reporting technology.

With this code before him, the voter who wants to find out how things are going, and who doesn’t want to stay out all night at a telegraph office, either in the city or out of town, can don his negligee and from an advantageous window in his flat or in his house ascertain the important results.

You can still don your negligee Tuesday night, but you don’t have to find an advantageous window anymore. That’s progress.

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McCain’s “Hail Sarah” Finally Comes Down…and Falls Incomplete

Back on August 29th, when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin burst onto the national political scene, I called it McCain’s “Hail Sarah” pass and thought it spoke of desperation among the McCainites.  It took two months for the ball to reach the top of its arc and fall toward the endzone but based on the story posted on the New York Times web site this evening, I think we’re ready to make a ruling on the field:

“The pass is incomplete.  4th down.”

According to the Times‘ polling on the subject…

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

Only 36 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Governor Palin and only 35 percent consider her prepared to assume the presidency.  Forty-one percent had an unfavorable opinion.  By comparison, Joe Biden had an 18 point favorable/unfavorable spread (43-25) and 74 percent of respondents consider him prepared to be president.

It gets worse…

Mr. McCain’s renewed efforts to cast himself as the candidate of change have apparently faltered. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. Obama would bring about real change if elected, while only 39 percent said Mr. McCain would. And despite Mr. McCain’s increased efforts to distance himself from President Bush, a majority still said he would generally continue Mr. Bush’s policies.

So, to boil it down, Senator McCain damaged – fatally it seems – his argument that he’s the candidate with experience and solid judgment by picking Governor Palin and jumping to a message of “change is coming.”  Unfortunately, the change message has failed as well.

The poll does, however, illuminate the reason why all you’ll hear from the Red Team over the next five days is attacks on Obama’s fitness to handle an international crisis (witness Sarah Palin today): the only category in which McCain holds any meaningful lead over Obama is in the category of readiness to serve as commander-in-chief:  McCain is held to “very prepared” by 47 percent of the electorate to only 33 percent for Obama.

Maybe that sets the stage for the last Hail Mary of the cycle.

– Austin sample invoice template free nice

Judicial Jujutsu

Lawsuits are flying around the Minnesota Senate race right and left today.

LAWSUIT #1: First, the Huffington Post reports that a lawsuit in Texas against Coleman alleged that a family friend provided $75,000 to the Senator’s family through the friend’s business. If true, that would be a very big deal, but this lawsuit has apparently been withdrawn.

LAWSUIT #2: According to news accounts, Coleman’s has filed a lawsuit alleging he was defamed by Franken, because Franken said Coleman was ranked the fourth most corrupt Member of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Which lawsuit is righteous, and which is frivolous? I have no idea.

It’s worth noting that Coleman has filed similar suits against Senator Paul Wellstone and Attorney General Hubert Humphrey in the waning days of past campaigns, so there’s a fighting chance that this lawsuit may be more about winning in the court of public opinion than winnning in a court of law.

But Franken did seem to make a factual error. Apparently CREW said Coleman was one of the 20 most corrupt Members of Congress (out of 535), a fact Coleman doesn’t seem to dispute. But Coleman does dispute that CREW specifically ranked him fourth.

And lots of crazy lawsuits get filed against incumbents like Coleman in the final week of campaigns, and there is a good chance that the Texas suit lacks merit as well.

Merit aside, I do find this back-and-forth interesting from a public relations standpoint.

First, does it really help Coleman to call in the news media to essentially declare “how dare my opponent say I’ve been named fourth most corrupt, when I’ve only been named as one the 20 most corrupt?!” Is shining the light on a corruption ranking ever a good idea?

Second, if Coleman is innocent, shouldn’t he deny the allegations? Might the mum and run routine (see videoclip above) feed a perception of guilt at a delicate political hour?

Finally, shouldn’t the Star Tribune mention both the pro- and anti-Coleman lawsuits in its coverage? In the current on-line story, only the anti-Franken lawsuit is mentioned.

– Loveland

Post-post postscript: Since the original post, the Star Tribune has published a separate story by investigative reporters Paul McEnroe and Tony Kennedy about the anti-Coleman lawsuit. Hence, the deletion above. The Pioneer Press did a story on the anti-Franken lawsuit, but not the anti-Coleman lawsuit. vat invoice nice

Hollywood Does The PSA

Every election season, the folks in Hollywood come up with a PSA about voting that manages to make the participants look earnest and oh-so-serious.  The tone is nominally nonpartisan, but it usually manages to make clear where the politics of the participants lie.

This year’s offerings are unusual only in that there are two PSAs, I guess because there are so many celebrities who wanted to be in them.  They are – I suspect – watched more as curiosity than for information or motivation to go vote (at this point, if it takes Julia Roberts or Will Smith to get you off your ass to vote, I gotta wonder if we should let you).  Nonetheless, since we posted Paris and the Ratzenberger/Jackson/Baldwin bonanza, why not the rest of the guest list at Bastide?

– Austin

“Five Friends” Part I…

“Five More Friends” Part II…

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