Showing posts with label Olympics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympics. Show all posts

Friday, August 8, 2008

On VP Announcement Timing and Graphic Naming -- Some Housekeeping

There are a couple of unresolved issues that I've been meaning to address but haven't found the time to do so this week.

1) Graphic Naming
I promised that I'd put the names for the new electoral college graphic up for a vote, but in true democratic fashion have tentative adopted a name -- the victory line -- for the state where 270 electoral votes are achieved. This seems strange without exhibit A, so here it is:

The Electoral College State Rankings
* Pennsylvania is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election.

There are a couple of things at stake here: the name of the graphic in its totality and the name of the state in yellow. The latter has been discussed a bit more than the former, but here are the choices so far for each:
The Graphic Choices:
a) Electoral College State Rankings
b) Electoral College Spectrum
c) ??????

The Yellow State:
a) The Cutting Edge
b) The Breaking Point (Yeah, I'll include this because I've been using it out of habit lately.)
c) The Finish Line
d) Checkers
e) The Victory Line
f) ??????
The comments section is open for voting and further suggestions. I think I'll cut this off at 5p this afternoon and make a decision then. If there are additional names suggested that catch my fancy, I'll put them in above in an update.

2) VP Announcement Timing
Last week's post and subsequent comments discussion had readers speculating on when Obama would announce his vice presidential selection. Here's where that ended up:
Allen: Aug. 14-19
Josh: Aug. 4-5
Rob: Aug. 5-7
Scott: Aug. 7

Mean Date: Aug. 8-9
Median Date: Aug. 6-7
Allen pretty much nailed this one, saying that Obama would vacation first and then name his selection. I'm still moderately surprised that the Obama campaign didn't move prior to the Olympics (He's still got a few hours before the opening ceremonies are televised on tape delay here though. Online video coverage doesn't kick off until 6:30p EST and then it is mostly just badminton, shooting and handball. I'm not saying Obama's going to announce within that window. I'm just saying.). Had I (and Scott and Rob) bought into the momentum of Obama's VP red herrings the last two weeks? No, not the increased chatter among the chattering class, but that it had combined with fairly specific speculation --centered on one person each time -- and a timing constraint represented by the games in Beijing. Last week it was Tim Kaine. This week it was Evan Bayh.

I'm still less concerned with who the choices are on either side than I am with how these things are being timed. So, now that we know Obama's choice likely won't come this week, when does everyone think these choices will be Allen has won phase one and is owed several rounds of drinks because of it. There are now 19 days between today and when the vice presidential selection speaks at the Democratic convention on August 27. When will Obama move on this and why is that time optimal? Feel free to weigh in in the comments section.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

A Game of Vice Presidential Chicken

The clock is ticking on both presidential candidates to select running mates and there is even less for them than you might think. Sure the Democratic convention kicks off one month from today, leaving the candidates just over four weeks to make a selection. However, sixteen of those days will be devoted to the Olympic games and may not be the most opportune time to make such an announcement. With the games starting two weeks from today, both McCain and Obama will have to either fit their decisions into that two week window or make an announcement during the Olympic period.

The consensus is that Obama will make the first move because the Democratic convention is first. McCain is at a disadvantage here because the GOP convention gets underway just a week after the Democrats' gathering in Denver. In other words he can't fall back on the time between conventions as a viable time in which to make his VP selection public. Viewed from this angle, reports of McCain potentially making his decision this week make that possibility seem less farfetched (going before Obama, perhaps would make it more unusual).

So we have a predicted order of selections, and the timing has yet to be determined, but is severly constrained at this point. Let's talk about the Olympics as an obstacle to these decisions (And the games are not supposed to be political.) for a moment. During the last two cycles the Olympics had no real effect on vice presidential selection. In 2000, the Sydney games were not until mid-September, after both conventions and both VP selections. In 2004, Bush already had his man in Cheney and Kerry had countered that soon after he wrapped up the Democratic nomination by selecting John Edwards. But even though, the Olympics didn't play a role in the VP decisions in 2004 they may have had an effect on the presidential race. And I haven't seen this discussed anywhere. However, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth released their controversial ad on August 5, 2004, just eight days prior to Athens games commencing. Now, that leaves three weeks, one before the games and two during, for that to percolate before Kerry could/would effectively respond (He did file a complaint with the FEC during the games.). Did those games stand in the way of an effective response though? And what does that mean for the VP selections to come?

Well, the Olympics are a distraction and just enough of a distraction to allow for something underground like the Swift Boat ad to spread. However, something like a VP announcement would likely be viewed as a political move during an apolitical event. So while the Swift Boat Veterans may have been able to get away with it, McCain (or Obama) likely would not. It isn't that the games would overshadow the announcement so much that the announcement would be a move contrary to the overarching tenor of the games.

If Obama is supposed to go first then, he may be playing a game of brinksmanship with McCain and his campaign now. To stretch the decision out this far either forces McCain to move first or decide at a bad time (during the games or the Democratic convention). Nate Silver covered this earlier in the week when the report of McCain's imminent announcment surfaced, but didn't include the Olympics angle. But McCain is up against it on this one. Obama is holding all the cards and, if he is the one to move first, could hold them until the eve of the games. The flipside, of course, is that Obama forces a move out of McCain but leaves himself little time to respond or respond effectively. As adept as the Obama campaign has seemed though, it would appear unlikely that they would be playing such a game of chicken without some contingency plans. There are only so many rabbits McCain can pull out of that VP hat.

[Update: Chris Cillizza over at The Fix has more on the implications of the Olympics on VP selection.]

Thanks to Rob Shewfelt for getting the ball rolling on this one in the comments to the Florida post (linked below.).

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