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Fit, Print, Whatever

The US election hasn’t been as heated over the last week, so perhaps it’s time to take a deep, cleansing breath. Inhale, hold it – exhale – good. We can all step back from the heat of the moment to think about what’s going on for a while.

Now that we’re all in a calming place we can talk about some stories that haven’t quite made the news at the level the usual horse-race stories have. I’d like to write about two things that should be part of our analysis but somehow haven’t made the big radar screens yet. One is a sin of omission, one of commission. They’re both rather big.

The first is what Rush Limbaugh calls “Operation Chaos”. He has decided that he can use his radio show to keep Clinton alive and burn up the Democrats by having his people turn out to vote for Hillary. It’s his big moment, after all, in a season where he’s been largely ignored. He can’t sit still when he’s not getting attention, after all.

So what does he have to say? Try this out:

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_031908/content/01125108.guest.html

“Folks, we are doing it! Do you realize, we are doing it! Things are happening out there on our terms. Why, this is just fabulous.” � “They had a big debate over the Limbaugh Effect and Operation Chaos. Bob Schieffer has been asked about Operation Chaos and finds it fascinating. Bob Beckel has proposed a plan to counter Operation Chaos. Obama is burning cash fighting Operation Chaos.”

Yes, that’s Rush at his best, self-promoting and bragging like a schoolyard bully. But in this case, he’s got a point:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/03/17/many_voting_for_clinton_to_boost_gop/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed1

According to this analysis, 119,000 Republicans did as they were told and voted for Clinton in Texas. She won that primary by 101,000, meaning that Rush might very well have made the difference. Leaving aside the simple fact that Obama won the Caucus that night and won 4 more delegates, 98-94, it looks as though the Clinton campaign has been kept alive by Republican interference. And that’s not a story I’ve seen written anywhere.

But beyond that important story that’s been omitted from our political diet these last few weeks, there’s been an even bigger whopper that has been repeated often despite being utterly wrong.

We’ve all heard the “Big State” argument from the Clinton campaign. The rationale is that because Clinton has won the bigger states, she’s in better shape for the general. I’ve seen it written many times that because Clinton won 8 of the 9 largest states, or often said as 8 of the 9 largest states decided so far, she has a better chance in the Electoral College.

Now, let’s leave aside for a moment that this is just spin from the Clinton campaign and our own opinions of how valid any “Big State” analysis is. This one is plain wrong for several reasons.

If you look at the top 9 states that have voted so far, it doesn’t take too long to see that both Illinois (#5) and Georgia (#9) went for Obama. If you leave out Florida and Michigan, which clearly won’t count, and generously count Texas as a tie (see above), you have a record among the top 9 states of 3-2-1 in favor of Clinton. That’s hardly a knockout. While Pennsylvania (#6) appears to favor Clinton, it’s worth noting that North Carolina (#10) is trending to Obama. That means that at the end of this it’s likely to be 4-3-1, and it’d have been 4-4 if it weren’t for Rush and his fans.

Yes, between my two missed stories I’m calling the Big State Theory a tie. And the whole argument was based on New Jersey (#11) being one of the Clinton states, even though it has slipped out of the Top Ten in favor of the New South – showing that my generational analysis has some merit in all of these stories. Incidentally, Georgia, North Carolina, and New Jersey all have the same 15 Electoral Votes.

So why is it that the press misses a story that is fascinating and repeats another that is wrong? To be fair, some of this has gotten out in the press here and there. But they are hardly part of the national dialogue, and they aren’t mentioned anywhere near as much as the usual horserace. You can apply your own theory as to why.

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