Obama campaign picks up additional delegates out of Iowa now that the state caucus process is officially complete. Don’t ask me to explain all the details, but broadly speaking the Iowa caucuses were projected to yield 16 delegates for Obama but at the state convention he actually wound up snagging more like 21. Some kind of similar process where caucuses projections need to be turned into actual delegate counts is going to play out elsewhere.
Political journalists, being journalists, tend to focus on campaign happenings and controversies as a key determinant of election outcomes. Research, however, indicates that most people vote as dogmatic partisans and that most of the election-to-election variance can be explained by macroeconomic trends. Some elections, obviously, are very close and thus “the campaign” turns out to have been a decisive figure, but even in these cases a very close election like the 2000 election featured so many “important” campaign factors (Bush’s coverup of his DUI citation, Gore sighing in the debate, Bush not knowing the names of foreign leaders, the press insisting that Gore claimed to have invented the internet, etc.) that it’s hard to believe that any one of them was actually all that important.
Primary campaign voters, by contrast, are more fickle because there’s much less underlying difference between the contenders. And one thing primary voters look at is electability, and another thing they look at is elite support and elites look a lot at electability. Voters and elites alike, meanwhile, like reporters, tend to wildly overestimate the importance of contingent campaign happenstance on election outcomes. Consequently, a primary season campaign gaffe that’s seen as potentially harmful during the general election is arguably more likely to hurt you in the primary because of the perception that it’ll hurt you in the general than it is to actually hurt you in the general election.
War critics, as is well known, are so blinded by ideology that they can’t see the very real improvements in Iraq:
Michael O’Hanlon, a Senior Fellow specializing in security issues in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution, spent some “two and a half days” in September in Iraq. He came back with the impression that “on balance” the United States will ultimately succeed in Iraq.
O’Hanlon said he is “guardedly optimistic” that the situation in Iraq will stabilize under a government similar to “Ataturk’s Turkey.” He dismissed the possibility of a U.S.-style Jeffersonian democracy taking shape in Iraq in the immediate future.
O’Hanlon said “positive things” were happening in Iraq such as the ready availability of electricity and water, and access to telephones. He said hospitals are open and schools are full of children who, otherwise, would be on the streets and possibly could become victims of clashes between U.S. troops and insurgent groups.
According to O’Hanlon, “crime rates” in big cities such as Baghdad have begun to diminish and improving security conditions have resulted in fewer Iraqi casualties.
And, yes, those were were written in December of 2003. Note O’Hanlon’s keen grasp of the subtle dynamics of Iraqi politics and society:
Tonight at the Velvet Lounge, Spencer Ackerman’s new band The Surge will be offering their debut performance. Doors open at 9:30 PM. Also: 23 Rainy Days, Stalking Horses, and The City Veins.
Last updated: September 7, 2007
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Al-Qaida is in Iraq to stay. It’s not a conclusion the White House talks about much when denouncing the shadowy group, known as al-Qaida in Iraq, that used the U.S. invasion five years ago to develop into a major killer.
The militants are weakened, battered, perhaps even desperate, by most U.S. accounts. But far from being “routed,” as Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed last month, they’re still there, still deadly active and likely to remain far into the future, military and other officials told The Associated Press. [...]
Al-Qaida in Iraq, which did not exist as a coherent group before U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, probably now numbers no more than 6,000, according to U.S. intelligence estimates.
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I’m gonna be on Fox News at 5:20 PM Eastern tomorrow to talk about the Michigan/Florida delegations controversy and how its existence proves that Democrats are craven appeasers who want terrorists to devour your children.
UPDATE: Sorry, sorry, I’ll be on today at 5:20.