A few thoughts before my two-week time-out for summer vacation:
1. Good news! The New York Times analyst Nate Silver has compiled a very sophisticated computer program that now shows Obama with the advantage in the election. Silver is the whiz-bang who revolutionized the analysis of baseball players' performance. If it's good enough for baseball, it's good enough for me! In politically practical terms, Silver did a good job on the 2008 election and was right on the money in the 2010 elections. He also did very well in calling the 2012 primaries.
2. The Liberal Party now has a presidential candidate: former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. The party has qualified for the ballot in 47 states. Theoretically this could help Obama. A noisy chunk of the GOP has turned Libertarian, and some of these voters may opt for Johnson instead of Romney in November. At least we can hope so.
3. The key swing states - about six - are doing better in economic recovery than the national average. Do voters perceive the economy by what's going on right around them or by the national picture? If the former, Obama has a good shot in places like Ohio and Virginia. Keep in mind that it's virtually impossible for a GOP presidential candidate to win without Ohio. Obama has several paths to accumulating the majority in the electoral college, but Romney has only one and it leads through Ohio.
4. Don't let the polls bug you. It's still too early. (You can get bugged later on.) A tip for poll-watching: Pew Research is the gold standard. Problem is that it does not appear every week or two like the others until near the end of the campaign. Gallup is no longer what it once was, especially its daily tracking poll which is worthless. Many of the small you-never-heard-of-them polls aren't very good either. Among the bigger polls, headlines usually go to their national polls and these don't tell us what the electoral college is looking like. Among the smaller polls doing the individual states, Rasmussen consistently bends toward the GOP. Quinnipac used to but may have leveled out. Public Policy (PPP) used to be considered an unreliable upstart but did a very good job this year in the presidential primaries. It doesn't call cell phones, which is bit of bias against younger people and Democrats, so keep that in mind. Marist was a minor player in 2008 but seems better this year. Periodically Nate Silver combines the results of a number of state polls, weights them according to their track record for reliability, and produces a sort of average that supposedly is more sound than just plain averaging. As for that Irish betting parlor and the Las Vegas odds? I gotta a bridge you might want to buy.
5. Even though we can take time off for summer vacation, the Obama effort can't. Last month the GOP outdid the Dems in fund-raising for the first time this cycle, even if we don't count the sums raised by the GOP super pacs. Dems still do a better job with getting small contributions from more people, but money is money. The huge amounts spent in Wisconsin by the GOP and their super pac pals swamped the unions' and Democratic spending by 5 to 1. Faced with these money machines, WE HAVE TO contribute ALL WE CAN to the Obama campaign. And volunteer for the ground effort. The money is needed NOW! Consider giving Obama your vacation money. Stay local instead of blowing thousands on a get-away. See the sights in your own area. Less travel also means less polluting of the air. If Romney gets elected there probably won't be any more air!
6. Check back in a couple of weeks. That's when I'll be back on-line from my at-home vacation. Meantime I'll be chumming it up with three of my five married kid couples and four of the nine grandkids. What fun!
Till then, Hasta la vista, baby!