Sunday morning politics linkdump. Sorry for all these linkdumps, by the way—it was a busy week. Next week should see a return to a little bit more sustained commentary (including the exciting return of debate liveblogging!).
* There have been some interesting debates about poll biases lately. Ron Fournier (grumble) at the AP covers a study that argues Obama would be further ahead were it not for racial animus, by as many as six points. FiveThirtyEight throws cold water on this, as well as looking closely at the possibility of a "cellphone effect" in the polls. If Obama does 2.8% better in polls that include cellphones, that suggests a shifting map like the one below, turning Virginia light-blue and strengthening small Dem leads in Ohio and Colorado.
* A study from political scientist Alan Abramowitz argues that Obama will win, when all is said and done, with 54% of the popular vote. That he's naively comparing historical models with this year's unprecedentedly diverse tickets in both camps shows how seriously we should take this analysis.
* A new PPP poll shows North Carolina tied. Other recent polls show South Carolina within six, West Virginia within four, and MontanVoteRonPaula within two.
* There's evidence of a "Palin effect" in Florida driving undecided voters to Obama.
* The Spine tries to get a handle on Obama's early-voting advantage, beginning as early as this Friday in Virginia. The second link has some stats of interest for Dukies and Durham residents:
In addition, more early-voting centers are being located at colleges and universities, a change that significantly affects student turnout. Students at the University of North Carolina and N.C. State were able to vote on campus throughout the two weeks leading up to North Carolina's primary contest in April. At Duke University, however, students had to make their way to voting sites in the city of Durham. While turnout for Durham County was 52% in the Democratic primary, only 11% of eligible Duke students voted. This fall, however, Duke will have its own early-voting center, open for business starting Oct. 16.* The McCain camp has successfully demanded the VP debate rules be changed to protect Sarah Palin.
*Judge orders Cheney not to destroy his VP records.
* SNL mocked McCain this week. He also preemptively mocked himself with an article in Contingencies arguing (for reals) that "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation." Straight out of the Dept. of Bad Timing. Obama's already taken aim at this.
* Will Obama raise my taxes? A helpful widget.
* And American Stranger has a long post on ideology that seems to take as one starting point my post on Slavoj Žižek, Obama Supporter. Essentially Ryan takes aim at the various binds the Left finds itself in with regard to political action, and I largely agree with what he says—though I certainly hope I wasn't in mind as his example of sell-out "liberal 'pragmatism' a la The New Republic." My point, both in the earlier post and now in this one, is simply that the U.S. President has a tremendous ability to make life better or worse for real people with real lives, all over the world, many of whom (believe it or not!) do not have cushy long-term contracts with elite universities. Naderite "Oh, they're all the same!" negativity only makes sense to people who are inoculated by class and privilege from the consequences of that power.
The mere recognition that the perfect not be the enemy of the good doesn't quite throw my lot in with TNR, I don't think, and certainly not so long as we also keep in mind that the good not be the enemy of the better. Our discomfort with pragmatic compromises—and we should be discomforted by them, every time and in every case—isn't by itself a reason not to be pragmatic.