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Civics 101: how we elect, and don’t elect, Presidents

It’s rare that I have any considerable daylight’s worth of disagreement with the political analysis of frequent YNN-Partner-In-Crime Harvey Kronberg, but something he said near the end of his most recent analysis on YNN caught my eye:

With all of this, there is still the opportunity for an October surprise. The classic was the indictment of Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for his role in the Iran Contra Affair just four days before Bill Clinton narrowly defeated the first President Bush in 1992.

First off, Clinton did not “narrowly” defeat Bush in 1992. In the only measure that counts – electoral votes – Clinton demolished Bush by earning almost 69% of them.

“AHA!,” I can almost hear Kronberg, and you, screeching. “But what about the popular vote??!”

Friends, I know we’ve all been brainwashed by countless national polling every single day which provides a daily – almost hourly – reminder of where things stand in the Presidential election. And for the sake of this civics lesson I’ll even set aside the fact that Clinton bested Bush by almost 6 million popular votes nationally (which, also, ain’t that narrow). But here’s the bottom line: measuring national popular votes for a Presidential candidate is about as useful a measure to the outcome of a Presidential campaign as counting dead squirrels killed in the Presidential race as a useful measure of outcome of a Presidential race. It just doesn’t count at all.

The candidate who gets 270 electoral votes or more is the candidate who wins a Presidential election, period. Therefore, the campaign with their focus on how best to win those electoral votes is the smart campaign. And the pundits who forget that fact are too lost in the national polling forest to see the electoral vote trees.

Don’t get me wrong – national polls are useful, and I’m glad I get to obsess on them every day, because I’m a dork that way. There’s no better measure of which candidate has the national momentum. But national polls only serve to estimate a national popular vote – and that is just simply not how we elect Presidents.

There are arguments which could be made that it shouldn’t be the process. But nobody can make a fact-based argument that it isn’t the process. And since that’s the process, arguing that Clinton only narrowly defeated Bush just isn’t accurate.

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Bill Hammond gives us some lip

Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters took a field trip to Katz’ Deli for lunch today to see if we could weasel our way into the CNBC live broadcast. We failed miserably of course, but got a pretty good ruben sandwich out of the deal.
While there, we ran into none other than Bill Hammond, who heads up the Texas Association of Business. He was undoubtedly there for the same reason, with undoubtedly the same result.
We couldn’t help but notice that Bill is sporting a brand new shiny mustache.
Hammond with Mustache
Hammond without Mustache

Should Bill Hammond keep the mustache?
Absolutely not! free polls

Since he’s not an idiot, Hammond has not agreed to abide by the results of this ultra-turbo-super-duper-scientific poll. But he’s a good sport for playing along.

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April Fools Blog

Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters is pleased to present to you, the crap-reading public, this little April Fools Day cartoon, starring Ted Delisi and yours truly:

This has been your Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters April Fools Day cartoon.

And oh yeah, if there’s something about the mast head (that’s what SHE said!) you don’t like today, it’s your fault. Readers nominated it, and readers voted for it from among the nominations. 38 percent of blog voters picked “Harold Cook’s Stimulus Package” as the blog name today.

Tying for second with 17 percent apiece were “Burnt Porn Report” and “The Bastard Son of Martha Stewart.” Coming in at 15 percent was “In the Stink,” and bringing up the rear was “Straus of Ill Repute” at 7 percent.

I’m afraid this exercise settles, once and for all, questions regarding the caliber of readers on this site, as well as the caliber of the writing.

The regular mast head will return tomorrow. Meanwhile, on to bigger and better things, namely, wrapping April Fools Day gifts, singing April Fools Day carols, and decorating the April Fools Day tree.

Special note to Texas legislators: how’s that April Fools Day state holiday legislation coming? Anybody ever talk ’em into getting the fiscal note on that thing down to a reasonable level?

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll asked site readers how they like the new Letters From Texas design.

A combined 73% like it, and 25% don’t. Rounding accounts for the missing 2%.
Of the 73% positive responses, almost half (35%) also liked the old design, while 38% said the new design is much better.
Of the 25% who said they didn’t like it, they had strong feelings. Only 5% said they weren’t crazy about it, while 20% said “It’s uglier than your dog’s butt.”
The new poll will be on top of the right hand sidebar, whenever I get around to it. However, a picture of my dog’s butt won’t be.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll question was, “who are you leaning toward in the Austin City Council Place 1 race?”

The question was identical to one appearing now at Burnt Orange Report, in which the site administrators seem upset that people are…um…voting.

And without further delay: Perla Cavazos whupped ass with 73% of the vote, while Chris Riley closed with 26%, out of a total 89 votes cast.

Look for the new weekly poll, on top of the right hand sidebar, which will be posted whenever I get around to it.

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Poll Dancing

Those fun-loving party animalitos at Burnt Orange Report are annoyed that both campaigns for Austin City Council Place 1 are gaming their system in voting for their online poll.

I have a different philosophy. Game the system. Game it good and hard. Game the system ’til sweat glistens from the system’s voluptuous body. Then game it good and hard one more time, because, what the hell, lots of serious stuff gets said and done in politics, lets have some fun too.

So my poll, identical to BOR’s, is on top of the right hand sidebar. Bend it ’til it breaks. Knock yourself out. Let ‘er rip, tater chip. The one with the most votes by Friday afternoon may or may not win the race, but they’ll win the “my supporters can figure out how to vote more than your supporters in a meaningless blog poll” contest. Make the meaningless mean something.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll question was “The Governor’s race between Hutchison and Perry will quickly heat up. What will be among the first accusations made?”

Coming in at first place with an overwhelming 80% was “Perry will accuse Hutchison of supporting communist liberal policies such as educating people, providing health care for children, and generally being against corruption.” Between the time the poll was posted and the time it closed, Hutchison again voted for SCHIP, thus immediately substantiating the theory.

In second place with a pathetic little 13% was “Hutchison will accuse Perry of having campaigned for Al Gore in 1988, which, come to think of it, is actually true.”

Tied for third place with a microscopic tiny miniscule 3% apiece were “Perry will accuse Hutchison of secret money laundering and implicate her in the murder of federal agents. Oh wait, that was the race against Sanchez” and “Hutchison will accuse Perry of worshiping Satan.”

The new poll is on top of the right hand sidebar. Vote on it there, and comment on it here.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The weekly poll was to complete the following sentence:

“With the departure of George W. Bush from the White House, I haven’t been this happy since….”

Coming in first place with 63% was “…since…never mind. I’ve never been this happy.” That, my friends, was a no-brainer. It was a total set-up. You people are so obedient.

Tied for second place with 13% apiece were “…since I found out Greg Brady was nailing Marcia Brady in real life” and “…since Dick Cheney shot that guy.”

In last place with 10% was “…since my divorce.”

This week’s poll is on top of the right hand sidebar. Vote on it there, and comment on it here.

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The new weekly poll is up.

Vote on the top of the right hand sidebar.

Comment on it here.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll question was “when the House committee assignments come out, to what committee do you think Joe Straus will appoint Tom Craddick?

Coming in first place with 42% was The House Committee on STFU. Fair enough.

In second place with 36% was The House Committee on Removing Undiscovered Budget Riders Benefiting Midland-Odessa. This makes sense, given that 36% of the state budget was probably being shipped off to fund projects in Midland-Odessa.

In distant third with 12% was The House Committee on Coloring, Cutting, and Pasting. I’m guessing that voters were confident Craddick would be able to cut just fine, but the pasting might be a challenge.

Bringing up the rear with 9% was The House Committee on Bartending in the Members Lounge. Clearly, few voters had confidence that Mr. Craddick could resist spiking some of the drinks with hemlock.

I guess we’ll all find out together in a week or two how kind Mr. Straus is to Mr. Craddick.

Stay tuned for the next poll, which will appear in the right hand sidebar.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The weekly poll question was “how will George W. Bush most likely spend his final days in office?”

Of course, when the poll appeared last weekend, we had no way to know that what Our Only President Right Now would actually be doing is dodging flying shoes. But hey, we did the best we could.

Coming in first place with 39% was “pardoning Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in advance.”

In second with 34% was “Wondering where it all went wrong, while pretending to give a damn.”

Trailing with 18% was “being the decider on which Dr. Suess books will be included in the Presidential library,” and in last place at 7% was “starting the rough outline of his book, working title: ‘Guantanamo? What Guantanamo?’”

The weekly poll will make its triumphant return after Christmas, or maybe after new years, or whenever I get around to it.

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The Agony of Da Feet

So it seems one of the region’s more emotional journalists threw both his shoes at George W. Bush during a presser in Iraq earlier today.

Security officials said the guy wouldn’t get far on foot. In fact he might not have a leg to stand on. They eventually shoe’ed the man away. But not before they socked him. He was treated by Dr. Scholls.

Except for the fact that Bush is apparently very adept at ducking, he would have finally found those WMD’s he’s been looking for all these years. And by that I mean the Weapons of Migraine Development.

And while I apologize for all of the above, it does not excuse you from voting on the George W. Bush poll on top of the right hand sidebar. Here’s the news clip:

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll question was “who will the next Texas House Speaker be?” All the declared candidates as of the time of the poll was posted were included, so of course two additional candidates filed within 24 hours, and were not included on the poll as a result.

In a related story, “Somebody who hasn’t filed yet” came in first with 29% of the vote.

Coming in second with 20% was Senfronia Thompson. Ms. Thompson, I would like to congratulate your staff for figuring out that if you clear your cache and cookies, you can vote over and over again. Well played.

Tying for 3rd place with 18% were Burt Solomons, and the man everybody’s trying to beat, Tom Craddick. In fourth place was Jim Keffer with 5%.

After that were the one-hit wonders who each received a single vote apiece, Scott Hochberg, Tommy Merrit, Sylvester Turner, and Allan Ritter; and two no-hitters who received no votes at all, Pete Gallego and Delwin Jones. The poll was not kind to West Texans apparently.

Look for the new poll on top of the right hand sidebar, whenever I get around to it.

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So, about that Speaker’s race…

Now that Cook (no relation) and Kuempel (no relation) have also filed for Speaker, in addition to the cast of thousands (no relation) who had already filed as of last Sunday when the weekly poll was posted on top of the right hand sidebar, does it make anybody want to go back and change their vote?

If you’ve already voted, just click on “change your vote” underneath the choices. The software, however, will not allow me to add choices after somebody has voted on a poll.

And feel free to trash the candidate(s) of your choice in the comments here. This blog is like Olympia Dukakis (no relation) in “Steel Magnolias”: if you can’t say anything nice, come over here and sit by me.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The weekly poll was “name the biggest loser of 2008 so far.”

The winning loser (or is that the losing winner?) by a squeak was John McCain/Sarah Palin, who won by a single vote and came in at 30%.

Coming in a close second place was Wall Street, at 26%, with George W. Bush third at 16%. Eliot Spitzer was next at 13%, and Rush Limbaugh and “anybody who said Tina Fey’s career was over” tied for last place at 6% apiece.

This week’s poll is on top of the right hand sidebar. Vote on it there, and comment on it here.

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