Friday, October 31, 2008


Papa was never a rolling stone, but he was a broadcaster, a station manager and owner. Perhaps, John McCain may have misunderstood the fundamentals of the economy, but Papadablogger knows what commercial broadcasting is all about.

If you watch “Election Coverage” on TV… network television or cable, right-leaning FOX NEWS or left-leaning MSNBC, traditional over-the-air network news or local market news, even non-traditional television “news” like Jon Stewart or SNL… if you watch any of this, you should know what it is you’re part of. Its entertainment and you are the audience.

There is no such thing as “Broadcast News.” Therefore, there is no such thing as legitimate election coverage or credible political reporting anywhere on television. There’s good entertainment and not so good, but there is no traditional journalism or honest, straightforward analysis to be found there.

Broadcasting is an arm of the Advertising Business. This is not a cynical assessment. Look at the financial facts and decide for yourself exactly what’s going on.

This year, about $82 billion will be spent on broadcast advertising. These days, what with Wall Street bailouts, enormous monthly loans to the US federal government from our Chinese trading partners and even larger amounts of American dollars flowing steadily to the coffers of OPEC as quickly as those electronic gasoline pumps can make it happen, $82 billion might not seem like so much money. Think of it in simpler terms. Each billion dollars is a thousand million dollars – that’s a million dollars, a thousand times over.

And thus, 82 billions of dollars is 82,000 x $1,000,000. That’s a lot of money. If you like, you can throw in an extra $11.5 billion for Internet advertising.

So, you’re getting pretty close to $100 billion dollars and you haven’t yet used an ounce of ink or a single sheet of paper. And, also, we haven’t touched a penny of the $3 billion that will be spent by all candidates for public office combined in this election season. How do broadcasters view that $3 billion? Easy money. Guaranteed extra income. Its like candy on Halloween, icing on the birthday cake, another Christmas added to the calendar every four years.

Every broadcaster knows there are 168 hours in a week. That equals 10,080 minutes weekly or 1,440 minutes every day. The normal commercial inventory ranges between 288 and 384 minutes per day, or 2,016 to 2,688 minutes each week. Break these down into 60 seconds, 30 seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds and you have your “product” which has to be sold by your Sales Department. In order to make that “product” attractive to buyers, at the highest possible prices, the Programming Department must put programs on the air that will bring in the maximum number of viewers.

Do these commercial needs square with credible, reliable, truthful reporting and thoughtful analysis? Oh, sure. If Papa may quote the VP nominee of the Democratic Party, as he addressed an inquiring TV anchor-woman – “Are you joking? Is that a serious question?”

Ask yourself - If an accurate reporter could tell you that a contest has been decided, beyond the possibility of reversal, would you continue to watch the continuing analysis, night after night, once you had been assured of the outcome? How many viewers – of the millions watching – might stop watching? A few? Some? Many? Most? Viewership would decline. Advertisers who had paid for commercial time would be angry that the same network or station that sold them time had then driven the audience away by telling them the truth – the analysis is complete; the contest is over!

On a less controversial matter than Presidential politics, have you ever seen a baseball game in which one team takes a 9 or 10 run lead after only a few innings – and the TV announcer says something like: “No lead is safe in this stadium, folks!” Is that true? Of course not. But imagine the chagrin of all those advertisers who bought time in the 4th or 5th inning, not to mention those with TV spots scheduled to run in the 8th or 9th innings. In politics as in baseball, if you’re waiting to see who wins, you can leave now. But, if you are in broadcasting, you can never let them go!

The same principle applies to all Election Coverage, on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, FOX NEWS and MSNBC… all of them. When you watch those programs – no matter how much you may like a particular “host” or supposed reporter or purported pundit – they are there to entertain you; you are being entertained; and you are paying for it by agreeing to be exposed to the commercials that makeup part of the $82 billion in annual broadcast advertising revenue.

So, in these final few days before Election Day, you may be fairly certain that –on TV anyway – the race will get closer and closer, tighter and tighter, the battleground states will get more intense, the fight will become fierce.

And then, of course, the landslide will ensue as if all previous predictions and frantic warnings never happened.

On TV, nobody who wants to continue working on TV will tell you the truth until the last dollar is safely stashed in the cash register. C'mon now, sing along... "Let me entertain you."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Early voting has changed everything we’ve come to think of about our Presidential elections. The election is not next week – it’s already well underway – and in some key states, it’s as good as over.

Florida has announced that beginning today, it will extend Early Voting hours from 8 to 12 hours daily. Why? The demand to vote – NOW! – is overwhelming. In 31 states, across the nation, voters are eagerly and patiently waiting in line for as long as 5 hours, often in bad weather, to Vote Early, to vote now!

Nothing a candidate says or does, in the days ahead, can change these votes. No October Surprise can allow anyone to go back and change their mind, change their vote. Put simply, if you’re campaigning today in a state where half the votes have already been cast, you’re only talking to half the voters. Your entire effort has been reduced by 50%. Your market has shrunk by half. If you’re behind, as everyone agrees John McCain is, it may be too late to catch up – no matter what happens between today and next Tuesday.

American Presidential elections will never be the same again. Early Voting has changed everything. Future candidates must arrange their campaigns to peak on the day Early Voting starts.

How many Americans have already voted? Are these numbers significant? According to George Mason University, which is tracking this daily (, the number is 14,242,162. That represents 11.5% of all those who cast ballots in the 2004 Presidential election. But, the number of Early Voters in key states – those referred to as battleground states – is far higher than that.

In 6 of these battleground states the election may already be decided. Look at these numbers – and remember, these are NOT poll numbers, predictions of how voters will vote – these are ACTUAL VOTES, already cast and counted.

Florida: 2,063,157 – that’s 27% of all Florida votes in 2004
Georgia: 1,206,891 – that’s 36.4% of all Georgia votes in 2004
Colorado: 958,508 – that’s 44.6% of all Colorado votes in 2004
Iowa: 339,725 – that’s 24.3% of all Iowa votes in 2004
Nevada: 344,198 – that’s 41.4% of all Nevada votes in 2004
North Carolina: 1,411,999 – that’s 39.7% of all North Carolina votes in 2004

And there is still the rest of this week of Early Voting left. A lead – especially a substantial lead – in any of these states may be too big to overcome by voters who wait until Election Day to cast their ballots.

Early Voting in Ohio, according to the latest poll by SURVAY USA has Obama leading McCain by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%. That’s not a poll of how voters say they WILL vote; it’s a count of votes ALREADY CAST. The Gallup organization shows pretty much the same for Ohio’s Early Voters. Gallup has Obama leading McCain 53% to 43% in Ohio votes ALREADY CAST. Gallup goes further and asks if voters who have not yet voted intend to Vote Early in the week remaining until Election Day. Ohio respondents who say yes, they will, reply in favor of Obama by a margin of 54% to 40% over McCain. Of those Ohio voters who say they will wait until Election Day to vote, Gallup shows Obama leading among them also, by 50% to 44%.

In four vital battleground states, CNN figures show an Obama landslide in the making – not in voter preference, but among those who have ALREADY VOTED.

In North Carolina, CNN has Obama already leading 66% to 34%. In New Mexico, CNN shows Obama with a lead over McCain of 65% to 35%. In Nevada, the CNN numbers show Obama ahead by 64% to 36%. In Iowa, CNN says Obama leads McCain in votes already cast and counted by 63% to 37%. Can McCain overcome these enormous defecits? Reason dictates otherwise.

Do the math. When they say, the only poll that matters is the poll taken by the voters on Election Day, they now need to amend that, to add – plus the votes cast as part of Early Voting.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Harry Truman came from 8 points down to beat poor Tom Dewey in the final 2 weeks of the 1948 Presidential race. Although the romance of Camelot has dimmed memories, JFK trailed Nixon until the end of the 1960 campaign. Again, in 1980, Ronald Reagan came from behind in the polls to defeat Carter in the final days of that campaign. In 1976 Gerald Ford’s last week’s rush left him just short of a victory and in 1968, Hubert Humphrey also gained furiously in the last days to nearly beat out Nixon in the closest popular vote ever. Some analysts will even point to George W. Bush who brought new meaning to “coming from behind” by overtaking the exit polls themselves and unexpectedly winning against both Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. To many, how he managed that feat of magic remains a mystery. But, it’s a fact – in American Presidential elections, the final days and few weeks have been extremely important to the final decision on Election Day.

Without much fanfare, that tradition has come to a screeching end, trampled into the ground this year under the feet of millions of early voters, many of whom are patiently waiting hours upon hours to cast their vote for President well before the official Election Day

The term Election Day has been rendered archaic. Early voting in 31 states has deftly and quietly swept Election Day into the same cultural dust-bin where 45 rpm records lay stacked in piles next to millions of IBM Selectrics and other similar machines called typewriters. It’s the same place where out-dated behavioral patterns, and those who continue to practice what was once thought to be important social necessities, such as men who shave their face everyday or women who routinely, and for the most part needlessly, wear girdles and corsets. All of them have gone the way of the 8-track cassette, the Zippo lighter and the doctor who makes house calls. Joining them now – Election Day.

Yes, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, this year that being the fourth day of the month, many Americans can and will go to their local polling places to vote for President of the United States. But, so many millions of Americans will have already cast their irrevocable ballots – via Early Voting – that this particular election will already have been decided. Votes actually cast on Election Day will be an afterthought, quite literally, a thing done after the result has already been determined.

NEWS FLASH! All the candidate activity of the last two weeks is wasted effort. The 2008 Presidential Election is over. The next President of the United States - Barack Obama.

Modern technology, not to mention common sense, has modified if not completely overwhelmed the wit and wisdom of Yogi Berra. For those who nevertheless insist it ain’t over ‘til it’s over… well, then – let me give you the news. It’s Over!

A mindful, rational examination of the various, numerous polls should lead most observers to the conclusion that, with less than 2 weeks remaining in the campaign, only 4 states can still truly be called toss-ups, too close to call for either Obama or McCain. They are: Georgia, Indiana, Montana and North Dakota. These 4 states have only 32 Electoral votes. How they eventually divide means nothing to the election’s outcome. So, for our purposes, let’s give them all to John McCain. It doesn’t matter; its too late for him.

A 5th state with early voting, Nebraska, awards its 3 Electoral votes by district. It joins with Maine as the only two states not to participate in the winner-takes-all Electoral system. Nebraska’s 3 Electoral votes will split 2-1 in favor of John McCain. Thus, to get started, give the Next President, Barack Obama, 1 Electoral vote.

Of the remaining 26 states with early voting, Obama and McCain will each win 13 – an even split in states, but an Electoral landslide for Barack Obama. The 13 states Obama will win, including California with 55 Electoral votes all by itself, will give him an additional 185 Electoral votes. John McCain’s 13 states deliver only 106 Electoral votes.

Okay… with 1 from Nebraska and 185 from the other 13 states, early voting will mean Election Day begins with Barack Obama already having 186 of the 270 Electoral votes needed for victory. Before a single vote is registered on November 4th, Obama only needs only 84 Electoral votes win the Presidency. Still, you may ask, if he only has 186, and if he needs 270 to win, why is Election Day archaic, obsolete, an afterthought? The answer is simple.

John McCain can win only 4 states that actually vote entirely on Election Day. They will be: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Carolina. In our unique American system, none of them is big enough to help McCain win anything. Combined, they will only bring McCain 31 more Electoral votes, equal barely to Obama’s sure-thing victory in one state, New York. Even giving all the toss-up states to John McCain (more a rhetorical device than an actual reality), McCain will win only 4 states with double-digit Electoral votes: Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana. Obama will win 16 states with more than 10, including 6 with more than 20, 1 with more than 30 and 1 with more than 50. Remember, its all about Electoral votes. All told, on Election Day Obama will rack up a staggering, and almost uncontested 179 Electoral votes. Obama will end up with 365 votes in the Electoral College, one of the largest electoral landslides in American Presidential election history. No matter how much closer the popular vote may be, who cares?

Early voting will change all future Presidential elections. The campaigns must forget about the last two or three weeks. If they haven’t made their case effectively before early voting begins, it will be too late – just like it is this time for John McCain.

We used to talk about the October Surprise, a event so significant it would alter the result of a November election. In the coming elections the October Surprise better be a September or August Surprise or it will have no chance to change the dynamic of anything.

For 2008, this one’s over and done with. Put a fork in the McCain/Palin ticket and rent your tux for Barack Obama’s Inauguration on January 20, 2009.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


In 1982, Tom Bradley, the Mayor of Los Angeles and an African-American, ran for Governor of California. Throughout the campaign, Bradley enjoyed a comfortable lead. He lost the election. The clear assumption was that many white voters, who said they favored Bradley when asked by pollsters, succumbed to a deeply ingrained racism when the time came to pull the lever in the voting booth. Enough white voters couldn’t find it in themselves to vote for a black candidate, so Bradley lost.

Ever since, whenever a black candidate has run against a white opponent, the question of The Bradley Effect has been a prominent consideration. How much must you discount the polls when a black candidate is running, and leading a race, against a white opponent? It is a major concern in this election. Some people think Hillary Clinton remained in the race long after it was obvious she wouldn’t win because she was banking on The Bradley Effect. If so, she was wrong, but that was a primary. Only the nomination was at stake. No one was actually voting to make Barack Obama President of the United States.

How will The Bradley Effect influence the contest between Barack Obama and John McCain? The polls show Obama ahead, not only nationally, but also in the key battleground states. In this context, how can we best assess The Bradley Effect?

Three assumptions appear to have merit. First: no one supposes that all white voters face a racial dilemma; Second: no one supposes that all white voters who vote for McCain are racist; Third: no one believes The Bradley Effect isn’t real. Who doesn’t assume that there will be some white voters who will cast their ballot based on race? The important question is: how many? Will the actual number be high enough, in enough key states, to tip the scales?

Put most simply and straightforward – will John McCain win the Presidency because too many white voters vote Republican, against their Democratic inclinations, based on race?

Some may want to point to a reverse Bradley Effect, namely the tendency of black voters, motivated by race, to vote for Obama. Since previous Democrats running for President – every one of whom was white – received 90% or more of the black vote, this so-called reverse Bradley Effect appears not to be an issue. As a Democrat, Obama will get more than 9 of every 10 black votes anyway. One must also consider that black voters represent too small a percentage of the total vote to determine the election’s outcome by themselves.

The questions remains: How far ahead must Obama be in the pre-election polls to survive a racist backlash in the privacy of the voting booth? While everyone who ponders this issue probably has an answer – maybe 3 points, 5 points, 8 or even 10 points - no one knows if theirs is the right answer. And yet, the most shocking aspect of this whole matter may be that while it is very possible that the future of America – perhaps the future of the world – depends upon the size of The Bradley Effect, it appears that no one in the campaign – neither the Democrats nor the Republicans – will address the issue directly.

Perhaps, as it seems to be with so many issues of public concern, it is embedded within our culture; it is The American Way to pretend the issue doesn’t exit and hope it goes away on its own, pray it disappears, vanishes from sight. Maybe, if we don’t dare talk about it, nobody will notice. Maybe it will hide in plain sight. Perhaps, no one wants to recognize that after nearly 400 years, after slavery, a Civil War, Jim Crow and a de facto apartheid society, race still remains the central and unresolved focus in the American culture.