Today's Blogs

Poll Vaulting

Bloggers aren’t buying the Hillary poll spike in Iowa, offer some interesting theories about “shopdropping,” and weigh Will Smith’s comments about Adolf Hitler.

Hillary’s Iowa boost: According to an American Research Group poll conducted Dec. 20-23, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama in the Iowa caucus by 34 percent to 19 percent. Also, John Edwards is in second place with 20 percent. These results are in stark contrast to recent polls that had Obama ahead, which, coupled with the timing of the poll, has bloggers wary of the ARG’s reliability.

The Moderate Voice’sJoe Gandelman doesn’t credit Hillary with raising her own positive profile. Rather, the poll is all about Obama: “If this holds and Clinton wins, the pundits will have a field day analyzing how the sagging polls were turned around. One thing seems clear: Obama either started to fail to make his case or the Clinton camp successfully raised his negatives enough to defuse his threat.”

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake analyzes the various polls: “Nobody can afford a Hillary win – her ‘inevitability’ factor becomes enormous. But Edwards and Obama are splitting the ‘reform’ vote right now, and it will make life easier for camp Clinton for that to continue. Would they make such a deal to help Edwards take #1 and slow down Obama?”

Erick Posted at Red State says there’s nothing to see here: “I suspect it is because the polling was conducted over the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Christmas. Exactly which sorts of malcontents would rather sit on the phone answering polling questions than visiting with family and playing Wii bowling?” Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is also skeptical of the Hillary surge: “As far as I can tell, ARG is the only polling operation showing this so far. … And the clear trend line up until then was a steady move toward Obama with him opening up a very slender but measurable lead. And if that’s not enough, add one more issue: polls over the holidays are notoriously wobbly because a lot more people aren’t home and, I assume, it’s difficult to construct a model that takes into account the demographic profile of those most and least likely to hit the road for Christmas.”

The pseudonymous Richelieu at the Weekly Standard’s Campaign Standard adds to the bogus factor: “Voters don’t answer the phone or refuse to play along when they do answer. Which means response rates go way down, samples tilt away from a statistically reliable random frame of the population, and results go bad.”

Todd Bouldin at Meat and Three Cafe sees two spoilers for Hillary in Iowa: “The reliability of Edward’s caucus supporters who have shown up for past caucuses, or the enthusiastic and unpredictable turnout of Obama’s supporters who never have shown up for caucuses before this year. Obama’s secret strength: Young voters with cell phones who are not being polled by polling companies that rely on landline phones. Hillary’s hope: Her supporters are the most enthusiastic about their candidate, and the most loyal.”

Read more about the ARG poll.

Dropping till you shop: A new phenomenon this holiday season: “shopdropping.” Instead of the five-finger discount, patrons leave merchandise, whether it’s an anarchist T-shirt or action doll or an indie band’s CD. It’s a bipartisan affair: Evangelical Christians drop conversion literature in between the pages of books geared toward gays.

Counterfeit Chic digs it: “Such faux merchandise occupies questionable legal territory along with appropriated shelf space.  Does it comply with labeling laws and safety regulations?  Does it make unauthorized use of trademarks?  Does it fraudulently imply an association with the store? But shopdropping also provides a commodity that no gourmet fruitcake, Santa sweater, or electronic excrescence offers:  food for thought.”

Marketing guru Dave Lakhani, author of Subliminal Persuasion, claims: “While not overtly subliminal shopdropping does have some subliminal qualities as most people will make an assumption about the person’s photos seen on a can of Campbell’s soup for example not understanding or knowing that the label was removed and replaced by someone other than the manufacturer. The assumption will most likely be that Campbell’s is sponsoring an up and coming artist or doing at take off on Andy Warhol.”

The Consumerist mocks the corporate spokesperson at Target who sees shopdropping as a major threat to the Zen of retail: “Shopping takes focus, people! Shopdropping is a dangerous distraction, a threat that could make us stop and think about our purchases.”

Read more about shopdropping.

I am sensationalized: What Will Smith actually said about Adolf Hitler (in the context of  general remarks about human nature): “I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.” How the media spun it: Will Smith said Hitler was “essentially a ‘good’ person.” Bloggers let Smith off the hook.

Conservative Roger Kimball at Roger’s Rules has a philosophical disquisition on Smith’s comment but concludes: “In essence, Smith was merely repeating the wise admonition, which you probably first heard from your mother or father, that ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ “

At the Voices Blog, Ethan Stanislawski compares Smith to Hannah Arendt: “Trained U of C scholars will identify Will Smith’s argument here as the same as Hannah Arendt’s famous banality of evil argument: that there was nothing inherently evil about Nazis or anything particular about Nazism, but by performing seemingly banal and earnest goals, unprecedented evil can be accomplished. It was a very controversial argument, to be sure, but I don’t think gossip columnists were going for the Life of the Mind when they came up with headlines such as ‘Will Smith – Hitler, Schmitler; He Wasn’t That Bad’ or ‘Smith: Hitler Was a Good Person.’ “

Read more about Smith’s Hitler remark.