even if it is true that Barack Obama's race puts him at something like a 6-point disadvantage with the population as a whole, the margin is probably more like 4-5 points among likely voters.Oh, well then! MEGAN: Well, I mean, that could be true or not. In any given election 40-60% of voters don't turn out at all, and voter turnout is correlated to education and economic levels. But, also, statistics are not a predictor of future behavior. SPENCER: Here's an explanation of the AP's methodology that I still am not equipped to evaluate. Jesus, I'm batting .1000 today, aren't I? Too dumb to discuss the topics we ourselves chose to discuss. I should have stayed in Afghanistan. MEGAN: Nah, isn't this why you have me around? And I'm not in Afghanistan. I mean, one thing that really stuck out in that methodological analysis is that the people polled had to have landlines even though the surveys were internet-based. SPENCER: True on both counts. I wouldn't be able to participate even. Who has a landline? I think even my mom is getting rid of hers, and she screens her calls like a champion. So the AP racepoll is a tangle of faulty math and sophistry, then? MEGAN: I think it is. The problem with statistics is the one cited in one of my favorite college courses, Microsociology. Statistically speaking, 1 in 5 African-American men will be imprisoned. What does that say about any given black man? Absolutely nothing. It's not a predictor of behavior. It's a statistic, and that itself is a snapshot in time of a status, not a behavior. SPENCER: You need to team up with Mark Penn to write Microsociology: The Book. What does this poll say about snipers and the race vote, I wonder. methodologies inspire as little confidence as McCain has in Palin's debating skills:
At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates. McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.NONE DARE CALL IT SEXISM. MEGAN: Well, see, she just needs more "education and training" and then she can close the debate gap just like McCain proposes closing the wage gap. It's just too bad she can't get that in time to make a difference, sort of like American women as a whole can't. But they're still not going to support the Ledbetter Act, that is too much of a burden for businesses to swallow, paying women equally for the work that they do. SPENCER: Speaking of Lilly Ledbetter, Christy notes that Obama is FINALLY using her in an ad. Also about the debates: Don't you think it's odd that the press believes the debates to be important, even though there's basically no evidence since at least Carter-Reagan 1980 that they've ever played a leading role in deciding an election? MEGAN: I think it's one last opportunity for a spectacular fuck-up is why. SPENCER: You can't win an election based on the debates — Kerry kicked Bush's ass in all three, remember, in 2004 — and I wonder if you can even lose an election through debate-ineptitude, which is clearly the McCain camp's worry. Yeah, I'm not convinced that's even true. Remember "you forgot Poland" and "wanna buy some wood"? I didn't think so. The only thing I remember from the VP debate last year is that Cheney lied about never meeting Edwards in the Senate and — oh yeah and that Cheney's daughter is what you people call a Lezebel. MEGAN: I guess you're right, but I still think the interest lies in hoping that one of them flames out spectacularly. Plus, I'll repeat something smart I said this weekend: Biden, in particular, needs to go back and watch old tapes, and I'm not talking of VP debates. He needs to go check out Clinton-Lazio from 2000 and the Democratic Massachusetts gubernatorial debates featuring Shannon O'Brian to see what not to do when debating a woman. SPENCER: Yes, right you are. You found the evidence refuting my point: Lazio lost his Senate race in 2000 by appearing to physically threaten HRC. If Crappy Hour were a debate, it's clear you won all three rounds this morning I could be an asshole and contend that Senate races are different than presidential races, but I'd like to set an example for John McCain and graciously concede when I've been beaten. I really miss Afghanistan. MEGAN: Well, but I listened to whale songs instead of Howitzers for 2 weeks. And you risked life and limb to report important stuff from Afghanistan. So, I think we're at least even. SPENCER: Okay, I'm going to the bank now to see that I still have money. I may IM you in a panic after lunch.