Greetings, Master Malstrom!
I have so many questions to made than I barely know where to start. I’ll try it now:
1) I never understood well how does ‘gerrymandering’ works there in America. I had an American professor who told me about it in 2000, but does it still happen?
Of course it does. Politicians are interested in getting re-elected beyond anything. This is equally found in both parties. What better way to get yourself to be re-elected then to define your district to populations that will vote for you?
Politics is a game to these people. They won’t protest the other party doing it because they want it for themselves.
2) About the polls: as I’m from a country where unfortunately voting is mandatory for every citizen above 18, under 70 and not illiterate (and they say here this is a right rather than a duty…)…
[Interrupting your question since it is easier to answer this way...]
Being forced to vote would be seen as tyrannical. The act of not voting is just as much a political act as voting. Sometimes, people will go and vote for Donald Duck just to protest the system, the candidates, or whatever.
I’m curious how your country ‘enforces’ people to vote.
…I can’t understand how can a poll say that some candidate has more or less votes than the other if it is not guaranteed that all these voters will go to the ballot boxes at November 6. How do those polls work?
No one knows how the polls work. Seriously. Each time a poll come out, its internals are dissected and people wonder what the heck it is and how it got to the conclusion it did. In a way, it is quite comedic.
There are two types of polls. The first are the internal polls the campaigns use. The information on these is not publicly shared because it is very expensive. It is very expensive because the campaign needs accurate information of where to spend those hundreds of millions of dollars and where to send the candidate. I’ve seen some of these polls (after the election), and they are scary in details. They have it pegged from neighborhood to neighborhood to such a degree of precision.
The other type of polls are the public ones we see in newspapers and news shows. The entire reason why they exist is for news consumption. The customer of those polls is the news organizations. They’re not very well done. I suspect many of them are always ‘neck and neck’ just to keep people watching the stupid news shows. Since no one remembers what the polls say, they can be anything. However, as election day nears, the public ones try to aim for more accuracy since the public only remembers the last poll.
The political environment is very fluid. Something can happen, and things can change dramatically. Although I’m beginning to suspect that the ‘rollercoaster ride’ the public polls present is just that. Aside from 2000 and 2004 (which I assume it must have been something W. Bush was doing), presidential elections are never close. They tend to swing one way or the other. 2008 wasn’t close. I don’t think 2012 will be close either. Close presidential elections are a historical anomaly.
Plus: how does the party which is in disadvantage at the polls mobilize its supporters to avoid the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ effect?
This famous image. All the polls had Dewey winning but Truman won. The Chicago Daily Tribune wrote and published the story based on the polling.
The only poll that matters is the one on election day.
Political junkies may let public polls take them on an emotional rollercoaster ride, but I haven’t seen anything discourage people from voting. The only big problem is calling states before they are done voting. Florida was called for Gore in 2000 when part of the state wasn’t done voting. Since it was called for, many went home. Events like that create significant mistrust of the American news media. The only thing that tops disapproval of the Congress or the government is the American news media. They have been rapidly disintegrating, in both rating and credibility, for the past few election cycles. I don’t think they’re going to survive much longer after this cycle.
Anyone outside the United States getting information from something like CNN should realize that the news channel is not watched by anyone in America. It is not watched in America because the credibility of the old stations have been eroding and are seen more and more as a joke.
3) I know that international issues are almost never relevant in any election anywhere, but how are the impressions of the Arab “Spring” over there?
It’s not being reported. Libya has, but not the follow-up attacks on multiple embassies. Since the second debate is about foreign policy and much of that information will be discussed there, I expect most of the watching audience to be surprised to learn that multiple embassies have been attacked.
The most dominant issue on people’s minds? Most likely it is the skyrocketing price of gas.
4) In the last election Pennsylvania was the core of all attentions. Do you think it will keep this role? If not, which state do you think it will host the main battle now? No predictions, it’s only a bet. :)
The campaigns aren’t going to spend money on states they don’t need. New Hampshire could go either way, but neither side is going to spend money and time for it. They’d love to have it. But they’re only going to laser in on the states they have to win. Neither are going to waste time or money in Pennsylvania.
In the last debate, Romney specifically talked up coal production. Why? Western Pennsylvania. Romney: “I will win Pennsylvania.” Look at that however you want.
I have to smile when I read in the story that ‘despite the polls saying…’. The campaigns use internal polls which are very expensive (which is why the information isn’t given out) and have the purpose to win a campaign. The polls you see in newspapers are designed for the newspapers. The newspapers paid for them so the journalists can take a day off and run the poll as a news story. I remember, maybe it was a decade or more ago, when polls never ran as a story. They were always part of another news story and were seen like a graphic. Polls didn’t become news stories themselves until very recently. I suspect that change was caused by the change in the news cycle.
Remember in 2008 when, at the end, McCain suspended his campaign and Obama decided to go to Hawaii for a quick vacation? I think their internal polling was telling both of them the campaign was over. So the only way to explain Romney’s behavior and bold statements like “I will win Pennsylvania…” is either he is being super confident or he has internal polling that is making him super confident. Which is it? (I got it wrong in 2008 so I’ll let the reader decide.)
5) Recently I’ve read an article (obs: from traditional media) which says that the population of the traditional minorities (afro-americans, latinos and asians) are growing faster than the white population in America, becoming the majority in 2050. So, as they traditionally vote on Democrats (except cubano-americans), this party will become hegemonic about then. What are your opinions about this thought?
Asians? Growing? That’s news to me. African American population isn’t growing at all.
Latinos are members of the White Race. Yes, it is true. Hispanic only became a ‘race’ in the late 70s so they could be added to the Affirmative Action program. The term of ‘race’ has always meant white, black, and asian (maybe Indian as red).
Hispanic has always been seen as an ethnicity, not a race. If Hispanic becomes a race, then the Irish descent becomes a race. Then the German descent becomes a race. And it grows more absurd.
Look at which way Texas is trending politically. It’s becoming more and more solid R. The Hispanics even vote R. Why? Probably because they are middle class. One of the shockers in 2010 was Hispanic dominated districts throwing out Ds, who thought they were safe, and replacing them with Rs. Such as Ortiz. But that is in Texas. The point is that Hispanics don’t vote in a block. I remember George W. Bush won re-election as governor of Texas with 60% of the Hispanic vote. The demographics question is really, “Who will have more babies?” (And the United States population is so mobile that an electorate in a state will re-write itself even if the national demographic trend is the same due to moving industries and shifting job patterns.)
One just has to laugh at anyone writing the growth of Hispanics as making the US ‘less white’. It is making America ‘more white’ as well as more religious. Most Hispanics are Catholics. Hispanics are descendants from European stock just like the Irish, German, and English settlers. The only reason why anyone would miss this is if they are determined to live in some fantasy world.
“Will this determine a hegemony of a political party?” The question doesn’t make sense since American political parties don’t remain the same. And even a solidified voting group doesn’t remain in a party. African Americans until the 1930s solidly voted Republican because it was the party of Lincoln. And political parties change. Could the tax cutting JFK be accepted into today’s Democrat Party? Could the government growing Nixon be accepted into today’s Republican Party? If you lived for a hundred years, both parties could be using the opposites’ positions.