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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

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John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

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Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

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April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

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Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2008 / 22 Mar-Cheshvan 5769

Time for perspective on election's numbers

By Jonathan V. Last


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Political myths take hold as quickly as urban legends, and often with even less supporting evidence. Someone stands in a particularly long line on Election Day and decides that it signals a once-in-a-generation eruption of civic engagement.

But anecdotes are not data. We now have enough exit-poll data from Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International to put the election in context. Let's examine some of the already established myths:

An energized electorate produced a historic turnout.

Yes and no. On the one hand, 123,525,445 votes were cast for Barack Obama and John McCain - the biggest combined total in history. On the other hand, that number was up only 2 percent from 2004. And to really put the number in perspective, consider that the U.S. population grew by 2.7 percent in the intervening four years, so the growth in voting actually lagged behind overall population growth.

Obama's racial identity was an electoral burden.

The numbers suggest otherwise.

It's true that the single biggest demographic factor in voting was race. If you are a black, there's a 95 percent chance you voted for Obama. By comparison, self-identified Democrats voted for Obama at a mere 89 percent clip, and only 90 percent of self-identified Republicans went for McCain.

At a more detailed level, 19 percent of voters said that race was a factor in how they voted. Those who said race was the "most important factor" went for Obama 58 percent to 41 percent. Those who said race was an "important factor" went for Obama 52 to 47. And those who said race was a "minor factor" went for Obama 54 to 45.

As a baseline, voters who said race was "not a factor" went for Obama 51 to 46. Surely, some voters in some precincts voted against Obama because he's black. But on the whole, it's clear that his race helped him more than it hurt.

Obama motivated a new generation of young people.

Not quite. The "youth vote" (meaning voters between the ages of 18 and 29) ticked upward only from 17 percent in 2004 to 18 percent in 2008.

As Republican strategist Patrick Ruffini noted, the big story wasn't that Obama brought in a wave of new young voters; it was that he produced a huge swing in the 18-29 demographic. In 2004, John Kerry had a nine-point advantage in the youth vote; Obama won young voters by 34 points.

That's a 25-point swing, and, as Ruffini notes, it accounts for 4.5 percent of all the votes cast - which is a big chunk of Obama's margin of victory.

Sarah Palin sank the Republican ticket.

Voters who said that Palin was "not a factor" in their decision went for Obama by a big margin, 65 percent to 33 percent. But 60 percent of voters said Palin was a factor in their decision, and McCain did very well among them.

Voters who said Palin was an "important factor" in their decision (33 percent of the electorate) went for McCain 52 to 47. And voters who said Palin was a "minor factor" (20 percent of the total) went for McCain 66 to 33.

True, the small group of voters who said Palin was the "most important" factor in their decision (7 percent of all voters) went for Obama. But the margin was 52 to 47, much smaller than it was among those who said Palin didn't matter.

By any measure, Palin helped McCain - quite a lot, actually.

You can't trust the polls.

Fordham University political science professor Costas Panagopoulos examined 23 national presidential polls and found that they predicted an average 7.52 percent Obama victory. Obama won by 6.15 points. That's pretty good work.

For what it's worth, four polls overestimated McCain's strength, and 17 overestimated Obama's.

The early bird gets the worm.

In recent years, there has been a perception that if you want to be president, you have to start running early. Who were the big early favorites in the 2008 cycle? Mark Warner, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, George Allen, Bill Frist and Mitt Romney.

As we prepare for the 2012 race - pitchers and catchers, report to Iowa in just 1,137 days! - it's worth keeping in mind that early positioning doesn't always help.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

11/13/08 Climbing back from calamity
11/03/08 Put aside candidates' faults and ponder their qualities
10/09/08 Regrettably, neither of the presidential hopefuls has a grasp on economic theory
09/22/08 Anti-abortion Democrats and global-warming Republicans are becoming increasingly important
09/09/08 On both sides, this year's political gatherings marked the start of changed strategies that have transformed the race
07/23/08 With policy shifts, Obama now seen as an ordinary pol
06/26/08 Bush failed to hold others responsible for their mistakes, and he let his admirable vice president do too much
02/18/08 GOP will unify as Obama and Clinton continue to vie
12/13/07 Fun begins as races tighten and shift
12/05/07 Iran's future: Would lower fertility rates lead to stability?
11/01/07 Nobel Prize in Economics — where Team USA still dominates the game
10/25/07 Handicapping the GOP's presidential horse race
10/11/07 Germany's Turks provide a lesson on immigration
09/13/07 British battle can offer us a perspective on casualties
09/12/07 Alas, GOP seems set to take hit in Senate
08/30/07 Europeans have supplanted backbones with capitulation
08/24/07 Politics holds the key to ensuring a healthy growth in population
08/17/07 Finessing the Democratic center
08/10/07 Woohoo! Satire seeing a revival
07/31/07 Historical model: For Obama, it's Carter
07/26/07 Baseball, apple pie, a 2nd chance
07/24/07 Harry Potter and the alchemy theory
07/06/07 Life is hard — and often short. The perils of professional wrestling
06/21/07 After Bush: Gingrich and others worry that his shortcomings could have a far-reaching effect on the GOP
03/09/07 Why the British outclass us in acting
01/23/07 Romney: Seriously great, but with baggage
12/23/06 When truth is transpicuous
12/05/06 A realistic plan: Split the country in two
11/08/06 We could easily pull out of Korea and let China have regional hegemony. But would it be the right thing?
10/24/06 The decline of revolution
10/18/06 Why the free market is king
08/07/06 Democracy, of itself, not solution to all problems
08/01/06 We get the movies we deserve
07/27/06 How long will U.S. empire last?


© 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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