I hereby request that you divert your attention from Stumper--difficult, I know--and check out three excellent articles that have cropped up on NEWSWEEK.com in the past 24 hours.
First up is my fellow blogger Howard Fineman's insightful new post over at Race to the Finish. Called "The Real Debate," it explains why "this presidential contest is down to a clash of two 'effects:' the Bradley Effect and the Facebook Effect." Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Yes, there are white voters, especially older ones, who will hide their prejudice until, alone in the voting booth, they vote against a black candidate because of his race. That apparently happened to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who was ahead in the final polls for California governor in 1982 but lost the election. Depending on the poll, the difference was perhaps 6 percent. No one knows how big that “Bradley” number right now. There may be some Bradley voters lurking among Obama’s supporters, but it’s more likely the Bradley types are hiding among the allegedly undecided. If you are a white person 50 years or older and you say you are still undecided, my guess is that you probably are not going to vote for Obama---or maybe (if Obama is lucky) you won’t vote at all.
But this year there is another force at work: young voters, especially those under 30... Obama is spending tens of millions of dollars trying to organize and turn out these young voters, many of whom got con-nected to his campaign through social-networking sites such as Facebook. Now he has to turn them out---make them do something in real space as opposed to digital space. Pollsters do not have accurate “turnout models” for this new cadre of voters. Obama has registered millions; how many will actually vote remains to be seen.
Next up is Sarah Kliff, who reports on whether the mother's-health exception to bans on late-term abortion is being abused as John McCain suggested in the Hofstra debate. A preview:
Using air quotes in any serious conversation is risky. Even more so during a presidential debate when the topic is abortion. So it was perplexing to many women when John McCaininserted them into a discussion on Wednesday about whether late-term-abortion bans should include exceptions for the mother's "health." Senator McCain's point was that health exceptions, which his rival Senator Barack Obamasupports, have "been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything." But then, while describing what he called his opponent's "extreme pro-abortion position," McCain made air quotes when referring to the "health" of the mother... So what exactly is a "health exception" in abortion legislation, and is it the "extreme pro-abortion position" described by McCain?...
McCain is correct when he suggests that the law does not specify which conditions or complications should be included in the legal definition of what constitutes a threat to the mother's health. That decision is left up to the doctor. Pro-life groups have long complained that the Supreme Court's definition is too vague and includes too many provisions... Still, state-level bans of late-term abortions reflect the Supreme Court's position supporting health exemptions. Of the 36 states where bans exist, 28 provide exceptions for the mother's health and life, four states provide for the mother's physical health and life and four for the mother's life but not health, according to statistics compiled by the Guttmacher Institute.
Last but not least: Tony Dokoupil's dispatch on "The Vanishing Male Voter":
Over the last 40 years, some 16 million men—a population roughly the size of Michigan and Indiana combined—have stopped pulling the lever. That's a hole five times the size of George W. Bush's margin of victory in 2004. How did it get so bad? Since 1964, when a record 72 percent of voting-age men and 67 percent of voting-age women pulled the lever for president, participation rates have tumbled for both sexes—but far more steeply for men. By 1980, civics-class dropouts had flipped the gender gap. And this November, men are again the odds-on favorites to no-show at the polls.
In his piece, Dokoupil identifies a few key factors that have contributed to dearth of dudes at the polls: "men are simply more likely to be dead come Election Day"; men "are less likely than women to attend church, consume news, trust authority and believe that people are generally good," according to recent studies; and, finally, "education and employment. Graduating from college is one of the top predictors of voting, and increasingly men are falling behind their female counterparts." It's a fascinating read.
Spread the wealth, I say. It's good for everybody.