The Blogger Beat: Election Edition

Getting pumped for November 4? So are we! Up the ante with this week’s blogger interview, a political head-to-head between liberal and conservative bloggers John Aravosis and Rob Bluey.

By: Emily Leaman

Rob Bluey and John Aravosis live and breathe politics—but they blog about it from opposite sides of the aisle. Aravosis blogs at Americablog.com, a liberal blog he started more than four years ago. The site began as a place to vent about presidential politics. “George Bush simply ticked me off one too many times,” he says. Now Aravosis manages a small staff of writers who cover everything from international politics and financial news to healthcare and the media. During election season, he logs 15 hours a day on his site.

Bluey, a conservative, is director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation and editor-in-chief of Heritage.org and its blog, the Foundry. The 29-year-old from Utica, New York, is also a regular contributor to the right-leaning blog RedState, and—though we don’t know where he finds the time—he keeps a personal blog at RobertBluey.com. “It’s a great place to bolster my ego and pretend to be a top-notch pundit,” he says.

We managed to pin down these two busy politicos for an election-style showdown. Will Virginia go red or blue? Will McCain best Obama? Will the District ever win voting rights? Read on to find our their predictions.

Top issue on voters’ minds as they head to the polls:

John: “Their 401(k)s.”
Rob: “The economy. How could it not be? With five-column headlines in the newspaper every other day, I don’t blame people for thinking Great Depression 2.0 is around the corner.”

Top issue that should be on voters’ minds as they head to the polls:
John: “What President Palin would do to their 401(k)s, you betcha.”
Rob: “War on terror. With the horrible economic news, it’s easy to forget that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda want us dead. Combine that with uncertainty in other regions of the world—the Middle East, Pakistan, Russia, North Korea—and our next president could face more foreign-policy challenges than President Bush.”

Demographic you predict will dominate this election:

John: “Youth and women and, more generally, independents. McCain has decided that this election is about energizing his base, in the basest way. Women, youth, and independents don’t respond real well to racism, homophobia, and anger.”
Rob: “Latinos. The biggest surprise on Election Day won’t be a massive turnout among youths or blacks. It’s going to be the overwhelming support of Latinos for Barack Obama. It’s not surprising that Bush made gains in 2004—receiving about 40 percent of the Latino vote, according to exit polls. He did so because he made a concerted effort to court Latinos dating to his days as Texas governor. McCain, despite his support for immigration reform, doesn’t have the same appeal. Latinos could very well be the key vote in several battleground states.”

Pollster with the best track record:
John: “Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight.com.”
Rob: “John Zogby—if for no other reason than he's from Utica, my hometown. Granted, if we're talking about the best track record, I'd need to go back to Clinton's 1996 re-election when he came within one-tenth of one percent to predict the result. And if you're wondering how I could defend a guy who said John Kerry would win the presidency in 2004 with 311 electoral votes (and carry Virginia), let's just say he was four years too early making those predictions. He's from Utica, after all.”

Title of President Bush’s memoir—if he were to write one—on his time in office:

John:Everyone Poops.”
Rob:Mission Accomplished.”

John, pick a Clinton—Bill or Hillary?

“Would’ve said Bill, but he admittedly got on my nerves during the primaries. But then again, so did Hillary. I’d have to say, overall, I’m feeling better about Hillary nowadays, so I’m gonna go with door number two.”

Rob, pick a Bush—George H.W. or George W.?
“George W. At least he didn’t raise taxes. For all of his faults—and there are too many to name for this answer—I give him credit for protecting our country from another terrorist attack, making two stellar Supreme Court appointments, and cutting taxes. His father did give us Clarence Thomas and win the Gulf War, but he also squandered Reagan’s legacy.”

Virginia: red or blue on November 4?

John: “Blue.”
Rob: “Blue. Virginia has become a different place since I moved here in 2001. I thought I’d finally escaped liberal New York and moved to a red state, only to see it elect two Democratic governors, likely two Democratic senators, and probably Obama. I’m seriously considering moving to West Virginia.”

Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?

John: “Stewart, though I find Colbert brilliant. I don’t love many of Stewart’s sidekicks, other than Samantha Bee and Aasif.”
Rob: “Stephen Colbert. He does an outstanding impersonation of a conservative commentator. How could I not choose him? I actually met Colbert a couple years ago when he dropped by an event on Capitol Hill. Very nice guy. No question I’d rather have a beer with him than Jon Stewart.”

Print publications you read today:
John: “Most of them, all of them . . . No, but seriously. In print? I subscribe to the Washington Post, but it usually doesn’t leave its plastic wrapper. I don’t read any dead-tree publications, really—not as a matter of principle but rather convenience. I read them all online. I mean, I read Macworld in print, but that’s about it.”
Rob: “I have the Washington Post delivered at home every day and read it on the Metro. It’s good opposition research. Occasionally, the Washington Examiner will drop a copy on the driveway, but I’ve never been able to figure out why it only comes twice a week.”

Number of years until DC has congressional voting rights:

John: “Ha. Never?”
Rob: “Never. Even if it wins approval in Congress, the Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional.”

Ballpark guess as to voter turnout on November 4:
John: “I’m gonna pull a Sarah Palin and ask for a lifeline on this one. Joe Sudbay, my deputy on the site, says, ‘Record-breaking turnout, especially for young people and African-Americans. Could break 60 percent overall.’ He’s my Joe the Plumber, but nicer (and he pays his taxes).”
Rob: “Somewhere between 55 percent and 60 percent.”

Your guess—by percentage—as to the vote returns for McCain and Obama on election night:

John: “Joe says Obama 52 percent, McCain 45 percent.”
Rob: “I’ll leave the predictions to the pollster from Utica.”

Top issue the next president should tackle in his first 100 days in office:

John: “Obviously the economy.”
Rob: “Energy. Just because the price of oil has fallen from record highs doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. If McCain wins, he’ll face a hostile Congress and an uphill battle to allow offshore drilling. An Obama administration is going to radically redefine the role of EPA to address global warming—resulting in more regulation and higher energy costs. You’ll need to get a federal permit just to operate your lawn mower.”

Favorite thing to do when you’re not reading or writing about politics:

John: “Still reading and writing about politics. I was dating a guy once who called me on a Sunday morning, and I was busy typing on the computer while we talked. He said to me, ‘You’re working on a Sunday?!’ I said, ‘No, I’m building a Web site for fun. It’s like a hobby.’ He replied, ‘It’s not a hobby when it’s the same thing you do for a living.’ Otherwise, I love to travel, especially abroad, and I grow orchids.”
Rob: “Watch baseball—except the Nats. I’m giving up my season-ticket plan next year because I was so disgusted with the pitiful team they trotted out in 2008. I’d rather make the trip to Woodbridge to see the Potomac Nationals. At least they won their league championship.”

Best bar for schmoozing with political types:
John: “For gay ones, Duplex Diner in Adams Morgan.”
Rob: Union Pub/Lounge 201. Conveniently located across from the Heritage Foundation and just a few blocks from the Capitol. Go there on the first Friday of every month and you won’t be disappointed. You might even catch some political celebrities.”

Favorite political blog or Web site other than your own:

John: “Been kind of partial to Ben Smith over at Politico, of late. Ben’s a good blogger and journalist, and there’s always something interesting on his page. And as Dr. House teaches us, interesting is always a good thing.”
Rob: “Why should I care what a bunch of wannabe pundits have to say about politics? In all seriousness, for political reporting it’s hard to top Marc Ambinder’s blog at the Atlantic. He’s always ahead of the curve. I admire what Josh Marshall has done at Talking Points Memo, even though I don’t like his political leanings. But my overall favorite blog is Hot Air. Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit are blogstars.”

Next week, we check in on the local music scene with vinyl-hugging blogger Jon Meyers of the Vinyl District. Check back for his picks for the best and worst venues and his favorite local band, and find out what vintage records he’ll never part with.

Earlier:
Delleicious DC
All About the Pretty
All Blogger Beat interviews

Have a favorite local blogger you’d like to hear from? Send an e-mail to eleaman@washingtonian.com.

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