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Old 09-15-2019, 03:53 AM
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Did Barack Obama choose to put his middle name on the ballot?


Bill Maher and Michael Moore made a bet about this on HBO on Friday night. I would have predicted that Billís contention, that it was not his choice, was correct. A couple outlets are reporting that Maher lost the bet, but it appears they are basing that only on Michael Steele having said on the program that Michael Moore was right. I donít think thatís definitive, and by the time they got to the Overtime segment on YouTube they said they were still investigating itóso clearly they didnít take his word for it either.
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:33 AM
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Which ballot? There were 51 of them, two times each, counting only the general elections.
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:42 AM
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Sure, so any and all of them. I suppose Moore voted in Michigan?
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:53 AM
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He was just "Barack Obama" in Ohio in 2012, and his running mate was simply "Joe Biden." Likewise, his opponent was "Mitt Romney," not "Willard Mitt Romney."

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 09-15-2019 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:06 AM
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I did a search on the 2008 presidential ballot. I didn't look at all of them, but all of the ones I found just said Barack Obama, no middle name. Candidates have wide latitude over how they want their names to appear on the ballot. They may use nicknames if they so choose. Biden used the name Joe on the ballot, and Mitt Romney used his nickname on the 2012 ballot instead of his first name of Willard.

I couldn't find any ballots that had Barack Hussein Obama on them. That doesn't mean it didn't appear on at least one of them, but Obama did have the choice to leave it off, which seemed to be the crux of the bet.

And it looks like I was ninja'd by Lord Feldon. Curses!
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:06 AM
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In the Texas Senate race last year, the candidates were listed as "Ted Cruz" and "Beto O'Rourke," so candidates there obviously get a good deal of leeway in choosing how their names appear. Obama didn't use his middle name there either.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
Sure, so any and all of them. I suppose Moore voted in Michigan?
No, first we need to establish that his middle name did show up on a ballot, then we can discuss whether or not that would have been by choice. As we can see by the responses so far, the facts haven't even been established. Not having watched the show, how did it go down -- Michael Moore made the claim that Obama chose to put his middle name on the ballot? If so, that puts Maher in a pickle -- if he's not familiar with the story, does he challenge the fact, or does he pivot? It sounds like he pivoted -- he took Moore at his word that Hussein was on a ballot, and then decided that it must not have been by choice.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:46 AM
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Hopefully someone can confirm my memory. I thought that battle was fought long before Obama. My memory from childhood was that Jimmy Carter had to fight to keep his name as Jimmy instead of James Earl Carter on all ballots. It was established that candidates could choose how their name appears.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:08 AM
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Sure, so any and all of them. I suppose Moore voted in Michigan?
Michigan Presidential ballot 2012

Michigan primary ballot 2012

But Moore actually lives in New York.

New York presidential ballot 2012

It was the same in 2008.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:46 AM
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As far as I am aware, the practice either by law or regulation is that at lesst part of the name on the ballot and the name the candidate uses in their publicity be the same; at least in the jurisdiction I am most familiar with it is required by law that their legal surname (in this example, Obama) be on the ballot.

On a more practical sense, there's also the factor that most politicians will seek to make their styling of their name for campaign purposes to be short and straight Word1 Word2. Notice in that earlier linked Michigan primary ballot: nobody put in their middle initials/maiden names -- nor did those using nicknames parenthesize them behind their legal given name: it was just Buddy or Newt, for instance.

President 41 campaigned as "George Bush" rather than George H W Bush, and it was his son who campaigned as "George W" to mark the difference because there was a George Bush already.

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Old 09-15-2019, 11:18 AM
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I do remember George W Bush had his middle initial on the ballot. Which makes sense because George H. W. Bush was still alive in 2000 and 2004 and was also eligible to be elected president.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:42 PM
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No, first we need to establish that his middle name did show up on a ballot, then we can discuss whether or not that would have been by choice. As we can see by the responses so far, the facts haven't even been established. Not having watched the show, how did it go down -- Michael Moore made the claim that Obama chose to put his middle name on the ballot? If so, that puts Maher in a pickle -- if he's not familiar with the story, does he challenge the fact, or does he pivot? It sounds like he pivoted -- he took Moore at his word that Hussein was on a ballot, and then decided that it must not have been by choice.

Yes, precisely. Sure looks to me like Maher wins this, despite the premature declaration to the contrary by Deadline and at least one other outlet. Unless Moore tries to weasel out on the technicality that itís null and void because ďHusseinĒ didnít appear at all. But then he has to admit that he was totally wrong about his original claim.
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Old 09-15-2019, 01:32 PM
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In Bama, our former governor had his name legally changed to "Dr. Robert Bentley" in order for "Dr." to appear on the ballot. There was an attack ad during the primaries (the only competitive races in Alabama) mocking him for this. So there seems to be at least some restrictions on how your name appears on a ballot.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:22 PM
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Obama-Biden appear twice on that ballot; McCain-Palin three times. And these five options all appear before the other five. (I thought the orderings were usually randomized.) Is that ballot typical? Are separate tallies reported for the separate selections?
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:38 PM
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Obama-Biden appear twice on that ballot; McCain-Palin three times. And these five options all appear before the other five. (I thought the orderings were usually randomized.) Is that ballot typical? Are separate tallies reported for the separate selections?
I believe New York lists parties in order of their vote percentage in the previous election.

Yes, tallies are reported separately in order to establish the size of the party's share.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:24 AM
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I think the bet was actually about whether candidates have a choice about how their names appear on the ballot, not specifically whether Obama choose to have his middle name listed.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:38 AM
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I think the bet was actually about whether candidates have a choice about how their names appear on the ballot, not specifically whether Obama choose to have his middle name listed.

No, I just listened to it again and transcribed it. Here you go:


Quote:
MAHER: If youíre telling me that Obama put ďHusseinĒ on the ballot purposely to get votes, we will have to have that discussion another time, butó

MOORE: Yes, he did it because he had courage!

MAHER: Put your money where your mouth is. Iíll bet you on that, that he didnít say ďLetís get ĎHusseiní on the ballot!Ē

MOORE: Yes, he wanted his middle name. How much are you going to bet me on that?

From there, a negotiation over the stakes ensued. But the basic terms as set clearly show that Bill Maher was the winner, and Michael Moore completely imagined this. (Which Iím glad to learn, because it would have shocked me that Obama did something so reckless and unnecessary.)
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:35 AM
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In Bama, our former governor had his name legally changed to "Dr. Robert Bentley" in order for "Dr." to appear on the ballot. There was an attack ad during the primaries (the only competitive races in Alabama) mocking him for this. So there seems to be at least some restrictions on how your name appears on a ballot.
I remember a promotional exam in my old job. The people who got passing grades were grouped in sets of five point increments (so people had a mark of 100, 95, 90, etc). This meant that each group had a lot of people in it and the person at the front of each group might end up getting promoted a year ahead of the person at the end of the group. Ties between people within each group were broken by a system of assigning a numerical value to the first three letters of the person's last name in reverse order.

And after the numerical values had been announced, one person had his name legally changed (obviously to something which produced a really good score) and then filed a lawsuit to be able to use his new name for scoring purposes.
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:16 AM
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Meanwhile, on Reddit and everywhere else that shows up from googling this bet, everyone still seems to think that Michael Moore won:

https://www.reddit.com/r/entertainme...tm_name=iossmf

https://deadline.com/2019/09/bill-ma...by-1202734528/

https://decider.com/2019/09/14/bill-...-on-real-time/

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/09/wat...expensive-bet/


Outside of our little corner of the Internet, ignorance is winning.
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Old 09-16-2019, 03:41 AM
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Geeze, that's weird, you'd think that two old has-beens getting in an irrelevant argument on weekend evening cable would have spawned a bunch of diligent research.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 09-16-2019 at 03:43 AM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:24 AM
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Geeze, that's weird, you'd think that two old has-beens getting in an irrelevant argument on weekend evening cable would have spawned a bunch of diligent research.

Maher’s show has been nominated for a dozen Emmys over the past decade. He regularly gets all number of high profile guests. Trump complains about him on the regular, and FOX News is obsessed with him.

If Moore is a has-been, he is one of very recent vintage: in September 2018, his film “Fahrenheit 11/9” got the widest release of any of his films to date, nearly 2,000 screens. His star has certainly cooled due to that film’s underperformance, but I think it’s a bit early to dismiss him as a “has-been”.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 09-16-2019 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 06:43 AM
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BTW this makes for an interesting experiment, insofar as IMO it shows many people were already of the belief the middle name WAS on the ballot when it wasn't; while many who had not given it thought, upon hearing the bet will have assumed "must have happened if they are betting on why and not on whether", and many of them are not bothering to check.

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Old 09-16-2019, 07:06 AM
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Yeah, good point. I was willing to believe it was on the ballot, but my assumption was that if so, it was a legal requirement to include the middle name. Presumably the same thing Bill Maher was thinking. Which I must say is a lot less of a brain fart than Michael Moore inventing from whole cloth this story about how he felt when he was in the voting booth and saw the name on the ballot.
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Old 09-16-2019, 07:14 AM
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BTW this makes for an interesting experiment, insofar as IMO it shows many people were already of the belief the middle name WAS on the ballot when it wasn't; while many who had not given it thought, upon hearing the bet will have assumed "must have happened if they are betting on why and not on whether", and many of them are not bothering to check.
Yeah, that whole reddit thread is weird. I didn't read it all, but everyone seems to be going from the assumption that his middle name was on the ballot. I don't remember this being the case, and, as evidenced by this thread, no evidence has been produced that his middle name was on the presidential ballot, quite the opposite.

That said, reading the Deadspin article, the interpretation that Moore won the bet is that the bet was that candidates get to choose what name they put on the ballot. In that case, Moore is correct. It just depends on what the bet is.

I'd like to know what ballot Moore supposedly saw his middle name on.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:14 AM
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I couldn't find any ballots that had Barack Hussein Obama on them. That doesn't mean it didn't appear on at least one of them, but Obama did have the choice to leave it off, which seemed to be the crux of the bet.
Well, it's probably because you didn't use the right search terms. If there's one thing I've learned from the rightwingers on Reddit, it's that Obama's name was actually "Barack HUSSEIN Obama".

Apparently, to them, the emphasis matters for some reason.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:58 AM
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Obama-Biden appear twice on that ballot; McCain-Palin three times. And these five options all appear before the other five. (I thought the orderings were usually randomized.) Is that ballot typical? Are separate tallies reported for the separate selections?
New York is one of the few states where a candidate can run on multiple party lines. Votes for the candidate are listed by party, but the results are then totalled for each candidate. So if you're running on both the Democratic and Working Families lines, votes for both are combined for the total.

Parties are automatically on the ballot if their candidate for governor gets 50K votes and their position is determined by how many votes the party gets. The winning party gets line A, the second gets line B, etc.

Parties can also be added for each election, but they have to circulate petitions, and NY petitioning rules are the very definition of picayune. I know of a candidate who lost the chance because he handed in his petitions too early (the law said it would be accepted during particular business hours, and he filed them a half hour before the law specified).

The setup can lead to cases like when Mario Cuomo won more votes as a Democrat than George Pataki did as a Republican in 1994, but lost the election because of Pataki's votes from other parties.

Most states don't allow this sort of grouping. Each party is counted separately, so if you run on more than one line, you split your own vote. No one is dumb enough to do that.

The system was set up (most likely) to try to counteract Tammany Hall. Democrats who didn't like the Tammany could vote for a candidate without voting for a Republican.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:35 AM
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Yeah, that whole reddit thread is weird. I didn't read it all, but everyone seems to be going from the assumption that his middle name was on the ballot. I don't remember this being the case, and, as evidenced by this thread, no evidence has been produced that his middle name was on the presidential ballot, quite the opposite.

That said, reading the Deadspin article, the interpretation that Moore won the bet is that the bet was that candidates get to choose what name they put on the ballot. In that case, Moore is correct. It just depends on what the bet is.

I'd like to know what ballot Moore supposedly saw his middle name on.

I posted the exact verbatim bet just upthread: post #12. If ďHusseinĒ is not on the ballot, Michael Moore quite clearly loses.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:43 PM
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Oops, post #17.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:08 AM
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Hopefully someone can confirm my memory. I thought that battle was fought long before Obama. My memory from childhood was that Jimmy Carter had to fight to keep his name as Jimmy instead of James Earl Carter on all ballots. It was established that candidates could choose how their name appears.
It's widely held that Carter "went to court" to get on the ballot as Jimmy, but I haven't been able to find any references to those legal proceedings. At some point, Carter changed his legal name to Jimmy and it's undisputed that he was sworn in as Jimmy. Unfortunately, googling on this topic is not hugely productive because it results in a bunch of hits for a long birther document that discusses Obama's relationship with Carter.
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As far as I am aware, the practice either by law or regulation is that at lesst part of the name on the ballot and the name the candidate uses in their publicity be the same; at least in the jurisdiction I am most familiar with it is required by law that their legal surname (in this example, Obama) be on the ballot.
There is no such regulation, at least not with regard to federal elections. Candidates can ask to be styled however they like. Generally speaking, state election officials have discretion about whether to permit them to go by something other than their legal names. There appears to be some dispute in NJ as to whether that is true.
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:23 AM
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There is no such regulation, at least not with regard to federal elections.
As is often mentioned, it’s really 51 simultaneous state/DC-run elections so the rules are at each state level.
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Old 09-19-2019, 04:11 PM
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It's widely held that Carter "went to court" to get on the ballot as Jimmy, but I haven't been able to find any references to those legal proceedings.
It is certainly widely held by me. Since Iím working off of memory and I was 9 at the time Iím hardly a reliable source. Thanks for looking.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:34 PM
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My memory from childhood was that Jimmy Carter had to fight to keep his name as Jimmy instead of James Earl Carter on all ballots. It was established that candidates could choose how their name appears.
Here's an awesome Antiques Roadshow clip that goes into detail about how this was done at the time:

https://www.pbs.org/video/antiques-r...ign-affidavit/
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