NDN Blog


DLC publication

Our friends at the Democratic Leadership Council today published their American Dream Initiative. This has been a year-long research project lead by Senator Hillary Clinton, and in which NDN is proud to have been a partner organisation. The main proposal from the initiative is a plan to help many more Americans attend college over the next ten years. There are also a number of articles on the same subject in the latest edition of the DLC's Blueprint magazine, including an overview by Clinton and others. These documents are an important part of the ongoing thinking happening in all parts of the Democratic family in advance of November, and on the road to '08. Just as excitingly, the Brooking's Hamilton Project will have a big launch tomorrow profiling some of the latest thinking on Economics. NDN - or rather, I - will be attending the launch, and i'll report back on it tomorrow in more details.

Monday morning roundup

Most important piece I saw today was an op-ed from Arlen Specter defending his new bill to grant FISA the authority to declare an eavesdropping practice legal and constitutional. I don't always agree with Specter, but he is a smart man. On this one he doesn't really persuade me. Many newspapers had a related story about growing concerns that the President is remaking laws passed by Congress as he sees fit.

The Post has an indepth look at the fall elections today. And the Times has an interesting look at María Celeste Arrarás, a Spanish-accented Telemundo anchor who has been filling in for Katie Couric.

In the gee, this governing thing is hard category, we have three morning entrees: Pakistan ramps up its nuclear program; surprise, it is hard to recruit folks into the Iraqi police; and our tactics in fighting the Iraqi insurgency probably made it worse.

And if you haven't read it, check out the memo summarizing our new poll of Hispanics that has gotten so much attention.

Broder writes about our poll in his nationally syndicated column today

Even Republican Senator Mel Martinez agrees with our findings - the Republicans have been very seriously damaged in the Hispanic community this year. 

You can read his important column here.  For more on our poll visit www.ndn.org/hispanic

Not so much blogging this weekend

Am off on a trip with my family this weekend, so not too much blogging. 

More Monday. 


Its been a busy week here at NDN, and i haven't quite been able to waste as much time blogging as i would have liked. Here is one thing i forgot to post yesterday- a superb, superb article in the FT yesterday on that strange new country everyone is talking about - Chinarunindia. It is now almost a political trope that Chinarunindia threatens American jobs. And so it does. But not in the way people often think. Case in point are the statistics people use. You see this often, of the following type.

"Chinarunindia graduate [big number] students every year, while America only graduates [small number]." - Or - "Chinarunindia graduates more engineering students than [America / Europe / Americananeuropetogetha]."

Such statistics are part of statistics-as-metaphor. Whether or not they are true is not the point. You should treat them in the same way people say "Eskimo's have 27 words for snow" or "half the world has never made a phone call." Are these true? They might be. They probably are not. [Read for instance this superb essay by technology thinker Clay Shirky on exactly this point, examining the truth behind the second quote.] But that isn't the point. The point is that they are meant to tell you something bigger: namely that language responds to circumstance, and the technological revolution is confined to rich countries. My favourite is: "1 in 7 people is a chinese farmer." This one is actually true, with 6 billion people and 900m employed in chinese agriculture. But what it really means is nothing to do with farming. It means: holy hell! there are a lot of people in China!

The same habit crops up with the statistics politicians use to describe Chinarunindia. They are trying to make the point - quite correctly - that the world is changing fast. They want you to understand that this brief period of history when the US is the (as Rob Shaprio, our Globalization Initiative directorl likes to say) only global power with no peer since Rome, will be just that. Brief. But in the course of making this point, some real whoppers emerge. As the FT explains:

Although both countries produce millions of graduates annually, the raw numbers are a misleading metric for employable skills. China produces 600,000 university-trained engineers every year, for example, a figure often cited to illustrate the country's inexorable rise as a technology power. But a McKinsey survey of nine occupations including engineers, accountants and doctors found that fewer than one in 10 were employable by multinationals.

The rest of the piece is similarily on the money, and you should read it. It highlights something almost no one seems to understand, namely that (unbelievably) Chinarunindia are running out of workers. They aren't running out of people exactly. But because they invest so little in education, they are running out of employable workers. These labour shortages will ripple out accross the world economy in the coming years. But because politicans use these misleading stats, they miss the bigger point. It is this. Imagine how much Chinarunindia will change our economy when 9 out of 10 of their professionals are employable by multinationals? Makes you think. Have a great weekend............




Friday Morning - the national landscape is changing

As inevitably happens, the national landscape of an election year in the spring gives way to a new and changed landscape by summer and fall.  The success of a political party or national campaign often comes from the ability to sense the change and get ahead of the other side.  It feels like we are in such a moment now. 

In the old landscape the Democrats had the wind at their back.  Iraq, Katrina, an economy not working for most, corruption, etc had produced an environment very favorable for Democrats.  My sense is that backdrop, that environment, and all the message plans, the polling, the strategies for media is about to change.  There is mounting evidence of an economic slow down, possibly making the governing party's economic positioning - always critical - even worse.  But how is the security environment going to change?  Not entirely clear.  But what is clear is it is very possible that the events of the world will make this conversation much more than about our failures in Iraq - the question for both parties is are they ready to adapt, to change, to anticipate, to improvise their way into the final fall messaging wave?

To me it is clear that the centrality of Iraq to the whole progressive enterprise is about to give way to a very different - and more complex - conversation about the Middle East, the use of force and the goals of American foreign policy.  Are we ready for this? Intellectually? Politically?

In the summer of 2002 Bush and Rove nationalized the election around Iraq and taxes.  It was around this time that they clarified their approach, went on the political offensive and defined the election.  The response from Daschle and Gephardt, I believe, cost Democrats the election.  They failed to adapt to the redefinition of the race, arguing that all the campaigns would be won on local issues, and did not offer any kind of national engagement on the two issues that defined every race in the country.  They held on to their spring plan.  The game changed. And Democrats got beat. 

4 years ago Bush and Rove ran a national campaign on the two most important issues of every election - peace and prosperity - war and taxes - that came together late in the summer.  Are Democrats ready to leave their spring gameplan behind and build a new one as the game is changed, knowing what happened the last time around?

Whether and how Democrats adapt - and how this changes their public stances and paid media strategies - will determine what happens this fall. 

1 in 5 Bloggers are Hispanic

NDN ran two terrific events in the last two days, one on our Hispanic poll, the other on the New Politics Institute's technology work. Cutting edge tech and grassroots Latino politics. Distinct areas, right? Wrong. Becuase you did read the title of this post right. According to yesterday's Pew Blogging Study, 19% of all bloggers are (english speaking) Hispanics. Given how much i know people reading this love it when I try to show off my child-like statistical abilities, i'm only happy to oblige. We have 147 million Americans are online, of whom 8%, or 12 million, blog. 19% of bloggers are hispanics, which comes out as 2.28 million. This is from a total universe of Hispanic internet users of 16m. To put this another way, the ratio of white bloggers to total internet users is 15:1. The ration for hispanics is 7:1, more than twice as many. Even more strikingly, the number of hispanic bloggers is almost double the number of African Americans, despite there being roughly the same numbers of African Americans and Hispanics in the country.

What explains this? It might be an error. The poll sample on the bloggers is small giving a larger than usual error range of +/-7%. But even this means that we can be pretty sure that the true number is between 1.4m and 3.12m. My hunch is that that online hispanics - being a smaller group of the total population of hispanics compared to whites - are disproportionately younger, and wealthier than the group average, factors likely to be associated with having enough money to own a computer and actually know how to use it. Despite the fact the Hispanics are, on average, less wealthy than white Americans, at present those on line must be more blog-friendly on average than white Americans. And youth must have a lot to do with this. Come what may, if these figures are even remotely correct, it means that Hispanics are the most blog rich demographic group in America. I'm going to write to the poll people are see what their hunch is. More anon.

UPDATE - Amanda Lenhart, the author at PEW, writes back in double quick time. Thanks Adanda. Turns out my hunch was not too far off the mark.  More predictably, i goofed on some of the stats, but we'll gloss over that. Lets leave it to the experts:

"As you may have noticed, the sample for this survey is quite small (n=233) which limits the kind of analysis we can do of the data. However, our hunch is that bloggers are more diverse than internet users because they are overwhelmingly young (54% of bloggers are 18-29, compared to 24% of adult internet users), and work by the Census bureau suggests that younger Americans are a more diverse cohort than old Americans – due to birth rates and immigration. (see this USAToday article for a quick overview and a nice chart: http://www.usatoday.com/educate/college/careers/Hot/6-9-05b.htm ) While we can’t analyze our data to show causation, I believe that the age of bloggers at least partly explains the diversity of the group."


Thursday Morning Roundup

Released a new poll memo yesterday looking at Spanish speaking Hispanic voters, and it had dramatic and unexpected results.  The degree of Bush's of fall with this group that voted 48% for him in 2004. and had always held him in high esteem, suprised all of us.  It seems clear now that immigrant Hispanics are holding him personally accountable for the tone and tenor of the immigration debate.  They have been become disapointed with a leader they believed held great promise, while also concluding that Republican government is not producing the results they hope to see.  You can find the poll and the companion PowerPoint presentation at www.ndn.org/hispanic

Hard to add to the saturation coverage of what is happening in Lebanon by all the major news outlets, other than to point out a very good piece in the Times today about how the Shiite-led government in Iraq is reacting to the global community's efforts to eradicate Hezbollah. 

With violence escalating, the Post offers a good piece on how Congressional Republicans are backing off their optimistic assessments of the "progress" in Iraq.  This one follows a must read piece yesterday about the growing disenchantment of the right with the failures of Bush's foreign policy.

And the Post offers another good one on how with Ralph Reed's loss in Georgia the rampant Washington scandals may effect the fall elections. 

A coalition of progressive think tanks and the DGA, led by the DLC, released an exciting new proposal yesterday to "Help the U.S. and the Middle Class Get Ahead By Producing One Million More College Graduates by 2015."  NDN is proud to be part of this coalition, and look forward to the a much bigger report to be released this weekend.   

Time has an interesting piece on how soldiers in Iraq are using YouTube to send video messages back home. 

Look forward to seeing many of you at our NPI lunch today at noon.....it has been a busy week, but a very productive one. 

Beyond YouTube: The Explosion of Bottom-up Video

The New Politics Institute has been talking about how the use of digital video off the internet could impact politics this year. In fact, on Thursday we will be holding on event on Capitol Hill on The Powerful New Political Tools of 2006, which features how to use viral video, among other tools.

However, a story in the San Francisco Chronicle this week gives a good sense of how the whole internet video space is exploding as we speak. It overviews the whole space and references 240 websites that are organized around video. This business story focuses on how the proliferation of sites in this sector is reminiscent of the 1990s and how a shakeout can be expected, with larger companies buying the best of the smaller ones, and venture capital money trying to scale a few of the most promising.

The story is useful even for the casual reader because the frenzied business environment usually prefaces a more stable environment for consumers and users. Get ready to start using these sites.

The online story also lists the top 10 video sites with links. YouTube tops the list, with more than 40 percent of the traffic, but others are worth checking out too.

Peter Leyden

Syndicate content