NDN Blog

NDN in the (New) Media

This election cycle, many people have complained that the traditional media has not been doing its job all that well. The general complaint is that instead of giving voters the information they need to make informed and intelligent decisions, the ratings-driven mainstream media increasingly focuses on distractions and sound bites. Some have called for the reform of our traditional media; others have simply bypassed it.

We believe in engaging the non-traditional media. Here are a few of our new-media mentions from the past week:

DailyKos, The Latino Journal, and The South Chicagoan referenced our recent polls of Hispanic voters in key battleground states.

Simon and Rob Shapiro are featured in The American Prospect’s blog, Tapped, as well as Biodun Iginla’s BBC weblog, for their joint statement, “Keep People in Their Homes.” Shapiro also appears in Campaign for America’s Future.

Finally, Michael Moynihan, Director of NDN’s Green Project, has posts in The Huffington Post and Gristmill.

Spinning Out

Recently, Simon wrote about how U.S. Sen. John McCain's campaign was becoming increasingly untethered from reality. That analysis was confirmed this week when McCain decided, almost surreally, to suspend his campaign and call off the debate; today, The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne Jr. writes that his intervention in the deliberations over the bailout "could not have been more out of sync with what was actually happening."

McCain's campaign suspension didn't stop his campaign from spinning his debate appearance, however. No matter that McCain was not even planning to attend, or that the debate hasn't happened yet - they still released the following web ad today:

That's right. The McCain campaign has officially begun spinning the future. Look for their new ad, coming out next week: "McCain Wins Presidency!"

Friday New Tools Feature: Debate Drama Has "Internets" All Atwitter

At midnight last night, Twitter launched the first specialized section of their site, election.twitter.com. According to the New York Times, below a box that asks "what do you think?" is

"a constantly scrolling display of the thoughts (called "tweets" in Twitterspeak) of other Twitter users. These include all the tweets entered on the election page as well as those entered in any other part of the service with obvious election-related phrases, such as ‘Palin.'"

Already this morning, there are about 60 posts per minute on the election page. If the debate actually happens tonight (assuming there are no more crazy hail-mary moves from the McCain campaign), expect the page to be flooded with tweets; the company's co-founder says that the service saw "off-the-charts messages per second during the acceptance speeches" of the political conventions. Interestingly, the general public opinion on the election page seems to be pretty pro-Obama, which may reflect the mobile-user political trends I mentioned last week.

Twitter represents a fascinating intersection of different new media; it is like a social networking site, a blog, and a mobile service all rolled into one. To learn more about these tools and how they are fundamentally altering politics in the 21st century, we encourage you to read our New Policy Institute's New Tools Campaign papers, Go Mobile, Leverage Social Networks and Engage the Blogs.

You can also sign up to follow NDN on Twitter and receive tweets on all of our latest thinking.

SNL Takes Another Shot at McCain Campaign

Yesterday, Saturday Night Live took another swipe at U.S. Sen. John McCain's campaign. Although it would be hard to top Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin last week, this skit is a pretty good follow-up. Written by Al Franken, it is more or less "the truth, with jokes." There is a serious side to these sketches as well; as Chris Cillizza from the Washington Post points out,

"'SNL' has already shown an ability to influence the political campaigns
this year; Amy Poehler's (generally) sympathetic portrayal of Hillary Rodham Clinton during the spring was seen as a factor in the re-rise of the New York Senator's candidacy."

Check out the clip here:

Friday New Tools Feature: Over the Landline


The New York Times this week reported that 17% of American households are now cellphone-only, and that number may reach 20% by the end of the year as tougher economic times and less expensive and easy-to-use mobile devices lead to increased cell phone use.

This trend raises interesting questions about the 2008 presidential election. Higher percentages of cellphone-only users are Millennials and minorities than the national average, and they tend to be more progressive than traditional landline users. For instance, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that cellphone-only voters greatly favored U.S. Sen. Barack Obama over U.S. Sen. John McCain: 61% of voters that were leaning toward a candidate went for Obama, compared to only 32% for McCain. Of those cell-only voters that were certain about their vote, 46% went for Obama while only 18% were voting for McCain.

One common concern is that this trend might throw off national opinion polls by under-representing young people and minorities. Polling companies are certainly aware of this problem, and use statistical weighting and more cell-phone polling to compensate – for example, Gallup now includes cell phones in every national poll they do, and Pew does strategic cell-phone surveys to adjust for differences between groups. While there is no real consensus about whether these measures sufficiently correct for the influence of cell-only voters, we should not assume that Obama has a “hidden” five-point advantage that will materialize in November.

More important than the challenges they pose for pollsters is the fact that cell-only users tend to be more transient and are less likely to be registered to vote. They are harder to reach for voter registration and get-out-the-vote initiatives, but are critical to Obama’s success in November. The Obama campaign understands this, and has revolutionized the use of mobile technology in politics by launching Obama Mobile, which uses SMS messaging to help register voters and remind them to actually vote, as well as to send them regular campaign updates. By inviting people to sign up to receive the text announcement of his VP choice, the Obama campaign added many new mobile numbers into their database, which should translate into increased turnout from cell-only users come November.

The Obama campaign has also launched Obama Movil, the Spanish-language version of Obama Mobil. This is especially important, given that Hispanics are more likely to be cell-only users and use text-messaging more than many other demographics (49% of adult Latinos use text-messaging on their mobile phones, compared to 31% of whites), but use the Internet and landlines less than other groups. Mobile technology is therefore critical in reaching a demographic that could have a profound influence on the outcome of this election. The Obama program seems poised to build on the success of similar text-based programs for Hispanics. 

NDN and the New Politics Institute have been talking about the increasing importance of mobile technology to progressives for some time, and we are finally seeing the new politics coming of age in a big way. To read more from us about how mobile technology is changing politics as we know it, read our NPI papers Go Mobile and The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation.

New NDN Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Immigration Reform in Battleground States, Continues to Generate Buzz

NDN and long-time collaborator and pollster Sergio Bendixen recently released a poll that surveyed four key battleground states -- Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada -- on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. The polls showed overwhelming support for such reform and showed that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama holds a significant lead over U.S. Sen. John McCain in three of the states and is in a dead heat in Florida, which until recently, has leaned Republican

The poll have generated considerable buzz in the media over the last 10 days:

- After mentioning it in his afternoon roundup last week, Markos Moulitsas (a.k.a. Kos) from DailyKos blogged about our poll again yesterday and included a more extended analysis of the findings, noting they show that support for comprehensive immigration reform among the general population is higher than many might believe.

- In an article entitled Latino Voters Key to Obama Win in Battleground StatesPeople's Weekly World uses our poll to demonstate the importance of the Latino electorate in the 2008 presidential election.

- The Dallas Morning News featured an article called Texas Watch: Immigration Issue Expected to Resurface When Debates Start. The article quotes both Simon and Sergio and makes use of our poll.

- Mike Swift from The San Jose Mercury News quotes Simon and references the poll in his article, saying that they found "Obama leading McCain by 30 percentage points or more among Hispanic voters in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, with Latinos angry at Republicans for the failure of immigration reform."

- USA TODAY'S Kathy Kiely covered the poll, quoting Simon in her article, Polls: Latinos favor Obama in 3 important battleground states.

- Marcelo Raimon covered the poll for ANSA, Italian News Agency.

- In his post, McCain's support boost does NOT include Latinos, The South Chicagoan's Gregory Tejeda cites NDN's new polls in his explanation of why he thinks McCain is not picking up new Latino support.

- UPI summarized the poll in its Top News roundup.

- The Thaiindian News reported on the polls in its report, Hispanics support Obama in four crucial states: Poll.

- Columnist Ruben Navarette cited NDN and Bendixen's polls in his recent piece, Palin could help McCain with Latino vote.

- The Tampa Bay Times blog, The Buzz, carried the USA TODAY article about the polls and the immigration reform issue.

- Adrian Perez from the Latino Journal also showcased the poll coverage from USA TODAY.

Quit Whining…and Get Off My Lawn(s)

Given the economic hurricane whirling around us, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the words of a man U.S. Sen. John McCain recently called “one of the smartest people in the world on economics.” That's right. I'm talking about none other than former McCain campaign co-chair and economic adviser, former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm.

You may remember Gramm as the “co-sponsor of the 1999 law that allowed commercial banks to get into investment banking.” Or as “a prime architect of a 2000 bill that kept regulators' hands off of 'credit default swaps,' an exotic financial tool which helped enable the bundling and selling of crappy subprime mortgages to investors,” and which “have been at the heart of the subprime meltdown.”

Gramm has been one of the greatest champions in Washington for deregulation of the financial markets, and until he suddenly became a populist a few days ago, John McCain was with him 100% on that position. Here is Gramm's take on the economy, circa July:

So everyone, please, stop whining about the economy, and remember: This is all in your minds.

McCain Is Either Confused about or Combative Toward Spanish P.M.

Time reports that earlier this week, U.S. Sen. John McCain gave this answer when asked if he would receive Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in the White House:

"Honestly, I have to analyze our relationships, situations, and priorities, but I can assure you that I will establish closer relationships with our friends, and I will stand up to those who want to harm the United States."

The response came after a series of questions about Latin America, and it seems that McCain either confused Mr. Zapatero with Latin American leaders like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, or is still holding a grudge about Spain withdrawing its troops from Iraq. Given that McCain also recently referred to the nonexistent nation of Czechoslovakia, can never remember the difference between Sunni and Shia, and refers to the "Iraq-Pakistan border," the former explanation seems more likely. As the Spanish newspaper El Pais puts it,

"In the best-case scenario, [his answer] demonstrates his ignorance with respect to Zapatero."

Since McCain presents himself as the foreign policy candidate in this race, that's not a great best-case scenario for him.

New Obama Ad Woos Women Voters

In a new television spot released today, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign attacks U.S. Sen. John McCain's record on women's issues:

So McCain is not exactly a natural pick for women voters (see his recent performance on "The View" - he looks like he'd rather be just about anywhere else). However, poll data shows that some women have been swayed by McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running-mate. This is frankly surprising, given that she wants to make abortion illegal even for rape victims, and in fact charged rape victims between $300 and $1200 for evidence collection as the Governor of Alaska (contrast this with Obama's VP, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act).

The New York Times editorial board recently took McCain to task for his pick of the incredibly underqualified Palin:

"If he seriously thought this first-term governor — with less than two
years in office — was qualified to be president, if necessary, at such
a dangerous time, it raises profound questions about his judgment. If
the choice was, as we suspect, a tactical move, then it was shockingly

Picking Palin may have been a cynical bid for women's votes. However, as voters have become more familiar with Sarah Palin, her poll numbers have begun to drop drastically. Perhaps McCain's impulsive decision may still come back to haunt him.

The Bush Doctrine? Um... Have I Mentioned That Alaska Is Close to Russia? And Energy?

In case you missed it, here's the best part of Gov. Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson. He asks her if she agrees with the Bush doctrine, and she freezes up like the Alaskan tundra in February.  

If you want to see the full interview, click here.

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