Age of Obama

Simon Rosenberg Presents: The New Dawn

Please join us Thursday, June 25, at 12:15pm for a presentation of "Dawn of a New Politics" by Simon Rosenberg.

This engaging presentation makes a big argument on how politics is changing in America today, and offers ideas and strategies for how progressives can replicate our 20th century success in this new and dynamic century.

Simon has recently updated the presentation with new arguments and slides, including an analysis of the bottom-up democratic uprising we're seeing today in Iran. Even if you've seen the presentation before, this new version will be fresh and engaging!

Simon has delivered his presentation "Dawn of a New Politics" all across the country over the past several years: At the DNC in Denver, twice for the House Democratic Caucus, on the Google campus, and recently before members and staff of the DSCC and DAGA, among many other gatherings.

We cordially invite you to join us-- either here in our event space, or via Web cast-- to watch and engage with this revamped presentation.

If you plan on coming to the presentation, please RSVP here.

Follow this link to watch the Web cast.


729 15th St., NW
Washington , DC 20005
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Monday Buzz: Immigration, ObamaNet, Una Latina en la Suprema Corte, and More

NDN was one of the first organizations in Washington to explain and celebrate the growing influence of Hispanics in American politics. So it's no surprise that we drove the narrative on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination in many of the nation's largest media outlets. Simon discussed the impact of Sotomayor's nomination in the USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, Politics Daily, and the Mexican paper Excelsior. Here are a few excerpts. From the SF Chronicle article, which also makes extensive use of NDN polling data:

But the president's decision to nominate a daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants will have impacts far beyond the court, said Simon Rosenberg, who heads NDN, the Washington, D.C., think tank formerly known as New Democrat Network.

Rosenberg called it "an acknowledgement and affirmation of the great demographic changes taking place in America today. The percentage of people of color in the United States has tripled in just the past 45 years, and America is now on track to become a majority-minority nation in 30 to 40 years."

Andres Ramirez, NDN vice president of Hispanic programs, said the demographic wave has reshaped voting patters and elections and will recast the look of Congress - and the fortunes of the two major political parties - in the next decade.

In the USA Today piece, Simon talks about how Obama will use his online advocacy machine to push his Supreme Court pick:

"Look, the Obama team is using all the tools every day, and we should expect that," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network, and a pioneering advocate of the use of new media in politics. "This (nomination rollout) had clearly been in the works for some time. They were prepared. They were firing on many cylinders. This is going to be a full, frontal battle over the next several months and the administration is ready and confident."

But that doesn't mean it will be clear sailing.

"It won't be the old pitched battles where there would be 20 or 30 traditional groups fighting it out in Washington," Rosenberg said. He said "amped up" communications through blogs and social networks make a more complicated debate with more actors and activists involved.

And from Salon:

"The Republicans are going to have to be extremely careful," Simon Rosenberg, who's spent a long time analyzing the role of Hispanics in American politics as president of the New Democrat Network, told Salon. "After years of demonizing Hispanics, if they oppose her and it looks political, they're risking further injury with this fast-growing segment of the electorate... There's no road back for the Republican Party that doesn't have them repudiating what they've done on race over the last generation."

Andres also weighed in on Channel 13 Action News in Las Vegas on Sotomayor's nomination, and discussed how Nevada figures into the immigration reform fight in the Las Vegas Sun:

The Republican Party’s stance puts it “in a delicate position” with the increasingly important Hispanic electorate in Nevada and nationwide, according to Andres Ramirez, vice president of Hispanic programs at NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization.

In Nevada, three of four Hispanic voters supported Obama in the general election, according to exit polls — the second-highest show of support among Hispanics nationwide, after New Jersey. In the same election, Hispanics cast 15 percent of all votes in Nevada, a 50 percent increase compared with 2004’s tally.

Immigration, Ramirez said, is a litmus test for Hispanic voters — if they think a candidate, or party, is hostile on the issue, they will show less interest in the candidate’s or party’s overall platform. This occurred in the 2008 election, analysts say.

So the party could “risk alienating Hispanic voters more” by opposing a comprehensive bill, Ramirez said.

Finally, Simon was the kicker quote in a story in the Boston Globe on business warming to the Democrats.

In Kos Track, Everyone Drops, Right/Wrong Track Evens Out

My new favorite weekly barometer of public opinion shows slight drops for all people and parties this week, but for the first time in many years the "right track, wrong track" measure did not have a higher wrong than right track.  That measure came in 48/48, reflecting the growing optimism of the American people in this new age of Obama. 

Amazingly the GOP's numbers continue to drop across the board.  In this poll the GOP trails the Democratic Party in favorability by 30 points, the Congressional GOP trails the Congressional Dems by almost 30, and Boehner trails Obama by over 40 points.  As low as the Republicans started this year - and it was low - it is astonishing that their numbers continue to slowly drift down, not having hit bottom yet.  There isn't a whole lot more room for them to go.  But they seem to be heading there any way.

After this week should we begin to speculate on whether Cheney is going to run for President this cycle?

Thursday New Tools Feature: Federal Digitial Data Dump

In its continuing effort to bring our government into the 21st century along with the rest of us (excepting Republicans, who really put the OLD in G.O.P. these days), the Obama administration today launched a transparency and open government initiative. Check out this video of Valerie Jarrett introducing the initiative today: 

As one of the first "featured innovations" of this initiative, the Obama administration also launched a new Web site, According to the introductory blurb on this new site,

The purpose of is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. Visit today with us, but come back often. With your help, will continue to grow and change in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Strictly speaking, there isn't really any *new* information here, but even though it is somewhat limited in scope at this point, is already a very powerful set of tools that makes it much easier to mine the vast depths of data generated by the government. They have already aggregated and indexed a staggering amount of information, and made it easily and instantly searchable.

Unless you've been desperately searching for all of the most current statistics on marriage and divorce rates in the U.S., you may have trouble getting too excited about this. But here's why it matters:

A former teacher of constitutional law, President Obama has so far received mixed marks on government openness and transparency. In particular, his decisions to keep past abuses covered up (see recent decisions not to release detainee abuse photos or the missing Bush emails), and even to continue controversial Bush-era policies on state-secret privilige, warrantless wiretapping, "national security letters", rendition and the use of black sites, tribunals, and indefinite detention, have been (justly) criticized by progressives.

But Obama has also done a lot to open up government, from his bottom-up campaign style to his virtual press conferences and citizens' briefing book. And while doesn't tell us anything new per se, it is a very powerful rejoinder to the myth that government need always be an inefficient, bureaucratic nightmare (one of the chief conservative rationales for privatizing everything). The government of the 21st century can be very different from that of the 20th, and with tools like, Obama is showing us how.

Simon Rosenberg Presents: The New Dawn

Please join us this Friday, May 29, at 12:15pm for a presentation of "Dawn of a New Politics" by Simon Rosenberg.

Simon Rosenberg has delivered his presentation "Dawn of a New Politics" all across the country over the past several years: At the DNC in Denver, twice for the House Democratic Caucus, on the Google campus, and recently before members and staff of the DSCC and DAGA, among many other gatherings.

This engaging, highly-produced presentation makes a big argument on how politics is changing in America today, and offers ideas and strategies for how progressives can replicate our 20th century success in this new and dynamic century.

Simon has recently updated the presentations with new arguments and slides, including new analysis of the forces behind the 2008 election. Even if you've seen the presentation before, this new version will be fresh and engaging!

We cordially invite you to join us-- either here in our event space, or via Web cast-- to be among the first to watch and engage with this revamped presentation.

The event will begin at 12:15, and the Web cast will start at 12:45p.m. Follow this link to watch the Web cast.

Please RSVP for the event (if you'll be coming to the offices... no need to RSVP for the Web cast).


NDN Event Space
729 15th St. NW 1st Floor
Washington, DC 20005
United States

The Economic Conversation Enters a New Phase: Putting Consumers Front and Center Now

Today President Obama is conducting a town hall meeting in New Mexico focusing on the issue of credit card debt.  This is a welcome turn in the national economic conversation from the plight of big institutions and the financial system to what is perhaps the most important part of the story of the Great Recession still not adequately understood - the weakened state of the American consumer prior to the recent recession and financial collapse. 

We've told this story many times - despite robust growth in the Bush Era, incomes for a typical family fell.  Most measures of consumer health during the Bush went in the wrong direction.  We saw an increase in those without health insurance, in poverty, incomes fell.  The lack of income growth - coupled with a flood of cheap money - helped drive increased consumer indebtedness - mortgages themselves, credit cards, home equity loans.   People borrowed to maintain their lifestyles, and to keep up with the Jones.  The continued consumption and borrowing was justified in the minds of consumers by the power of the wealth effect brought about the rapidly increasing value of homes and stocks.  But we know what happened next.  Assets fell.  Incomes did not appreciably rise.  The debt remained.  People lost jobs.  The already very weakened balance sheet of a typical family grew much much worse. 

And then the inevitable happened - consumption plummeted.  Repeatedly throughout this crisis the "experts" have been surprised by the weakness of the typical American consumer.  They are not acting like consumers in a typical recession because for consumers the recovery they just experienced was not a typical recovery.  Typical Americans have been in their own "recession" for almost a decade.  Look at the Post headlines today: "More Homeowners Getting Aid, But Demand Keeps Rising," and "Weak Retail Sales Dash Recovery Hopes."

The reason that this matters so much is that consumer spending in the US is 70 percent of GDP, and it has been the mighty American consumer who has been fueling the recent global expansion.  The length and depth of the current Great Recession will be driven to a great degree by the ability of consumers to start buying things again.  We maintain that given their weakened home balance sheet that this could be a while.  Which is why the next stage of our recovery will not be so much about liquidity or confidence.  It will be about actually improving the financial position of the typical American consumer, which inevitably lead us to discussions of "deleveraging," or reducing the amount of debt on the balance sheets of American families.

Which is why what the President is doing today is so important.  He is beginning a conversation now about what is happening with American families.  What is best for American families now - to spend or save?  Do we really want, as a matter of national policy, Americans to spend, to take on more debt? Or is it best for them to save, pull back, spend less, pay down their debts, get their own balance sheets in order?  The answer to this question - being put on the table by the President today - will have a lot to do with how the current global recession ends. 

My own view is that just as we have tried to figure out how to get the debt off the balance sheet of the banks so they can resume their work, we will have to talk about how to reduce the indebtedness of American consumers, and encourage those nearing retirement to save much more to replenish the losses in their retirement savings.  This may mean a period of slower growth and less consumption of course - but what other choice do we have?

Update: Just found this Christina Romer quote from an interview earlier this week:

The economic recovery, Ms. Romer said, will be driven by business investment in sectors like renewable energy rather than consumer spending. She echoed the views of other economists who expect a long-term economic shift.

“The chance that consumers are ever going to go back to their high-spending ways is not very plausible, nor do I think they should,” she said. “We were a country that needed to start saving more.”

Congressional GOP Now at 13 Percent Approval

The New Kos Weekly Track is out and the numbers reinforce what a fundamentally new day we are in.  After almost 4 months of the Obama Presidency the Republican Party numbers continue to hit extinction levels with their Congressional approval now at 13 percent.  Obama remains close to 70%, the Dems have a 53% to 21% advantage in general party approval, and the Congressional Dems are behind Obama but way ahead of the GOP.  Yes only 21 percent of the country has a favorable impression of the Republican Party, 13% of independents, and amazingly all the GOP numbers have dropped significantly this year. 

As a veteran of many years of politics it is hard to believe these numbers.  But they keep coming week after week.

As Mike Hais pointed out a few weeks ago perhaps the most dramatic number in all these numbers is what is going on with the 18-29 audience, the Millennial Generation, the largest generation on American history, a group which voted 66%-32% for Obama and was instrumental in giving Democrats their current mandate.  Obama's favorability with this group is 84%-9%.  The Congressional Democrats 54%-38%.  The Congressional Republicans are at 5% favorable, 81% unfavorable.

The word "whig" needs to be reinstalled in the spellcheckers of our various software packages. Coming to the White House


"Obama is going to change the game with government the way he changed the game with politics," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a Washington-based progressive think-tank.

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