Matt Bai on the Fundamental Shift in Presidential Elections

Matt Bai has proven once again that he has that rare ability to see the meta-story within the myriad daily stories on the Presidential race. In his New York Times magazine column this Sunday, he points out one of the key shifts going on in politics – from highly controlled, top-down presidential campaigns to much more decentralized, bottom-up campaigns. The shift is underway, but most of the current presidential campaigns are resisting this mightily.

Bai looks at a few exceptions. There’s the crazy case of Ron Paul, whose campaign has been effectively taken over by libertarian techies who were able to raise $4 million in one day of online contributions – way beyond anything that the official campaign has been able to raise. And then he looks at how Obama has benefited from bottom-up energy, such as the Obama Girl and her video that has been seen more than 4 million times.

This fundamental shift is something that Simon and I laid out in our magazine piece The 50 year Strategy, still on newsstands for Mother Jones. We took a longer-range, historical lens to our current political situation, and pointed out that shift in the nature of campaigns, among several others things, that will be seen as the biggest development of the period we are now in.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute