New Progressive Politics

Schwarzenegger showing the "best of the best" in political communications

The San Francisco Chronicle had a nice story this weekend on how Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was blending top Hollywood talent with top national political talent to create what the  state Republican Chair called "the next generation of communication in politics." There is some truth to what he says, though what Schwarzenegger's team is doing is not rocket science. And other Democratic candidates also are pushing the front lines of what can be done with new media and new communications strategies.

Schwarzenegger's performance is  particularly striking when contrasted to the campaign performance of his Democratic challenger, Phil Angelides, who has not adopted many new practices. In fact, state Controller Steve Westly, who challenged Phil in the brutal primary, used many of the new techniques too.

The use of new tools and new media and communications practices is something that the New Politics Institute is closely tracking. Neither party has a monopoly on innovation at this point and it pays to watch what is happening on both sides.

Peter Leyden

All sorts of good news for Democrats

The papers are filled with stories about Democratic optimism, swing voters leaving the Republican Party, and the Senate now being seriously in play.  No matter what happens this fall, the Media are clearly experimenting with praise for Democrats in ways that we haven't seen in a long time. 

At Dailykos, DemFromCT has a very good summary of some recent polls, including a new Newsweek poll showing the Dems with a 23 point lead in the Congressional generic, and broad support for Pelosi's first 100 hours agenda.

NBC Getting Radical in Face of Dramatic Changes in Media Landscape

The Washington Post had an extraordinary front page article today that explained the context of NBC’s announcement yesterday that it would shed jobs and slash its budget on a path toward creating NBC 2.0.

Finally the mainstream media is writing the contextual story for what it is: a historical transformation of all media sectors towards a 21st century media rooted on the internet and in digital technologies. This media transformation has a direct impact on politics because every time you change how to reach audiences and consumers, you change how to reach constituencies and voters too.

We at the New Politics institute have been hammering on this theme for the last year, mostly notably in our 2005 report on The New Powers That Be. This report lays out the five tectonic shifts that are driving the transformation of the entire media landscape, and makes the analogy to the impact of broadcast television on politics in the 1960s. We also have been making this argument in our talks, such as The New Politics Begins.

All three avenues will give you an overview of the level of change that we’re moving through right now. It doesn’t get much more fundamental than this.

Peter Leyden
Director of The New Politics Institute

Friendster Launches New Contest for Bottom-Up Political Commercials

The Social Networking website Friendster has teamed up with an interactive advertising company to launch a contest for young people to create their own political ads before the November election.

The contest is reminiscent of’s pioneering effort in the 2004 election that is still viewable at Bush in 30 Seconds. Yet now there is an exponential increase in the number of people familiar with how to create and upload online video. And Friendster is one of the largest social networking sites with 33 million members.

The contest will reward the top six video creators with prizes, ranging from $2500 to a video iPod. You can see an overview and details of the contest in an advertising trade publication report. You can see the “Get Political” Video contest announcement at the Friendster site, or go right to the video website that is partnering with Friendster to do it.

The videos seem to have a range of quality but are worth browsing to get the zeitgeist forming out there.

Peter Leyden
Director of The New Politics Institute

Toward a Majority Party? Young people and Exurban trends in The Times

The New York Times
Week in Review this Sunday had a cover story (on the prospects for Democrats or Republicans becoming the majority party ) that hit hard on two demographic trends that the New Politics Institute has been focusing on for the last year. In fact, NPI fellow Ruy Teixeira was prominently quoted through the piece, and made extended reference to data from his NPI report on The Next Frontier: A New Study of Exurbia. Ruy and NPI have been arguing that exurbia, once considered solid conservative territory, has been changing in a way that opens up much more opportunity for progressives.

Another theme of the piece, and particularly an amazing graphic “How Generation Influences Party,” was how young people today are trending progressive. In fact, the most Democratic voters of all ages are now 21-year-olds. It has dramatically been trending that way since Bill Clinton became president. And the Bush II years have only accelerated the trend.

The graphic also goes back and shows how people who came of voting age in each of the previous Administrations back to FDR’s time identify themselves politically today. Again, you can see that this current crop of young people vote more progressive than any previous generation. The only comparable generations are those who came of age in the FDR/Truman era, and also in the Boomer updraft of the 1960s ands 1970s.

Peter Leyden

Crashing the Gate - paperback release

Earlier this year, Simon wrote the foreword to Crashing the Gate, a book written by two leaders of the "new politics," Markos Moulitsas of Dailykos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.  The book received great reviews in the New York Times, New York Review of Books and many other places.  It is now available in  paperback, and is essential reading for anyone wanting to get up to speed on the blogs, the netroots and the powerful new politics of our day.

Buy cable - look out for the DVR.....

So, the new NPI cable memo seems to be getting around.  If you have not checked it out, click here.

Hot on the heels of our release yesterday, comes this story from MSNBC on how fox is trying to thwart the coming era of TiVo and DVR's.  I have a feeling this is going to be a long battle.... 

More on the NPI Tools Campaign: Buy Cable

This is an extremely important fall for progressives and the New Politics Institute wants to help maximize the impact that organizations and campaigns can make through advertising and media. Our national tools campaign focuses on four critical tools that could make a huge difference in the weeks ahead.

They are “Buy Cable,” “Use Search Ads,” “Engage the Blogs,” and “Speak in Spanish.” Each of these are proven techniques to more effectively reach critical constituencies and the public at large. Progressives can easily and immediately adopt all of them right now.

The first recommendation, “Buy Cable,” is the most important because so much political money currently goes to broadcast television ads – a whopping $1.5 billion in the 2004 cycle compared to less than $80 million on cable ads. Yet, as our new cable memo makes clear, much of that money is wasted in reaching people far beyond the districts that progressive organizations and campaigns want to reach.

Cable TV ads allow you to reach much more targeted audiences, both in demographic and geographic terms – and it’s cheaper to boot. In many if not most situations, shifting significant TV ad spending from broadcast to cable is a more effective and efficient strategy.

The accompanying “Buy Cable” memo makes the argument in more detail and points to how progressives can start to do this. It’s written by NPI Senior Advisor Theo Yedinsky, who has extensive campaign experience, and NPI Founder Simon Rosenberg.

Feel free to distribute this far and wide. If you are part of a campaign or organization, use it to influence this fall’s strategy. If you are a donor, use it to make sure your money is not wasted, but used wisely. If we all do this, we can save the progressive movement millions of dollars, and make political advertising much more potent this fall.

In the coming weeks we’ll be pushing the other recommendations of the Tools Campaign. For now, let’s help move more TV ad spend to cable.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute

Democracy 2.0

The sophmore edition of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. NDN is a big fan both of the journal, and its two founders, so we'd encourage you to sign up regardless. Luckily, though, issue 2 looks just as interesting as the first, and showcases a number of hip policy concerns.

First, a controversial article on China, that gives progressives a spin normally more associated with neo-conservatives. China's rise is an ideological threat, rather than a generally good thing mitigated by a few ethical and economic glitches:

The rise of China presents the West, for the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, with a formidable ideological challenge to that paradigm. The "China model" powerfully combines two components: illiberal capitalism, the practice and promotion of a governance strategy where markets are free but politics are not; and illiberal sovereignty, an approach to international relations that emphasizes the inviolability of national borders in the face of international intervention.

(Interestingly, there is a small story in the FT today about German Minister Michael Glos saying something fairly similar, in particular noting that "China's aggressive attempts to secure energy supplies in developing countries constituted a "breach of international rules of behaviour." The diplomatic, ethical and ideological implications of China throwing her weight around are clearly underappreciated. The piece is a timely reminder.)

Second, there is also a plug by Barack Obama's policy head Karen Kornbluh for this month's hot social policy: the revival of social insurance systems. Kornbluh notes that "mass layoffs, globalization, rising costs of living, and lower real wages" means that "Americans no longer rely on stable careers, nor do they assume that they will earn enough to raise a family on one salary." We need "a national commitment to mitigating the new risks to the economic well-being of families." This sounds similiar to Jacob Hacker's ideas in his new Hamilton paper, and elsewhere.

All in all, interesting "big ideas" of the sort Democracy was meant to be hawking. Get yourself a copy.



Watching Google Move Beyond Business – into Politics

We all know how Google has impacted business. But in the last week there have been public signs about how the Silicon Valley innovator is also going to try and impact society and politics. Another front page story in the New York Times shed some light on the aspirations of, a new kind of for-profit philanthropy that is starting off with about $1 billion in seed money. The organization is run by Larry Brilliant, an amazing high tech character who I happen to know quite well. Larry (who was part of the World Health Organization team that eradicated smallpox) is pushing to take on huge problems like global warming, global poverty and disease.

The other story got much less play, but for politics may have even more significance. Google is forming a PAC to raise money for candidates and causes. The San Francisco Chronicle story emphasized that they have hired two prominent Republicans hiring former Republican Senators Dan Coats of Indiana and Connie Mack of Florida as outside lobbyists. But that’s mostly because Google recently has been lambasted by Republicans for, among other things, being seen as leaning too progressive or Democratic.

The good news is that Google, with all its talents and resources, is gearing up to finally play politics.

Peter Leyden

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