New Tools

Obama to Reinvent the Presidency

Over the past weeks, NDN has been looking at the ways that the Obama campaign used technology to help them win. But we've also been thinking about the ways that an Obama administration is likely to use technology to govern: Simon and Joe trippi discussed this at our Election Forum last week, Simon is quoted on this issue in the Washington Times and the National Journal's Tech Daily Dose this week, and I pondered these questions in my New Tools Feature last week. Here are some of Simon's thoughts about the revolution that is about to take place in political communication and the way government interacts with its constituents:

Friday Buzz: More Narrative-Shaping Election Analysis

On Wednesday, I posted some of the influential election stories that featured NDN - if you haven't seen these, be sure to check them out, there are some really exellent pieces by some of the best journalists in the country. Since Wednesday, in addition to Simon's winning The Hill's election prediction contest, NDN has appeared in another big round of press:

First, Simon was quoted in a must-read piece by Ron Brownstein in the National Journal:

Barack Obama on Tuesday won the most decisive Democratic presidential victory in a generation largely by tapping into growing elements of American society: young people, Hispanics and other minorities, and white upper-middle-class professionals. That coalition of the ascendant—combined with unprecedented margins among African-Americans—powered Obama to a commanding victory over Republican John McCain, even though Obama achieved only modest and intermittent gains with the working-class white voters who provided the foundation of the Democratic coalition from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election in 1932 to Humphrey’s defeat 36 years later.

“Obama is reimagining a Democratic coalition for the 21st century,” says Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a Democratic group that studies electoral trend and tactics. “Democrats [are] … surging with all the ascending and growing parts of the electorate. He is building a coalition that Democrats could ride for 30 or 40 years, the way they rode the FDR coalition of the 1930s.”

Simon was also quoted in USA Today about about the changing demography of America and its significance for the future of politics:

Dramatic rises in Hispanic participation, support or both put Obama over the top in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. The trends were similar in Arizona and Texas, though the two states went for Republican John McCain. The group also made its presence felt in Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.

"If the Republicans don't make their peace with Hispanic voters, they're not going to win presidential elections anymore. The math just isn't there," says Simon Rosenberg, head of the NDN, a Democratic group that studies Hispanic voters.

In addition, Simon discussed the importance of the Hispanic vote in Newsroom America, and Andres' analysis of Hispanics in this election was covered on NPR, in a DNC release, in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Latino Journal (and again here), Hispanic Trending, and the Latino Politics Blog.  

Simon also weighed in on "Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy" in a featured post on Huffington Post which was also picked up by OpenLeft.

In addition to the new demographics, Simon also talked about the use of new technology and media. He spoke to both how Obama used technology to win, and how he will use it to govern. From a piece in the Washington Times:

The campaign won't say whether the BarackTV and live-streamed events will continue after the inauguration, but all signs point to a revolutionized way of White House communication with America and the world.

"The most interesting thing to watch will be what do they and how do they reinvent the way a president speaks to the American people," said Simon Rosenberg of the liberal think tank NDN and a veteran of the Clinton White House.

"There's no doubt this is going to be more of a YouTube presidency than a fireside chat presidency," he said. "President Obama will be reinventing the relationship between the president and the American people using these new tools."

Simon gave similar analysis in the National Journal's Daily Tech Dose, Wired, and Digital Graffiti.

In terms of general election analysis, Simon talked about the likely governing philosophy of an Obama administration in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Times

New NDN Fellows Michael Hais and Morley Winograd were featured in the Post-Bulletin about the Millennial vote. Michael had an essay in Grist about the opportunities for the new administration to invest in clean infrastructure and clean energy. Finally, Rob talks about the economic challenges facing the new administration in the AP, Accountancy Age, and the Irish Left Review.

Thursday New Tools Feature: Facebook "Poking" People to the Polls

As NDN Fellows Morley Winograd and Mike Hais demonstrated yesterday, the Millennial Generation played a key role in this election, voting in higher numbers than in any recent election and in a more unified manner than any other age group - 66% of Millennials supported President-Elect Obama, compared to only 32% who supported U.S. Sen. John McCain. Millennials constituted a greater percentage of the vote than those 65 and over. Without the overwhelming support of Millennials, Obama's victory margin would have been 1.5% instead of 6% nationally, and there might have been a lot more nail-biting on Tuesday night.

We're still waiting for the final numbers on the youth vote to come in, but a new CIRCLE report projects that youth turnout increased between 1 and 6 percentage points this year - an increase that translates into several million new voters. What was responsible for this increase?

One obvious answer is the candidate himself; Obama connected with young voters like no other political figure in recent memory. He gave them something to get excited about and ways to get involved. Shirts sporting his visage flew off the shelves at Urban Outfitters. He is, simply put, cool.

Others might point to the fact that his campaign organized a superlative ground game and created a fundraising juggernaut. Still others might note that the Obama campaign demonstrated a mastery of technology and deployed it on a scale never before seen in American politics - this is a point that Sarah Lai Stirland makes in Wired this week, and something I and others at NDN have talked about a lot.

The Obama campaign's message, organization, and use of new tools were all game-changers. But I believe one of the biggest boosts in the youth turnout may actually have had nothing to do with Obama himself. On the day before the election, I wrote about the Facebook Election Rally, which allowed users to select automated status message updates urging friends to get out the vote, including a link to join the rally themselves and the option to invite other friends manually. By the end of the rally, nearly two million Facebook users donated their status messages for GOTV purposes. Of those users, 70% put up messages encouraging friends to get out the vote for Obama, 21% put up messages for McCain, and 7% put up messages saying to simply "get out the vote."

Then, on election day, Facebook essentially became one giant GOTV tool. The login page said "VOTE" in giant letters, and at the top of the home page was a button that said "I voted," next to a counter of Facebook users who had voted so far. When I checked at around 10 PM, the counter had reached nearly five million.

From a sociological perspective, the combined effect was very powerful. Anyone who logged into Facebook near or on election day was inundated not only with reminders to get involved, but also bombarded with reminders that their friends were voting. I don't think this has ever happened before, and seems much more powerful than any "Vote or Die"-style MTV ad could be - seeing so many friends involved has a real impact, particularly on youth. Facebook is helping to create a culture of civic participation among Millennials, and that participation quickly becomes habit. And if it continues, this could have an even greater impact in the next few elections, since less than half of Millennials were eligible to vote in this election. If Millennials gave Obama between 4 and 5 points nationally in this election... well, you do the math.

Results From The First Election Of The Millennial Era

The 2008 election not only marked the election of America's first African-American president, it also saw the strong and clear political emergence of a new, large and dynamic generation and the realignment of American politics for the next 40 years.

The first large wave of the Millennial Generation, young Americans born from 1982-2003, entered the electorate to decisively support President-elect Barack Obama. Young voters preferred Obama over U.S. Sen. John McCain by a greater than 2:1 margin (66% vs. 32%). And, dispelling the myth that young people never vote, Millennials cast ballots in larger numbers than young voters had in any recent presidential election. The overall contribution of young voters to the electorate ticked up slightly from 17% in 2004 to 18% this year, but in a larger electorate, that represents millions more voters. Proving that this generation of young voters is committed to participating in America’s civic life, it appears that a majority of eligible Millennials cast their ballot, continuing the rise in the percentage of young people who voted from its low of 37% among Generation Xers in 1996.

The increased size and overwhelming unity of young voters added significantly to Barack Obama's popular vote margin over John McCain of about six percentage points nationally. Without the contribution of young voters Obama's popular vote lead would have been a much narrower 1.5% points. Moreover, it appears that the youth vote was ultimately decisive in Obama's close wins in the formerly red states of Indiana and North Carolina.

As a result of this decisive support from the Millennial Generation, the Democratic Party is likely to be the dominant political force in the United States in the decades ahead. Millennials identify as Democrats by the same 2:1 margin that they voted for Barack Obama. Political science tells us that once individual and generations form their party identification they retain it for a lifetime. This will allow the Millennial Generation to take its place as America's next great Democratic civic generation just as their GI Generation great grandparents did nearly 80 years ago. Welcome to the Millennial era.

NDN: Week in Review

There's always a lot happening here at NDN, so in case you missed anything, here's what we've been up to in the last week:

NDN's Election Analysis - With the race drawing to a close, NDN has focused its political analysis this week. Simon had a popular essay on the Huffington Post last Friday: Keys to the Fall: Obama Leads, McCain Stumbles. Simon reprised this argument with a blog post on Saturday: Still No Evidence that McCain is in This Thing. Writing again on Monday, Simon speculated: Could This Be A Ten Point Race?

Yesterday, we released a compendium of NDN’s best political analysis from the past several years. These memos and essays cover the main arguments coming from NDN: The end of the conservative ascendancy and the dawn of a "new politics," the emergence of new voting groups like the Millennials and Hispanics, the power that a whole array of new media and technology tools are unleashing into our democracy, and old-fashioned number crunching and analysis on everything from the role of independents, the economy and video in the elections. We've also included some of our analysis from the election of 2006, a day that saw the end of the conservative era, and set the stage for tomorrow's election, which will mark the beginning of a new one.

Millennial Makeover Authors Join NDN as Fellows - NDN is excited to announce that Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, authors of the best-selling book Millennial Makeover, have joined NDN as Fellows. Morley and Mike are two of the most insightful and prescient interpreters of the profound demographic shifts taking place in our country today. NDN has a long history of working with Morley and Mike; they co-authored a seminal 2006 paper, "Politics of the Millennial Generation," for our affiliate, the New Politics Institute, and have spoken at several NDN events, including one in March about the Millennial transformation of American politics. They are an important and tremendously impressive addition to the NDN Team. To read bios of Morley and Mike, please click here.

NDN has long argued that Millennials, along with Hispanics, are becoming core elements of a new, sustainable 21st century progressive coalition. To learn more about how these demographics are changing the face of American politics, read our reports, "Hispanics Rising II" and "The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation."

NDN Breaking Through - NDN has been a major player in shaping the narrative surrounding the 2008 election. Here's a recap of our press from the last few weeks.

Simon's election analysis was recently featured in the Financial Times (11/4), the Arizona Republic (11/4), and The Hill (11/3), on NPR (11/4/08), and in DemFromCT's daily poll roundup on DailyKos (11/1), which linked to his front-page Huffington Post (10/31) article, as well as in Newsday (10/27), the Arizona Republic (10/26), and the Huffington Post (10/28, again). He was quoted in the VIBE cover story, "The Tipping Point" (10/14) about the historic implications of the rise of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Dan Balz quoted Simon in the Washington Post after the third and final presidential debate (10/16). Simon also provided analysis of the election in the Independent (10/22), Reuters (10/22, as well as here on 10/17), and in several more featured posts on the Huffington Post (here, 10/21, here, 10/22, and here, 10/17). His election commentary also aired on radio stations across the country (10/22), and he was featured on WAMU's "Power Breakfast." Finally, Andres was featured in the Wall Street Journal (10/31) speaking about the increasing importance of early voting.

Our work on Hispanic issues has garnered widespread attention in the last few weeks. Our recent polling on immigration reform was featured in a front page article in the Wall Street Journal (11/1). Ron Brownstein quoted Simon about demographic shifts on MSNBC's "Road to the White House." Simon hit on similar themes involving the Hispanic electorate and the country's changing electoral map in the San Francisco Chronicle (10/26), Bloomberg (10/26), the San Francisco Chronicle (10/13), Bloomberg (10/17), and Hispanic Trending (10/9). Andres also talked about the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the Latino Journal (10/12), and our recent immigration poll of battleground states was featured in a diary on DailyKos (10/16).

On the green front, Michael was featured in the Council on Foreign Relations (10/30) discussing energy prices and cutting carbon emissions, and had a featured post about dealing with climate change in a troubled economy in the Huffington Post's Green section (10/22). Rob was featured in Grist (10/28) speaking about clean infrastructure and a second economic stimulus.

NDN also remained a strong voice on the economy: Rob was quoted recently in a big story in the New York Times (10/22) and the International Herald-Tribune (10/21) about the Treasury backing the consolidation of banks, was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer (10/14), and had this excellent quote in the Washington Times (10/17).

Finally, NDN also made several TV appearances recently. Our event with Simon and Joe Trippi was broadcast on C-SPAN, Simon went on BBC World News to discuss the election (relevant section begins at 1:40), and Andres appeared on several Nevada TV channels, including Fox and ABC, condemning illegal voter suppression tactics targeting Hispanic voters.

This Truly American Moment

Miami, FL - No matter how hard I try, I'm finding it terribly difficult to put my feelings about Election Day into words.

Bittersweet? Cathartic? Humbling? I'm at a loss.

Don't get me wrong. Either certainly suffices when describing single aspects of this epic campaign, but neither adequately sums up the rollercoaster we've lived, breathed and analyzed for so long. I feel confident that what I see is historic, but I can't quite find the words to describe it.

When I first went to see Barack Obama as a potential candidate - after he had filed to form his exploratory committee - his gifts were as evident as the growing interest surrounding his possible candidacy. It wasn't as obvious then as it is now, but his candidacy was aided by converging themes (many of which NDN has taken a serious look at) that have reshaped American politics, allowing Obama to ride the moment and add serious weight to his vision for change.

Having been in South Florida for the past six weeks, I can tell you that there are some amazing things happening. As others have said here before, the lines at early voting sites were incredible and often remained hours into the night so that each voter could cast their ballot.

Echoing NDN, voters are meeting the conservative challenge. They want to finally halt the Conservative Ascendancy and usher in a new politics where one side isn't the only side.

By recognizing that sentiment in America's changing demographics and communicating it through new technologies, we now see the potential for an Electoral Map that is poised to deliver an enduring majority to Democrats. (Adam Nagourney has more on this in his piece from today's New York Times.)

Consider Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, perhaps even Arizona. All of these states are being contested because of large populations of Hispanics, a continuously powerful force in our political future. Take these states alone, and with the Core Democratic States of the past four presidential cycles and you have 304 Electoral votes. Add in states like Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and you have 335. (That seems to be Obama's floor.) Consider states like Virginia, North Carolina, and others and the map just gets more blue.

The map is reflecting a lot of things, many of which I heard at early voting sites, on the radio stations, and in local shops. Everyone talks about how historic this election is and how we're ready for something better.

What will stick with me, however, is not just the desire for change. It's the look of people in lines who don't complain, who don't object to waiting under the hot sun or in the rain. It's the look of a proud privacy and patience which I've seen from many, much like the family below who posed for a camera man after casting their ballot seven hours after they arrived.

Perhaps right now this is a tough feeling for some to transcribe, but you know it when you see it.

Unpublished
n/a

Quick New Tools Update

NDN's newest fellows, Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, offer some excellent analysis today of the important role Millennials will play in tomorrow's election. They posit that "this year, the sheer size and overwhelming unity of Millennials is likely to provide Barack Obama with a much larger advantage" than John Kerry enjoyed among this group in 2004.

I'd just like to offer a quick piece of anecdotal evidence to back this up. I was on Facebook just now (for work purposes of course), and noticed that more than half a million people have now signed up to have their status automatically updated to display a GOTV message. Users can choose whether the message says to get out and vote for Obama, McCain, or just to get out and vote, and then pass the word on to up to 40 friends at a time. Here are what people have chosen so far:

Facebook

So far, Facebook users are breaking more than four to one for Obama. That's what we Millennials might call "PWNAGE."

10:45 PM UPDATE: More than 840,000 people have now signed up (!)

Coming Soon to Decide an Election Near You…the Millennials

The Millennial Generation is poised to play a decisive role in the election of Barack Obama on November 4. An October 30 ABC News/Washington Post national poll gave Barack Obama an eight-point advantage over John McCain (52% vs. 44%). Among young voters in the ABC sample Obama continued to enjoy the nearly 2:1 advantage he has held throughout the campaign (64% vs. 33%). Among all older voters, the race is far closer (50% vs. 46% in favor of Obama).

Just how big an advantage this proves to be for the Obama campaign depends on how many Millennials actually cast their ballots in the election. In 2004, about half of eligible young people turned out to vote; they favored John Kerry by a relatively narrow 55% vs. 45% margin. This gave Kerry about a 1.7 million vote plurality among young voters, a lead that was more than wiped out by George W. Bush's lead among older generations -- Silents like John McCain and Joe Biden, Baby Boomers like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and Gen Xers like Sarah Palin. This year, the sheer size and overwhelming unity of Millennials is likely to provide Barack Obama with a much larger advantage.

Even if Millennials vote at only the same rate that young people did in 2004, Obama will receive about a six million vote plurality from them. Given the political interest and high voter turnout that Millennials showed in the presidential primaries earlier this year, it seems likely that their turnout on Tuesday will be higher than that of young voters four years ago. If 55 percent of Millennials go to the polls, Obama's plurality among them will grow to about seven million. And, if Millennials vote at the same 60 percent rate that older generations do, Obama's national plurality from young voters will be almost eight million. Given that George W. Bush beat John Kerry by only a little more than three million votes, the Millennial margins Obama is likely to enjoy should prove to be the decisive factor in this year’s election.

While it was painful for Democrats to experience at the time, the inter-generational contest between Barack Obama, with his solid support among Millennials, and Hillary Clinton, with her dedicated cadre of Boomer women, proved to be a great advantage to the Democratic ticket in the general election. Once Senator Clinton graciously and enthusiastically endorsed Obama at the convention, the stage was set for a campaign that could unite the generations in November. By contrast, John McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin, a classic Gen X candidate for Vice President, did irreparable damage to his candidacy among Millennials. Like her generation, Palin’s risk-taking style is confrontational and entrepreneurial with little tolerance for government activism. By contrast, Millennials are focused on solutions that involve the whole group and use government as an instrument to bring people together on behalf of the greater good. Millennials were the first generation to register their disapproval of Palin, and her negatives among this key constituency have continued to climb throughout the campaign. Millennials are a generation of "liberal interventionists" in the economy, "activist multilateralists" in foreign affairs, and "tolerant non-meddlers" on social issues -- all things the McCain/Palin ticket is not.

But, as we forecast in our book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics, what the Millennials do on November 4, 2008 is going to be only one important step in what this generation will accomplish over the next four decades. The Millennial Generation is a civic generation and, like their GI Generation great grandparents, America's last civic generation, Millennials will lead a makeover of American politics. This realignment will make the Democratic Party the dominant force in U.S. politics and will turn the country away from the divisive social issues and gridlock of the past forty years to a win-win approach that confronts and actually resolves fundamental economic and foreign policy matters. Welcome to the Millennial Era.

 

*** Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, Fellows at NDN, are co-authors of Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics (Rutgers University Press: 2008).

Thursday New Tools Feature: The End of the Beginning

In the past weeks, I’ve been discussing the use of new tools in this election cycle. There can no longer be any doubt that these new tools are playing an increasingly important role in elections; for example, a fascinating new article by Sarah Lai Stirland in Wired magazine explores the definitive success of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s organizing operation (the model for which was engineered by two Harvard professors), and its integration with Obama’s social networking site, my.BarackObama.com. From the article:

…Obama is the first to successfully integrate technology with a revamped model of political organization that stresses volunteer participation and feedback on a massive scale, erecting a vast, intricate machine set to fuel an unprecedented get-out-the-vote drive in the final days before Tuesday's election.

"I think what was recovered in this campaign is the sense of what leadership is, and what the role of the technology is, so that you get the best out of both," says Marshall Ganz, a public policy lecturer at Harvard who designed the field-organizer and volunteer training system used by the Obama campaign. "The Dean campaign understood how to use the internet for the fund-raising, but not for the organizing."

"We've really poured a lot of energy and thought into making this focused on real-world organizing activity," says Chris Hughes, the 24-year-old co-founder of Facebook, who left that company last year to help Obama with his online organizational efforts.

Obama’s advanced, tech-savvy new organizing system has undoubtedly helped him in this election cycle (as Simon explained in another great Wired article a few months back); he used this new model in the primaries in Iowa and South Carolina, which he won, while sticking with a more traditional strategy in New Hampshire, which he lost. Obama's model works because it brings people together, makes them a part of a team, and gives them easy ways that they can translate their inspiration and enthusiasm into concrete action.

But with the election coming to a close in just a few short days, it is worth it for us to take a step back and recall just why all of this matters in the first place. These developments aren’t exciting because of their novelty, or because of our innate love of all things shiny and new. They aren't exciting solely in the context of electing a particular candidate. They are exciting, or they should be exciting, because technology is making citizens not just better informed but also more involved, allowing them to participate more directly and more effectively in government, which makes our nation itself more authentically democratic.

As Simon and Joe Trippi argued at our excellent event here earlier this week (watch the C-SPAN footage here), this trend cannot and must not end with the election. To be successful, the next president must be someone who embraces the new era of politics. Senator Obama in particular stresses ownership and involvement, and often reminds us that change comes from the bottom up. We will be watching to see if, should he win the presidency, his actions match his rhetoric.

With the launch of new sites like BigDialogue and WhiteHouse2.org, the tools are there waiting to be picked up. These sites aim to give people a more direct voice in governance. In the words of BigDialogue’s founder David Colarusso, “the way we interact with Government is about to change, and the shape of that change is up to us. The Internet is not just a way to raise money or mobilize supporters. It's a way to shrink the distance between people and politicians. For the first time in history, it's possible for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people to have a single conversation.”

I highly encourage everyone to visit both of these sites and try them out. These are some of the most exciting new tools that I’ve seen in a long time; the question is, will our next president embrace them, or ignore them?

<shameless plug> NDN has been at the forefront of advocating for an increased use of social networking sites in politics; to learn more about the myriad possibilities of social networks, read our New Politics Institute's New Tools paper, "Leverage Social Networks." </shameless plug> 

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