2008

Obama's New Voter Reg Tool

The Obama campaign just launched a new website, VoteforChange.com, aimed at simplifying the voter registration process. From the campaign press release:

Today, the Obama campaign launched a new website aimed at simplifying the election process for voters as we gear up for a historic general election. VoteforChange.com is a new voter registration tool where voters across the country can verify their registration status, register to vote for the first time, or get the relevant absentee voting information for their state - all online.

"The number one reason that people don't vote is because they don't understand how easy it is to register to vote", said Jason Green, Director of Voter Registration. "VoteforChange.com, simplifies the process. It allows voters to register, check registration status, or find a polling location - all at the click of a button. By simplifying and explaining the process we believe that new voters will register, become involved in our movement for change and elect Senator Obama president in November."

Maybe this will be one of the tools given to all who attend Obama's Thursday acceptance speech at Invesco Field, fulfilling the goal of Deputy Campaign Manager Steve Hildebrand to make sure everyone leaves a volunteer.

Welcome, VP Biden

As we get settled in Denver, I wanted to share with you Joe Biden's introductory video that was just sent out. The message is timely as we head into Convention week:


Obama Enters the Two Conventions In the Lead

With a new Washington Post poll today the 3 major national news organization polls this week all have Senator Obama ahead and winning the race against John McCain as we head into the 2 Conventions.   

From the Post:

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are locked in a highly competitive race for the White House, with voters giving McCain a clear edge as a potential commander in chief but Obama a sizable advantage on economic issues, the subject of greatest concern to voters, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Heading into two critical weeks of the campaign -- the four-day Democratic National Convention is set to open here on Monday, followed by the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities next week -- Obama maintains a narrow, six-point edge over McCain among registered voters. Among those most likely to vote, 49 percent back Obama and 45 percent back McCain.

The poll was completed just before Obama announced the selection of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate.

The results show little movement from the last Post-ABC survey, conducted in mid-July, before Obama embarked on a highly publicized trip overseas and prior to a series of fierce exchanges between the campaigns. Other recent national polls also show only limited changes in the overall race heading into the conventions, although several of those surveys indicate an even-tighter race.

Relative stability in the race stems in part from both sides' legions of committed supporters. About three-quarters of supporters on both sides said they will "definitely" vote for their current choice. Still, about three in 10 registered voters, and nearly as many likely voters, are "movable" -- those who are less solidly behind their pick or who have yet to decide. The number of swing voters this year is substantially higher than it was at this time in 2004, highlighting the importance of the next two weeks as the candidates strive to define themselves and their opponents.

Read the rest here.

Simon on the Veepstakes

In the video below, NDN President Simon Rosenberg talks about what both U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are looking for in their Vice Presidential pick. Check out the two minute video below, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Is Simon right or wrong? Let us know what you think.


A New Phase in the Campaign: Economics Dominates

For the last month, the McCain campaign has drilled away at energy as the decisive "separate from Bush and make Obama look bad in the process issue" in the election. McCain’s ads first trumpeted his commitment to cap and trade and later whacked Obama on drilling. His ads pointed to a mythical "electricity tax," and, despite obvious errors, hypocrisies, contradictions, and outright lies, conventional wisdom decided that McCain had won the debate on drilling.

With McCain’s four word key position of "drill here, drill now" exhausted, Obama, as the New York Times covered today, pivoted his message to the economic well being of everyday people. His second Olympic ad focused completely on his economic plan (the first focused on building an energy economy).

In case you haven’t caught Olympic fever and seen it, "Three Bedroom Ranch:"

Then today, John McCain had a moment that played right into Obama’s hands. McCain forgot – in the midst of a housing crisis – how many houses he owned. As I briefly mentioned earlier today, the Obama campaign quickly turned an ad around, noting how out of touch McCain was with everyday people.

McCain will have two, already begun, responses: he will continue to go negative on Obama, moving from a celebrity attack to a politics of association line of attack, and he will try to move the debate back to the issues he feels good about: national security and energy. This strategy has two small problems and one big problem for McCain. First, king oilman Dick Cheney is speaking at the Republican National Convention a week and a half from now – not exactly the backdrop McCain wants on energy. Second, timetable is now an agreed upon word for the end of America’s engagement in Iraq, the proposed Democratic solution.

The really big problem for McCain is that, while some think offshore drilling is nice, and others may care about foreign policy, Americans, in large part, see the economy as the overwhelmingly dominant issue. The McCain responses to his housing uber-gaffe – all personal attacks – do not get away from the fact that their candidate, a man who has spent 26 years in Washington, thinks the level of being rich is having five million dollars, and is extraordinarily wealthy, is no doubt out of touch with the lives of everyday Americans.

If this narrative sticks, if Obama can convince everyday Americans that he is focused on them, and if Obama can close on this message, it is hard to see Obama losing, because, despite all this supposedly bad polling and this supposedly bad month, Obama is still ahead.

Obama Ad: McCain Out of Touch on Economy

On the back of John McCain forgetting about how many houses he owns, the Obama ad team turns around an answer for him.

Seven:

Driving this narrative - that McCain can't possibly be good on the economy because he has no idea what every day Americans are going through - has strong potential for Obama in the coming two months. 

Quick '08 Update: Fake Txts and Unknown Homes

- First off, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a woman and public servant for whom we all had an immense amount of respect. She'll certainly be missed in this office.

- Want to be that friend? Wonkette shows you how to send fake texts announcing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's VP.(Update: I've heard about a few of these today, so when the real text happens I'll most likely doubt it.)

- Simon takes a quick look at recent polling.

- Be sure to check out Marc Ambinder's coverage of who speaks when at the Republican Convention.

- Obama Ad Update: If you haven't already done so, take Jake's advice and watch "Seven". Also check out "Backyard", "General Three Times", "Never", "Dangerous", and "Better Off". Read more at CBS News and First Read.

- Perhaps as a result of their own experiences, the Obama campaign and the DNC are making a joint effort to make changes to the primary process.

- Also check out this video of Obama using the 40th Anniversary of the Prague Spring to talk about Russia and Georgia.

- How many homes does U.S. Sen. John McCain own? He doesn't even know.

- Lynn Sweet says that U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's IL delegates were given the treatment during a meeting at Obama headquarters.

- OH, MI and PA voters will be getting an AFL-CIO mailer that goes after John McCain on trade with China. Meanwhile in the FT, Jagdish Bhagwati suggests a total rethink on trade.

- Meanwhile in Dunmore, PA, Hillary Clinton's Brother, Tony Rodham, met with Carly Fiorina, a top surrogate of the McCain campaign. (Via Jake Tapper.)

- Lynn Sweet reveals McCain's hopes of putting a dent in Obama's Jewish support.

- The timing of Obama's choice has its ups and downs, says Cillizza. Yet according to the Political Wire, many other past nominees have made "late" announcements.

- Hang on. John McCain actually said that in order to capture Osama bin Laden, we need to enact the draft? Ambinder says not so fast.

- David Leonhardt has a huge piece coming out in Sunday's New York Times Magazine on How Obama reconciles dueling views on the economy. Along similar lines, today's New York Times features a story on Obama's shifting message, which focuses on everyday concerns like the economy.

- The Trail notes that, unlike the DNC, the RNC is not filing McCain's victory fund reports monthly.

- David Gergen says that Obama is in need of a game changer. What about an Obama-Caroline Kennedy ticket, a suggestion from Michael Moore?

- In a letter to McCain, ConservativeHQ.com chairman Richard Vigurie expresses concern over VP speculation. Not surprisingly, Laura Ingraham expresses similar concern.

- In the Gulf Times, Jeffrey Sachs writes on how the internet and mobile phones are ending poverty by closing the isolation gap.

- Check out Howard Wolfson's new blog, Gotham Acme.

- And last, but certainly not least in my opinion, Ben's Chili Bowl will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. The festivities kick off tonight with the Ali family set to host a free gala featuring celebrities like Roberta Flack and Bill Cosby, who is the only person who receives free food at Ben's. (Thanks to our own Ben Cahen for sending this along!)

New Times/CBS News Poll Has All Sorts of Interesting Stuff In It

Economy dominates. Obama leads 45-42. McCain's party still not so sure about him. Read more here.

Obama's three-point lead is consistent with the two major daily tracks, Gallup and Rasmussen.

We go into the Conventions with the race very close.  See here for more on our thoughts on Obama, the economy and the struggle of everday people, and here for some thoughts on the Obama TV strategy. It is going to be a quite a race, my friends. 

Update
: WSJ/NBC News also has a three-point spread, with the very same numbers, 45-42.

Generational CONVENTIONal Wisdom

The key to waging a successful presidential campaign by either Barack Obama or John McCain will be their ability to use their respective conventions to overcome generational tensions. What happens in Denver and the Twin Cities could give the nominees freedom to embrace the generational changes that will shape American politics for decades to come.

If the candidates pay proper attention to generational politics, each convention will begin with a nod to their party's Boomers and then pivot away from the past to address, on the final night, new voters whose support they will need to win in November.

The candidates must take the lead in managing their party's convention so that the ticket and its platform reflect the desire of the electorate to move beyond the cultural wars of the 1960s. Each party's understanding of this generationally driven challenge will be evident in how it handles the iconic, Boomer figures demanding center stage at their conventions.

Obama, in an acknowledgement of the generational strains in his party, has agreed to Hillary Rodham Clinton's request to not only address the convention in prime time on Tuesday night, but to have her name placed in nomination the following night. In return, he has gained the agreement of former president Bill Clinton to, in effect, lead the Boomers in the Democratic Party to embrace and endorse Senator Obama's nomination on Wednesday night.

As tough as that challenge has been for Obama, the problem is more acute for John McCain. President Bush's job performance ratings are among the lowest of any president. But he remains popular with Boomer ideologues in the GOP, who are continually looking for signs that McCain has stayed from party orthodoxy. Any attempt to deny a sitting president the spotlight at their national convention, as Democrats did in keeping Lyndon Johnson from addressing their 1968 convention, will be met with cries of "I told you not to trust him" from Republican true believers.

It appears that McCain's advisers have decided to throw cultural war red meat to the delegates with appearances by Bush and Vice President Cheney on Monday, in hopes that the electorate won't pay too much attention until later in the week.

If history is any guide, the place where both candidates will be willing to make concessions to their party's ideological base will be the party's platform. Since this policy statement is debated early in the convention, with little penalty for abandoning a plank or two later in the campaign, platforms are the easiest way to throw a bone to ideological purists. The Generation X and Boomer Democratic blogosphere has previously attacked Obama for failing to adhere to hard left positions on post 9-11 issues and offshore oil drilling.

Similarly, a number of conservatives have condemned McCain's former positions on climate change, immigration, and campaign finance reform.

The choice each candidate must make is whether to use the platform debate to give the cultural warriors in their party a final opportunity to replay the political drama of the nation's Boomer past or to use the platform debate as a "Sister Souljah" generational moment and decisively break with that kind of divisive politics.

Senator McCain's campaign has already announced a "hands off" approach to his own party's platform, making it clear he doesn't intend to abide by all of its provisions--or fight over them. Senator Obama has taken a more inclusive approach to the platform, seeking to find ways to blend different opinions among party activists into one document everyone can agree on--a classic Millennial approach to resolving a problem.

In the end, however, there will be no better place for the two candidates to demonstrate their break with the politics of past generations than in their acceptance speeches.

The McCain campaign has signaled its intention to use their candidate's story of personal sacrifice on behalf of the nation throughout the convention. This effort will likely culminate in an acceptance speech attempting to simultaneously distinguish his life's experience from those of the Woodstock generation ("I was tied up at the time") and arouse the passions of his party's Boomer base.

The challenge, however, is how to do that that without awakening a set of related thoughts among Millennials about just how old and potentially out of touch with their generation he is. Millennials weren't around for Woodstock, don't care about it, and prefer that everyone "play nice" together. Passion displayed as anger turns them off. To capture a new and winning coalition in this campaign, McCain would be better off using his acceptance speech to underline his national security credentials based on a lifetime of service, both of which appeal greatly to Millennials.

Obama's decision to deliver his acceptance speech before a large outdoor audience on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech comes with its own set of risks. Echoes of that remarkable speech are sure to arouse the passions of the liberal half of the Boomer generation. But, it will also remind viewers of the turmoil of the 60s that drove a majority of the nation to embrace the Republicans' appeal for "law and order."

Obama's rhetoric will need to inspire a new generation to take the next steps toward achievement of King's dream, without creating a backlash among the rest of the electorate that wasn't enamored with the racial overtones of the Democratic primary campaign.

To succeed in November, both candidates will have to speak explicitly to the future and demonstrate that their campaign represents the hopes of a new generation. The country is waiting for a new leader with a new approach to guide it out of the Boomer briar patch in which it has been stuck since 1968. After the conventions, we will have a clearer idea who can best lead the country into a new era of American politics.

Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais are co-authors of "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics" published by Rutgers University Press.

Quick '08 Update: Health Care and the #2

- VP Update: Ambinder warns not to read too much into an event in Indianapolis on Saturday.

- Obama Ad Update: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is going on the attack through ads his campaign is airing in key states. Read more about the ads - and see one - in Jim Rutenberg's piece in the New York Times. For more, Michael Tomasky comments on the ad and Obama's strategy on his blog.

- McCain Ad Update: In the last 24 hours, U.S. Sen. John McCain's YouTube account added two new radio ads. Check out "Recipe", a Spanish-language spot running in CO, NM, and NV and "Millions".

- PowerPAC, described as a national, non-profit organization aimed at increasing civic participation among young people and people of color, is also up in NM with an English- and Spanish-language version of its pro-Obama ad, "What Matters".

- If you're wondering which candidate loyal Wal-Mart or Target shoppers prefer, AdAge has the answer.

- A head's up: Don't be surprised to see plenty of advertising for Oliver Stone's upcoming movie, W. while walking around Denver.

- Reggie Love, Barack Obama's body man, is the focus of a nice profile video over at ESPN 360. (Thanks, Dave, for the tip.)

- Before diving into VP speculation, check out this Atlantic piece from Ron Brownstein on partisanship and which candidate has a better chance of governing in a bipartisan fashion.

- Analysts have been discussing what the VP candidates will be getting themselves into by showing possible areas where there presence could have a major impact. David Gergen, Josh Marshall and Robert Reich threw their opinions into the hat and they are definitely worth a read.

- Rush Limbaugh didn't take lightly the news that John McCain was potentially gathering opinions on a pro-choice VP pick. All this while Ridge downplayed the impact his pro-choice position would have on a McCain presidency even though it appears as if McCain will be in Ohio with another possible pick the day he is expected to announce.

- I understand the irony in saying this, but I agree with Jake and Avery.

- Meanwhile, former Gov. Mitt Romney is speaking at a counter-rally organized by the GOP in Denver and U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman is being vetted.

- Wait! According to Mark Halperin, Ridge is out.

- CBS News says that Obama's decision will be made public on Friday.

- Jake Tapper notices Obama used the pronoun "he" in the context of disucssing his VP. Tapper is quick to point out that this might be looking way too into it, but notes it as unusual.

- Though he said he's not the guy, speculation over U.S. Sen. Joe Biden was rampant. Over

at 538, Nate Silver goes with speculation and analyzes Biden's impact through past polling.

- Matthew Yglesias weighs in and points out what he sees as an issue heading into the general: Biden's "MBNA Factor".

- Noting that it doesn't mean Obama will announce that day, Chris Cillizza discusses Obama's scheduled event in Springfield on Saturday.

- Bloomberg dove into vetting process by taking an unusually close look at Evan Bayh's wife, whose past participation on several corporate boards is used against in the case against Bayh.

- Continuing the inside analysis of each campaign, Marc Ambinder offers another socratic dialogue, this time about the current state of the McCain campaign.

- The DNC is jumping all over McCain's comment that rich is having $5 million in income.

- Check out the tools the Obama campaign is sending its volunteers who are hosting watch parties around Convention.

- Assessing the current climate, Gallup reveals where the polls are. The LA Times offers its own insight with its new poll, which Daily Kos contributor DemFromCT reported on as well.

- Check out this YouTube clip of Obama striking back at McCain during his speech to the VFW. Obama's remarks drew this response from the McCain campaign's blog, the McCain Report.

- Haim Saban, one of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's top fundraisers, puts to rest any possible wavering and restates his support for Obama.

- With the economy is at the forefront of the campaigns - or at least it should be - it is worth noting MIT's Technology Review profile of Austan Goolsbee, which emphasizes, above all else, health care. An interesting section from the piece:

Where might future jobs come from, though? "There's a joke within economics that 40 years from now every economist will be a health-care economist, because if you simply extrapolate from the current trend, the whole economy will be health care." While we currently think of health care as a cost of business, Goolsbee continues, he can imagine it becoming a central driver of the economy. "Firstly, these are great engines of growth. Secondly, they make us healthy--and what's better than that? Spending on medical research and science, by any crass economic calculation, has a massive payoff, because if you put any value on life--for instance, if you've medicine that keeps people alive for an extra two years--the implicit value of that is great. I could easily see some emerging combination of medical science, biotechnology, and computing as the foundation of much of our economic growth going forward."

- Speaking of health care, Ezra Klein notes the return of Harry and Louise. Meanwhile on the trail, Obama touts a single-payer system. (Remember that the single-payer issue was a point of contention in the primaries between Obama and Hillary Clinton.)

- Finally, check out the latest video in Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films' "REAL McCain" series, "McCain's Mansions":

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