2008

Txtual Seduction: Obama to SMS VP Choice

Plenty of people just received an interesting SMS from the Obama campaign. It reads:

Barack will announce his VP candidate choice through txt msg between now & the Conv. Tell everyone to txt VP to 62262 to be the first to know! Please forward.

To me, this decision is telling for two reasons. As we've long discussed, technology is changing the way we conduct and interact with politics. New tools like SMS - as well as many others - are making it easier for more people to become involved in the process, ultimately making our democracy more participatory. The Obama campaign clearly understands this and is hoping to continue to use the advent of these tools to further reinforce its campaign message of change.

Also, consider the constituencies that SMS reaches. From our reports:

From Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics, Sept. 2006:

Some constituencies are more savvy or dependent on mobile phones than others. Two key groups in are of special concern to progressives. Any majority political movement of the early 21st century will need to connect to the massive young generation of Millennials, and the booming population of Hispanics. Both groups are among the top users of mobile phone media.

And:

Studies from Telephia in 2005 showed that African American, Hispanic and mixed Asian groups make up the top three groups both in scope and in percentage of growth in using mobile.

Hispanic users had the 2nd highest use of mobile minutes, and the growth in use quarterly was rising at higher than any other ethnographic group.

All this reinforced in Go Mobile Now, Oct., 2007:

Mobile tools like text messaging and picture messaging are considerably more popular in black and Hispanic communities than in other demographics.

So what is clear is that the Obama campaign is announcing its VP choice via a method which is heavily used by Millennials, Hispanics, African Americans, and mixed Asian groups. To a lesser degree, I'm sure there will be members of older generations signing up to receive the text as well. As a result, the campaign will broaden its mobile database, making organizing and outreach to vital groups in the coming months all the more sophisticated. This surely will help cement the Obama campaign's mobile database as the go-to mobile database in progressive politics. And, more importantly, it adds another means through which the campaign hopes to build a lasting majority.

Now what would be impressive is if the campaign could figure out how to segment the Hispanic/Latino audiences from this effort and began delivering Spanish-language text messages. Imagine that foundation going into the fall.

Update: I just found out through Facebook that the campaign will also e-mail you Obama's VP choice. You just have to sign up to receive the notice. So not only will the Obama campaign hold the go-to mobile database, but perhaps the go-to e-mail database of progressive politics.

Update II: Jose Antonio Vargas has more insight in the Washington Post.

Obama's Olympic Ad Focuses on Building a Low-Carbon Economy

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's ad that will air during the Olympics is called "Hands" and presents an optimistic vision of the green technologies that will promote economic growth in the coming decades. This is a important vision for America's economic future, and the fact that this vision is taking center state during the Olympics speaks volumes about the significance placed on it by Obama. Take a look:


The ad comes on the same day that The Climate Group, an independent non-profit based in the UK, releases a report on "China's Green Revolution." The report argues that China has become a global leader in renewable energy technology production and is seizing the low-carbon economic opportunity.

From a press release from The Climate Group:

Despite its coal-dependent economy, the report reveals Chinese government and businesses have embarked on a Clean Revolution that has already made it a world leader in the manufacture of solar photo-voltaic technology (Solar PV) where its six biggest solar companies have a combined market value of over USD $15 billion.

China is also set to become the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines, with production capacity expected to reach 10GW per year by the end of 2009, and is competing aggressively in other low carbon markets including solar water heaters, energy efficient home appliances, and rechargeable batteries.

Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group says: "For too long, many governments, businesses and individuals have been wary of committing to action on climate change because they perceive that China – the world’s largest emitter – is doing little to address the issue. However, the reality is that China’s government is beginning to unleash a low carbon dragon which will power its future growth, development and energy security objectives."

Changhua Wu, China Director, The Climate Group, says: "Far from ignoring climate change, Chinese leaders have already committed to improving energy efficiency and scaling up the growth of low carbon industries. China is beginning to pull its weight on climate change and the targets and policies in place are in line with those being taken by ‘leading’ countries like the UK and Germany."

Investment in renewable energy in China - almost USD $12 billion in 2007 - is almost level with world leader Germany as a percentage of GDP. Stronger policies from the Chinese government are creating increased demand for low carbon investment and China will require a further USD $398 billion (USD $33billion per year) to meet its 2020 renewable energy goals.

Steve Howard says: "China’s current trajectory will ensure it remains a strategic global hub for low carbon investment, innovation and growth over coming decades."

Eight years of ignoring climate change and the economic opportunity presented by creating a low-carbon economy have put America behind Europe and now possibly China. The vision presented in Obama's new ad, mated with good policy, has the potential to take advantage of America's innate economic advantages and help us become a leader, not a laggard, in the 21st century energy economy.

Voter Rolls Forecast Bad News for Conservatives

I wrote last week of the youth vote and voter registration patterns in Connecticut, predicting that the striking increases in Democratic registrations nationwide would impact not only the presidential race but also the rest of the ballot this November. Jennifer Steinhauer wrote on the same theme in Monday’s New York Times. The change is substantial; buried in the article is its long-term significance:

Swings in party registration are not uncommon from one year to the next, or even over two years[…] But for a shift away from one party to sustain itself — the current registration trend is now in its fourth year — is remarkable, researchers who study voting patterns say.

Since 2005, the number of voters registering with the Republican party has decreased while the numbers of Democrat-affiliating voters and unaffiliated voters have increased. Of the 29 states that register voters with a party affiliation, over half have seen an increase in share of the population identifying as Democrat. NDN has been making this case -- on these terms -- for quite a while now. In fact, my favorite part of the article was when Steinhauer reinforced NDN’s argument that the country’s shift to a more Millennial and more Hispanic demography favors progressives:

In many states, Democrats have benefited from a rise in younger potential voters, after declines or small increases in the number of those voters in the 1980s and ’90s. The population of 18- to 24-year-olds rose from about 27 million in 2000 to nearly 30 million in 2006, according to Census figures.

Dowell Myers, a professor of policy,planning and development at the University of Southern California, also noted that a younger, native-born generation of Latinos who have a tendency to support Democrats is coming of age.

Further, young Americans have migrated in recent years to high-growth states that have traditionally been dominated by Republicans, like Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, which may have had an impact on the changing registration numbers in those places.

Let’s take a look at what NDN has been saying.

First, we’ve noted that the Millennial generation has consistently displayed progressive values and has voted more heavily Democratic than other generations in their first few elections. New Politics Institute friends and collaborators Morley Winograd and Michael Hais argue that the Millennial generation represents a fundamental shift in American politics, a prediction reflected in these registration statistics, in their book Millennial Makeover. Moreover, in their NPI paper Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation, they observed the striking disparity between Republican and Democratic Party identification among Millennials.


Secondly, NDN has been on the forefront of understanding how America's Latino population is changing American politics. Andres has been following Latino preferences for the presidential race consistently on our blog. (For full coverage, see McCain has a Latino Problem, Gallup Poll Finds Obama Continues Leading McCain Among Hispanics, and McCain struggling with Hispanics.) As early as March, invoking data from our major report Hispanics Rising II, Andres wrote:

The findings of our research confirm trends in the Hispanic community that we saw emerge in 2006 – Hispanics are trending very Democratic and voting in much higher numbers. So far this year, 78% of Hispanics who have voted in Presidential election contests have voted Democratic. In those states where Hispanics are tracked, results have shown a dramatic increase in their share of the overall vote, skyrocketing 67%, from 9% of the overall vote in 2004 to 15% in 2008.

Steinhauer even cites evidence for NDN’s argument that progressives can succeed in taking their case to exurbs. In 2006, NDN argued that the increasing diversification of the exurbs would challenge their trend of conservativism.

In many major metropolitan areas, suburbs that were once largely white and Republican have become more mixed, as people living in cities have been priced out into surrounding areas, and exurban regions have absorbed those residents who once favored the close-in suburbs of cities.

These changes in voter registration patterns forecast what could happen this fall. The New York Times included a handy graphic that's worth checking out. Observe that among the seven states experiencing the most dramatic increases in the Democratically-affiliated share of voters, two are states which voted Republican in 2004 – two of 2008’s top swing states – Iowa and Nevada. Also note that perennial swing states Pennsylvania and New Hampshire made the list.

How is it playing out already? Democrats’ 2006 state-level victories in Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire may forecast additional gains in states NDN sees as highly competitive this fall. I thought also of freshmen Senators like Claire McCaskill (MO) and Jim Webb (VA), potential bellwethers for November’s Electoral College map. These voter registration numbers are more in a series of indications that conservative ascendancy has ended and a political shift is underway.

All I'm sayin' is that you heard it here.

Words Have Consequences

"Under siege," "pro-illegal alien," "open-borders lobby," the U.S. being "overrun" by immigrants, immigrants causing a "crime wave." These are the words we hear every day in news casts, city council meetings, political advertisements, and that we see on websites, intended to cause a great panic in every community. Isolated incidents are blown up to seem like "epidemics." In a time of economic crisis, and with the changing demographics of the United States (not only due to immigration), hate groups have found a scapegoat in Hispanics, and the latest victim of their angry rhetoric is Luis Ramirez, a Hispanic recently beaten to death by a group of teenagers in Shenandoah, PA - just 20 miles from Hazelton, the first locality to attempt to pass a slew of anti-immigrant laws after the failed Comprehensive Reform Legislation bill in the U.S. Congress, and where Lou Barletta has a very directed anti-Hispanic, "anti-immigrant" campaign. The trend of hate crimes against Hispanics has been growing, and it is particularly frightening considering that the changing demographics of the U.S. is a reality - as Conor Dougherty from the Wall Street Journal reports, the Hispanic population continues to spread beyond traditional "gateway cities."

Maria Anglin, from MySanAntonio.com (yes, the news of this crime horrifies people all over the country) summarizes the job of Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and others like them.

Fear, anger and disappointment are emotions that surge within all of us. The young men charged in the attack, who said they'd been drinking, weren't unruly kids always getting into scrapes with the town cops; they're reportedly good kids who made good grades and participated in high school sports. In other words, young Americans ready to take on the future before fear, anger and disappointment turned a not-particularly-imposing immigrant into the "boogeyman."

There is a fear in America that immigrants, especially Mexicans, will change America. They want to speak Spanish whenever they please; that kind of thing stirs fears that can blossom into a full panic. It's no wonder hate crimes happen; nobody likes the boogeyman. There are those who have made high-profile careers out of fueling fear, anger and disappointment; who dole out large doses of carefully crafted hate speech, gloomy forecasts and xenophobic fear of outsiders to millions of good people itching to blame someone for everything from the price of gasoline to salmonella outbreaks to every crack-cocaine death in America.

And if it's true that immigrants, just by being in the country's classrooms, restaurants and front yards, have the power to shift the nation's values, it is also true that it doesn't take much goading by some wise guy on TV - or a parent, relative, neighbor, family friend, teacher, mentor or politician - to tilt the balance of fear, anger and disappointment in teenagers learning to find their way in the world into the realm of full-blown hate.

Packs of angry boys can be dangerous; the mob mentality that takes over can turn even the harmless kid who eats paste into a hell of a lot of trouble. Add a little underage drinking and things can get ugly really fast. But those who fan the flames of fear, anger and disappointment are much scarier.

These words are tactfully employed to instill fear in the hearts of all Americans, and then one is made to think you're not "American" if you don't feel that fear and hate. Below are a few examples of those who fuel the fire. Just THIS MORNING, CNN reported on marijuana being farmed on the border, and instead of focusing on the drug problem, or asking what the U.S. and Mexico are doing to fight the drug cartels, the CNN reporter volunteers how it "infuriates" a lot of people, "that people can cross ilegally into this country.." - which has nothing to do with the issue at hand and doesn't address the problem.

Video on the Luis Ramirez murder:

Examples of "Fear and Loathing" against Hispanics/immigrants on major networks:

Neighbors upset that Hispanics live in Prince William County, VA:

Cory Stewart, the man who pushed for local law enforcement to develop a way to identify "probable cause" for believing someone was undocumented, essentially racial profiling. 

Hispanic U.S. Citizens are questioned by police for "appearing" to be undocumented.   

And my personal favorite: being called "Mexican trash" by minutemen outside of NCLR's Annual Conference (it wasn't just me, the guy was calling "La Raza," i.e., all Hispanics, "Mexican trash"...in Spanish.

The Peruvian Quagmire

I want to share an interesting Gallup poll released today that helps shine some light on political tensions in Peru. Throughout the country, the people polled identified themselves as more socialist than capitalist in their personal beliefs (49%), while only 16% identified themselves as more capitalist in their beliefs. However, 45% of Peruvians believe their country is more capitalist than socialist. It's telling that only in the South of Peru did a majority of those polled identify themselves as socialist (57%) - this raises the question of whether there is a disconnect between the more rural South and the rest of the country's market economy. Click here for Gallup's analysis.

More Than Just "Novelas"

As mentioned in NDN's report, Hispanics Rising 2, the growth of Spanish-speaking media is on the rise. In an article this week, the Associated Press reports: Spanish-speaking news casts are eclipsing their English-language competitors in major media markets all over the country: in New York, within the past few months, WXTV's 6 p.m. newscast has eclipsed its English-speaking competitors on ABC, CBS, and NBC stations in popularity among viewers younger than 49. This reflects a trend mentioned in NDN's report: among 25-54 year-olds, the September 9, 2007 Presidential debate on Univision had the largest viewership of any debate - with 1,166,000 viewers. Case and point of the growing influence of the Hispanic viewership: the Nevada State Democratic Party just named Emilia Pablo , reporter and producer for two years at Univision and one of the most recognized faces in the Las Vegas Valley, as its new spokeswoman.

In Los Angeles, KMEX had more viewers in June for its newscast than any of its English competitors, regardless of age, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"It talks about how the United States is changing," said Ray Rodriguez, president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, Inc. "It's a bigger story than just television." One startling change has been the TV-watching habits of Hispanic viewers. In 1995, most Hispanic viewers in New York primarily watched English-language television (62 percent) over Spanish-language stations (38 percent), according to Nielsen Media Research. Last year, viewers favored the Spanish stations 71 to 29 percent.

This trend might alarm those who believe that it's because these new residents and citizens are not assimilating into the United States, but Univision executives have analyzed the viewership and explain: the majority of their viewers are bilingual. As Maelia Macin, Station Manager for KMEX in California explains, "The choice is made more for content than language."

Spanish-language news more aggressively cultivates the relationship with the largest growing demographic in the country by trying to be a resource for them in all areas of life: everything from participating in local community events, to running voter mobilization campaigns, health symposiums, etc. General news is not excluded, it's just packaged differently - in addition to covering the National Football or Baseball League, Spanish-language media also covers major soccer games in Latin America - when rivals were preoccupied with Christy Brinkley's divorce and the capture of a Brooklyn murder suspect, New York's WXTV led its local news with a story about graffiti saying "Get out of the USA " painted near a Peruvian restaurant on Long Island. The Spanish-speaking Univision affiliate figured it was a more meaningful story for its audience, and those kinds of choices are paying off.

Quick '08 Update: Hollywood and Tire Pressure

- I already posted the Paris Hilton video, but here's some additional Hollywood news: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama will join Danny Ocean (George Clooney) in Switzerland for a fundraiser in September.

- U.S. Sen. John McCain is outspending Obama with what AdAge describes is a last-minute $6 million ad buy during the Olympics. That is $1 million more than Obama's buy.

- NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw a party for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton this past Monday at Gracie mansion. Debt relief was not on the agenda. Speaking of Sen. Clinton, check out her op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal.

- Jake Tapper cites Politifact research to conclude that Obama's remarks on tire pressure have merit. In fact, as he points out, former President George H.W. Bush's administration held views similar to Obama's on the issue. Game, Set, Match.

- Speaking of energy, Obama is up in Florida with a new ad on energy and gas prices. (Via Eric Kleefeld over at TPM).

- According to Politico, the DNC is responding to the RNC's tire gauge campaign with the launch of its "Exxon-McCain '08" campaign.

- McCain was in Michigan yesterday, emphasizing his support for nuclear power. More on this below.

- Obama's in Indiana today with U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh. Speculate away! Also for those who are looking to affix a label to Bayh's politics, be sure to check out this analysis from Josh Patashnik. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

- The New York Times and the Washington Post both took a look at campaign bundlers.

- Ben Smith, you are the man for finding this picture:

- As referenced above, this was way too easy. Thanks to Dave for adding who he calls the next Secretary of Energy, C. Montgomery Burns, to the picture of McCain stating his position on nuclear energy. Excellent...

Speechless

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Paris Hilton responded to U.S. Sen. John McCain's celebrity ad. And yet here I sit, speechless, questioning humanity. Check out the video below. (Thanks for sending it my way, Kishore!)

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Obama Out With New Energy Plan, Ads

As U.S. Sen. Barack Obama releases his new energy plan this week, the Obama campaign is out with two new ads on energy. Both hit U.S. Sen. John McCain on his energy policies and ties to oil companies and lay out parts of Obama's new plan.

The Obama campaign released "Pocket" yesterday:

According to Politico.com's Ben Smith, "National Priority" has been airing in battleground states for about a week, but was not released to the press:

McCain Backs Away from Cap and Trade

Last week, as U.S. Sens. McCain and Obama rained down haymakers on energy policy, ads and rhetoric out of the McCain campaign seemed to suggest that his already wavering commitment to Cap and Trade legislation could soon be going to way of his positions on comprehensive immigration reform and the Bush tax cuts. Whether he is having trouble remembering his commitment to this issue or is moving for political reasons, the emerging signs from last week are too much to ignore.

On Tuesday, July 29, McCain economic adviser Steve Forbes appeared on CNN’s Glenn Beck and said:

"I think cap and trade is going to go the way of some other things, as you may remember, when he came into office, Bill Clinton had a proposal of tax carbons and stuff like that. I don’t think those things are going to get very far as people start to examine the details of them."

The same week, the McCain campaign released its now infamous "Celeb" ad, which included a line criticizing Obama for wanting to "tax electricity." Of course, none of Obama’s speeches or plans specifically call for raising taxes on electricity, so what could this possibly mean?

The McCain campaign points to a February, 2008 Q&A with the San Antonio Express-News, during which Obama said, "What We Ought To Tax Is Dirty Energy, Like Coal And, To A Lesser Extent, Natural Gas." He said this in context of putting a price on carbon emissions, a large portion of which come from, of course, energy production. Obama’s (and supposedly McCain’s) chosen method of doing so is cap and trade.

So, if McCain has a problem with pricing dirty energy, then he has a problem with cap and trade. These two points out of the campaign, one from an adviser and one in an ad, in the same week, seem to be more than just coincidence, and a fairly direct repudiation of carbon-pricing regimes.

In light of this, McCain needs clarify his position on climate change legislation – specifically cap and trade. And if he does plan on dropping support of this legislation, he then needs to show how he would create the clean energy future that he has made a central part of his platform without incentives for renewables or pricing carbon. Right now, it just doesn’t add up.

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