Both sides go on to March 4th

Well, what we now know is that both sides will be going on without an actual declared winner till at least March 4th, perhaps longer.

While McCain did well last night, his opponents won a majority of the states in play and I think did well enough to go on through at least March 4th. So on the GOP side we now have a 3 man race, with McCain a wobbly, broke and unlikely frontrunner. The Arizona Senator is now in a precarious position as any loss could end up delivering a terrible blow to his campaign, and we saw last night he is leading but not yet consolidating. There is more drama left on the GOP side.

On the Democratic side we now enter the 3rd phase of the nominating process, the post Feb 5th through March 4th phase. This phase has Clinton and Obama essentially even in the national polls, close in delegates, both deploying strong strategies and issue arguments that have allowed them to win diverse coalitions in all regions of the country.

At this point what may be the greatest difference between them is the far superior Obama virtual network that has become the most powerful and most modern grassroots campaign in Democratic Party history. This people powered political organization was tested and produced on Feb 5th, but will be even more dramatically tested now. Will it continue to produce the money it has this past month? Will it begin to put dramatic pressure on undecided super-delegates and elected officials to choose Obama? Will the campaign challenge its supporters to step up and not just give but play an unprecedented advocacy role, hitting their social networks across the country, matching through their incredible passion the power of the TV ads, to keep creating what I called the other day "a virtuous cycle of participation?" Will this campaign really become not about Barack but about them? And can Hillary match?

Calling Joe Rospars.....

Update: Chris Cillizza has a new story on the Clinton's loaning their campaign $5 million. It is worth a read.

Super Tuesday is here

It's here. No big new thoughts today. On the Democratic side it's gonna be close, exciting and a late night. On the GOP side it sure looks like we are headed towards a McCain candidacy.

You can review my take on the evolving state of the election this past week in these recent posts:

Clinton raises $13m in January

The Incredible Campaign - Sunday am wrap up (looks at how the media may call the race tonight)

Obama closes the gap and reinvents politics along the way

A good debate

the battle for Hispanics is joined

Hillary and Florida

On Obama, race and the end of the Southern Strategy

For tonight, 16 of the 24 states voting will have exit polls, meaning that they have the capacity to be called before all the results are in. The other eight states could go very late, making the "calling" of the race a little harder. I will try to get back to everyone on which of the states have exits, but I think they are skipping the caucus states and perhaps some other small ones.

For those who tracked my suggestion that Obama visit NY on the final day - it is the single most delegate rich market in the country - he did hit the market by visiting the Meadowlands yesterday morning. I still think a NY City event would have been dramatic, bold, strong. But it was not to be. To his credit he did not skip the market altogether, but as any NYer knows, New Jersey isn't New York. Although it is the home of the Miracle Giants!

Check out this Super Tuesday overview by Dan Balz. And this excellent overview of the politics of Hispanics by Julia Preston in today's Times.

For those voting today, happy voting.

Monday am wrap up

So 4 of the 5 national polls released yesterday had the Democratic race within margin of error, a shift of between 10 and 20 points to Obama in the last 2 weeks. So it is going to be close tomorrow. Not sure how much more any of us know now. It is up to the millions of voters on Tuesday. I have offered lots of analysis over the last week, the latest here and here.

The only new insight I have is that the unexpected Maria Shriver endorsement yesterday may end up being significant in California, as it will help Obama end his campaign there dominating the news. I also saw my first Potomac Primary ad - an Obama ad geared towards the DC market - for our Feb 12th DC, MD, VA primary day. It was a version of the ad that ran during the Super Bowl in local markets - including here - which I must say I found underwhelming.

So, is there a lesson in the incredible victory of the Giants last night (long my team)? Further evidence that anything is possible tomorrow? Perhaps for the Democrats. For the GOP it sure looks like Senator McCain. But he still has to win the thing and bring his party together.


The Incredible Campaign - Sunday am wrap up

What can you say. This one has it all. Drama. Volatility. New voters. New media. The weaknesses of our election system mightily exposed. Consequential differences between the two parties. And of course the overwhelming desire for change. What a remarkable and exciting election.

I offer up some thoughts and links on this Super Sunday. Yesterday I swore off reporting on polls, humbled as we all have been by their - let us say - unreliability. But this morning I changed my mind. Here we go:

- There are polls out today with good news for both sides in the Democratic contest. Josh Marshall reports that the national Rasmussen and Gallup tracks have Senator Clinton gaining. The new CA Field poll out this am shows the Golden State within margin of error, with Obama gaining and still a great deal of undecided. Post/ABC has it 47% Clinton, 43% Obama. All in all I think we go into Super Duper Tuesday with Obama having made up a great deal of ground in the last two weeks, something I have discussed here and here. Certainly it seems as if both campaigns will end up winning a lot of delegates and that we keep going through at least the first week of March when Ohio and Texas vote.

I don't really know how the media will declare a winner and loser on Tuesday night. The Nevada example - where Clinton won the popular vote, Obama won more delegates and Clinton was declared the winner - is a good example of how this process can only confuse the traditional way the media plays elections, particularly with the GOP side full of winner take all states and likely to produce a single winner - John McCain. What happens if one candidate wins more delegates and the other more states? National media, especially TV news, resists complexity. But that is what we are going to get Tuesday night on the Democratic side. For the East Coast media it will be particularly hard as CA could go late into the night.

I speculated the other day that given the complexity of all this the candidate who wins CA may end up having the greatest claim to make the "victory" speech, but I'm not so sure any more. It will be the most important state, no doubt. But I could see other narratives emerge. 1) Obama wins big in Red and Purple states, reinforcing his case that he will be a much better general election candidate (something the polls agree with). 2) Obama gets an early win in the NY media market, or keeps NY very close, setting the tone early that his late surge had an impact (I still cannot understand why Obama is not visiting the NY media market in the last week - it effects more delegates than other market in the nation). 3) Despite the closeness of the race one candidate could end up "winning" 12-15 states, giving them a visual win on election night even if the delegate count is very close or goes the other way. NDN will produce an analysis tomorrow that looks at the sequencing of the calling of states on Tuesday night, which will impact the final media narrative. Does anyone know whether the networks are doing exit polls in all 22 states? 4) Hispanics give Senator Clinton big wins in CA and other Southwestern states. 5) Obama suprises Clinton. 6) Clinton hangs tough, has a big night, stops the Obama surge.

Who knows.

- The Feb 12th Potomac Primary which features DC, VA and MD is going to engage the people of the Beltway in a very significant way in the campaign. The intensity and partisanship that is sure to break out here - pitting friends against friends, colleagues against colleagues - is a preview of the year to come. We are now almost certainly going to have 2 sitting US Senators running for President, putting the Senate, this city and its people on the very frontlines of the Presidential campaign in ways not typical in modern American politics. The emerging Bush-McCain, Clinton-Obama-Reid-Pelosi balancing acts will add even greater complexity to an already complex and dynamic political year.

- NDN's extended family is in the news quite a bit today. You can find us in Jose Antonio Vargas of the Post's piece on Hispanics in New Mexico; in John Heilemann's excellent piece on the importance of the Hispanic vote in 2008; in Holly Yeager's piece on the election in the Washington Independent; and Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, featured presenters at our upcoming March 12th Forum in Washington, have a major op-ed in the Post today on the coming power of the Millennial generation, one of our favorite topics. And if you haven't checkout the new Rolling Stone article, Blame Pedro, about the GOP's demonization of Hispanics, it is well worth a read. For background on the Hispanic vote and 2008 check out our recent memo, The Battle for Hispanics is Joined.

- Finally, the first round of national and state polling about the fall match-ups, while early, have some important clues to the coming general election.

First, McCain is consistently in the 40s, in some cases in the mid to high 40s and is often beating the Democrats. In these polls he is running 10 points or so of his Party, which indicates he may very well be a very competitive candidate. He, of course is not without problems - Iraq, his age, his flipflopping on immigration, his lack of an economic argument, a potentially deflated party base - but at this point he looks suprisingly formidible.

Second, Obama consistently outperforms Senator Clinton in these early head to heads with McCain despite her very strong showing in the Democratic primary and his lack of history with many voters. It needs to be said that given how well known Senator Clinton is with the national electorate her weak showing - most polls have her in the low 40s - is a worrisome sign for the general.

- Go Giants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday afternoon update: 4 new national polls out today.  3 have Obama Clinton within margin of error, functionally tied.  The main Gallup poll which had HRC gaining yesterday now has it within one point.   There are now polls out showing Obama ahead in California.   Meanwhile 3 new polls out in MO have Clinton leading by more than 14, by 7 and the race tied.  So who knows. 

Wherever we end up it is clear Obama had made up as much as 20 points in the last 12 or days, making this one a real nail-biter Tuesday night.  Josh Marshall has a good poll roundup.  As does Daily Kos.

Gallup delivers some good news for Clinton

The new Gallup track out today has Senator Clinton picking up 4 points leaving the race at 48% Clinton 41% Obama. Given the volatility of the polls these last few days, particularly with Edwards dropping out, I will now swear off reporting on the changing polls any more and just leave it to the voters on February 5th.

On the Republican side McCain is beating Romney handily, and is picking up most of the major endorsements. He seems to be in good shape for Feb 5th, and according to Gallup is gaining momentum.

Adam Nagourney of the Times has a good piece looking at the final ad buys of all the major campaigns.

The delegate battle and this phase of the campaign

Adam Nagourney has an excellent look at the delegate battle ahead.  Make sure to check out the charts and graphs. 

I took a look at this new phase of the campaign in two recent posts here and here.  I also have offered some thoughts on Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy here.

The campaigns go national, onward to Nevada and South Carolina

After snowy Iowa and New Hampshire the Presidential campaign has gone national, adding states like Florida, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina and then the unprecedented Super primary on February 5th.

On the Democratic side we are seeing the first year of a new nominating calendar which was designed to involve two regions - the South and the West - and two groups - African-Americans and Hispanic - to the traditional Iowa and New Hampshire Midwest, Northeast and largely white mix.

The idea of broadening this primary calendar to include these 2 new regions and 2 important communities was something I championed in my race for DNC Chair in 2005. Of all the candidates running I was the only one who was willing to challenge the old system, a system that only once had produced a Democratic candidate who received more than 50 percent of the vote in the general election (Carter 1976), and which was simply not representative of the nation America had become. I was very pleased when the DNC adopted a plan very similar to mine in the spring of 2005, which choose Nevada and South Carolina as the representatives states of these regions.

Embracing these regions and voters is particularly important to Democrats, the much more diverse party of the two political parties. In 2008 minority voters will make up perhaps 25% of all those who vote, and may be as much as 40% of those who vote Democratic in 2008. While it may be another 40 years before the nation becomes majority "minority," the Democratic Party is likely to become a majority minority Party within the next ten years or so as the African-American, Hispanic and Asian populations grow in the US and remain largely Democratic. Given the way the Electoral College has played out in recent elections, the Democrat's new emphasis on Hispanics and the heavily Hispanic states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV could alone swing the Presidential race to the Democrats in 2008 (see our recent magazine article "The 50 Year Strategy" for more on this).

As I wrote the other day helping our people embrace this new much more diverse America of the 21st century - and other emerging demographic realities like the rise of Millennials and the movement of the population to the South and West - is one of the modern progressive movements most urgent strategic challenges. By adopting this new map, by the historic diversity of the Presidential field, by the emergence of a Western-based Congressional leadership and the placement of their convention in Denver this year, it is clear that the Democrats are increasingly becoming a party built around the emerging demographic realities of 21st century America.

Vist here for a new NDN Backgrounder on Nevada, Immigration and Hispanics, here for an excellent Dan Balz overview of the upcoming Super Duper Tuesday in the Washington Post today and see below from on the ground reports from NDN staffers Joe Garcia and Travis Valentine from Nevada. This more national orientation should be on full display tonight in the Democratic debate from Las Vegas.

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