Barack Obama

More Powell

After his Meet the Press Interview this morning, General Powell did an informal presser, where he repeated some of what he said earlier, but also added some additional observations.  I saw it live on CNN and found it very powerful.  You can watch it here on Daily Kos.

$150 Million, 3.1 million supporters and 100,000 in St. Louis

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe released this video this morning, reporting in on their record breaking month, and discussing the strategy in the final two weeks. $150 milion. 3.1 million donors. 100,000 people in St Louis.  Simply incredible. 

What Plouffe - in his classically understated fashion - describes in this video is the largest and most powerful grassroots organization ever built in the history of American politics.  For those readers of our blog are well aware, we believe this new Obama-led people-based model of how to organize an advocacy effort has fundamentally changed American politics forever.  The emergence of this "new politics" is something we'ven writing and talking about at NDN for years now, and in early 2005, with the help of Joe Trippi, Markos Moulitsas and others, even started a new affiliate, the New Politics Institute, to better study the emergence of a whole new way to organize our politics. These numbers - and what will likely be extraordinary October and November numbers to come - will be seen in the coming years as the moment when all of American politics tipped, when there was a before and after, when we moved from a broadcast-based to a people-based model of how to organize arguments, campaigns and advocacy. When a "new politics" was born. 

Back in February, I reflected back on the early evidence of the success of this new model, and argued that one of the new effects of this new model, properly applied, was the emergence of a "virtuous cycle of participation," which still seems relevant today: 

A Virtuous Cycle of Participation - Finally, Obama has one very powerful advantage in these final days that is hard to see and evaluate - the power of his virtual community across the country. We saw the power of this community with the truly extraordinary amount of money it raised for him in January. But equally important in these final days will be the virtual door knocking these millions of people will be doing - emails to their address books, actions on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites, text messages sent to friends, viral videos linked too, and comments left on blogs, newspapers and call in radio shows. It is no exaggeration to say that this million or so impassioned Obama supporters will reach tens of millions of voters in highly personal ways in the next few days, providing a messaging and personal validation of Obama that may be equal in weight to the final round of TV ads, free media and traditional grassroots methods.

All the way back in 2003, I wrote an essay about this new era of participation in politics that argued the new Dean campaign model was changing the way we had to imagine what a Presidential campaign was all about. In the 20th century, a Presidential campaign was about 30 second spots, tarmac hits and 200 kids in a headquarters. In the 21st century, the race for the Presidency would be about ten million people going to work each day, wired into the campaign through the campaign's site, through email, sms, social networking sites etc acting as full partners in the fight not just passive couch potatoes to be persuaded.

This is a very different model of politics. One begun by Dean but being taken to a whole other level by Obama. It puts people and their passion for a better nation at the core of politics. When used correctly, it creates a virtuous cycle of participation, where more and more people engage, take an action and bring others in, creating a self-perpetuating and dynamic network of support. It is also why the endorsements of entities with large, active virtual communities -, MoveOn - is so meaningful for Obama. He has created an on-line ecosystem that can quickly take advantage of the support of the millions of people now doing politics in this new 21st century way and exponentially grow his dynamic community of change.

The Democratic Party is one entire Presidential cycle ahead of the Republicans in adopting this new model, and I will argue it is simply not possible for the Republican nominee to catch up this year. Too much experimentation, too much trial and error goes into inventing this new model for it to be easily and quickly adapted. It has to be invented, not adapted. I'm sure the GOP will catch up over time, but this year year the only GOP candidate who has taken this new model seriously has been Ron Paul - and they have paid the price. Obama raised almost as much money in January of this year as John McCain raised in all of 2007. Democrats are raising much more money across the board, seeing historic levels of voter turnout, increased Party registrations and millions more working along side with the campaigns - all of which is creating an extraordinary virtuous cycle of participation that continues to grow the number getting engaged in politics as never before. While there can be little doubt that anger towards Bush and disapointment with his government is a driving force behind this, the key takeaway is that the adoption of this new politics by Democrats allowed the Party to take advantage of this tidal wave in unprecedented ways, and will be one of the Democratic Party's most significant advantages going into the fall elections.

Much attention has been given to the money raised by this Obama network. Much more needs to be given to the power of it to deliver message, provide personal validation to friends, neighbors, colleagues and peers in ways so powerful, and ways never seen before in American history. I have no doubt that it has been the campaign's ability to foster and channel the passion of his supporters - creating a vrituous cycle of particpation - into an unprecedented national network - helping amplify and reinforce the power of Obama's argument - that is playing a critical role in Obama's closing the gap with Clinton in these final exciting and dramatic days before Super Tuesday.

The explosion of all this money, these people and their passion in our politics, is going to have an extraordinary long-term impact on the center-left side of American politics. I took a look at all this in a recent essay, More Evidence Of A Sustained Progressive Revival, which argues that what we have been seeing these last few years with arrival of the netroots, the blogosphere, the Obama campaign and so much else is a fundamental reinvention of center-left politics in the United States and the emergence of what has the potential to be a very modern, very powerful and very 21st century progressive movement. 

Friends these are exciting days.  Kudos to David Plouffe, Steve Hildebrand, Joe Rospars, David Axelrod, Bill Burton the rest of the history-making Obama team - and of course Barack and Michelle Obama - for not just what they have done but what they will also leaving behind.

Crazy McCain Lady is Back

Earlier this week I wrote about how disturbing it is to see the ignorance and hate speech that is expressed at some of Sen. McCain's rallies. Luckily, we can count on Saturday Night Live to show how extremely ridiculous such ideas are without insulting anyone, yet getting the point across that there is no place for ideas like these in our society.


Expect McCain to Gain Ground These Final Weeks

As we head into the home stretch, it is going to be important for those analyzing the election not to confuse McCain gaining a few points with him once again having the opportunity to win the election.  

The national polling average this morning is 50 Obama, 43 McCain. Where will the movement be in these final three weeks?  If the election ends up 4-6 points for Obama, this means we end up 52-48, 53-47, or something like that. My sense now is that McCain is likely to gain 4-5 points in this these final few weeks and return to a respectable level for a credible GOP candidate. Part of what may drive this movement in the next few weeks is McCain bouncing back up from his current below-the-floor position. I mean 43 percent for a major GOP candidate in a two-way race? No way we are going to end up there.

McCain's gains these coming weeks will be because he had been so dramatically underperforming since his successful convention. His erratic performance in the debates, his very public confusion during that first week of the financial crisis, the cratering of Sarah Palin, have all combined to leave him several points below where he should be at this point. In these next few weeks he will in all likelihood regain ground he should have been occupying all along but lost due to his disappointing campaign. So in many ways, McCain's likely uptick is more a sign of his current weakness than any newfound strength.

Getting back up to 46, 47, 48 is not the same as winning. My guess is there will be a lot of confusion about this in the chattering classes in the next few weeks. 

Looking at the Kos am roundup, what we are seeing is a slight uptick in the McCain number with no decline in the Obama number. The real trend line to watch now is Obama's -- if he holds at 49,50,51 -- he will win. If he starts dropping below that, we may have a race on our hands.  

I've always believed the main issue in the general election was whether Obama could give enough people enough comfort about him and his views to take the ground the American people were ready to give him. The debates, his strong performance during the financial crisis, a series of direct -to-camera ads have done a lot to give people more comfort about this new kid with a funny name whom we all have just gotten to know. My sense now is that the Obama campaign's positive TV tracks must stay relentlessly direct-to-camera, and they would be wise to replicate in some form the three direct-to-camera ads about our economic future and the struggle of everyday people run during the financial crisis (similar to the great two-minute close he made in Iowa) as the main way they close in the home stretch.

I have also always believed that Obama's final 2-3 points would come late, at the very end, as they often do for a challenger against a better known candidate. Which means we could see some kind of a McCain surge now with Obama closing it out in the final week or so -- if he performs well. 

Or not....

It is hard to believe we are at the end of this historic campaign. But we are, and like all campaigns, the final 18 days is at least one political lifetime left to go. 

Hispanics Hand it to Obama

Obama's most important lead after last night's debate may have come among Hispanic voters, who favored him by a 50-36 percent margin according to the national Politico/InsiderAdvantage survey of undecided debate-watchers. The candidates were evenly matched among white voters, with McCain holding a 49-46 percent advantage - equal to the three point margin of error. African Americans picked Obama as the winner by 88-10 percent. You can trace Hispanics' support of the presidential candidates through Gallup's weekly poll - the poll shows Obama with a consistent comfortable margin of at least 20-25 points ahead of McCain. The latest Gallup poll shows Obama ahead by a 60-31 percent advantage.

Candidates Woo Largest Spanish-speaking Audience in the Country, Part II

More on John McCain's interview with Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos. Univision has the largest Spanish-language audience in the U.S.

ON LATIN AMERICA- When asked about the prospect of Russia providing Venezuela with training and nuclear arms, and whether he would rule out U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Sen. McCain responded that he definitely would (keep in mind all those Florida voters who are originally from Venezuela or still have family and ties to the country). Sen. McCain stated his priorities regarding Latin America as: 1) U.S. independence from Venezuelan oil, as there is evidence that Venezuela is helping aid the FARC in Colombia, and 2) passage of a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

Last weekend, Barack Obama and Joe Biden appeared with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto. By contrast, when asked about Latin America, Sen. Obama appeared to understand that the United States' relationship with the region has so much more at stake than merely trade agreements and foreign aid, "Trade agreements cannot serve as a substitute to sensible policy...It's not about just sending money [to the region] and forgetting about it...If this hollow policy continues, our children will be in danger...we should be in contact at this critical time." Sen. Biden noted, "..this Administration has no policy towards Russia, or towards Latin America for that matter."

ON OTHER ISSUES - On immigration, Barack Obama said during his interview with Ramos that in order to truly secure the border, we also need to go after unscrupulous employers and to provide legalization to all the undocumented in order to bring them out of the shadows. On the election:

JR: Will Hispanics decide this election? What do you think of Latino voters?
BO: "...The states with the largest Hispanic populations will certainly have a decisive role during this election....Hispanics could be the largest group of voters in New Mexico....I do think Hispanics are going to turn out and vote because they will decide whether they want to continue 8 years of failed policies or I have no doubt that this election will turn out record numbers of Latinos and voters in general."
JR: So will Hispanics decide this election?
JB: In some states, like Florida, my state for example, small state of Delaware, has among the largest rates of growth of states on the east coast, the population has increased 25% over the last 17 years, and a full quarter of that growth is comprised of Hispanics in my state.

Jorge Ramos also posed a few tough questions to Sen. McCain:

JR: Governor Palin, she said Sen. Obama worked from an ex-terrorist's living room. But she works for the campaign right? So I take it she had your approval to say those things, are you suggesting that [Sen. Obama] tolerates terrorism?
JM: No. We just believe the American people should know more about this relationship.

**Sarah Palin was scheduled to appear with John McCain, but she reportedly had a scheduling conflict. Sen. McCain did say that she will be on Al Punto soon.

The Final Debate

Not going to liveblog tonight.  Just offer some occassional thoughts.  

917pm - McCain seems a little on edge tonight, a little angry and wild.  Remember he started this whole thing by saying how angry, angry people (he) are (is).  

920pm - McCain just said he would balance the budget in 4 years.  4 years!  Good for you Old Man McCain!

935pm - I am truly hating John McCain tonight.  He has been truly nasty.  His back-against-the-wall ferocity seems forced, and he has all too often crossed over into anger and nastiness.

Over these last few weeks, through these debates and the financial crisis, the American people learned much more about both Senators.  In Obama they saw what the liked.  McCain not so much.  In Obama they have seen a future President.  In McCain they have seen - and are seeing tonight - an aging and confused Senator all too comfortable defending a tired, discredited conservative argument.    

These last few weeks have been so important for Senator Obama.  His greatest challenge in the race was to help the American people learn more about him.  He is new on the scene, still not well known to many.  He has an unusual name and is bi-racial.  Taken together the American people while they have liked him needed to know more, to get more comfortable with him. The financial crisis, these debates and a strong set of excellent direct-to-camera Obama campaign ads gave Senator Obama has given people much more information about him, to let them get to know him better.  And they have responded well to him these last few weeks. 

While McCain was more combative and aggressive tonight I don't think he was any better and more effective than previous debates.  I don't think McCain fundamentally altered the dynamic of the race.  My guess is that Obama wins the instapolls by 10-15 points.

11pm - CBS has it 53-22 Obama.  CNN 58-31.   CNN's poll has McCain's unfavorable rising tonight.  Brutal.   

Ad Wars: En Español

Over the last few weeks, we have been commenting on how both Presidential candidates are battling it out to win over Hispanic voters by spending record sums on Spanish language advertising on issues of importance to this demographic, such as immigration, health care, and taxes.  The Washington Times has picked up on the brutal ad war and wrote about it in this piece by Stephen Dinan.

Are We Headed Towards A Realigning Election?

The possibility grows each day.  Tomorrow's CBS/Times poll will fuel a new round of speculation that we are witnessing the birth of a new political era, a once in a generation political realignment.  

The Times poll has it - incredibly - 53-39 Obama.  14 points.  In mid October.  5 points is a landslide in a Presidential race. New state polls show similar trends.  

There has not been a Democrat ahead at this late stage of the election by this type of margin since at least 1964.  And only 7 times in the last 50 elections have Democrats won 53 percent of more of the national vote (they received 53 percent last year).  

Of course it could get much closer in the coming weeks but the trend is moving away from McCain now, not towards him.  

Will McCain be able to perform tomorrow night given what he knows?  Will we see a patriot or a partisan?  Reaching across the aisle to get things done or William Ayers?  

I know, I know.  It will be about those earmarks.  After all we've allocated to all those earmarks just one sixth of what President Bush has given to AIG in the last month alone.  

Wed am Update - DemFromCT has more.

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