Barack Obama

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. 

: 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":

The "Nuevo Dia" Continues

As we have noted on this blog many times, the views of South Florida's Cuban American community are changing, giving the area's GOP incumbents their most serious challenge in nearly 20 years. (You may recall that one of the Democratic challengers is former NDNer, Joe Garcia.) What is allowing this to happen? As Time recently wrote in its article, Big Trouble in Little Havana, there are two reasons: More younger Cuban Americans are becoming eligible to vote, and the Cuba issue is viewed in relation to other issues like the economy, all of which affect South Florida and are believed to have been mishandled by the GOP.

On the New Generation of Cubans and related issues:

But the Miami challenges have caught the GOP off guard. Democratic voter registration in Miami-Dade County, as in other places, is up, and Republican registration is down. Some of the shift stems from elderly voters like Coto, but younger Cuban Americans are restless too. Like their elders, they want to liberate Cuba, but they also want to get by in Miami, where the middle class is shriveling and home foreclosures are soaring. "I'm not running for President of Cuba," says Martinez. "Cuban Americans finally see themselves as part of the wider U.S.A., and they care about other issues." 

On Cuba:

Still, a likely decisive issue in these races involves Cuba. In 2004, as a gift to conservatives, President Bush tightened restrictions on travel and remittances to the island. Cuban Americans--only those who have immediate family members in Cuba--can now visit just once every three years and send only $300 each quarter. The move backfired: most Miami Cubans oppose the new rules, according to an FIU poll, and they have been particularly unpopular among younger Cuban Americans. That was a big reason Miami computer programmer and lifelong Republican Joe Infante, 47, who has relatives in Cuba he can no longer visit, is now a registered Democrat. The regulations, he says, "have kept Cuban families separated but haven't put a dent in the Cuban regime." The move suggests that leaders of Florida's anti-Castro movement may have lost touch with the region's changing demographics. What would have worked in 1985 to deepen GOP support had the opposite effect in today's more diverse Miami. Says Garcia, sipping a café cubano in Little Havana: "Bush succeeded in dividing what was once a monolithic vote for his party." 

All of this will make sense to those familiar with NDN's work on Cuba. In fact, the views represented above are consistent with what we found in our poll from October of 2006. They are also consistent with U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's stance on Cuba, which Fareed Zakaria wrote about a few months ago. (You can see two examples of our coverage of Obama's position here and here.)

For more, check out a forum we held in February of 2007 where we discussed what a Post-Castro Cuba could look like.

Quick '08 Update: Where's the VP?

- Michael Tomasky looks at the difference between the attacks from the GOP (attacks on character) versus those from Democrats (attacks on policy/record). More from Jake Tapper's Political Punch here and here.

- In today's Wall Street Journal, Amy Schatz writes on Google's involvement in the "Big Tent" at the DNCC. She cites Simon on the impact this will have on convention coverage and, more importantly, the likelihood of private discussion for elected officials.

- Check out the statements of both U.S. Sen. John McCain and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama on Musharraf's resignation.

- Simon covers Greg Sargent's piece in TPM on McCain outspending Obama in key states below, but it is definitely worth mentioning again.

- The Washington Post's Dan Balz takes a look at Veep Week Speculation.

- According to the New York Times, Obama is ready to announce his pick for Vice President. Hint: Tom Daschle doesn't think it'll be him.

- Phew, at least we know when McCain will announce his choice for Vice President. 

- Via Jake Tapper, Rich Lowry at the National Review tells us that the McCain campaign is seeking out key GOP state officials for their response to what could be a pro-choice VP.

- As we look ahead to Convention in Denver, check out this op-ed from U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar from the LA Times on "How Democrats can mine the West".

- Marc Ambinder has a playful, but very interesting way of presenting the different feelings he suspects Democrats have about the current state of the Obama campaign.

- Other news: PA Gov. Ed Rendell will be casting his vote during the roll-call for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in Denver. In VA, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is being placed on the presidential ballot by the commonwealth's Independent Green Party.

- Ralph Reed, a long-time friend and associate of Jack Abramoff, was a no-show at McCain's fundraiser last night. The Political Wire wonders who's telling the truth.

- Taking a break from VP speculation, the American Prospect's Dana Goldstein and Ezra Klein show how Obama is more focused on beefing up the Democratic Party than any other candidate in recent history.

- Building on that, the Washington Post's Tim Craig looks at Obama's voter registration efforts in Virginia.

- Hopefully Obama continues to do things like calling to thank his 2 millionth donor along the way. The little things resonate.

- Along those lines, the New York Times takes a look at how the Democrats are presenting their case across the ticket, particularly in Congressional races.

- The LA Times looks at the dual roles of Randy Scheunemann, a top foreign policy advisor to John McCain and former lobbyist for Georgia. Via Think Progress, McCain is proud of supporting Scheunemann's lobbying efforts.

- The McCain campaign clarified itself on two issues we've discussed in these updates: McCain's alleged plagiarism of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Andrea Mitchell's reporting on whether McCain knew Rick Warren's questions before his turn at the Saddleback Forum.

- Speaker Pelosi emphasized the role of women in changing the country in a video encouraging women in Michigan to vote for Obama.

McCain Outspending Obama on TV in Key Battleground States

Greg Sargent from TPM Election Central has a new post up on the adspend disparities this summer, and where each campaign is buying.

The analysis raises some interesting questions. 1) Do Democrats need to reevaluate their assumption that they will hold a significant fundraising advantage in the fall? 2) Can the Obama campaign afford to stay on the air in unconventional battlegrounds like Alaska and Indiana while the larger more traditional battlegrounds tighten up?

While a great deal has been written about the lessening impact of TV, I think the McCain campaign is demonstrating its lingering power and influence. What is the McCain campaign other than a series of TV ads and videos (that then get played again and again on TV)? Their candidate has receded. They have been speaking through a much more reliable set of messages - edited video, which unlike their candidate, doesn't have that nasty habit of getting way off message. And it has worked - the race has tightened now, and we appear headed into the two Conventions pretty close to tied.

As we look forward to the VP picks of both parties I get the sense that given the way the McCain campaign is being run now, they will attempt to pick a new spokesman for their campaign - someone good looking, telegenic, articulate. Their current spokesman, McCain, has, let us say, lots of limitations. So let him be that vague presence at the end of the ads, show up for the debates and Convention heavily scripted, and let the new guy do a great deal of the heavy lifting.

Sally Quinn on Saddleback

From her column in the Washington Post today:

I would rather live in McCain's world than Obama's. But I believe that we live in Obama's world.

Quick '08 Update: Big and Specific Ideas Needed

- CNN shows Tropical Storm Fay getting stronger.

- In case you missed the Saddleback Forum, The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan covered it live on his blog.

- On the ad front, PrezVid previews two of U.S. Sen. John McCain's new ads, "Taxman" and "Maybe". Ambinder puts up an ad U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is running on the economy in Colorado.

- CQ wonders whether McCain is once again plagiarizing.

- In the Politico, Ben Smith and Glenn Thrush suspect Obama will announce his Vice Presidential pick this week. Their colleague, Jonathan Martin, keeps speculation in a whirlwind by highlighting U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar's positive feelings for Obama.

- Over at The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder looks at the candidates' schedules and offers his thoughts on the VP selection.

- Bloomberg's Lorraine Woellert points out a flaw in McCain's pitch for nuclear power by looking at the recent nuclear submarine leaks.

- Obama returned to San Francisco to haul in a cool $7.8 million. Jake Tapper has more on the event where Obama showed he was not afraid to go on the offensive.

- On the fundraising front, Seth Colter Walls writes more on what the candidates and party committees raised in July, noting that the DNC outraised the RNC for the first time since October of 2004.

- More trouble in McCainland: LA Gov. Bobby Jindal's had trouble pointing out the "big ideas" being proposed by McCain on Meet the Press. (via Think Progress) Maybe he should've pointed out that McCain wants everyone to have a mansion or be 5-million-dollars rich.

- The New York Times points out that party leaders are also asking Obama to highlight specific policy proposals, giving some substance to his campaign narratives of hope and change.

- McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, will be meeting with NBC to protest Andrea Mitchell's statement about McCain's alleged knowledge of the questions being presented at the Saddleback Forum.

- The New York Times published an in-depth piece on the McCain Doctrine. Meanwhile, Daly Kos reader smintheus highlights McCain's foreign 'policy' problem.

- The countdown to the Democratic National Convention is nearing its end. Wilshire and Washington gives some clues about what each candidate will be doing next week. Continuing the convention theme, Matthew Yglesias posts on the Convention bump.

- Finally, the quote of the day from Political Wire:

"Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."

-- President Bush, quoted by the Associated Press.

Making the Struggle of Every Day People the Central Focus of the National Debate

In today's New York Times Week in Review, Bill Keller has a thoughtful look at recent events in China and Russia, and what might be called the end of the end of history. I thought Fareed Zakaria captured this sentiment best in his recent book when he described this new era of geopolitics with a simple powerful phrase - Americans are witnessing what he calls "the rise of the rest."

Perhaps after eight years of talk of Basra, Kabul and tax cuts, we will look back at this month as the month that Rip Van Winkle-like Americans woke from their conservative-induced slumber and began to see the 21st century as it is, not as portrayed by the Rovian/Chenesian fantasy of the last eight years.

Perhaps in no area is this new pragmatism more important than on what it means for our people here at home. The next President faces one domestic challenge more important than all the others - how to get wages and incomes rising again.

For most of the Bush era, the American economy performed well by traditional metrics. GDP, productivity, corporate profits and the stock market were strong. But despite this period of growth and strong productivity gains, the typical American family saw its annual income drop by about a $1,000 a year and the rate at which new jobs were created has been slower than any other recovery since the Depression. According to the laws of economics, it was not supposed to be possible to see robust growth in GDP and productivity and see incomes drop. In fact. it has never happened before in the modern economic history of the United States.

Every day Americans figured all this out long before coastal elites did. Our 2007 analysis of public opinion and the 2006 exit polls shows that it was the economy that drove the GOP from office much more than the war. As has been reported in many places, the American people are more unhappy with the state of the nation than anytime since the 1930s. The American people have understood for years that the people running their government has not turned their attention to the most important challenge they face in their own lives - making ends meet in a much more competitive globalized world. And small-bore solutions to this enormous challenge - off shore drilling, children's health insurance, raising the minimum wage, middle class tax cuts - will be treated as they have been treated by the American people these last few years - "that's nice, but where is the long-term, sustained, comprehensive plan big enough to actually improve our lives and the lives of our families?"

Led by Dr. Rob Shapiro, figuring all this out has been the primary focus of NDN's Globalization Initiative these last four years. I won't repeat the major recommendations from our project now, but offer three general observations:

1) It is critical that our political leaders explain to the American people that if we want to maintain our place in the world, and our standard of living, that we will have to "try harder." The rest of the world is rising, catching up, learning our game - as was the goal of foreign policy these last 60 years - and no longer can be seen as characters from an Indiana Jones movie. To compete in this world, this emerging world of the 21st century, we will have do more; invest more; modernize our infrastructure; lessen our dependence on expensive and dirty energy sources; make pensions and health care more portable and accessible; do more to equip our workers and kids with the modern skills they need to compete; accelerate innovation and the formation of "new businesses;" make our global economic liberalization strategies smarter and more modern...this new era must be seen as one of "investment" in a better future, and calls for an anachronistic politics of austerity must be rejected....

2) This economic and public opinion dynamic developed before the recent slowdown, credit crunch, housing crisis and energy/commodity price surge, and thus will not be solved by focusing on these recent developments in the economy. Because incomes went down during a period of sustained growth, the solutions offered by our leaders in the next few years must recognize that the traditional way we help Americans get ahead - by creating macroeconomic growth - is no longer guarenteed to improve the lives of every day people BECAUSE IT DID NOT WORK SO FAR IN THIS DECADE.

3) Given the enormity of this challenge, we here at NDN hope that helping Americans get ahead in this much more competitive world becomes the central focus of the elections this year. In several recent interviews, Senator Obama has said that his three priorities are Iraq, health care and climate change. Not so sure this is the best answer. He needs to be able say that he wants to be judged on whether he can raise Americans' standard of living, and then make doing so the central organizing principle of his campaign and Administration. I think a better response would be "I want to improve the lives of every day Americans who have worked so hard and gotten so little these last few years, and bring the troops home from Iraq." Or something like that.

A risky strategy some might say. For what happens if incomes don't rise? I think we already know the answer to that, as the GOP has shown us in recent years. If the standard of living of Americans don't improve in the next few years, the Democrats should expect to suffer the same fate as the GOP in this decade, and find themselves out of power. Unlike China and Russia, we still are a democracy, and as such, must make the fate of the people of the United States the central focus of our politics...

Obama's Website for the General?

The Obama campaign has made some tweaks for the second time to its campaign website. The latest iteration is much more subtle than the first revamp during the primary process, which included an entirely redesigned site, but seems to be their site of choice to take them through the general election. Below are the new things I noticed about the site on first appearance. If I've missed or incorrectly pointed something out, please let me know!

  • Banner header: The top image of the website has changed slightly. You now see an American flag in the shape of the Obama logo weaved in and two of the campaign's critical action items, donate and find an event, are situated on top of one another. Also, the quote and image of Obama changes (hit refresh a few times) between his first quote about bringing change to Washington and a new quote about his agenda. I imagine this will rotate to reflect the policies Obama is focusing on.
  • Log-in bar: Atop the banner header is a new log-in feature where users can log into their account (or MyBO as they call it). This makes the online community an even more prominent feature on the site, so I'm sure they expect it to continue to play a large role in the campaign.
  • Featured content box: The featured content box now cycles through horizontally, allowing the image in the box to be much bigger and more prominent. Also, I'm wondering if there will be synchronization between the featured policy and the quote in the banner. For example, I wonder if, when the Obama campaign wants to highlight its immigration policy, it will coincide with a quote at the top on the same issue. Just a thought.
  • The Obama brand: A general observation is that pictures of Obama are starting to change at key places. Where before he was superimposed in front of a graphic of crowds, emphasizing his movement, the pictures now are beginning to be superimposed on top of more traditional symbols like American flags.
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