Barack Obama

Towards Florida and Michigan primaries in June

Could we be headed towards early June Florida and Michigan primaries? How to pay? Governor Dean could ask all Democrats to chip in $25 and raise a quick $25 million. The two states themselves should chip in whatever remains, up to half the costs. If the primaries are scheduled for that first week in June it is possible for the nomination process to be over and a nominee picked by the traditional end time, early June, and allow the Democrats to end with lots of attention on two critical general election states.

Gvoernor Dean released this statement yesterday:

"We're glad to hear that the Governors of Michigan and Florida are willing to
lend their weight to help resolve this issue. As we've said all along, we
strongly encourage the Michigan and Florida state parties to follow the rules,
so today's public overtures are good news. The rules, which were agreed to by
the full DNC including representatives from Florida and Michigan over 18 months ago, allow for two options. First, either state can choose to resubmit a plan and run a party process to select delegates to the convention; second, they can wait until this summer and appeal to the Convention Credentials Committee, which determines and resolves any outstanding questions about the seating of delegates. We look forward to receiving their proposals should they decide to submit new delegate selection plans and will review those plans at that time. The Democratic Nominee will be determined in accordance with party rules, and out of respect for the presidential campaigns and the states that did not violate party rules, we are not going to change the rules in the middle of the game.

"Through all the speculation, we should also remember the
overwhelming enthusiasm and turnout that we have already seen, and respect the voters of the ten states who have yet to have their say.

"As we head towards November, our nominee must have the united support of a strong Democratic Party that's ready to fight and ready to beat John McCain. After
seven years of Republican rule, I am confident that we will elect a Democratic
president who will fight for America's families in the White House. Now we must
hear from the voters in twelve states and territories who have yet to make their
voices heard."

Clinton Rising, Part 2

In my post yesterday afternoon, prior to the results last night, I wrote about the structural changes taking place in the Democratic race and the resulting big shift towards Senator Clinton.

The Clinton mo' continues today. After her big wins last night, the two national tracks we follow show continued, substantial movement towards her and away from Senator Obama. Gallup now has it 48% Clinton, 44% Obama, changed from 45%-45% yesterday. Rasmussen now also shows a similar spread, 48%-43%.

While Senator Obama holds a substantial and significant lead in the delegates, Senator Clinton is now in command of this race in a way I'm not sure we've seen since the voting began. Obama has a chance to change the narrative with WY and MS in the next week, but we are seeing the evolution of a very different moment in the campaign now.

I will have more to say about it all a little later.

Update: TPM Election Central projects that Senator Clinton will net out 10 more delegates last night than Senator Obama.

Update 2: Once again, Jonathan Alter over at Newsweek does the delegate math, and it still favors Obama.

Update 3: Texas. Kos writes it looks like Obama will win more delegates in Texas than the good Senator from New York. Does this mean he won Texas, and that he and Senator Clinton split the two big states last night?

Millennials Makeover the Four Ms of Politics

With the showdown primaries on March 4 over and the outcome of at least the Democratic contest still to be finally decided, it is a good time to point out what the 2008 primary campaigns have already made clear about the future of American politics. After this year, the four basic elements of any campaign-Messenger, Message, Media and Money-will never be the same. Those candidates who have adjusted all four of these dials and tuned them to Millennial Generation sensibilities and behaviors have been the most successful candidates in both party's primaries.

Millennials, those Americans born between 1982 and 2003, are the most diverse generation in American history. Forty percent of them are African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American or of some other mix of races and ethnicities. And twenty percent come from an immigrant family. A candidate like Barack Obama, whose bi-racial family and generational roots extend from slave owners in America to Kenyan goat herders and social workers in Indonesia, is not an oddity in their minds but has the model background for an American leader.

Eighty percent of Millennials have done some sort of community service in high school. . Eighty-five percent believe that directly contributing something to the community is an important way to improve it. When Senator Obama traces his experience to his days as a community organizer in Chicago, older generations tend to dismiss it as posturing and beside the point in gaining the experience required to government work. Millennials, by contrast, consider community service just the kind of experience they would like to to put on their resume when they apply for a job. Discounting its importance sounds to them like a dismissal of their own accomplishments. Indeed an examination of the biographies of many of the winning Democratic challengers in the 2006 Congressional elections shows this same penchant on the part of new voters to value a career of service over one spent learning the inner workings of the legislative process. It's also a reason why Senator McCain's service to his country in Vietnam and his stay in the Hanoi Hilton attracts rather than repels this new generation of voters, in spite of the attempts of a feminist icon of the 1960s to minimize the importance of that service.

Millennials have been taught since their parents first sat them down to watch Barney that the best way to approach problems is to find a solution that works for everyone in the group---since everyone is just as good and important as everyone else. The confrontational style of Baby Boomer candidates like Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney strikes them as rude, enough to earn them a time out until they learn how to play nice. By contrast, the unifying message of Barack Obama who suggests, somewhat naively to the ears of older voters, that his solution to the problems of America will be to get everyone around the table to work things out for the good of the country is exactly in tune with the way Millennials have been taught to solve problems. When John McCain distanced himself from Bill Cunningham's typical talk radio ideological rant, he earned the enmity of many of Cunningham's colleagues. But he spoke directly to Millennials who are looking for candidates who refuse to engage in that kind of name-calling.

But McCain, like all of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates (with the possible exception of Fred Thompson) , remained unable to embrace the social networking technologies that are the lifeblood of Millennials' daily lives. Having their children text friends sitting in the same car or "friending" people they barely know on MySpace are common Millennial behaviors that drive parents crazy. But the two most important possessions of any Millennial are their cell phone and their laptop, devices that allow them to stay connected to the Net 24/7. That type of peer-to-peer communication is the center of Barack Obama's media strategy. It has been the key to the organizational strength that Obama has demonstrated in caucuses across the country. Political pundits who still follow the news on the television news shows or in the newspapers don't see the enormous volume of personal communication being generated on, built on the same operating system as FaceBook, until the electoral results once again seem to stun them on any given Tuesday night. Having ceded the lead in peer-to peer-media to the Democrats, especially Obama, rather than almost totally relying on older technologies, like talk radio and slick television commercials, the Republicans risk losing as badly in 2008 as they did to an earlier master of a new communication media, FDR, with his soothing radio voice, in 1932.

The same online engine that is generating all of the offline , grass roots enthusiasm for Obama is also raising money for his campaign in unprecedented ways and in unimaginable amounts. With one million of his friends on his website, Obama has now raised more money from more people than any candidate in American political history. Obama's use of this new media with appeals for small donations almost drove the Clinton campaign into bankruptcy and is likely to create a similar untenable disadvantage for John McCain in the general election. Ironically, it was McCain who first demonstrated the power of the Net to raise a lot of money fast in his aborted 2000 campaign. But that was long before broadband and social networks being accessed continuously all day long became the way of life for so many young voters. Now McCain and his party are forced to attempt to shame Obama into using public financing in the general election. That may be the only way they can avoid the kind of monetary deficits that Democrats and the federal government have experienced in the past.

The outcome of the Democratic contest, let alone the general election campaign is not pre-ordained. Events over the next eight months can cause public opinion to change direction. But the relative ease with which Barack Obama has woven a tightly knit strategy based on a new approach to what the profile of a Presidential candidate should look like; the fundamental appeal the candidate should make to the voters; the way that appeal should be communicated to all voters, but especially young ones; and the resources such an approach can bring to a campaign, makes his candidacy the most likely to succeed, with one possible exception. Hillary Clinton's success in most large states so far suggests that this new alignment of the four Ms of American politics has yet to be fully tested in campaigns requiring more complex organizational efforts over a longer period of time. In Silicon Valley terminology, it is not yet certain that this new configuration of the four Ms can "scale" to the size required to win a national campaign. Both the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania and the general election fight to come should provide the final test of this new approach to political campaigning and definitively establish a new formula for victory in the coming decades.

Morley Winograd and Michael Hais are the co-authors of a brand new book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics. Come see them at NDN's event on March 12th, "A Moment of Transformation?"

Clinton rising

We all have our favorite polls. Mine has been the daily Gallup track. Today's track now has it 45%-45% Obama-Clinton, down from 50%-42% Obama-Clinton just two nights ago.

As we head into these critical contests tonight this poll and many others indicate that the Democratic race is going through some kind of structural change, and that the momentum is swinging towards Senator Clinton. I've been asked many times over the last few days why. And I will admit I simply don't know - there didn't appear to be a single large event that could have shifted the race this much. But shift it has, and as of tonight it sure appears that we have a new race on our hands.

Update 1: Rasmussen's Daily Track shows similar movement.

Update 2: Over at Daily Kos Markos offers an interesting take on what the Obama strategy might look like after tonight.

Update 3: Jonathan Alter makes a powerful case that even if Senator Clinton has a good night tonight and begins to capture new found mo', that delegate math makes it neigh impossible for her to pull this thing out. A test of this new mo' will come quick in both Wyoming Saturday and Mississipi next Tuesday.

Update 4: Josh Marshall and his site Talking Points Memo have done a great job of covering the efforts of the conservative Canadian government to inject themselves into the American election, a rather remarkable event. Keep reading his blog to stay on top of this developing story, and check out their most recent piece here.

Update 5: The battleground states. In the fall there are currently 9 states that will likely be the true battleground - CO, FL, IA, MO, NH, NM, NV, OH and VA. Obama has won CO, IA, MO, VA. Clinton NH, NM, NV and now OH. Each candidate has won 4 of the true general election battlegrounds, with Florida yet to have a legitimate content. So this claim by Clinton that she has won where it counts the most seems a little bit of a stretch, though Ohio and Texas were big big wins tonight.

Update 6. The delegates. Kos's first cut has Senator Clinton picking up to between 1 and 5 more delegates last night than Senator Obama. We will have more on this later today.

Lone Star-Buckeye Ad Finale

As we near the March 4th primaries, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are hoping to end their campaigns on a strong footing by hitting the airwaves. Aside from "Children", her now infamous ad that caused quite a stir, Senator Clinton is finishing strongly with "Partner" and "True", which is below:

Then there are Obama's ads. He responds to Senator Clinton's "Children" with "Ringing". Obama can afford deep saturation, airing "Safe", "Moving", and "Leader", which is below. Note: "Leader" is the first two-minute ad Obama has aired since Iowa. A lot of us wondered why he didn't air one in New Hampshire. Perhaps he learned his lesson, as some version of "Leader" will air in Texas and Ohio.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

A new kind of ad by Barack

To see a whole new kind of 21st century political ad check out the new Obama ad on the main page of the Dallas Morning News running this morning. Don't know how long it will be up there so go now - and it will be hard to miss.

For more on how to use a new whole new generation of tools to improve your capacity to advocate visit the New Politics Institute and our "New Tools" campaign there.

The battle for Ohio and Texas

A Sunday NYTimes piece by Adam Nagourney takes a look at the final strategies and tactics of the two campaigns in the all-important home stretch in Ohio and Texas.

Be sure to note the success the Obama campaign has had it with its google ads, something we talk a great deal about at our affiliate, the New Politics Institute.

Update - Remember California. As I look at Obama's small lead in the final round of Texas polls, I am reminded of California and the excellent campaign the Clinton campaign has run this year in the Hispanic community (from ads to issues to surrogates). Most of the final CA polls had Obama ahead or very close in California. But driven by a huge performance of Hispanics, a group difficult to poll, Senator Clinton won the state by ten points.

Could this pattern repeat in Texas? Could Hispanics deliver her another essential win? And what happens if she wins the popular vote and he the delegates? Going to be a fascinating night on Tuesday.

Update 1 - Two new polls out Sunday have OH and TX too close to call, with Clinton up 4 in OH and Obama up 1 in TX. Tuesday is going to be quite a night.

Update 2: A national AP piece on this consequential battle closes with this passage:

"The Clinton campaign clearly has much more money than they had before, but they are still being dramatically outspent by Obama," said Simon Rosenberg, head of [NDN], a think tank. "And things don't seem to be trending their way and they don't have a lot of tools to deal with it anymore."

More incredible numbers out of Texas

A Kos diarist has yet another report on the huge early vote numbers out of Texas. In the 15 largest counties there has been historic levels of turnout, and 3 times as many Democrats have voted as Republicans.

This year has seen record numbers of voters, record amounts of money and record numbers of citizens participating in the process - all of course wildly favoring Democrats so far.

If the Obama Feb money rumors are true - over $40 million - Senator Obama will have raised as much money in Feb as Senator McCain did in all of 2007. For more on this new age of citizen-led politics, check out the video of Joe Trippi and I at our recent forum on politics.

Obama's lead grows

Looking at the rash of new national polls there is no doubt now that we find significant movement towards Obama this week. The CBS/Times poll had him ahead of Senator Clinton by 16 points, the USA/Gallup had it 11, the new Rasmussen has it at 9, and the daily Gallup track, which had it even now has Obama up 5 - 48/43 - two days in a row. The last 3 TX polls have him up mid-single digits, and while she leads in OH and PA those leads have shrunk to 4-5 points.

In the last week or so, there has been a structural shift in the race with Obama now definititively ahead by 5-10 points. On Feb 5th he trailed by 14. So there has been at least a 20 point shift in the race over the last few weeks.

What does this mean for Tuesday? Obama now leads by his largest margin, and while it looks awfully good for him, this election has shown that almost anything is possible.

Fri Update: Today's Gallup Daily Track has it now 49-42 Obama up from 48-43 earlier this week. More evidence of movement in his direction.

Debate reaction

Obama continues to improve as a debater. Tonight, for the first time in a debate, he appeared Presidential. He has become more commanding, more self confident, more experienced in handling tough questions. He has come out of this thing a much better candidate than he went into it, and appears ready to tackle the next phase of the campaign. I thought he was awfully good.

I thought Hillary had a tough night. As always she showed flashes of what many love about her. She was smart, knowledgable, strong. But at times tonight she seemed off, emotionally off kilter, a little angry and even wierdly petty. Last week was one of her best debate performances. Tonight one of her, well, not so best.

There is simply no way this debate stopped Obama's momentum tonight, meaning that next Tuesday may be a hard night for the Clinton campaign.

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