Barack Obama

Does the GOP Have a Future With Hispanics?

On this Sunday's meet the press, Senator Mel Martinez acknowledged that the way the national Republican Party has demonized Hispanics these past few years may make it in impossible for their Party to win Presidential elections for years to come. MTP quoted NDN and Simon, "If the Republicans don't make their peace with Hispanic voters, they're not going to win presidential elections anymore. The math just isn't there." This back and forth has now put tremendous public pressure on the GOP to turn around the full-on condemnation of their party among Hispanics. The GOP could help itself avoid political annihilation by abandoning the stance seen by many as a level of racial intolerance unacceptable in a new age of Obama, and by working with President-elect Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform ASAP. This moment may really be a game-changer for both parties.

Let's not forget, Obama's victory among Hispanics may still be short-lived if he does not follow through on his promises to this community - as stated by Dan Schnur, Republican strategist: "Candidates don't cause realignments, presidents do. Candidate Obama has certainly created the conditions for potential realignment, but it's going to be up to President Obama to govern in a way that can make that happen." And that means passing immigration reform during his first year. Hispanics are not forgetting about his promise - on this Sunday's Al Punto, Jorge Ramos asked all his guests about the prospects of immigration reform. He asked Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ): Will [Obama] fulfill the promise he's made to Hispanics to pass immigration reform? Polls show that people care about the economy, education, etc. but the issue of immigration is still at the forefront for the Hispanic community....This is a big promise, how will he do it? Sen. Menendez responded that Barack Obama has remained steadfast on immigration since his votes for reform last summer. 

Rep. Luis Gutierrez was also asked and noted, "Barack Obama owes his victory to the large Hispanic turnout," as Obama invested more resources in reaching out to this community than Kerry and Bush together in 2004. When asked, "Can he fulfill this promise, or is it just rhetoric?" Luis Gutierrez reported that he has already spoken to Obama staff and that he is already working to strategize how to move on immigration reform, "It's really important to fulfill those promises," that's why on November 15 Rep. Gutierrez is holding a rally and inviting all U.S. citizens who know of undocumented persons to demand action - "We have to continue putting pressure on the administration." And Republican Mario Diaz-Balart agreed, although he opposes Sen. Obama's stance on Cuba policy, etc., he agreed to work to pass immigration reform alongside Rep. Gutierrez.

An article in the Politico today discusses how all "Dem groups" are claiming the win for Barack Obama - the truth is that while Hispanics are still not a "Dem" group, it is undeniable that it was Hispanics - the ultimate swing electorate - who delivered key battleground states like IN, NM, and FL for Barack Obama, and allowed for a sizeable lead in CO and NV due to their numbers in those states and because they held record shares of the electorate. "Without the Latino vote, we would not have won those states," said Federico Pena, national co-chairman of the Obama campaign. And Hispanics were also influential in Obama's victory in Virginia and North Carolina.

For their part, Republicans must decide how to become part of the 21st century if their party is to survive. The immigrant-issues coalition is expanding to include other ethnicities. Mercury News reports, this election was not only an appreciation for Obama's multicultural upbringing, but also a rejection of the Republican-led "demonization" of immigrants, particularly of Hispanic and Muslim backgrounds, in recent years. John McCain could help his party in this regard, at least alleviating some of the strongest negative feelings towards the Republican Party by supporting comprehensive immigration reform in 2009.  Beto Cardenas, former counsel to Kay Bailey Hutchinson: "When we have laws that make it easier to get that labor legally, it will be easier to enforce the laws. Such reform could also protect the rights of the workers, who too frequently are subject to exploitation because they are afraid to report abuses...I think there's a will to address the issue if it can be shown it enhances the economic health of the country," he said.

The Reinvention of the Presidency, Continued

NDN appears in some stories today which further explore an idea we've begun discussing over the last few weeks - how the tools candidate Obama used to reinvent how a Presidential campaign is run will be used to reinvent the Presidency. You can find more on this subject, including a video essay I posted on Friday that takes a more extended look at all this exciting opportunity. 

Check out these new stories in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Houston Chronicle, and an Agence-France Press story, running throughout the world, including on America's number one news site, Yahoo News.  It contains this passage which will give you a sense of what we might expect:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Barack Obama's Internet-savvy campaign team will revolutionize White House communications like late president Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) did with the radio, according to NDN think tank president Simon Rosenberg.

"Senator Obama just ran the first true campaign of the 21st Century using these internet tools to help organize his supporters and fight on a new battlefied of modern politics, said the veteran of former president Bill Clinton's 1992 election campaing.

"He reivented the model of advocacy," he added of the Indiana Senator who on Tuesday won became the first US black president elect.

Obama's campaign team used the Web to organize volunteers and in fundraising, dealing a decisive victory over his Republican rival John McCain, who resorted to more traditional methods of communications.

Rosenberg said the incoming US administration had significantly revamped political communications in the country and lowered the barrier to entry into politics for everyday people.

"It allows a much more meaningful participation by our citizens in their politics and democracy. We saw an enormous surge of civic participation in America this year, in terms of people giving money and voting.

"All future campaigns in America will be run on this people-based internet model Obama ran," he said.

He said the use of modern 21st-century tools will bring "an enormous reinvention" of the US presidency, as the radio did in the first half of the last century.

"FDR was using the radio in a very powerful way to establish his power in his country. In the US, now, every Saturday morning the president does a radio address.

"My assumption is that it will now be a Youtube address that will be translated in the principal languages of the world: Spanish, French, Arabic, Farsi and others.

"This way (the president) will be adressing not only his own citizens but the citizens of the world.

Rosenberg said the new technology will not only change the relationship betwen the US president and his own people, "it is going to change the American relationship to all the world ...

"It's going to be exciting to some governments, not so exciting to others."

As to whether the White House will be setting an example for other democracies to follow, Rosenberg predicted first there would be "a period of massive experimentation not only in the US but also in the rest of the world.

"Every elected leader in the world is going to want to try to use these tools at their own advantage there is no doubt about this.

"David Cameron, the leader of the Tories (in Britain), has done amazing YouTube videos way more creative than anything anybody in the US has done," Rosenberg said.

Obama to Reinvent the Presidency

Over the past weeks, NDN has been looking at the ways that the Obama campaign used technology to help them win. But we've also been thinking about the ways that an Obama administration is likely to use technology to govern: Simon and Joe trippi discussed this at our Election Forum last week, Simon is quoted on this issue in the Washington Times and the National Journal's Tech Daily Dose this week, and I pondered these questions in my New Tools Feature last week. Here are some of Simon's thoughts about the revolution that is about to take place in political communication and the way government interacts with its constituents:

NDN Shapes Analysis in Mexico of U.S. Election

As noted by Dan, NDN's narrative has been shaping analysis of the election, not only in the U.S., but in Mexico and elsewhere. The newspaper of largest circulation in Mexico (along with Reforma), El Universal, has followed NDN's analysis of the Hispanic vote in this election. In June, Alejandro Meneses published a piece on NDN's findings, contained in Hispanics Rising, and on Andres's analysis of the role of immigration in this election. In September, Jaime Hernandez wrote about the candidates' courtship of Hispanics and noted Simon's point that "John McCain gave in to the right wing of his party and abandoned support of his own [immigration] legislation." Jaime also cited our analysis and projections in late October. Finally, Wilbert Torreenviado of El Universal, and Mauricio Ferrer of La Jornada (another major national newspaper) have both published NDN's preliminary analysis of the Hispanic Vote and reported our narrative of Obama's new 21st century coalition and the new generation of politics that has been born with this campaign.

The World Reacts to Barack Obama

The world
was definitely watching as the results of the U.S. elections came in. In Latin America - the news of Obama's victory, and even Congressional races, were all over the press. Looks like NDN's view of the Hispanic electorate has gone global: Spain's major publication, El Pais says: "Latinos Were a Key Force In Obama's Victory," and Mexico's La Jornada reports: "Obama Blows McCain Away Among Latino Voters." Overall, it seems that the U.S. once again (in the words of Bill Clinton) moved the world by the power of its example rather than by an example of its power, and has revived the sentiment of hope and endless possibility in others, for which it is known.

In Mexico, the story of Obama's victory sadly was relegated to the interior of printed press because as Obama's victories were coming in, tragedy hit Mexico - Mexico's Secretary of the Interior, who led the fight against drug cartels, Juan Camilo Mouriño and anti-drug czar José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos were killed in a plan crash, which is under investigation (latest news confirms that U.S. authorities are assisting in this case). In spite of this tragedy, Mexican press did comment a great deal on the election: El Universal reported on Obama celebrations abroad, in Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, etc. where the general sentiment was:

[Translation] Observers, many of them from countries where the idea of a member of a minority group being elected President is unthinkable, expressed surprise and satisfaction at seeing the United States overcome centuries of racial conflict as it elected an African-American as their president. "This shows that the U.S. is a truly diverse and multicultural society, where skin color doesn't matter," said Jason Ge, a student of the University of Pekin in China.

The substance of this statement might be up for debate, but the irrefutable point is that the world looks at the U.S. in a new light today. The Latin American news reports even have some interesting tid bits that had never been reported in U.S., for example, Chile's La Nacion reported on election day celebrations in Kenya, and I learned that Barack Obama's "grandmother" in Kenya is not a blood relative - she is not the mother of Barack's father, but rather the third wife of Barack's grandfather, with whom he had other children.

Argentina's La Nacion showed off its new tools capability, publishing a word cloud of Obama's victory speech (in Spanish) seen below - "Hope,""Moment," "United," and "Country" have the most hits. Also in La Nacion, Congressmen and women outlined their hopes:"We have to observe the composition of the new Congress and strengthen relationships there...we will insist on greater market access in agriculture," and, "We have an opportunity to set aside our prior differences, Obama seems to be predisposed to dialogue and a higher degree of I see a world with greater peace and security." The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this press release on their homepage:

U.S. Elections: [Minister]Taiana affirms that "Obama's victory is a message of hope..."
"Undoubtedly, the victory of a candidate like Barack Obama in the U.S. is a message of hope and proof that a cycle is coming to a close in the world...a cycle dominated by...a politics of unilateralism and the imposition of decisions."

Peru, El Comercio
printed President Alan Garcia's congratulatory letter to Barack, in which he's already inviting Barack to go visit: "We have followed this campaign with interest and admiration, it has demonstrated the vigor of democracy in the United States and the people's decision to support your message of change and hope....We are also assured that during your term our bilateral relationship will continue to become strengthened...Peru, as a country committed to peace, stability and security in our continent, would be honored to greet you. I extend my most cordial invitation for you to visit Peru."

El Comercio also wrote about the excitement of First Minister Yehude Simon in view of Obama's victory, the headline reads: "Simon on Obama's election: ‘It is wonderful what's happened in the United States," and Simon added, "I hope he does not fail us," while he also praised the "lesson on democracy" taught by John McCain through his acceptance speech.

Even in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez sent Obama a congratulatory note, calling suddenly for "a constructive bilateral agenda," because, "From the homeland of Simón Bolívar, we are convinced the time has come to establish new relations between our countries and in our region...," as reported by El Nacional.

Colombia's El Tiempo
reports that this historic election brings great expectations for Barack Obama within and without the U.S., and also discusses McCain's moving concession speech. In the face of such challenges some degree of skepticism remains, as reported by Mexico's La Jornada: "Mexico shouldn't get its hopes up too high with Obama: says expert of the Center of Economic Research." While the Universal's headline read a bit differently, "Obama represents hope for immigrants...Obama as president could mean pride for the foreign-born and hope for a change in their living conditions." So the world writes of hope, making history, transcending race, challenges, opportunity...most importantly, it is in everyone's best interest for the next administration to look more to all these neighbors to the south and work to develop a fundamental change in the U.S.'s view of what constitutes a positive working relationship with Latin America.

The world reacts to Obama’s win


End of the Southern Strategy

One more nail in the coffin of the GOP's southern strategy: Virginia goes blue in 2008. NDN has long discussed the impending downfall of the Southern Strategy as the demography of traditionally "red" states changes to reflect the 21st century composition of the country.  Before last night, Virginia had voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1952, except in 1964. This year Virginia's Latino voters and immigrant voters played a critical role in winning the state for Democrats. There are about 150,000 registered Latino voters in Virginia (almost twice the number from 2004), and let's not forget that Jim Webb defeated Sen. Allen in 2006 by 10,000 votes. Hispanics comprise 3% of total eligible voters, but last night they accounted for 5% of total voters in Virginia - a state that Obama won by 5% (or close to 155,000 votes). This is another example of Hispanics voting at a higher rate than the general electorate. Could Virginia,with its growing Hispanic and immigrant population, be the next Nevada?

Some Final Thoughts Tonight

- Been spending a lot of time tonight looking at the exits.  Consider this - 47 percent of the vote was men and they voted 49-49.  Women were 53 percent of the electorate (higher than previous years), and they voted 55-43 for Obama.  Wow. There is now doubt now that President-elect Obama was elected by very strong numbers from women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Millennials.  

- The Latino and Millennial numbers were off the charts. Each voted 2:1 for Obama.  Florida which was so close saw the Hispanic vote move from 55-45 Bush/Kerry in 2004, to 57-42 for Obama.  Given this margin it looks like the Hispanics - and even the Cubans - delivered Florida for Barack.  More on this tomorrow.  The Republicans have to be very worried about these numbers.  

- I agree with the commentators that President-Elect Obama's speech was terrific.  He has shifted from campaigner to leader.  His final riff about the 106 year old woman was as good as I've ever seen him.  And yes there is much, much we must do now.

-It is a new day.  Senator Obama won with new tools, a new coalition, a new map, a new and sober approach to new challenges.  A new politics of the 21st century is emerging, and it has its first leader in Barack Obama.  

- I will be writing more tomorrow about the role of race in this election, but I close with this essay I wrote earlier this year, On Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy.

The Dawning of A New Political Age

As our readers are aware NDN has been making an argument for the last several years that a new politics of the 21st century was emerging, one being driven by a new 21st century set of governing challenges, by a new tech and media environment, the emergence of a very different set of demographic realities, and the utter collapse of the conservative movement and Republican Party.  You can elements of this argument in some important stories tonight as we all try to make sense of the historic events unfolding in front of our eyes: 

From a Susan Milligan Boston Globe article tonight:

``It's a new day in Washington. A new political era is coming,'' said Simon Rosenberg, president of the Democratic interest group NDN. ``I don't think we're going to see the restoration of an old political age, but the ushering in of a new age,'' he said. ``They're going to rewrite the rules.'' 

And this one tonight from Wired: 

"The scale and scope of this campaign is unlike anything that we've ever seen before," said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the nonprofit think-tank NDN in Washington, DC, a veteran of President Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. "Compared to our 1992 campaign, this is like a multi-national corporation versus a non-profit."

"He's run a campaign where he's used very modern tools, spoke to a new coalition, talked about new issues, and along the way, he's reinvented the way campaigns are run," he added. "Just like the advent of radio changed the relationship between those that govern and their voters, President Obama will start to reinvent the relationship between American citizens to their President using internet-based tools."

Or this from the Houston Chronicle: 

"This does feel like a game-changing moment in our history," said Simon Rosenberg, head of the Democratic group called NDN. "This is the dawning of a new political day and a 21st-century politics."

Or this from McClatchy:

"The Republican playbook that worked for them for a generation, that's become an anachronism," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network. "There's a new voting population, new coalitions, new issues, new media. The Republicans have been fighting the future. That is one of the reasons why they are in trouble. They've gotten on the wrong side of history." 

Or this from USA Today: 

"We are entering a new political era because the changes that are going on in the country are bigger than just politics," says Simon Rosenberg, president of an advocacy group called the New Democratic Network.

"There's the emergence of a new governing agenda that's very 21st-century in nature, very different from the challenges we faced in the 20th century. There's a new technology and media environment, and we're going through the most profound demographic changes in American history."

Obama was winning the election with "a very 21st-century coalition," Rosenberg says.

Among key voter groups, Obama:

•Swamped McCain by more than 2 to 1 among Americans under 30, members of the huge Millennial generation that are moving into voting age. Four years ago, John Kerry edged George Bush among young people by just 9 percentage points.

Young voters gave Obama the most lopsided advantage for a candidate among any age group since that data became available in the 1976 exit polls.

•Reversed gains Bush had made among Hispanic voters, despite McCain's Southwest roots and work on immigration reform. Obama was carrying Hispanics by more than 2 to 1. Four years ago, Bush won support from 44% of Latinos, the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group.

•Won a majority of women with children, another Bush group four years ago, and widened the Democratic advantage among working women.

•Made inroads among upscale voters, traditionally a Republican stronghold.

Obama and McCain split college graduates, a group that had supported Bush four years ago. And Obama led McCain by 6 percentage points among those with a family income of more than $200,000. Four years ago, Bush won those voters by nearly 2 to 1.

McCain didn't improve the Republicans' standing with any major demographic group, the surveys showed.

He maintained the GOP's lead among seniors, those 65 and older, but lost ground among the white evangelical Christians whose support was critical for Bush four years ago.

The Pictures From Chicago

Are unbelievable.  These images are going to be so powerful throughout the world...and here at home.  I can't believe the size of the crowd there.

Breaking the Cycle

Just a few years ago, I would not have thought this day was possible.

I remember election day in 2004 as one of the worst worst of my life; after watching Bush and his cronies destroy everything they touched for four years, I didn't understand how anyone could vote for him, let alone the majority of the country. It made no sense. It is no exaggeration to say that that day nearly destroyed my faith in our democracy, and as the administration continued to methodically strip away rights and regulations and transform the Judicial branch into an appendage of the Executive, I basically assumed that it was game over, and gave up.

The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor describes what I was feeling as political fragmentation: "the individual citizen is left alone in the face of the vast bureaucratic state and feels, correctly, powerless. This demotivates the citizen even further, and the vicious circle of soft despotism is joined." I felt that there was nothing I could do to change anything, and so I stopped trying.

But the interesting thing about this feedback loop, and the thing that Senator Obama helped me realize, is that as Taylor says, "there is a potential vicious circle here, but we can see how it could also be a virtuous circle. Successful common action can bring a sense of empowerment and also strengthen identification with the political community." Simon has written about Barack Obama's virtuous cycle of participation, and I can personally attest to the truth of that analysis. And I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way; watching the reactions that others have had to Obama's candidacy has been hugely inspiring in itself.

I don't agree with Senator Obama about everything, and I don't think he will single-handedly save American politics. I definitely have no illusions about the enormity of the challenges that still lie ahead on the path of progress. But even so, the simple fact that he is likely to be the next President of the United States makes me believe that real change is at least possible.

And if things don't go well tonight, hey, there's always Costa Rica.

Syndicate content