I need your help today

As a friend of NDN, you know we only ask for money when we really need it. And today is one of those days. We need your help today both to end this political season strongly and to move immediately to build for the future and engage in what will be a critical period in our nation's history.  

Your support will help us expand our powerful, Spanish-language media campaigns – running since May – at this pivotal time.

But while the elections are drawing to a close, as an advocacy organization, our primary mission is to fight for our optimistic agenda, and that work will continue with new intensity on November 8th.

Your support today will ensure that NDN will have the resources to work closely with our allies on the Hill and across the nation to engage, advocate, and help shape the direction of the nation at this extraordinarily important time. Your support will allow us to:

  1. Make one final push with our multi-state, Spanish-language media campaigns, and develop additional modern strategies to successfully engage the fastest growing part of the American population, Hispanics.
  2. Fight for our communities shared values and core principles, best embodied by NDN's optimistic, innovative and effective agenda, A Commitment to Hope and Progress
  3. Develop and advocate for a new strategy to ensure broad-based prosperity in a changing global era, as well as bring our vital daily commentary on the affairs of the nation to more people through strategic investments in our marketing capacity.
  4. Work with our allies to deal with the challenges left unmet by conservative government, to enact Federal legislation to raise the minimum wage and create a sensible solution to the immigration challenge.
  5. Continue to imagine and invest in next generation progressive institutions, like the Democracy Alliance, Democracy Journal and Media Matters.
  6. Help progressives master the ever-changing and exciting new tools offered by advances in new media and technology, and work towards a new 21st century progressive majority coalition, though our widely-heralded market research and studies on the new demography of America.

I am proud of how far we’ve come and how much we have achieved. Now, we must work hard together to seize this historic opportunity to restore the promise of this great nation that we love. I hope you’ll join us in that work, today.

Rothenberg Says Odds Are Dems Will Take Senate

The latest Rothenberg ratings are out. With normal warnings about chickens, hatching, counting, and so forth, its very good news. Here are some key quotes:

  • The Senate: "While Senate control is in doubt, with Democrats most likely to win from 5 to 7 seats, we do not think the two sides have an equal chance of winning a majority in the Senate. Instead, we believe that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate."
  • The House: "Going into the final days before the 2006 midterm elections, we believe the most likely outcome in the House of Representatives is a Democratic gain of 34 to 40 seats, with slightly larger gains not impossible. This would put Democrats at between 237 and 243 seats, if not a handful more, giving them a majority in the next House that is slightly larger than the one the Republicans currently hold. If these numbers are generally correct, we would expect a period of GOP finger-pointing and self-flagellation after the elections, followed by a considerable number of Republican House retirements over the next two years."
  • Governors: "With Republican seats like Idaho, Alaska, and Nevada in play for state-specific reasons, and Minnesota vulnerable to a Democratic wave, the ceiling for possible Democratic gains is high. We have narrowed our earlier projection from Democratic gains of 6-10 to 7-9." 

Two Excellent "Where Are We At" Roundups.

A really excellent, heartening update on the polls from Ruy Teixeira over the equally excellent, data-rich Democratic strategist blog. Its very rich, but this is the gist of his points; 

When I last checked in about the state of the race--about ten days ago--things looked pretty good for the Democrats. Now they look even better..... Take the generic congressional contest, for example. In the nine polls finished since 10/20 that are listed on PollingReport.com, the Democrats' average lead is 14 points......National polls continue to confirm a very wide lead for Democrats among independent voters.... The Pew data show huge swings toward the Democrats among many important voter groups including seniors, middle income voters, non-college educated voters, whites, rural residents, married moms, white Catholics--the list goes on and on. In effect, these shifts have turned yesterday's swing voters into Democratic groups and many of yesterday's Republican groups into swing voters.... The political scientists' forecasting model prediction of 32 seats doesn't see so far-fetched in light of these data.....the GOP turnout machine is overrated and is simply not capable of turning defeat into victory in the manner alleged by GOP operatives.....

And - getting completely ahead of ourselves for a minute - the sage political analyst Larry Sabato raises the prospect of a shut out, in which Republicans win nothing at all. And as someone who works in Virginia, i'm taking as significant the fact that Sabato is tipping Jim Webb over George Allen too.

Virginia - Toss-up - Jim Webb (D) will unseat Sen. George Allen (R). Of course we're not counting him out altogether, but Allen's slow self-destruction has been nothing short of breathtaking, and we at the Crystal Ball are still somewhat shocked to find ourselves at the epicenter of the fight for the Senate....

The whole post is excellent, and worth reading. 

Only Obama trails Clinton on '08 list

According to a new CNN poll, Sen. Barack Obama trails only Sen. Hillary Clinton on the list of potential Democratic candidates in 2008. The not-so-surprising results show Sen. Obama, who received 17 percent from registered Democrats, trailing Sen. Clinton, who received 28 percent (down from 38 percent in September).

The poll showed former Vice President Al Gore, former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts (in that order) following the pack of first-tier candidates. Rounding out the rest were Sen. Evan Bayh, Sen. Joseph Biden, Sen. Russ Feingold, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack who are all in the low single digits.

This shouldn't come as much of a shock. Given the intense media coverage around his book tour (the Time magazine cover story, his Oprah appearance, etc.), Sen. Obama has been everywhere. A role he seems to have adjusted to quite well, he continues to challenge statements most politicos previously considered fact. Only time will tell whether he will find as much success with the challenge these results present: Sen. Clinton.

(For an interesting read on how the GOP might enjoy an Obama run, check this article out.) 

Election Blogging in the UK

A few of you might have picked up from my unusually vowel-filled spelling and odd choice of vocabulary that not everyone here at NDN is 100% American born. Let it never be said this organization is not generous in support for immigrants of all sorts. Anyway, i've been writing about the election in a few places back home in the UK, and thought i might link to them. (Full disclosure: i write these in an individual capacity, and do not speak for NDN as a whole in any sense whatsoever.) Yesterday i had a piece on the Guardian site about the whole unfortunate Kerry brouhaha. The gist of my piece was in the headline - "Kerry's gaffe was cringe-making, but the response of the Republican attack dogs shows how bankrupt the Bush administration now is." Quote:

Iraq is going to hell in a hand basket. The median American family is more than $1,000 a year worse off than it was in 2000. American health care is broken. The country is falling in the world education rankings. Global warming is going to hobble the world economy, if not end life on earth. And the Republicans really think they can win an election by attacking John Kerry? One is reminded of the tawdry fictional dictators of Huxley or Orwell, always tilting at imaginary enemies to motivate the people and bolster their crumbling regimes. There could be no more telling epitaph for the failure of conservative governance.

I'm also blogging over at the Progress blog. Progress is, basically, the British equivalent of NDN. Its what we over the pond would call a "ginger group" for the Blarite wing of the Labour Party of which i consider myself a member. Anyway, here is the latest, on the under-reported news of the Senate actually being in play following positive polls from Virginia:

Anyway, if I read the polls correctly, it is now just possible that the Democrats could win all of their competitive Senate races bar Tennessee. Doing this would take back the Senate. Is it likely? No, I think probably not. We have the turnout issue. We have the GOP's kick-ass GOTV issue. We have the Republican financial advantage issue. And we have the possibility of some other big news event coming Kerry-style and ruining another few days of the news cycle. But we must remember that if these races go into election roughly even, theory and history expect late-breaking and independent voters to go 2:1 for change.

If anyone thinks there is something about these elections my fellow limeys need to know, drop me a line........

A Warning on The Turnout Issue

Talk is turning to turnout this week, and the issue of motivation has been popping up. Ken Mellman recently put out a memo saying that there wasn't a motivation gap, and that the Republican base is as fired up as ever. Common sense suggests this is unlikely. Time will tell. Nonetheless, there is a danger that the turnout figure overall will be taken as some sort of proxy for a measure of voter enthusiasm. For instance, in low turnout polls where Democrats don't win, expect turnout to be blamed on "democrats who had nothing to vote for", or somethign similar. For that reason this piece, hidden away on the Washington Post's "Think Tank town" section, is a very useful corrective. It argues sensibly that turnout is going to be down - way down - not just on 2004 but on 1994 and other congressional years. Why? At least part of it will be the fault of Republican redistricting, which has significantly reduced the number of competitive districts. (Turnout is lower if voters don't think they influence the outcome.) But part of it is just the way the cycle has panned out. Arnold looks very likely to win in CA, while the word "win" doesn't really do justice to the spanking that Elliot Spitzer is meeting out to whoever his Republican opponent is in New York. The fact of these two states having no state wide competitive race will depress national turnout considerably. 

The fault is not on the voters; people's lives are busy, and a rational person will abstain when their vote does not matter to the election outcome. The political parties also are sensitive to competition and focus their limited resources where elections are competitive... The old adage of "build it and they will come" is relevant. All but hardcore sports fans tune out a blowout. Building competitive elections -- and giving voters real choices -- will do much to increase voter turnout in American politics. There are a number of reforms on the table: redistricting to create competitive districts, campaign financing to give candidates equal resources, and even altering the electoral system to fundamentally change how a vote elects representatives....

As a foreigner in this country, it has always seemed to me that the American system of politicized redistricting (as opposed to the impartial quasi-judicial system in most European countries) is little short of crazy. Here is just one more reason why. Lets hope someone fixes it before there aren't any competitive races left. 


Bush weighs in on Barack?

There is speculation from the Chicago Tribune Blog on whether or not President Bush was referring to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) when he said there are people currently conducting themselves as if they’ve already received the votes needed to validate their star status. During Wednesday's press conference, the President said:

And we've got good candidates running hard. And we're going to win. Now, I know that defies conventional wisdom here. I'm not suggesting anybody in this august crowd has determined the outcome of the election already, but they're running profiles on who this person is going to be running this office, or this one that's going to be -- magazines have got all kinds of new stars emerging when they haven't won the votes yet.

This seems to be an interesting critique, given the advice he gave to Senator Obama, which is noted in the Senator’s book, Audacity of Hope:

You've got a bright future. Very bright. But I've been in this town awhile and, let me tell you, it can be tough. When you get a lot of attention like you've been getting, people start gunnin' for ya. And it won't necessarily just be coming from my side, you understand. From yours, too. Everybody'll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.

Why does no one talk about climate change?

At the risk of cross-posting, I am currently engaged in a spirted debate with the head of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, about the role Climate Change isn't playing in the elections.

My original argument was simple. These elections present a great American climate-change puzzle. Fertile conditions - the energy debate itself, gas prices, progressive Californian policies, Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, overwhelming scientific evidence, and more - should have pushed climate change onto the agenda. They have not. And I claimed, somewhat gingerly, that no one is joining the dots because of the way that Democrats have difficulty talking openly about issues that excite their base........But what sort of progressive politics exist when the Democratic Party doesn't campaign on climate change, but the president of the Christian Coalition and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals do?

I find the lack leadership on this issue puzzling, and something we as progressives have to begin to deal with in the run-in to 2008. This election is evidence that even threat of planetary catastrophe is not enough to make Americans talk about climate change at election time. It is simply not enough to hope that Al Gore will run, and bring the issue with him. And who is the only politician of stature to consistently mention it? Well, whadayaknow?

Obama sounded like a national candidate, but neither he nor the other speakers who lavished praise on him directly referred to his presidential bid. Obama sketched in a platform that calls for changes in the nation's Iraq policy and improvements in health care, education, climate change and other concerns.

Bottom line. Its so simple. Saving the planet is a winning issue for Democrats. End of story. Lets start behaving like that.

What a week

Simon just sent out the e-mail below, highlighting the extraordinarily strong week NDN had. Lots of press hits and interviews, with more to come.


Its been an incredible week here at NDN. A wave of enthusiasm is breaking right now and I can feel it in the excitement here in Washington. Nowhere is that clearer than in the debate over immigration. Today's LA Times article "Immigration galvanizes Latino voters" is a validation of the argument we've been making at NDN for the past two years: engaging the Hispanic community and supporting comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do morally, legislatively and politically.

Just as progressives stand to gain from the work we've done reaching out to this community, conservatives are about to pay a serious political price. Treating immigration as one more wedge issue that can be used to divide Americans was a huge political miscalculation. Here is how the LA Times put it:

"There's been a civic awakening," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, which has spent close to $2 million on Latino outreach for this election. Rosenberg points to in-house polls that show the immigration debate has made 54% of Latinos more likely to vote. "That's a significant shift," he said. "If Democrats make investments in this community, the benefits will be extraordinary."

At the same time, we've taken the fight to our opponents. Yesterday, NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center Senior Advisor Maria Cardona debated immigration with Patrick Buchanan on MSNBC. Not an easy task, but Maria more than held her own. And Wednesday, I was on NPR's Morning Edition discussing immigration reform and C-SPAN taking calls alongside the leader of an anti-immigration group.

Even David Brooks is agreeing with us. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then NDN's meta-narrative about the new politics is receiving a lot of flattery this week. Brooks' op-ed in the New York Times mirrors our own argument that conservatism as a governing philosophy is dead: "This election is a period, not a comma in political history."

Also this week, New Politics Institute Director Peter Leyden has been featured in MSNBC and on the front page of MYDD.com talking about how progressives can use Google and search technology to more effectively communicate our message. NPI's vision for a progressive movement that embraces the new technology and new tools is really taking off and changing how we practice politics.

At this critical moment we may not have time to catch our collective breath, but I hope you'll take a minute to enjoy the momentum that is building behind the NDN family and the entire progressive movement.



Listen to Simon talk about NDN's "Condi Come Clean" campaign with Sam Seder on AirAmerica
"Democrats won't count votes before they're cast" (Washington Times, October 25, 2006)
"A Proliferation of political spoof sites"
(MSNBC, October 11, 2006)


Simon on C-SPAN and Air America

Wake up early and watch Simon on C-SPAN tomorrow at 8:00am.  He'll be talking about immigration and taking phone calls.

And at 10:30am Simon will on the Sam Seder Show on Air America Radio discussing NDN's Campaign to Get Condi to Come Clean

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