Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Fall of Rod

Alas, Rod Blagojevich, corrupt soon-to-be-former Governor of Illinois, we hardly knew ye. And it’s probably just as well. Let this be a lesson to us all: never elect a candidate for governor who promises tax cuts on the back of cutting waste in the public universities – such people cannot be trusted. Of course, no one predicted that Governor Blagojevich would go so far as to nakedly try to sell the Senate seat of the President-elect of the United States to the highest bidder, but the point remains.

A few observations:

You have to go back to 1994 for the last time the good people of Illinois elected a governor whose tenure did not end in an arrest for corruption (as seems likely for Rod).

To impeach Blagojevich, the Illinois House of Representatives must investigate the charges against him, then recommend an impeachment trial in the Illinois State Senate. There’s been talk of impeaching Blagojevich for some months in connection with the Tony Rezko business, but it hadn’t gone far - much of it was the usual haziness of state-level corruption changes.

To move forward with the impeachment investigation, the Speaker of the Illinois House would have to create a commitee to do so. Speaker Michael Madigan’s antipathy for Blagojevich is well known, but the matter is complicated somewhat by the fact that Speaker Madigan’s daughter, AG Lisa Madigan, appears to be Senate Candidate Number 2 referred to in the indictment.

Should the committee recommend impeachment, the trial by Senate would take place on the home turf of Emil Jones, the outgoing President of the Senate, an ally of Gov. Blagojevich’s, one-time Obama mentor, and possible Senate appointee himself. The question now, though, is whether Jones was ever in serious consideration, given that his friends may well have been priced out of the market as Blagojevich’s bag-man, Chief of Staff John Harris, tried to shake down the likes of SEIU and Warren Buffet?

So, Blagojevich’s fate now rests with legislative bodies ruled by the father of a now-tainted (and presumably perfectly innocent) Senate appointee-prospect, and an ally whose claim to the Senate is almost certainly hopeless. Resigning now might be less painful.

Final point: Ben Smith reports that this morning’s arrests may have been the result of swift action by Rahm Emmanuel, responding himself to a shakedown attempt. All right and proper on Rahm’s part, of course, but here’s a thought – having taken down Rod Blagojevich, elevated Bill Richardson to Commerce and Janet Napolitano to DHS, and considering elevating Arnold Schwarzenegger to energy czar, Jennifer Granholm to Transport, and Kathleen Sebelius to Labor or Education, Rahm and the Office of the President-elect may end up removing from power over 10% of the nation’s governors. If I were Duval Patrick, I’d sleep with one eye open.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back from fishing...

...or rather a blissful week in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving with Frank's clan. Sorry for the silence of late: let's get stuck in with what's happened since.

On Hillary: (GULP) it's a good call. It says he thinks he can control the Clintons and that he cares less about their media distractions then he does about implementing his policy (as Nate has now also noted, strategy and tactics anyone?) but it should work out. I may have preferred Kerry (and dreamed of Zbig) but this is as good choice a choice as can be for those desirous of dealing both firmly and fairly with Israel and the Palestinians. Between Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton the Administration has all the pro-Israeli creds it needs to broker a serious peace deal that trades the Palestinian right of return for Israeli settlements so as to create a practicable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state. Land for peace is the best guarantee of Israel's security and I think Secretary Clinton understands that.

On Jones: The most surprising cabinet pick by Obama thus far. Apparently, Obama only spoke with him at length twice during the campaign. As NATO commander Jones showed a preference for force in Afghanistan that I found surprising. Whether he has learned the lessons of the limited utility of force in that country particulalry is something I'm looking into. Still, if anyone can hold their own against Hillary in argument it's likely to be the man who once held the title Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe - surely the only title in the world better then POTUS!

On Gates: as long as it's short term (no more then a year) then it's a good play. Puts a Republican face on Iraq troop drawdowns. That should make the GOP's fostering of a Dolchsto
├člegende more difficult. After a year though, I want Danzig to step up, not least because I want DoD to be a Democrat's domain.

On Obama's NSC: Including Eric Holder and Susan Rice in yesterday's roll out sent important messages in both policy and political terms: first, that obeying and implementing the law will be key to Obama's war on terror approach whilst re-engaging with the international community through the UN will be crucial to national security as a whole. Second, that Gates, Jones and Clinton will be balanced by two deeply loyalist voices for Obama himself in all NSC discussions. As such, Obama's own likely thinking will be reflected in the NSC from interesting angles: the Justice Department and the UN Ambassador. And that in a team of big, powerful personalities with likely conflicting agendas and counsels will leave Obama where he wants to be as, in the words of his predecessor, "The Decider".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Playing the long game...

President-elect Obama likely picked up two new votes for his domestic agenda last night: Mark Begich (AK) and Joe Lieberman (FU). On Lieberman, partisans like me wanted vengeance but Obama continues to pursue his oh-so-annoying-because-it-makes-sense approach to ignoring slights in favour of his pursuit of The Prize. Savvy commentators have also pointed out why Lieberman so richly deserved to lose his chairmanship for policy reasons but also how Obama, as a poker player, can win in the end. 

It's almost as if Obama knows the difference between strategy and tactics.

Obama wants to move a big agenda. He needs to have as close to 60 votes as possible in the Senate (paging Senators Collins and Snowe). He needs to have a White House staff and departmental leadership that can deliver on his ambitions for the country and the world. I believe a pattern is forming: Obama is forgiving enemies, securing votes and selecting many experienced, clever Clintonistas so that he can govern with maximum effectiveness. This is politik as policy more then politics. In the short term he might pay a political price in terms of complaints from his left flank on Lieberman and the embrace of the Clintons, in the long term his bet is that history will judge him not for what he did with Joe, Bill and Hillary but rather with the economy, national security, healthcare and climate change.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mark Halperin raises the prospect of an Iraq/Afghanistan redeployment... via Syria?

The Page: "Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mullen tells the AP the Pentagon is developing plans to get troops quickly out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. Says the military has already practiced traveling out of Iraq through Turkey and Jordan to determine "what the challenges might be.""

This begs 3 questions:
1) Has the US military actually practiced marching 160,000 troops through Turkey and Jordan recently?
2) Why is the US planning to march west to Afghanistan instead of east? 
3) Should Syria be worried?

Obama's legislative program: costs & priorities

Obama should LBJ things with big moves as fast as possible on his big campaign priorities. I also like the idea of him channelling Reagan in '81 and walking from the Capitol's steps after his inauguration but that may be a little much given the scale and complexity of the legislation at hand. Here's what his initial program might look like:
That adds up to roughly $354bn in new spending for FY2009 at a time when tax revenues will be down and debt reaches historic levels.

So, the key questions are: how many of these pieces can he afford in terms of both political capital and actual money? How fast can he move them legislatively? And what, if anything, gets cut back, cancelled or even expanded?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama's Secretary of State

                                           Secretary of State Clinton

On the journey to and from Ohio, we listened to 'Team of Rivals' which is now the zeitgeist book of the political cognoscenti. When I first backed Obama in October 2006 I argued that at worst he would be Reagan (gifting us a transformed electoral map - check), he could well be Kennedy (and inspire a new generation to public service - looking good) and at best he could be Lincoln (let's talk in 50 years).

Obama as Lincoln is possible, but is Hillary really Seward?

Lincoln's Secretary of State was his greatest rival for the 1860 Republican nomination was indeed a New York Senator once thought as destined for White House who was eclipsed at the eleventh hour by a come-from-nowhere Illinois rival. I can already hear Doris Kearns Goodwin's shorthand scribblings!

I have some serious concerns about Senator Clinton in the position of senior cabinet officer: her management record during the campaign was horrific, her gaffes were often foreign policy related (from landing under fire to bringing peace to Northern Ireland) and the Bill factor in terms of deeply dodgy Kazak deals and dubious donations (albeit for great causes) should in and of itself provide pause for grave reflection.

Still, perhaps she would shine in a position that gives her a spotlight, removes her from domestic politics and allows her to genuinely broker peace deals and face down tyrants - I don't think anyone doubts who would win an Ahmadinajad/Hillary show down! She's also a better choice then Richardson who gave exemplary service as global envoy and UN Ambassador (if ever there was a man made for the haggling of international diplomacy at the world's greatest bazaar it was Bill) but his 'running' of the Energy Department and Ryan Lizza's primary season character assassination should rule him out.

Kerry would be a decent choice. "Knows the game" (as Halberstam might have said), respects Obama, is respected in turn by many international leaders. Al Giordano makes a strong case for him as the 'no drama' choice. He'd also be a worthy successor to Secretary Rice in sartorial terms.

Still, my own preference is for Dick Lugar, senior Senator from Indiana and ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Lugar and Obama have a strong relationship. Lugar and Biden have a strong relationship. Lugar has the right instincts on matters of America's moral leadership role, nuclear proliferation and Darfur. What's more, a Republican at State would probably mean a Democrat at Defence - especially as I worry about the wisdom of keeping Gates on in even a short term capacity (more on that soon).

So, to sum up, I'd like Lugar best although I doubt it'll be him. I'd prefer Kerry over Hillary but would settle for Hillary over Richardson. That said, I think now it will be Hillary and so Doris' scribblings shan't be in vain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama's cabinet: fantasy & reality

Courtesy of evil Washington lobbyists via Politico, here's a DC parlour game tipsheet for the Obama cabinet:

It's worth noting that Hillary is not even mentioned on the sheet.

What follows is my take on what I'd like to see, regardless of what the contenders themselves have said on the subject. In brackets are those who I actually think will get the appointment.

Treasury: Paul Volcker
Defence Secretary: Robert Danzig (Robert Gates)
Deputy SecDef: John Hamre
National Security Advisor: Anthony Zinni (James Steinberg)
Secretary of Commerce: Penny Pritzker
Education: Colin Powell
Health & Human Services: Tom Daschle
Homeland Security: Richard Clarke (James Lee Witt)
DepHomeSec: Ray Kelly
Veterans: Max Cleland (actually I think Cleland will wind up as Secretary of the Army)
Labour: David Bonior
Agriculture: Tom Vilsack
Office of Urban Policy: Valerie Jarret
Enviormental Protection Agency: RFK Jr.
US Trade Representative: Lael Brainard
UN Ambassador: Susan Rice
Ambassador to the Court of St. James: Caroline Kennedy
Climate change Tsar: Al Gore (Jerry McNerney)
Energy Security Council: John Podesta

Your thoughts?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The McCain Campaign Threw in the Towel - in October

October surprise?

Marcus has brought this fantastic article to my attention. By way of passing the favor on, I direct you to the following portion:

‘On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain's core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had "a pulse."’

This raises just a few questions.

1) What
2) The
3) [deleted]?

I won’t say “in seriousness”, because I don’t believe it’s possible to get there with this piece of inside information, but to try and be a bit analytical, I suppose the glaring question here is what, precisely, was this meeting meant to be in aid of?

Leaving aside the ludicrous conclusion that the only standard of viability to which McCain’s senior staff appeared to hold their candidate was that he had not yet technically joined the choir invisibule, to what point and purpose this secret meeting? What if they had decided that, in fact, the race was absolutely over, and had said the same to Senator McCain? What exactly would that have accomplished, beyond demoralizing their already exhausted candidate? Let us call a spade a spade: McCain’s senior staff met to determine whether it was time to surrender.

This, of course, begs another relevant question: how exactly does one surrender a presidential campaign? Refuse to accept electoral votes? Fire your field organizers and demand the ritual suicide of your senior staff? Refuse further contributions? Refund the money? Let your VP have a go at it? Endorse your opponent?

The concept does, however, provide a nice end to the arch of the McCain campaign – from an imaginary victory to an impossible surrender.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How cool is this:


Dropping the Rahm Bomb

"I have three words for Congressional Republicans, and all of them are f***"

Returning from Ohio in triumph (still having trouble believing I'd ever write those words), Marcus and I spoke about the Rahm Emanuel pick for Chief of Staff. Marcus has a lot of respect for Rep. Emanuel's famous abilities, but is concerned about the reports of his ferocious temper and tendency to savage subordinates. This kind of behavior is not at all in keeping with the way Obama ran his campaign and Marcus was quite understandably concerned that Obama is moving away from the core organizational values that made him the most effective presidential candidate in modern history.

This is understandable, and I believe that President-Elect Obama is already taking steps to address this question. Before I write more, however, I should add that while Marcus respects Rahm very much, I'm more by way of being a rabid fan. My contact with Representative Emanuel has been pretty minimal, but I admire his intensity, intelligence, and aggression absolutely.

That caveat aside, I'm prepared to admit that those same traits aren't necessarily ideal, particularly the intensity and aggression bits. Rahm has been known to lay into subordinates, emphasizing his points by stabbing them in the forehead with his finger. His gladiatorial tendencies were incredibly useful during the Dems' time out of power, when he directed a hugely successful 2006 offensive at the Democratic Congressional Committee, then, having slain his enemies at the congressional level, took on the most powerful man in the United States - the Vice President himself. That same belligerence might not be such a boon in the office of a man elected on the promise of reaching across the aisle to do something other than strangle the first Republican handy.

This, of course, is where Marcus's concerns come from, and they're not unreasonable. My initial response is to suggest that Rahm Emanuel isn't always a blood-soaked gladiator - he can be a tremendous motivator, a skilled political operative, and a gifted negotiator. Further, a Chief of Staff takes on the character of his or her boss, and Emanuel is a bright man who will understand that Obama's patience for antagonistic or undisciplined staff is not in great supply.

More than that, though, the President-elect has made some key appointments that should keep Rahm on the straight and narrow. He appointed Pete Rouse, Tom Daschle's former of chief of staff (who was so powerful in that position that he was called the 101st Senator, Marcus tells me, and most recently serving as chief of staff in Obama's Senate Office and on his campaign) to be Deputy Chief of Staff. Obama has also appointed chief strategist David Axelrod to a senior adviser position. Neither of these appointments is a surprise, but they're significant in that, having picked a fiery Chief of Staff, Obama immediately surrounded him by men of uncommonly even temper. My sense is that Obama is building a box around Rahm, containing his ferocious energy from exploding in all directions and pointing it at one place - Capitol Hill.

Scoring VomPol's Predictions

A quick summation of how we at VomPol did with our predictions for E-Day. Note that there are two ways of scoring this. One is simply to award the win to whoever got closest to the real result, which has the advantage of actually making intuitive sense. The other way is Price-Is-Right (PIR) rules, which awards the win to the person who got closest to the actual number without going over. I associate this with field organizers, as several with whom I have worked seem to favor it, but I don't know if it's one of those nation-wide field-organizer-culture oddities or just a quirk limited to a few people whom I happen to have met. Any help getting to the bottom of this would be greatly appreciated. In any event, we're giving an award for both methods of scoring.

Caveat: Please note that the result for Nebraska 2 is still in doubt, and the call in Missouri could end up in court. We're handing out awards based on Nate Silver's map, because Darrell Royal was right. We're not handing out awards for the Senate and House predictions - too many contests will go into extra innings.

Now, the results :

1) Electoral Map and Electoral Votes.
Result: 364 Electoral Votes for Obama
Winner: Mark D (appearing on these pages as DC Duck). Mark proposed a map identical to Marcus's, minus Nebraska 2 and Indiana, for a total of 356 EVs, a scant 8 votes off.
PIR Winner: Mark.
Honorable Mention: John Emerson, 11 votes off.
Wooden Spoon: Me, a shocking 18 votes off with 382. Disgraceful.

2) Percentage of the Electorate.
Result: 52.4% Obama, 46.3% McCain.
Winner: (tie) John and I both had 52%-46%, although John dared to be more specific with his.
PIR Winner: Tie to John and me.
Wooden spoon: Marcus, with 51%-47%.

3) Total voters.
Result: 136 million (AP projection)
Winner: Me, with 140m.
PIR winner: Marcus, with 130m.
Wooden spoon: John, with 128m.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The morning after the 8 years before...

America rises once more.

Here's how I think the next moves play out:

White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Emmanuel (the inspiration for Josh Lyman!)
Treasury Secretary: Paul Volcker
Defence Secretary (short term): Robert Gates
Secretary of State: Richard Lugar
Deputy Defence Secretary: Robert Danzig (Defence Secretary later)
National Security Advisor: Susan Rice
Secretary of Education: Colin Powell
Attorney General: Eric Holder
Health & Human Services: Tom Daschle 

In the Senate, Lieberman should be stripped of his committee seniority and may well leave the Democratic caucus. If Coleman holds on in MN I think I may well breathe a sigh of relief as the RNC won't be able to raise $4mn off every fundraising e-mail. As for Alaska, come off it. A convicted felon as a Senator? Even for 5 mins before he resigns? For heavens sake.

Oh, and I am still holding out hope for NE-2.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Poll closing times and the election hour by hour.

In addition to our twittering, here's what you need to know courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:
And here's Nate's excellent guide to the hour by hour. Stay tuned and stay with us as America rises again.

Live from Warren Ohio!


November 4th prediction by John Emerson

Final prediction: Near landslide

Presidential Race

Popular Vote

Turnout: 128m

Obama: 52.45% McCain: 46.15% Other: 1.4%

Electoral Vote

Obama 353 McCain 185

Senate Race: +8 (VA, NM, CO, NC, NH, MN, AK, OR)

House Race: +25Dems

November 4th predictions: MAR

                                                                     Obama landslide

Obama: 379 electoral votes (51%)
McCain: 159 electoral votes (47%)
Other: 0 electoral votes (1%)

Voters: 130mn

Senate seats
Democrats: +9 (VA, NH, NC, NM, CO, MN, OR, GA, AK). Heartbreaks in KY and MS and a surprisingly close race in TX. 

House seats
Democrats net gain: +28

November 4th predictions: FAS

                                                                    Obama Nation


Obama: 382 Electoral votes (52%)
McCain: 156 Electoral votes (46%)
Other: 0 electoral votes (~1%)
Voters: 140 million

Democrats: +9 (VA, NH, NC, NM, CO, MN, OR, GA, AK)

Democrats: + 31

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brief preview of final polling

Here is a brief preview of final state polling, and which polls (IMO) to look for:

Ohio: The university of Cincinnati poll is usually counted as the gold standard for Ohio. The SUSA poll nailed the primary results so look out for their final poll and perhaps also PPP which came very close and also will have a large sample size. (The university of Cincinnati also came very close). Just for some variability also look to the Rasmussen poll which weighs it’s sample by party-id.

Pennsylvania: There is no one poll which I would emphasize in the keystone state but probably an average of Rasmussen, SUSA and the Muhlenberg/Morning Call tracker should give a good prediction. I would normally add PPP but this was the one state which they got badly wrong during the primary. They were open about this and have apparently corrected the problem, hopefully this will be shown on Tuesday.

Florida: Mason-Dixon has a good reputation in the sunshine state. It is also below the mason-dixon line (Mason-dixon, at least in the east, tend to poll well below the line but badly above), also look out for Rasmussen and perhaps Quinnipaic (large sample).

SUSA was the closest to the actual results in 04 with Mason-dixon a close second so look out for those polls. Perhaps also keep an eye out for the final rocky mountain news poll although they were out somewhat in favour of Bush in 04. PPP have already released their final CO poll showing Obama up by 10 with a heavy lead among those already voted.

Virginia: This is a little bit of guess-work as in the past there has only been infrequent polling of the presendential race. Times-Dispatch was the closest in 04 followed by mason-dixon, unfortunately this year Mason-Dixon did the polling for Times-Dispatch and during the primary they missed the result by over 10 points however they did nail the 06 Webb/Allen race. To make matters worse the final Mason-Dixon results this year was 47O-44M with a far too high 9% undecided. SUSA who came closest to the primary result should be taken seriously. (Their final poll is 50O-46M). Perhaps the average of PPP, Mason-dixon, Rasmussen and SUSA might be the best bet.

North Carolina:
The in-state PPP should be the first call. They both have the most experience and the most at stake in their home state, not to mention being closest to the primary result. The other in-state pollster Civitas should also be looked at (although it is affiliated with the republican party). SUSA for some reason tends to lean to McCain in North Carolina so anything equal to or better than a tie would be excellent for Obama.

Missouri: Rasmussen, SUSA and Mason-Dixon all came very close to the 04 result so taking the average of these polls would seem reasonable here.

Indiana: This should be an interesting one considering how many years it has been since Indiana has been a swing state. SUSA was about the only pollster to poll Indiana in the last week in 04 and came very close. In the primary PPP did very well. So perhaps an average of these two would be in order. Also if Selzer does another poll before Tuesday that should be a very good indicator.

Iowa: Well SUSA’s final poll has it at Obama +15, the oracle of Iowa (Selzer) has it at +17. McCain’s internals apparently have it at +1. No prize for guessing which is right.

New Hampshire:
UNH tracker, Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen all came very close to the actual result in 04. So an average of these should give a reasonable result. All polls missed the primary results by a large margin. (Fingers crossed that does not happen ever again).

New Mexico: Unlikely to be close especially looking at the early voting but if a prediction is required then an average of SUSA, Rasmussen, PPP and the Alberquerque Journal would be seem reasonable.

Nevada: Hard state to poll, but Rasmussen did best in 04. Also note the early voting has been especially heavy in this state giving the Democrats a very strong lead.

Georgia: With African-American turnout (looking very high in early voting) and support for Barr being very difficult to predict this year, any poll could be a long way off. The in-state Insider Advantage tends to predict a higher turnout for African-Americans so perhaps this is the poll to look out for, but only if they (unlike usually) have a decent sample size.

Montana: There is a expected relative high third party vote in the Treasure state, so look out for polls which show this.

North Dokata: One of the problems with expanded the map is a complete lack of polling history. With nothing really to base results on I would suggest just averaging all (if there are any) poll from the last week.

Arizona: Recently added due to tightening polls. Again not much history to run on, in 04 the result was exactly in the middle of Rasmussen and SUSA, so perhaps an average of these.

Notes: Do not rely too much on any one poll (especially one with low sample size) as even the best poll will suffer from sampling error.

Mason-Dixon did very well in 2004 but are using a conservative model in terms of turnout especially in terms of youth vote and African-american (and Hispanic) make-up of the electorate, so there is a good possibility of this pollster being off by 2-3 point this year.

Do not take anything zogby interactive or ARG show seriously.

GOP 2012: Into the Wild?

  Wanted: Horses, men (Royal service a must) for difficult political repair-work.  Non-union.

The Republican coalition born out of remarkable political personalities needs to be rebuilt by a remarkable political personality.  The GOP needs a W in 2012.  Not a win.  A Bush.

In my last post I wrote about the departure of security voters from the GOP, the loss of whom does not just spell electoral defeat now - it is a potentially crippling blow to the Republican Party, one that leaves them vulnerable to a divisive internal struggle which could prolong their period in the wilderness.

The problem is not simply one of numbers.  The national security advantage of the GOP concealed a serious crack in the Party's foundation - the fact that wealth conservatives and social conservatives are not natural allies.   There can be areas of overlap - a wealthy conservative may be against gay marriage, for example, and a social conservative may favor lower taxes - but there are a host of opportunities for conflict within the party that have been sidestepped by a general consensus over national security.

A good example of this is immigration, which pits the socially-conservative, populist base (opposed to the supposed loss of American jobs and, in my experience, to the Spanish language as concept and reality) against wealthy corporate conservatives, many of whose business interests benefit from a class of worker not protected by labor laws and unions.  National security was a trump card for the GOP (and some Democrats) - 'we have to close our borders because bad people could sneak across', a talking point which satisfies both. 

The future of the GOP has played out during the economic crisis, as John McCain and Sarah Palin have railed against a political system that favors Wall Street over Main Street.  The devil in these particular details is that Wall Street and Main Street are both Republican constituencies, and the only thing that kept them away from a bloody class-war was the military base in between.  Now that the soldiers, vets, and concerned citizens of that base have decamped, there is no buffer.  What the GOP must fear is that Main Street social conservatives will continue to publicly militate against wealthy Wall Street conservatives, who have already demonstrated an inclination to stray from the Republican fold.

This does not mean that the Republican Party will automatically devolve into civil war, or that the wealthy will depart permanently.  The Republican Party has the market on tax cuts for the wealthy, and as long as that incentive is around the wealthy will eventually return.  What it does mean is that the Republican Party will require a very skilled leader as their candidate in 2012 to make peace between the party's financiers and its core voters; that might not win them the election, but it will go a long way toward coalescing and energizing a dispirited and fractured party.  

Who will play the role of the 2012 Bush, rebuilding what W himself shattered?  Let's take a look at some of the likely Republicans auditioning for the 2012 role of all the king's horses and all the king's men (I rely on readers of this blog to let me know who I have omitted, as this will not be the last time we at VomPolitik write about the GOP race in 2012):

Tier One:
- Mike Huckabee (former Governor, Arkansas; conservative television presenter)
- Sarah Palin (Governor, Alaska; Vice Presidential candidate)
- Mitt Romney (former Governor, Massachusetts)

Tier Two:
- John Thune (Senator, South Dakota)
- Bobby Jindal (Governor, Louisiana)
- Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House of Representatives; conservative political analyst)

Tier Three:
- Tim Pawlenty (Governor, Minnesota)
- Rick Perry (Governor, Texas)

The danger for the Party is clear.  Of the Top Tier candidates (whom I define based on recent exposure and experience on the national trail - all three were on the stump this year in one form or another), only one of them has the chance to be the party's next W.  That would be Mike Huckabee, whose conservative Christian roots created initial concern amongst some members of the GOP but who has since mended fences via his strong anti-tax positions, eliciting the support even of Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform.  More than that, he's been able to balance interests on the potentially-lethal immigration question, calling immigrants 'the children of god' while at the same time supporting the 700-mile wall.  

Palin, meanwhile, has branded herself as the representative of the small-town Republican Party that belittles and despises the educated, wealthy conservative elite of which Romney is one of the most public examples.  The choice of either is not likely to unify the Party and give the Republican leadership permission to be heard again by its own membership, delaying by four years the chance to win permission to be heard by the electorate as a whole.  

The other candidates have their own advantages, of course, and some of them have the potential to develop into the next W.  Any analysis of the strong candidates, however, must begin with the Top Tier, who have been in critical states as candidates for the White House for the past year, and that same analysis must note the significant absence of a national security candidate.   For now, the GOP's chances of beginning its rebuilding in 2012 from its Top Tier stand at no better than one in three.  The long, dark night is just beginning.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The campaigns in perspective: a strategic scorecard

Scorecards are in vogue. Politico offers their take daily, Halperin offers his weekly. But what would a score card of the whole campaign look like? Here's On Politik's take...

Obama: 1 (Per the Washington Post: a book tour for the 'Audacity of Hope' and his front covers of Time and GQ. Not a bad start for a freshman Senator, 22 months in the job!)
McCain: 1 (McCain put together a highly experienced staff, and looked set to raise a ton of money, he was the heir apparent.)

Obama: 1 (Before a crowd of 15,000 on a freezing Illinois day Obama gave a speech for the ages.)
McCain: 1 (His 'Letterman' announcement was considered a McCain-of-old classic: popular, unconventional, yet safer then it looks.)

2007 Q1
Obama: 1 (Obama's first quarter fundraising results showed him head to head with Hillary and secured his position as a serious contender.)
McCain: 0 (McCain's campaign first quarter fundraising was so disastrous as to bring his campaign to the brink of implosion.)

2007 Q2
Obama: 1 (Obama's fundraising machine bested Hillary's.)
McCain: 0 (Lacking both money and message, the McCain campaign imploded.)

2007 Q3
Obama: 1 (Obama calmed concerns about his campaign with steady debate performances, strong fundraising and a clear field plan for winning Iowa.)
McCain: 1 (Stripped of staff and broke, McCain began his campaign from scratch, focusing on Iraq and New Hampshire: good bets.)

2007 Q4
Obama: 1 (Obama's Jefferson Jackson speech before the Iowa caucus was hailed by the sage of Iowa, David Yepson as quite possibly the moment he won Iowa.)
McCain: 0 (McCain had yielded Iowa and only had a path to the GOP nod if Huckabee could somehow best Romney in Iowa allowing McCain a chance to beat Romney one-on-one in the subsequent NH primary. Hope is not a strategy.)

2008 Q1
Obama: 1 (Obama wins Iowa and nets the most delegates on Super Tuesday.)
McCain: 1 (McCain wins NH and nets the most delegates on Super Tuesday.)

2008 Q2
Obama: 1 (Obama wins the Democratic nomination.)
McCain: 0 (McCain's campaign flounders amidst unforced errors and a lack of message discipline.)

Obama: 1 (Joe Biden.)
McCain: 0 (Sarah Palin.)

Obama: 1 (Dem's achieve Party unity and Obama's Invesco speech is described by arch-conservative Pat Buchanan as "the greatest convention speech".)
McCain: 1 (McCain's Palin pick may have failed overall but it certainly boosted McCain to a feel-good Convention.)

Debate I
Obama: 1 (Obama was as calm as he was commanding and the voters responded accordingly.)
McCain: 0 (Remember when McCain wanted to cancel the debate? In hindsight, perhaps he should have.)

VP debate:
Biden: 1 (Joe Biden wins the voters nod.)
Palin: 0 (Sarah Palin's winks earn her voter scorn.)

Debate II
Obama: 1 (Obama mastered the townhall format, connecting strongly with voters.)
McCain: 0 (McCain's confusion and petulance did not go over well with voters.)

Debate III
Obama: 1 (Per the polling, Obama makes it three in a row.)
McCain: 0 (McCain's last huzzah falls flat.)

October Surprise
Obama: 1 (Turns out, it was the economy, stupid.)
McCain: 0 ('The fundementals of the economy are strong! Fire the SEC chair! Suspend the campaign! Talk about Ayers! Support the bailout! Criticize it! Talk about Ayers some more!' Gov. Rendell nails it at the 2:55 mark.)

McCain: 0 (The McCain/RNC Victory office in battleground Florida, 72hrs before close of polls, pictured here.)

Final score
Obama: 16
McCain: 5

To win the Primaries, McCain needed the political equivilant of an straight flush: Huckabee had to beat Romney in Iowa, a weakened Romney had to be beaten in NH, Thompson had to be strong enough in SC to hold Huckabee back there, Huckabee had to be strong enough to divide the anti-McCain vote in FL and then Huckabee and Romney had to repeat the same trick nationwide on GOP Super Tuesday. Hope is not a strategy and neither is luck.

Contrast that with the Obama primary strategy: A clear plan for each chapter of the campaign, an ability to stick to it where appropriate and modify where necessary, and an ambition for money and machine that was all the more extraordinary for it's actual realization.

As for the story of the General Election, On Politik has often bemoaned the difficulty of trying to analyze strategy comparatively when Obama's campaign is all strategy, all of time and McCain's doesn't even know the difference between strategy and tactics.

Politics is a dynamic activity: the actions of one party have an impact upon the other. But the stronger force meets less resistance in following it's path whilst the weaker one is more frequently buffeted. Such was the story throughout the Obama and McCain campaigns from start to finish. The Obama campaign consistently pursued it's strategic goals and resisted temptations to pursue targets of opportunity offered by McCain errors at a cost to their pursuit of strategic goals. In contrast, the McCain campaign pursued precisely the opposite course, sacrificing again and again the long term for the short term whilst over-reacting to the actions of Team Obama.

The Obama campaign has always focused on big goals, pursued with great effort over long periods of time. It has always borne in mind both the challenge in front of it and looked over the horizon towards what's next. It has remained focused, reacted appropriately and operated efficiently and thus it has achieved it's strategic objectives. It has been both a pleasure and an honour to have witnessed this politically and I am thrilled at the thought of what this offers in policy terms in the years to come.

Friday, October 31, 2008

On Politik goes to war

Frank and I are heading back to the scene of our 2004 defeat whilst John will continue to offer his analysis from our secret Edinburgh HQ. 

To all our readers in the field: good hunting!


The battleground map (31 October, 2008)

Obama landslide E-4 days

Our last update before we shift from state-of-play to prediction-only. McCain can hope for a national tightening in the polls all he wants but unless he can achieve what Nate Silver calls the 2-2-2 rule (within 2 points in 2 out of these 3 states VA, CO, PA by at least 2 reputable pollsters) he has no path to 270 electoral votes. Meanwhile, Obama's offensive drive expands even further.

Here's the maps:

Likely Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA, IA (197 electoral votes) 
Lean Obama: MN, NM, NV, MI, WI, PA, NH, CO, VA  (94) electoral votes) 
Toss-ups: FL, OH, NC, MO, IN (84) electoral votes) 
Lean McCain: GA, MT, ND, WV, NE-2  (26) electoral votes) 
Likely McCain: AK, AL, AZ, AR, ID, KS, KY, LA, MS, SD, NE 1,3,4,5 OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WY, ND (137) electoral votes) 

Obama likely + leaners: 291  electoral votes 
McCain likely + leaners: 163  electoral votes 
Tossups: 84 electoral votes

Likely Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, ME, MD, MA, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA (175 electoral votes)
Lean Obama: IA, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NM, PA, WI (111 votes)
Toss-up: FL, IN, MO, NV, NC, OH (89 votes)
Lean McCain: AZ, GA, MT, NE 02, ND, SD, WV (40 votes)
Likely McCain: AL, AK, AR, ID, KS, KY, LA, MS, NE (the rest of the state), OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WY (123 votes)

Obama likely + leaners: 286  electoral votes 
McCain likely + leaners: 163  electoral votes 
Tossups: 89 electoral votes

On Politik
Likely Obama: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IA, IL, ME (all 4 EVs), MD, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI (255 EVs)
Lean Obama: CO, NH, NM, NV, VA (36 EVs)
Toss-up: FL, IN, MT, NC, NE-cd2 (1ev), MO, OH (85 EVs)
Lean McCain: AZ, GA, MT, WV, ND (36 EVs)
Likely McCain: AK, AL, AZ, AR, ID, KS, KY, LA, MS, NE(4EVS), OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WY (126 EVs)

Obama likely + leaners: 291 electoral votes
McCain likely + leaners: 162 electoral votes
Toss-ups: 85 electoral votes

State by state

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Past as predictor of future: a Senatorial psycohistory

                                     Hari Seldon ponders the Senate race
On the one hand you could just check the pollster.com Senate charts to guess the winners and losers (although GA is going to be a Dem win) or you can play a history-based model out and see what things look like.

Simply put, close Senate races tend to break mostly all one way or the other. The important thing is that there are always one or two exceptions. But whether there is one exception this year or two exceptions is the likely difference between the Dems achieving their filibuster-proof majority dream or not.

This year, the Dems have pick-up opportunities in 10 seats: VA, NM, CO, AK, NH, MN, NC, GA, MS and KY.

In 2006, the Dem wave carried 6 out of 7 Senate targets (VA, MO, MT, OH, PA, RI but failed in TN) - a near 85% success rate. In 2004, the GOP wave carried 6 out of 8 target seats (FL, GA, LA, NC, SD, SC but failed in IL and CO) - a 75% success rate. In 2002, the GOP wave carried 3 out of 4 target seats (GA, MN, MO but failed in AR) - a 75% success rate.

Thus the average success rate was 78.3%. Applying that to this year's Senate seats, it would seem that Dems are on course to pick up 8 out of 10 seats, likely losing only KY and MS - per those pollster.com averages!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Revolution in Political Affairs: Obama's Levee-en-masse

Barack Obama?

On Politik contends that Obama's approach to fundraising and field organisation constitutes a revolution in the practice of political affairs of such magnitude as to be comparable with Napoleon's Revolution In Military Affairs, namely a defining transformation in both the scale and practice of the art and science of politics. 

To analyse this change, let us now consider Napoleon's own revolution and the scale of the Obama revolution. Post-election, we'll consider the broader implications in the long term of the revolution for both policy and politics.

Napeleon's Revolution in Military Affairs
The Napoleonic era saw a Revolution in Military Affairs in which the small scale, professional, often mercenary armies of the cabinet wars period were swept aside before the power of the man Clausewitz immortalized as "the God of War".

Napeloen's invention of the modern army as a mass force of conscripts (the "levee-en-masse") came about because he tapped the passion of the people (the third and most powerful element of Clausewitz's Trinitarian theory of war: Reason (Govt.), Chance/Probability (Army/Commander) and Passion (People)) and so was able to massively escalate the resource pool he could draw from in waging a larger scale of war then had ever previously been seen.

Simply put, Obama has awoke the passions of the people (the electorate) and by so doing has been able to raise more money then the 2004 field combined, establish more field offices with professional paid staffers and recruit more grassroots volunteers into the campaign process then was previously thought even possible. By so doing he has escalated political warfare to a higher level then has ever preciously been achieved.

The scale of the change: more money, more volunteers, more voters

More money
"The most extraordinary development in this year's election may well be the Obama fundraising juggernaut" - Bradley Smith, former Federal Elections Commission chair 

Source: Open Secrets
  • Obama fundraising from small donors: "Obama’s vast base of small donors – 1.7 million was the last public count — carries big clout. To date (July 21, 2008), Obama has reported raising $338 million for his campaign from individuals and 94% of his donations have come in amounts of $200 or less." - Politico
  • Obama fundraising from bundlers (each raising $50,000+): $63mn (estimated at 10-25% of overall Obama fundraising)
  • Per Obama campaign manager David Plouffe: Obama's largest donor groups are retirees and young people.
  • Per Obama campaign manager David Plouffe: Approximately $200mn has come in donations of $200 or less.
More volunteers
Al Giordano of the Field and Sean Quinn of 538 have done yeoman's work in detailing the unfolding Obama revolution in field organising while Zack Exley's 'New Organizers' series is a must-read examination of the operations of the Obama field game. Taken individually, their examples might be dismissed as exceptional stories, taken collectively, they reveal a strategic approach to field organising of unprecedented ambition and accomplishment. Here's the story so far:
On the road: 538's guide to battleground state field ops
  • Minden, NV: "If you want to talk about Republican domination, try this. Not since 1946 has a Democrat been elected to a county office here. George Bush beat John Kerry countywide 15,192 to 8,275, and Kerry lost statewide by 21,500 votes (Bush and Kerry together got approximately 815,000 votes statewide). Another way to put it is that about a third of Bush's 2004 victory margin came from an area contributing less than 3% of the statewide vote. You can see why reducing that margin by even a thousand votes would be a worthwhile investment in Nevada's ground game."
  • Reno, NV: "In just the last year, Washoe County’s R-D voter registration gap has dropped from R +16,000 to R +5,000. The several months on the ground leading up to the January 19 caucus helped. That shift represents a lot of grinding, day-by-day work by organizers and volunteers to canvass and recanvass neighborhoods that can't be crammed at the last minute."
  • Las Vegas, NV: "Democrats have gained over 100,000 registrations in Clark County, which helped net roughly 70,000 statewide in the last year. 30,000 new Democrats registered on caucus day alone. Democrats have 5 field offices in Clark County, 14 offices open in the state as a whole, with 3-5 more planned, 90 paid staff and 75 field organizers."
  • Gallup, NM: "In our personal Gallup poll, it seems clear Barack Obama will exceed the Kerry margin in McKinley, simply because Democrats are working with an unprecedented presence here. Having an office open 2-3 months before a general election versus sweeping in for the final 10 days makes all the difference, especially in a state where early voting by mail needs to be organized well ahead of time."
  • Espalaola, NM: "170,000 registered Hispanic voters didn't vote in the 2004 election, and Hispanics are roughly 40% of the state population here."
  • Albuquerque/Santa Fe, NM: "John McCain and the Republicans are running a workmanlike ground game here. They now have ten offices open, up from five a week ago. Their volunteers often begin calling showing up at 8:30 am to make phone calls. Some call all day. In larger offices they'll fill the twenty-ish seats for a full phone bank."
  • Durango Cortez, CO: "In terms of numbers, there was more going on at the Obama office, which is open 9 to 9 every day of the week. In the twenty minutes we spent at the office, we saw a local woman come in to register and take a form for her daughter. Another 70-something woman returned with her completed phone sheet and took another one home. Two phone bankers made dials. Another man, who volunteers twice a week, had taken upon himself the task of blind-knocking his trailer park and was getting a high contact and success rate."
  • Grand Junction, CO: "Grand Junction, CO (two parts): Let's do a little math. 12 face-to-face contacts is one new voter who would not have otherwise voted that you personally generated. You just doubled your own vote by speaking at the door to twelve voters. Of course, then it comes down to contact rate -- how often is the person home that you're trying to reach. A very low contact rate is probably 10%, and that happens. A very high contact rate can be 50%. Average is in the 25% ballpark. On average, you'd have to knock on 48 doors to generate 12 face-to-face contacts and one additional vote. 48 doors is a pretty standard, approximate walk list. In Glenwood Springs up the road an hour or so, we saw the process repeat. A volunteer named Barclay Lottimer raved about the Obama organizer there, whose program in Garfield County had generated 3,000 knocks the previous weekend and 2,500 knocks so far this weekend when we stopped midday. Garfield had at least 1,000 new Democratic registrants. Summit County has flipped its registration edge from R to D based on the voter reg work spearheaded by Obama's organizers and volunteers."
  • Colorado Springs, CO: "The whiteboard in the Obama office listed different volunteers and their total numbers of registrations earned. 100 gets you a free T-shirt, and most names had earned somewhere between 25 and 80 toward that goal. Robert had 341, not including the 12 new ones he'd returned with moments after we arrived. (He doesn't care about the shirts.) He's lived here 15 years and hasn't seen any Democratic presence like this one. He told us a friend of his had been here 30 years but had never seen a Democratic presidential office in Colorado Springs."
  • Boulder, CO: "John McCain's campaign doesn't have an office in Boulder's blue oasis, whereas Barack Obama is willing to put his organizers all over deep red territory. Overall, the Colorado field office edge stands at 32-11, after the Obama campaign added their 32d office Tuesday. Moreover, in our travels we're finding the Obama offices have generally opened earlier in the season than the McCain offices and have more organizers attached to each office. In the more rural areas like Cortez, Obama might have one full-time organizer, but in places like Colorado Springs and Boulder we counted very large staffs."
  • Denver, CO: "Kathy Archuleta is now a Latina Advisory team member for Barack Obama. Along with three other women, she has organized an impressive women-to-women outreach program aimed at adding 10,000 undecided and/or least-likely women voters to vote for Obama. In just two and a half weeks, Archuleta’s effort has coordinated a 1,000-strong-and-growing group. The goal for each member is to get at least eight women to vote for Obama who probably would not have voted otherwise. Among the group’s ranks, Archuleta counted 100 women in Colorado Springs, 100 in Vail, 100 in Evergreen, 50 in Pueblo, and 250-400 in the Denver area who would be counted on for this targeted outreach."
  • Omaha, NE (!!!): "This past weekend in Omaha, Republicans knocked on 11,000 doors. Two weeks ago when Barack Obama's permanent office opened, 1,100 volunteers showed up for the office opening. Eleven hundred people. "We essentially shut down midtown," said John Berge, Obama's Nebraska State Director. Omaha -- land of one precious electoral vote -- is not being conceded."
  • Des Moines, IA: "The ground game is extraordinarily numbers-based. For both campaigns, every single precinct in every state has a vote goal -- a specific number of votes the campaign has determined it needs to stay on pace with its overall path to victory in the state. By voting early, a supporter of a given candidate are giving his or her candidate a kind of donation. The sacrifice is the feeling of having participated in a vote on Election Day -- it feels like giving up a little bit of tradition. But campaigns are less concerned with tradition than with winning."
  • St. Louis county, MO: "We walk into McCain offices to find them closed, empty, one person, two people, sometimes three people making calls. Many times one person is calling while the other small clutch of volunteers are chatting amongst themselves. In one state, McCain’s state field director sat in one of these offices and, sotto voce, complained to us that only one man was making calls while the others were talking to each other about how much they didn't like Obama, which was true. But the field director made no effort to change this. This was the state field director."
  • Tippecanoe, IN: "Although John McCain has only one field office open in the state, Barack Obama has two on the same block. One is a large phone bank office, and a few doors down on the corner is the canvass staging area. We heard stories from volunteers who sometimes canvass because the phone bank is so frequently packed to capacity that if they want to volunteer, knocking on doors is the only option."
  • Bloomington, IN: "A few students got together to start the Obama group, and then each person brought two friends, and so forth, until the student group had a dedicated staff of 10-25 who regularly call and knock. Often they hit near 2000 dials in a night, the same as one of the three McCain Las Vegas, NV offices in its entirety."
  • New Albany, IN: "Democrats have to be considered the underdog here. Indiana hasn't gone blue since 1964 in LBJ's landslide year, and Republicans won by roughly 510,000 votes in 2004. Still, if we apply our 80-20 split on the self-selecting new Obama registrants (80% Obama registrants, 20% McCain) and a 75% turnout rate (newly registered voters vote in higher rates than regularly registered voters), then Obama just added approximately 318,000 votes in Indiana. Now the challenge is to get about 100,000 existingly-registered Bush voters to switch to Obama, approximately 4% of the roughly 2.5 million Indiana voters from 2004."
  • Dueling rallies, OH: "Obama did five rallies here in two days: Dayton, Cincinnati, Portsmouth, Chillicothe, and Columbus, while Palin did events in Wilmington (home of the DHL plant closing that David Plouffe promised to highlight in local radio ads) and Cleveland."
  • Troy, OH: "The first thing that stands out about the Troy, Ohio Obama field office is its placement. It's right in the heart of town. It catches everyone's attention -- you can't miss it. The next thing that caught our attention was that, since the office had first opened, 800 different people from Miami County had come through the office's doors to volunteer. There were only 51,760 voters in the entire county in 2004, and a mere 17,606 were Kerry voters. 4.5% of the entire Miami County Kerry vote has already walked in the doors to volunteer."'
  • Columbus, OH: "Barack Obama has 89 field offices open in the state of Ohio right now, about a 2-1 edge on John McCain. Kerry had 50 offices open in Ohio, and only 4 field organizers in Franklin County. Obama has three dozen, and Franklin County itself comprises two regions. As elsewhere, Ohio is the beneficiary of the long primary season. "Well over half" of Obama's general election organizers were veterans of the primary. Every Regional Field Director went through the primary or caucus. They've been through the wars. An organizer ages in dog years."
  • Toledo, OH: "Now that Debrah (Bush 04 defector) has settled into her role as one of Obama's Toledo Community Directors, she's amazed at the sophistication of the Obama structure. As a Community Director, she oversees three Neighborhood Team Leaders, volunteers who comprise the heart of Obama's volunteering infrastructure. Each neighborhood team, in turn, has up to five different coordinators: (1) the canvass coordinator; (2) the phonebank coordinator; (3) the volunteer coordinator; (4) the data coordinator; and (5) where applicable, the faith coordinator. In Ohio, Campaign for Change State Director Jeremy Bird told us, there are 1,231 defined neighborhoods, as of August 25 there were about 800 in place, and as of Saturday approximately 1,100 NTLs had been tested and were up in operation. By "tested," Bird said, each NTL had undergone and met a series of specific challenges the field organizers had presented."
  • Marietta, OH: "The other day at Obama's rally in Toledo, the local organizer asked everyone in attendance to (1) early vote; (2) make 40 phone calls or knock 40 doors; and (3) take Election Day off to help the volunteering effort. This is routine practice at every single event the campaign holds."
  • Morgantown, WV: "When we asked Vogel why he was confident about Obama's chances in a state nearly everyone had written off until the recent surge in polling, he pointed out that Democrats had 20 open offices, over 30 paid staff and thousands of volunteers. (McCain, by contrast, has one Charleston office open and one paid staffer.)"
  • Western PA: "In Washington County, a bellwether in this traditional swing state that John Kerry carried by a mere 552 votes out of over 96,000 cast, the Obama campaign's mood is optimistic but very cautious. The campaign has registered over 4,000 new voters in this county, and enough statewide since the primary season to push the Democratic registration edge to over 1.2 million."
  • Philadelphia suburbs, PA: "Obama himself hopped on a nationwide all-staff conference call Friday to emphasize this point to the troops. Pledging to "come down hard" on anyone getting "too cocky"."
  • Northern VA "660 people attended just this one office opening."
  • Richmond, VA: "They've done it. The McCain campaign has gone and pissed off Miss Virginia. When McCain senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer divided Virginia into the DC suburbs and "real Virginia," Kristi Lauren Glakas felt extremely disappointed. Glakas, a recent three-time Miss Virginia title holder and whip-smart University of Virginia scholarship honor student, said the comments were divisive."
  • Charlottesville, VA: "As for the Obama campaign here, well, you know the story by now if you've been reading our long series. Between the Coordinated Campaign offices and Campaign for Change offices and canvassing-only and phonebank-only offices, we saw no fewer than five office locations, all thrumming with energy and volunteers. All the offices had workers busy very late into the evenings, long past midnight."
  • Stone Gap, VA: "Mitch Stewart, Virginia State Director of Obama for America and one of the heroes of Iowa, told us in a sit-down interview that the Campaign for Change now boasted 49 offices in Virginia, with an additional 23 Virginia Coordinated Campaign party offices. 40 additional GOTV offices, not including the myriad GOTV staging locations clustered out from those offices, were already up and running."
  • Charlotte, NC: "After the training, we talked with Crandall about what he'd seen in Charlotte. He estimated the office would train 75 doorknocking volunteers just that day, just in that one Charlotte office. One thing that struck him was the way the campaign trusted its volunteers to take responsibility if the campaign simply provided the tools and overall direction. "The delegation of responsibility was tremendous," said Crandall." 
  • Raleigh, NC: "The Democratic HQ across town was much busier. When Republican offices are empty and shutting down, 7:30 pm in an Obama HQ or field office is only just past the halfway point of the workday."
More voters
The evolution of Obama primary operations into voter registration efforts into a GOTV attack of epic proportions will pay it's full dividends on Nov. 4 but in the meantime can already be measured by the impressive voter registration and early voting results. 

Voter registration
  • Pennsylvania: Per The Field: "Since April's primary, Democrats - mainly through the very aggressive voter registration efforts of the Obama campaign working out of 78 offices throughout the state - have added 186,908 voters to their column, while Republicans have added just 31,407 - a six-to-one tromp. In the final two weeks, Republicans made an eleventh hour push and registered 17,627 of those into their party, but during the same time period, 50,803 Democrats were added to the rolls."
  • Pennsylvania: The shock troops of the Obama revolution: volunteers like Leslie Wars who registered 1, 136 new voters.
  • Nevada (per the Secretary of State's office): 2004: D: 430k R: 434k. 2008: D: 625k R514k. In the only NV congressional district (CD2, which has never elected a Democrat to Congress) the GOP used to enjoy a +9% party ID advantage. Democrats now marginally outnumber GOPers Washoe. This is all the more critical given that Washoe represents 70% of the state's electorate as a whole. 
  • Colorado: Per Daily Kos: 2004: D: 942k R: 1.118mn I: 1.024mn. 2008: D: 1.051mn R: 1.063mn. I: 1.069mn. "As of January, 2008, Democrats made up 30.33% of the total registered electorate, Republicans made up 34.82%, and Independents made up 34.40%.  As of October 22, 2008, Democrats make up 32.81%, Republicans 33.19%, and Indies 33.38%."
  • Virginia: VA has added, 438,000 new voters this year (the state does not catagorise by party). Per 538: "Obama campaign strategists believe that, with their massive months-long, grinding-it-out-every-day registration plan, that 80 percent of those new registrations would vote for Obama, and that 75% of the newly registered voters will turn out. If 75% of an 80-20 split on 300,000 new registrants turns out, that’s Barack Obama adding 135,000 bonus votes to his total in Virginia alone." 
  • Florida: Per the AP: "Democrats have added more than two and a half times the number of new voters to the rolls than Republicans have. Democrats increased their numbers by approximately 461,000 registered voters while Republicans increased their registered voters by approximately 172,000. Republicans now have 4,064,301 registered voters and Democrats have 4,722,076, according to the Florida Division of Elections, giving Democrats an edge of roughly 658,000 registered voters. In 2004, the state had 3,892,492 registered Republicans and 4,261,249 registered Democrats, for a gap of 369,000. Overall, Florida now has nearly 1 million more voters than four years ago. The total, including people not registered with any party, is now 11,247,634 registered voters, up from 10,301,290 in 2004."
  • Ohio: Per the Dayton Daily News: "Democrats appear to have won the voter-registration battle in Ohio. Of the 822,804 newly registered voters in the state, almost six in 10 — more than 475,000 — are in the 16 counties that went Democratic in 2004 presidential election, a Dayton Daily News analysis of statewide voter registration data has found. The 72 remaining counties that went for President Bush in 2004 recorded some 347,000 voters. And most of Ohio's new voters are young, which polls indicate should favor Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain on Nov. 4. The analysis found that almost 452,000 or 55 percent of the newly registered voters are under 30 years old. And more than a quarter, or 227,852, are 20 or younger. The latest Dayton Daily News/Ohio Newspaper Poll found that likely voters 29 and under favored Obama over McCain by 62 percent to 38 percent."
Early voting
  • Overall: Per CNN: "As of Tuesday, at least 9,813,052 ballots had been cast in 31 states that allow early, in-person or absentee voting without having to provide an excuse. The figures are based on reports from state election officials. Of those votes, at least 1.2 million ballots have been cast by registered Democrats and at least 731,200 by registered Republicans. These 1.9 million votes make up 19.6 percent of the 9.8 million early votes available for calculation by CNN.com. Many early voting states do not specify party affiliation for voters."
  • North Carolina: Per CNN: "As of Tuesday, just over 396,000 registered Republicans had cast early votes in North Carolina, compared with registered Democrats, who had cast 771,500 ballots -- nearly twice as many."
  • Colorado: Per the respected GMU US Elections Project, approximately 50% of Coloradans have already voted, with a slight edge to the Dems (numbers will be updated here once released tommorrow).
  • Virginia: VA does not have early voting.
  • Florida: Per CNNFlorida, well known as a presidential battleground, has brought out nearly 1.2 million early voters so far, according to election figures. According to figures provided Wednesday by the Florida Democratic Party, in-person early-vote ballots cast by registered Democrats in Florida totaled 772,694. Florida ballots cast in person by registered Republicans totaled 431,520. Forty-one percent of Florida's registered voters are Democratic and 37 percent are Republican, according to state election officials.
  • Nevada: Per CNN: "Election officials in Nevada only report party registration for Clark and Washoe counties, where the major cities of Las Vegas and Reno are located. There, early voters have been trending heavily Democratic: 161,463 to 90,017. The two counties account for about 90 percent of the state's population, and Democratic turnout is currently about 75 percent higher than turnout for Republicans, according to The Early Voting Center."
  • Ohio: Per the OH Secretary of State: "Today Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner announced key statistics on absentee ballots, early voting, and anticipated turnout. Highlights:
    • Through October 24th, 221,368 Ohioans requested in-person absentee ballots and 1,234,996 requested mail-in absentee ballots – an unprecendented total of 1,456,364 absentee ballot requests. (This is the first presidential election in which any Ohio voter can request an absentee ballot without a reason.)
    • Brunner expects "historic" voter turnout of 80%, or 6,480,000 Ohio voters, and anticipates absentee ballots could account for up to 1/3 of those voters. To date, absentee ballot requests represent 22.5% of that anticipated turnout.
    • During the one-week "overlap" period for same-day in-person registration and voting, 652,875 absentee ballots were requested, of which 585,467 were mail-in and 67,408 were in-person. However, only about 12,800 of Ohioans requesting in-person absentee ballots also registered on the same day. 
      The highest turnout precentage in any prior presidential election (since 1977 when such percentages became available) was 77.15% in 1992. The turnout in 2004 was 71.77%. 
      * If Brunner is right about turnout and if a third of those voters will have voted early, that means that the number of people actually walking into polling places on November 4th will be about 4,290,000. Judging by this chart, that appears to be fewer Election Day voters than any presidential election since 1980, perhaps even 1977 (depending on how many people voted absentee in prior years, when a valid reason for doing so was required).
The Obama Revolution in Political Affairs
By expanding his supporter base, utilising the internet (whilst optimizing traditional fundraising means) to raise record sums, re-shaping the electorates of key states and putting new states into play, Obama has revolutionised political campaigning. Critically, Team Obama operationalised this approach by brilliantly integrating it's field operations from the primary season into a magnificent voter registration programme which in turn became a GOTV juggernaut.

Obama's campaign has seen the advent of a new and powerful donor/activist model (one that both Huckabee and Palin are likely to utilise in their struggle for the 2012 GOP nod), it has shown that electorates are not static statistical models (Nov. 4th could be the Iowa Caucus writ large) and it has huge potential governing implications for a President Obama (which we will explore during the bizarre twilight that is Transition). 

All of this will be tested on Nov. 4, but if this assessment is accurate, Nov. 4th isn't the end of the Obama model, it is the beginning of nothing less then the transformation of political campaigning. Boney and Carl would be proud.