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.