After a week of gains by Senator Clinton, my two daily tracks, Gallup and Rasmussen, have the race stabilizing, and arriving in about the same place - her up 4 and 6. Will be interesting to see how the WY and MS elections effect the national polls.
Travis touches on this issue in his post, but on this day that Barack Obama announced that he raised $11m more last month than any candidate in the history of politics, I wanted to revisit this theme again. For the story here is not just about money, but the emergence of a new 21st century people-driven politics.
Pete and I talk about the emergence of what we call a "new politics" in our "50 Year Strategy" essay, and in a piece I wrote right before Super Tuesday I talked about the explosion of money, voting and volunteering all coming together in "a virtuous cycle of participation."
Here is the heart of it:
A Virtuous Cycle of Participation - Finally, Obama has one very powerful advantage in these final days that is hard to see and evaluate - the power of his virtual community across the country. We saw the power of this community with the truly extraordinary amount of money it raised for him in January. But equally important in these final days will be the virtual door knocking these millions of people will be doing - emails to their address books, actions on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites, text messages sent to friends, viral videos linked too, and comments left on blogs, newspapers and call in radio shows. It is no exaggeration to say that this million or so impassioned Obama supporters will reach tens of millions of voters in highly personal ways in the next few days, providing a messaging and personal validation of Obama that may be equal in weight to the final round of TV ads, free media and traditional grassroots methods.
All the way back in 2003, I wrote an essay about this new era of participation in politics that argued the new Dean campaign model was changing the way we had to imagine what a Presidential campaign was all about. In the 20th century, a Presidential campaign was about 30 second spots, tarmac hits and 200 kids in a headquarters. In the 21st century, the race for the Presidency would be about ten million people going to work each day, wired into the campaign through the campaign's site, through email, sms, social networking sites etc acting as full partners in the fight not just passive couch potatoes to be persuaded.
This is a very different model of politics. One begun by Dean but being taken to a whole other level by Obama. It puts people and their passion for a better nation at the core of politics. When used correctly, it creates a virtuous cycle of participation, where more and more people engage, take an action and bring others in, creating a self-perpetuating and dynamic network of support. It is also why the endorsements of entities with large, active virtual communities - Kerry.org, MoveOn - is so meaningful for Obama. He has created an on-line ecosystem that can quickly take advantage of the support of the millions of people now doing politics in this new 21st century way and exponentially grow his dynamic community of change.
The Democratic Party is one entire Presidential cycle ahead of the Republicans in adopting this new model, and I will argue it is simply not possible for the Republican nominee to catch up this year. Too much experimentation, too much trial and error goes into inventing this new model for it to be easily and quickly adapted. It has to be invented, not adapted. I'm sure the GOP will catch up over time, but this year year the only GOP candidate who has taken this new model seriously has been Ron Paul - and they have paid the price. Obama raised almost as much money in January of this year as John McCain raised in all of 2007. Democrats are raising much more money across the board, seeing historic levels of voter turnout, increased Party registrations and millions more working along side with the campaigns - all of which is creating an extraordinary virtuous cycle of participation that continues to grow the number getting engaged in politics as never before. While there can be little doubt that anger towards Bush and disapointment with his government is a driving force behind this, the key takeaway is that the adoption of this new politics by Democrats allowed the Party to take advantage of this tidal wave in unprecedented ways, and will be one of the Democratic Party's most significant advantages going into the fall elections.
Much attention has been given to the money raised by this Obama network. Much more needs to be given to the power of it to deliver message, provide personal validation to friends, neighbors, colleagues and peers in ways so powerful, and ways never seen before in American history. I have no doubt that it has been the campaign's ability to foster and channel the passion of his supporters - creating a vrituous cycle of particpation - into an unprecedented national network - helping amplify and reinforce the power of Obama's argument - that is playing a critical role in Obama's closing the gap with Clinton in these final exciting and dramatic days before Super Tuesday.
Markos does an excellent write up of a new 50 state SUSA poll that looks at how the electoral college would fall, today. Both Clinton and Obama grind out narrow wins over McCain, but what is most interesting is the different paths each might use to win.
Should the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ask the Canadian PM to come to DC and explain the Canadian governments intervention in an American election?
It sure appears that the multiple leaks out of the Canadian government were targeted to tank Barack Obama. The GOP in Washington would much prefer to run against Senator Clinton, and these leaks appear to be an effort by conservatives in Canada to help their ideological cousins in the US by hurting Obama at a critical point in the election.
Josh Marshall has new information showing definitively that the Canadian leaks were designed to hurt Obama. New news accounts show the Clinton camp had similar conversations with the Canadians as the Obama camp - but only the Obama conversations were leaked. What makes this particularly gauling is that Senator Clinton has been much more critical of NAFTA than the junior Senator from Illinois.
Could we be headed towards early June Florida and Michigan primaries? How to pay? Governor Dean could ask all Democrats to chip in $25 and raise a quick $25 million. The two states themselves should chip in whatever remains, up to half the costs. If the primaries are scheduled for that first week in June it is possible for the nomination process to be over and a nominee picked by the traditional end time, early June, and allow the Democrats to end with lots of attention on two critical general election states.
Gvoernor Dean released this statement yesterday:
"We're glad to hear that the Governors of Michigan and Florida are willing to
lend their weight to help resolve this issue. As we've said all along, we
strongly encourage the Michigan and Florida state parties to follow the rules,
so today's public overtures are good news. The rules, which were agreed to by
the full DNC including representatives from Florida and Michigan over 18 months ago, allow for two options. First, either state can choose to resubmit a plan and run a party process to select delegates to the convention; second, they can wait until this summer and appeal to the Convention Credentials Committee, which determines and resolves any outstanding questions about the seating of delegates. We look forward to receiving their proposals should they decide to submit new delegate selection plans and will review those plans at that time. The Democratic Nominee will be determined in accordance with party rules, and out of respect for the presidential campaigns and the states that did not violate party rules, we are not going to change the rules in the middle of the game.
"Through all the speculation, we should also remember the
overwhelming enthusiasm and turnout that we have already seen, and respect the voters of the ten states who have yet to have their say.
"As we head towards November, our nominee must have the united support of a strong Democratic Party that's ready to fight and ready to beat John McCain. After
seven years of Republican rule, I am confident that we will elect a Democratic
president who will fight for America's families in the White House. Now we must
hear from the voters in twelve states and territories who have yet to make their
In my post yesterday afternoon, prior to the results last night, I wrote about the structural changes taking place in the Democratic race and the resulting big shift towards Senator Clinton.
The Clinton mo' continues today. After her big wins last night, the two national tracks we follow show continued, substantial movement towards her and away from Senator Obama. Gallup now has it 48% Clinton, 44% Obama, changed from 45%-45% yesterday. Rasmussen now also shows a similar spread, 48%-43%.
While Senator Obama holds a substantial and significant lead in the delegates, Senator Clinton is now in command of this race in a way I'm not sure we've seen since the voting began. Obama has a chance to change the narrative with WY and MS in the next week, but we are seeing the evolution of a very different moment in the campaign now.
I will have more to say about it all a little later.
Update: TPM Election Central projects that Senator Clinton will net out 10 more delegates last night than Senator Obama.
Update 2: Once again, Jonathan Alter over at Newsweek does the delegate math, and it still favors Obama.
Update 3: Texas. Kos writes it looks like Obama will win more delegates in Texas than the good Senator from New York. Does this mean he won Texas, and that he and Senator Clinton split the two big states last night?
We all have our favorite polls. Mine has been the daily Gallup track. Today's track now has it 45%-45% Obama-Clinton, down from 50%-42% Obama-Clinton just two nights ago.
As we head into these critical contests tonight this poll and many others indicate that the Democratic race is going through some kind of structural change, and that the momentum is swinging towards Senator Clinton. I've been asked many times over the last few days why. And I will admit I simply don't know - there didn't appear to be a single large event that could have shifted the race this much. But shift it has, and as of tonight it sure appears that we have a new race on our hands.
Update 1: Rasmussen's Daily Track shows similar movement.
Update 2: Over at Daily Kos Markos offers an interesting take on what the Obama strategy might look like after tonight.
Update 3: Jonathan Alter makes a powerful case that even if Senator Clinton has a good night tonight and begins to capture new found mo', that delegate math makes it neigh impossible for her to pull this thing out. A test of this new mo' will come quick in both Wyoming Saturday and Mississipi next Tuesday.
Update 4: Josh Marshall and his site Talking Points Memo have done a great job of covering the efforts of the conservative Canadian government to inject themselves into the American election, a rather remarkable event. Keep reading his blog to stay on top of this developing story, and check out their most recent piece here.
Update 5: The battleground states. In the fall there are currently 9 states that will likely be the true battleground - CO, FL, IA, MO, NH, NM, NV, OH and VA. Obama has won CO, IA, MO, VA. Clinton NH, NM, NV and now OH. Each candidate has won 4 of the true general election battlegrounds, with Florida yet to have a legitimate content. So this claim by Clinton that she has won where it counts the most seems a little bit of a stretch, though Ohio and Texas were big big wins tonight.
Update 6. The delegates. Kos's first cut has Senator Clinton picking up to between 1 and 5 more delegates last night than Senator Obama. We will have more on this later today.
A Sunday NYTimes piece by Adam Nagourney takes a look at the final strategies and tactics of the two campaigns in the all-important home stretch in Ohio and Texas.
Be sure to note the success the Obama campaign has had it with its google ads, something we talk a great deal about at our affiliate, the New Politics Institute.
Update - Remember California. As I look at Obama's small lead in the final round of Texas polls, I am reminded of California and the excellent campaign the Clinton campaign has run this year in the Hispanic community (from ads to issues to surrogates). Most of the final CA polls had Obama ahead or very close in California. But driven by a huge performance of Hispanics, a group difficult to poll, Senator Clinton won the state by ten points.
Could this pattern repeat in Texas? Could Hispanics deliver her another essential win? And what happens if she wins the popular vote and he the delegates? Going to be a fascinating night on Tuesday.
Update 1 - Two new polls out Sunday have OH and TX too close to call, with Clinton up 4 in OH and Obama up 1 in TX. Tuesday is going to be quite a night.
Update 2: A national AP piece on this consequential battle closes with this passage:
"The Clinton campaign clearly has much more money than they had before, but they are still being dramatically outspent by Obama," said Simon Rosenberg, head of [NDN], a think tank. "And things don't seem to be trending their way and they don't have a lot of tools to deal with it anymore."
A Kos diarist has yet another report on the huge early vote numbers out of Texas. In the 15 largest counties there has been historic levels of turnout, and 3 times as many Democrats have voted as Republicans.
This year has seen record numbers of voters, record amounts of money and record numbers of citizens participating in the process - all of course wildly favoring Democrats so far.
If the Obama Feb money rumors are true - over $40 million - Senator Obama will have raised as much money in Feb as Senator McCain did in all of 2007. For more on this new age of citizen-led politics, check out the video of Joe Trippi and I at our recent forum on politics.
Looking at the rash of new national polls there is no doubt now that we find significant movement towards Obama this week. The CBS/Times poll had him ahead of Senator Clinton by 16 points, the USA/Gallup had it 11, the new Rasmussen has it at 9, and the daily Gallup track, which had it even now has Obama up 5 - 48/43 - two days in a row. The last 3 TX polls have him up mid-single digits, and while she leads in OH and PA those leads have shrunk to 4-5 points.
In the last week or so, there has been a structural shift in the race with Obama now definititively ahead by 5-10 points. On Feb 5th he trailed by 14. So there has been at least a 20 point shift in the race over the last few weeks.
What does this mean for Tuesday? Obama now leads by his largest margin, and while it looks awfully good for him, this election has shown that almost anything is possible.
Fri Update: Today's Gallup Daily Track has it now 49-42 Obama up from 48-43 earlier this week. More evidence of movement in his direction.