The Incredible Campaign - Sunday am wrap up

What can you say. This one has it all. Drama. Volatility. New voters. New media. The weaknesses of our election system mightily exposed. Consequential differences between the two parties. And of course the overwhelming desire for change. What a remarkable and exciting election.

I offer up some thoughts and links on this Super Sunday. Yesterday I swore off reporting on polls, humbled as we all have been by their - let us say - unreliability. But this morning I changed my mind. Here we go:

- There are polls out today with good news for both sides in the Democratic contest. Josh Marshall reports that the national Rasmussen and Gallup tracks have Senator Clinton gaining. The new CA Field poll out this am shows the Golden State within margin of error, with Obama gaining and still a great deal of undecided. Post/ABC has it 47% Clinton, 43% Obama. All in all I think we go into Super Duper Tuesday with Obama having made up a great deal of ground in the last two weeks, something I have discussed here and here. Certainly it seems as if both campaigns will end up winning a lot of delegates and that we keep going through at least the first week of March when Ohio and Texas vote.

I don't really know how the media will declare a winner and loser on Tuesday night. The Nevada example - where Clinton won the popular vote, Obama won more delegates and Clinton was declared the winner - is a good example of how this process can only confuse the traditional way the media plays elections, particularly with the GOP side full of winner take all states and likely to produce a single winner - John McCain. What happens if one candidate wins more delegates and the other more states? National media, especially TV news, resists complexity. But that is what we are going to get Tuesday night on the Democratic side. For the East Coast media it will be particularly hard as CA could go late into the night.

I speculated the other day that given the complexity of all this the candidate who wins CA may end up having the greatest claim to make the "victory" speech, but I'm not so sure any more. It will be the most important state, no doubt. But I could see other narratives emerge. 1) Obama wins big in Red and Purple states, reinforcing his case that he will be a much better general election candidate (something the polls agree with). 2) Obama gets an early win in the NY media market, or keeps NY very close, setting the tone early that his late surge had an impact (I still cannot understand why Obama is not visiting the NY media market in the last week - it effects more delegates than other market in the nation). 3) Despite the closeness of the race one candidate could end up "winning" 12-15 states, giving them a visual win on election night even if the delegate count is very close or goes the other way. NDN will produce an analysis tomorrow that looks at the sequencing of the calling of states on Tuesday night, which will impact the final media narrative. Does anyone know whether the networks are doing exit polls in all 22 states? 4) Hispanics give Senator Clinton big wins in CA and other Southwestern states. 5) Obama suprises Clinton. 6) Clinton hangs tough, has a big night, stops the Obama surge.

Who knows.

- The Feb 12th Potomac Primary which features DC, VA and MD is going to engage the people of the Beltway in a very significant way in the campaign. The intensity and partisanship that is sure to break out here - pitting friends against friends, colleagues against colleagues - is a preview of the year to come. We are now almost certainly going to have 2 sitting US Senators running for President, putting the Senate, this city and its people on the very frontlines of the Presidential campaign in ways not typical in modern American politics. The emerging Bush-McCain, Clinton-Obama-Reid-Pelosi balancing acts will add even greater complexity to an already complex and dynamic political year.

- NDN's extended family is in the news quite a bit today. You can find us in Jose Antonio Vargas of the Post's piece on Hispanics in New Mexico; in John Heilemann's excellent piece on the importance of the Hispanic vote in 2008; in Holly Yeager's piece on the election in the Washington Independent; and Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, featured presenters at our upcoming March 12th Forum in Washington, have a major op-ed in the Post today on the coming power of the Millennial generation, one of our favorite topics. And if you haven't checkout the new Rolling Stone article, Blame Pedro, about the GOP's demonization of Hispanics, it is well worth a read. For background on the Hispanic vote and 2008 check out our recent memo, The Battle for Hispanics is Joined.

- Finally, the first round of national and state polling about the fall match-ups, while early, have some important clues to the coming general election.

First, McCain is consistently in the 40s, in some cases in the mid to high 40s and is often beating the Democrats. In these polls he is running 10 points or so of his Party, which indicates he may very well be a very competitive candidate. He, of course is not without problems - Iraq, his age, his flipflopping on immigration, his lack of an economic argument, a potentially deflated party base - but at this point he looks suprisingly formidible.

Second, Obama consistently outperforms Senator Clinton in these early head to heads with McCain despite her very strong showing in the Democratic primary and his lack of history with many voters. It needs to be said that given how well known Senator Clinton is with the national electorate her weak showing - most polls have her in the low 40s - is a worrisome sign for the general.

- Go Giants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday afternoon update: 4 new national polls out today.  3 have Obama Clinton within margin of error, functionally tied.  The main Gallup poll which had HRC gaining yesterday now has it within one point.   There are now polls out showing Obama ahead in California.   Meanwhile 3 new polls out in MO have Clinton leading by more than 14, by 7 and the race tied.  So who knows. 

Wherever we end up it is clear Obama had made up as much as 20 points in the last 12 or days, making this one a real nail-biter Tuesday night.  Josh Marshall has a good poll roundup.  As does Daily Kos.

Gallup delivers some good news for Clinton

The new Gallup track out today has Senator Clinton picking up 4 points leaving the race at 48% Clinton 41% Obama. Given the volatility of the polls these last few days, particularly with Edwards dropping out, I will now swear off reporting on the changing polls any more and just leave it to the voters on February 5th.

On the Republican side McCain is beating Romney handily, and is picking up most of the major endorsements. He seems to be in good shape for Feb 5th, and according to Gallup is gaining momentum.

Adam Nagourney of the Times has a good piece looking at the final ad buys of all the major campaigns.

Obama closing the gap, reinventing politics along the way

Looking at various polls the other day I speculated that the Democratic race could end up even on Super Tuesday. The new Gallup track now has the race 44% Clinton, Obama 41%. On Jan 20th it was 48% Clinton, 28% Obama. The most interesting stat in the report is that more Edwards voting are breaking to Obama than Clinton. If these numbers are true what is most important to note is that movement is two way - Clinton is dropping while Obama is rising.

We will never know exactly what happened in these last few weeks to change the race so dramatically. It was some combination of the angry Clinton tactics, Obama's huge South Carolina win, the Camelot endorsement, the powerful set of other endorsements (well used by the Obama campaign) and a modification of the Obama strategy itself. And something else not well understood - the power of millions of people fighting hard, in new and unprecedented ways with new dynamic new tools - to make the case for their cause.

Perhaps Hillary's very strong debate performance on Thursday will blunt some of this momentum. But for now it sure looks like we head into Super Tuesday dead even. Let's look a little deeper at why:

The Power of Camelot - The Camelot endorsement has been particularly powerful. It gave the Obama a way to mount a frontal assault on the very effective 3 part Clinton strategy of women, Hispanics and tradional Democrats. The Kennedy name of course plays very well with traditional Democrats. The name has great resonance in the older Hispanic community, where Clinton was doing particularly well. And for younger Hispanics, particularly the immigrants, Kennedy's strong championing of their case is well known. And women. Caroline Kennedy's ads, speech and just overall incredible presence simply has to be having an impact (a new Gallup report suggests Obama has moved a great deal with women in recent weeks). Remember that Obama doesn't need to win these groups, but he may now be able to successfully cut Clinton's margin in each category, something that could fundamentally alter the dynamic of the race. (For more on the battle for Hispanics click here.)

Hispanics, the Economy - There is also now mounting evidence that the Obama campaign is in the process of correcting two of their greatest strategic failings in the last few weeks - their lack of emphasis on Hispanics and the economy. On top of the Kennedy endorsement, Obama is traveling throughout heavy Hispanic regions now; did an excellent job making the case for immigration reform in Thursday's debate; has been better using his high profile Hispanic surrogates and has upped his Spanish language buy throughout the region. Whether it is enough to carve into Hillary's enormous margin with Hispanics - so critical in California - we will find out on Tuesday. But it is now clear Obama and his campaign are at least trying much harder to reach Hispanics than even just a few weeks ago.

I've been writing since Iowa that the Obama campaign's lack of emphasis on the middle class struggle was not easy to understand. I think it was the major reason they lost New Hampshire and allowed Clinton back into the race. Over the last few days you can see the Obama mesage evolving, becoming more about the core struggle of every day people, and with a much greater emphasis in his campaign now. In New Mexico yesterday he offered this new speech on the economy, one that is clearly an evolution from previous formulations.

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 -, 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.

Update: Not only did Obama receive the endorsement of the LA Times today, read by many Latinos in Southern California, he was endorsed enthusiastically by the largest Spanish language daily paper in the nation, the LA based L'Opinion. While the paper praised both Clinton and Obama, they singled out Obama's steadfast support for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants - in contrast to Clinton's waffle on it this fall - as a major reason for the endorsement. How much impact these two endorsements will have in the coming days, and whether they will help him cut into her large lead with Hispanics could determine the outcome of the California primary - as the Rasmussen track has Obama now leading among white voters in the Golden State.

The Obama campaign continues to do things that one would have believed impossible a month ago. Receiving the endorsements of Camelot; of Oprah; of John Kerry and Bill Bradley; of Kathleen Sebelius the day after her giving the State of the Union response; the $32 million raised; the winning of the Iowa Caucus; and now, what I simply would not have believed possible, the endorsement of L'Opinion. Whether he wins or loses, Barack Obama has mounted a truly incredible campaign.

A good debate

It was a good debate. The format allowed the candidates to talk, and put the journalists in the background where they belong. For those who were not that familiar with the candidates, or where undecided, they certainly were able to learn a lot about each of them.

Hillary was very good. Comfortable, commanding, smart. It was one of her best performances, and it came at a critical time.

Barack was fine. He had good moments, but he seemed tired, restrained, careful. It is still one of the great mysteries of the campaign why this inspirational orator is just an above average debater.

It was so refreshing to hear such a thoughtful, impassioned and pragmatic discussion of the need to reform our broken immigration system. I was very proud of both Senators during that excellent exchange,

While we may not have seen great differences between the two Democrats on the major issues, it was very evident last night that there will be enormous differences between the Democratic and Republican nominees on a whole range of important issues - the economy, taxes, health care, immigration, the war. It is going to be an incredible general election campaign, a defining and important one.

And was often noted last night, it was the first time in the history of American politics where the candidates remaining in any race for the Presidency did not include a white man. For related background check out an essay I wrote recently that shows how America is undergoing its most profound demographic change in its history here.

Finally, I am in awe of the physical stamina and determination of both Barack and Hillary. This has been the most intense and grueling campaign we've ever seen. The campaigns are so big now, there is so much money, so many people, so many events, so much more media, so many more new tools, such big issues, and now so many states. Both Barack and Hillary looked good last night, despite it all. That level of determination and grit is simply a wonder to behold.

Kos on Piolin

Markos has an interesting look at one the most influential media figures in America today, El Piolin.

Obama, Clinton tied going into Feb. 5th?

Adding to the incredible drama of this already remarkable race, there is a growing body of evidence that Clinton and Obama may go into Super Tuesday tied, or close to it. The Rasmussen and Gallup tracks are now showing significant movement to Obama. The Rasmussen link above also has polls in Connecticut and California with the candidates now within margin of error. At this point, however, it is still too early to gauge the impact of the Edwards withdrawal - something that could influence the apparent Obama momentum one way or the other.

Two further points:

- Obama leads among white voters in the Rasmussem CA poll. I think this poll, and the other polls in this round should put to bed the idea that Obama cannot win white votes. He won plenty of white votes in both IA and NH, and outperformed all predictions of his white vote share in SC.

- Hispanics may end up being the single most important part of the Clinton strategy on Feb 5th. In the new Gallup poll she is holding on to a 28 point national lead, and in the Rasmussen CA poll she also leads by 27 points. As we wrote yesterday this battle for Hispanics - and whether Obama can cut her enormous margin down in the final few days - may be the most consequential battle of all the important battles coming up on Feb 5th.

Am I crazy to be referencing polls given what has happened this year? Maybe...

The battle for Hispanics is joined

For more than two years Hispanics in the United States have been subject to the most racist attacks that we've seen in the American public square in many years. It has been a shameful episode in our history, and something I am proud that NDN has been a leader in fighting these past few years.

As Peter Leyden and I wrote recently in our article, The 50 Year Strategy, Hispanics - along with the emerging Millennial generation - are one of two new demographic groups that were not a major part of our 20th century politics, but are poised to reshape politics in the 21st. And I think we will look back on this week as the week in 2008 that Hispanics were transformed from a community villified by many elected leaders and members of the media to one of the most sought after communities in American politics, a condition that I believe will now be the way Hispanics are treated for the remainder of this critical election year.

I offer four observations about this emerging, and historic, battle for the Hispanic community:

The rise of Hispanics is changing the American electoral map - The nationalization of the Presidential race takes off this week with Super Duper Tuesday now just six days away. As the Presidential goes national now, the candidates of both parties will be forced to speak to Hispanics, the fastest growing part of the American electorate, the largest minority group, and a group heavily concentrated in five of the most critical general election swing states in 2008 - AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV (see NDN's recent report Hispanics Rising for more on this). Given the likely 2008 electoral map it is not an overstatement to say that Hispanics may hold the key to the Presidency in 2008.

Seven of the Feb. 5th states have heavily Hispanic populations - AZ, CO, IL, NJ, NM, NY and CA, the big prize. So when you add in the Nevada Democratic Caucus, it is fair to say that never before in American history will Hispanics have had such influence in picking a nominee for President than in 2008.

As of this morning both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have released new Spanish-language ads in Feb. 5th states. Obama and his surrogates are now playing hard in the Southwest this week, having released a new Spanish-language phone banking tool, and are now invoking a storied and revered family in the Hispanic community - the Kennedys - into the campaign to counter the power of the Clinton name. Both parties will debate over the next two nights in Southern California, one of the most heavily Hispanic regions of the country. The debate is sure to provide interesting insights into the state of the immigration debate. (Reminder: Romney and Huckabee have called for the forced removal of the 11-12 million undocumenteds).

This modern approach to the growing Hispanic population was pioneered by Republicans, specificially George W. Bush and his brother Jeb, something they brought to the national Republican Party from Texas and Florida. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, this modern strategy helped the GOP win those five critical general election states - AZ, CO, FL, NM, NV - all won by Clinton in the 1990s - whereas the Kerry campaign simply did not run a serious Hispanic campaign or adequately target these regions. The GOP was working off of a 21st century strategy in this case, the Democrats a 20th century one. And using this modern stategy the GOP doubled their market share with Hispanics in just two elections, and used it to win the Presidency twice.

Interestingly, the positions of the two parties has been largely reversed in recent years. Both Obama and Clinton are now running fully engaged Hispanic campaigns; both support comprehensive immigration reform and have treated the new immigrant population with respect; the Democrats fielded the first serious Presidential candidate of Hispanic descent; they put their Convention in the Southwest, a nod to this new map; and gave a heavily Hispanic state, Nevada, a privileged place in its nominating process; and all Democratic candidates participated in the historic Univision debate in Miami, the first debate in American history conducted largely in Spanish. At a strategic level Democrats have discovered the power of the Hispanic vote and the new map it brings. For them there is no going back.

The Republicans, however, through their recent racist rhetoric and demonization of Hispanic immigrants, have abandoned the modern strategy Bush brought them. Last year they blocked the bi-partisan Senate immigration reform bill, after blocking it in the House in 2006; they were very late to accepting the Univision debate invitation and skipped most of the major non-partisan Hispanic conferences widely attended by the Democrats; their Hispanic immigrant chairman Mel Martinez resigned this year over his Party's approach to Hispanics; and they all but skipped the NV Caucus. This is a very different picture, and one, as Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson has pointed out, that may cost their Party the Presidency in 2008 and beyond.

In the Democratic Primary Clinton is leading with Hispanics, and deservedly so - Despite powerful labor endorsements for Obama in NV, Sen. Clinton won the Hispanic vote there 68-24%. An incredible performance. She also leads in available polls in this community by a similar margin in the upcoming Feb. 5th states. Hillary's strength with Hispanics comes from two sources. First, there is great fondness for the Clintons in the Hispanic community. In the Clinton Presidency, jobs were much more plentiful and there was little national racist anger towards their community. For Hispanics, things were simply much better when Bill Clinton was in charge. Second, Senator Clinton has made speaking to Hispanics a priority in her campaign from day one: Her campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle is Hispanic; she has the most respected Hispanic strategist in the nation, Sergio Bendixen, running her Hispanic campaign; she has received support from most of the major leaders of the Democratic Hispanic establishment, including Senator Bob Menendez, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros; and despite her waffle on drivers licenses, she has held the line on comprehensive immigration reform. I fully expect her to receive a strong majority of the Hispanic vote on Feb 5th - and if it happens, she clearly deserves it.

Obama has been late to mount a credible campaign in the Hispanic community, but is now fully engaged - One of the great strategic mysteries of this incredible campaign has been the Obama campaign's late engagement in this community. Until a few weeks ago it was hard to even determine if Obama had any Hispanic effort at all. But that was yesterday, and today the Obama campaign - perhaps because of their performance in NV - has become fully engaged. They have ads up on the air; they continue to gain key endorsements (Reps. Gutierrez, Becerra, and Linda Sanchez); Obama and his surrogates are spending a lot of time in the Southwest prior to Feb. 5th; and the campaign now has a very potent weapon in the revered Kennedy name, an endorsement that may cut into the huge advantage HRC has with older Hispanics.

One of the most interesting things to watch for on Feb 5th is what happens with younger Hispanics. As we know, Obama has soared with younger voters, and the Hispanic population is very young. These young Hispanics were a critical driver of the large pro-immigrant rallies and demonstrations in the Spring of 2006. There were many stories about students organizing themselves for these rallies through text messaging campaigns on their cell phones. Will this younger Hispanic vote turnout and go Obama? How will the perception of intolerance the Clintons have shown towards African-Americans cut with this group, a generation much less accepting of intolerance of any kind? Will Obama's new and intense Hispanic campaign in the Hispanic community be able to, in just a week, cut into HRC's big lead?

We will find out next Tuesday.

The McCain factor. Of all the candidates the GOP could have nominated, Senator McCain has the greatest capacity to repudiate the recent racism of the GOP and mount a serious campaign in the Hispanic community this fall. He is from the Southwest and has a long history with Hispanics: He was a powerful advocate for immigration, even attaching his name to a bill with the liberal lion Ted Kennedy, a bill that became the framework for all immigration reform legislation these last three years. If he goes on to win the Republican nomination it will do a great deal to hush the more exteme elements of his party that are demonizing immigrants, and it will show that the Republican Party has come to embrace the assimilation of the undocumented population. His position will allow him to run a fully engaged campaign in the Hispanic community, making it likely that we will see more money spent and more attention given to Hispanics in the 2008 general election than ever before in American history. From this critical vantage point I've always believed McCain to be the strongest GOPer the Democrats could face - we already saw the potential impact of McCain's relationship with Hispanics as it was their votes last night that delivered Florida.

But as this post below reflects, what is also true about John McCain is that in 2007, at a critical moment in the debate over the immigration bill that he was the primary author of, he did not stand and fight - he cut and ran. Spooked by his reception in the GOP primary at that time, McCain simply walked away from the Senate immigration debate in 2007. And his abandonment of the bill at that critical juncture was perhaps the single most important factor in the collapse of the Senate bill last year. So while it is true that McCain has a strong history on this issue, and in this community, the story of his advocacy of immigration reform and on behalf of Hispanics is as much one of cowardice as it is courage.

So, whatever the outcome of this coming campaign, let us all mark 2008 as the year Hispanics officially became a potent force in American politics.

Sat Update: New York Magazine's John Heilemann has an excellent new piece on the importance of Hispanics to both the primaries and the general.

Hillary and Florida

Like many I wish the Democratic Party could have found a way to let the votes of the people of Michigan and Florida be counted. Unfortunately the rules were the rules, all the candidates agreed to them, and - for the most part - have stuck by them.

So what exactly is Hillary doing by going to Florida to declare victory, pushing her way into whatever is the big Republican story tonight? Somehow given the events of the last few weeks this move just feels wrongly timed. Too many questions are being raised about the Clinton's integrity, their willingness to do whatever it takes to win, even sacrificing long held values and beliefs in the process.

Having worked on the New Hampshire primary and in the War Room in 1992 for the Clintons, I was present at the creation of the famous "rapid response" campaign style and fierce fighting spirit of the Clinton era. In the very first meeting of the War Room James Carville warned us "that if you don't like to eat sh-- everyday you shouldn't be in politics." So I understand as well as anyone that this is a tough game, not for the faint of heart.

But there is a line in politics where tough and determined becomes craven and narcissistic, where advocacy becomes spin, and where integrity and principle are lost. I am concerned that this Florida gambit by the Clinton campaign is once again putting two of my political heroes too close - or perhaps over - that line. So that even if they win this incredible battle with Barack Obama they will end up doing so in a way that will make it hard for them to bring the Party back together, and to lead the nation to a new and better day.

Wed Update: In Wednesday's Washington Post, Dana Milbank effectively captures the absurdity of the Clinton campaign's declaration of victory last night.

The delegate battle and this phase of the campaign

Adam Nagourney has an excellent look at the delegate battle ahead.  Make sure to check out the charts and graphs. 

I took a look at this new phase of the campaign in two recent posts here and here.  I also have offered some thoughts on Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy here.

The campaigns go national, onward to Nevada and South Carolina

After snowy Iowa and New Hampshire the Presidential campaign has gone national, adding states like Florida, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina and then the unprecedented Super primary on February 5th.

On the Democratic side we are seeing the first year of a new nominating calendar which was designed to involve two regions - the South and the West - and two groups - African-Americans and Hispanic - to the traditional Iowa and New Hampshire Midwest, Northeast and largely white mix.

The idea of broadening this primary calendar to include these 2 new regions and 2 important communities was something I championed in my race for DNC Chair in 2005. Of all the candidates running I was the only one who was willing to challenge the old system, a system that only once had produced a Democratic candidate who received more than 50 percent of the vote in the general election (Carter 1976), and which was simply not representative of the nation America had become. I was very pleased when the DNC adopted a plan very similar to mine in the spring of 2005, which choose Nevada and South Carolina as the representatives states of these regions.

Embracing these regions and voters is particularly important to Democrats, the much more diverse party of the two political parties. In 2008 minority voters will make up perhaps 25% of all those who vote, and may be as much as 40% of those who vote Democratic in 2008. While it may be another 40 years before the nation becomes majority "minority," the Democratic Party is likely to become a majority minority Party within the next ten years or so as the African-American, Hispanic and Asian populations grow in the US and remain largely Democratic. Given the way the Electoral College has played out in recent elections, the Democrat's new emphasis on Hispanics and the heavily Hispanic states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV could alone swing the Presidential race to the Democrats in 2008 (see our recent magazine article "The 50 Year Strategy" for more on this).

As I wrote the other day helping our people embrace this new much more diverse America of the 21st century - and other emerging demographic realities like the rise of Millennials and the movement of the population to the South and West - is one of the modern progressive movements most urgent strategic challenges. By adopting this new map, by the historic diversity of the Presidential field, by the emergence of a Western-based Congressional leadership and the placement of their convention in Denver this year, it is clear that the Democrats are increasingly becoming a party built around the emerging demographic realities of 21st century America.

Vist here for a new NDN Backgrounder on Nevada, Immigration and Hispanics, here for an excellent Dan Balz overview of the upcoming Super Duper Tuesday in the Washington Post today and see below from on the ground reports from NDN staffers Joe Garcia and Travis Valentine from Nevada. This more national orientation should be on full display tonight in the Democratic debate from Las Vegas.

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