Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama leading McCain by about 15%

Two national polls - Gallup and Newsweek - nearly agree that Obama now leads John McCain in national polling by about 15%. This substantial lead seems consistent with what many see as Obama's huge popularity in the face of McCain challenges with image and with associations with the unpopular Bush presidency.

Adding to McCain's concerns is the fact that Obama appears to be on the verge of amassing the greatest war chest in presidential history, where even a modest level of contributions from existing supporters will give Obama over $200,000,000 to fight McCain who is unlikely to see much more than half that amount in my view. Soft money may prove to be more important in this election however, and in that department the Republicans can draw on the larger average incomes and give amounts far exceeding the 2300 maximum for personal contributions.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zakaria Interviews Rice

Fareed Zakaria is one of the most thoughtful observers of the American geopolitical landscape and today he interviewed US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Some have suggested Rice is a very unlikely candidate for McCain's VP spot because she clearly pins him to the Bush Administration's foreign policy, but I think she is probably on the very short list right now in part because she would represent the smooth policy transition advocated by McCain, a position that has become increasingly popular as Iraq stabilizes. However the main reason to pick Rice would be to sway the Clinton supporters and soft Obama supporters for whom Rice might represent a viable alternative to Obama's likely ticket, which almost *cannot* include a woman other than Hillary Clinton and is *unlikely* according to most to include Clinton.

CNN GPS Website:

More about Zararia's GPS

Friday, June 20, 2008

ObamBraham Lincoln?

Joe Klein's article about how Obama is conjuring up so very old fashioned stuff is worth a click for the *picture alone*.

Lincoln, in my opinion, would not be surprised to see an African American running for the American Presidency, and he would certainly be pleased that racism's shadow over the USA has shrunk to the point where race won't play a major role in the election.

Obama to forego $84,000,000 federal campaign financing

Barack Obama today announced that he would not take federal financing, opting instead to finance his own campaign. McCain has suggested this means Obama has backed away from a written pledge to do otherwise.

As Kenneth Gross noted tonight on PBS news, this is clearly a money play. Obama has raised a spectacular sum so far in the primaries - over two hundred million dollars, and should have no problems raising far more than that for the general election. With a donor average which I think is still in the neighborhood of 100-200 and a maximum of 2300 per donor, look for Obama to fill his campaign warchest with at least another 400,000,000 before the November votes are tallied.

McCain's ability to raise the huge funding needed to compete is much less certain. Republicans sensing a likely loss in 2008 may choose not to send as much to McCain as if he was more competitive. So far McCain has only been raising about 21 million per month on average. Unless he sees a huge and dramatic surge in funding McCain will be at a huge financial disadvantage barring some huge help from the Republican National Committee and the 527 groups that have far less stringent financial requirements and therefore can take large donations from wealthy Republicans.

McCain will likely be much more comfortable now with the 527 group "swiftboating" ads which may offer his only hope at competing with Obama.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tim Russert RIP

Tim Russert was a fine journalist - clearly a guy who loved his country but did not let that get in the way of reporting the good, the bad, and the ugly of our American experience.

I do have to agree with this Slate Article, however, that suggests the media has spent more time on Russert than was warranted by his many years of fine journalistic service to NBC. Of course the media *always* gets relevance totally wrong. Network news spends at most a a few minutes monthly discussing the Military spending despite the near-insanity of the current US Military budget (even though you pitch in thousands as an average taxpayer, I bet you cannot guess this number to within #100,000,000,000 of the right answer. Yet you think this is probably money well spent? It is not. Yes, you should be ashamed and NO, this extraordinary level of waste, fraud, and abusive spending is not keeping the USA safer than smart spending would. Also YES, we should be cutting social services massively as well. The founders would be completely outraged about how Government has absorbed so much productivity in the name of good national stewardship.

Swiftboating backlash?

Although historically negative advertising has been very effective in many elections, I think the upcoming Obama and McCain campaigns have the potential to change the way elections are run. Not so much because they are virtuous - though I think both candidates are good guys - but because voters may actually have become sophisticated enough to reward a higher road.

This may be too optimistic but clearly Obama's campaign against Clinton appeared to benefit from taking a higher road. When Clinton attacked in debates and in advertising, Obama usually paried rather than fought back. I think many Americans found this very appealing. Clinton supporters feel that she was treated unfairly by press and by the Obama campaign but I think on balance both the Democratic and Republican primaries were dignified and without nearly the amount of negative campaigning there could have been given the years of political and personal baggage from most of the candidates involved in the races.

In terms of Obama vs McCain I think Obama has a huge edge in the sense he can easily lable McCain a Washington insider as he talks about Obama vs McCain's "change" themes. On the other hand McCain cannot label the young and politically inexperienced Obama much except as being young and inexperienced - arguably very desirable traits to many Americans in the current election as long as the candidate is smart and appealing as Obama certainly appears to be to most.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Electoral Showdown: Obama Leads Strongly

Barack Obama is squarely leading John McCain in both national polls of the popular vote and also the far more important electoral vote count, though McCain strategists will find some comfort in the fact that the "solid" electoral base for McCain appears stronger than the solid base votes for Obama.

However if we split the tossup states listed here at RealClearPolitics
Obama wins the Presidency handily.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Show Obama the Money

Barack Obama has raised tens of millons more than John McCain, but McCain is the one with huge personal wealth. USA Today reports

Where the Obama's appear to have a net worth of about a million, John McCain is awash in money with net worth in the range of about 27+ million and a wife who is worth well over 100 million thanks to her inheritance of a beer distribution business that she now runs.

Unfortunately for the McCains personal wealth does not translate into political success. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton both had more than Obama but still lost elections and billionaire Ross Perot managed a distant third place in the general election despite his immense personal wealth, which many believe he would have used if his prospects were greater to win.

McCain's Daughter: Blogger

Kudos to John McCain's daughter who is blogging her experiences along the campaign trail and elsewhere. I was surprised that Mitt Romney's sons did not get more attention for their efforts blogging, but I think many bloggers think this are publicity stunts more than sincere expressions from key insiders in these campaigns. There is a bit of the former I am sure, but fakes are easy to spot and I haven't seen any indications that these candidate kids are not writing most if not all of their own stuff.

Obama is up, McCain is down

The early polls pitting John McCain against Barack Obama suggest that Obama is in the lead in electoral votes, and that clearly Obama is the man to beat as states line up for the voting in November.

Before the big campaigns start in earnest it is impossible to predict how things will shake out, though the basic early conditions clearly favor Obama, and strongly. His remarkable political machine has created a huge groundswell of support that appears likely to increase as the Clinton factions come over to Obama. McCain remains challenged in terms of funding and hard support from the traditional key Republican sectors who historically have not favored McCain's traditional maverick stances.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Obama and Clinton Meet at Senator Feinstein's Place... in secret

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton met today in Washington. Clinton will speak tomorrow, conceding to Obama, but it is not at all clear what they talked about. There is huge buzz about whether Obama might name Clinton as his VP. Most pundits are saying he will not but they appear to have very little inside information.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Swift Boats .... Launching

Now that it is Obama vs McCain in the general election look for a fairly dignified level of direct exchange between these two senators along with a *hurricane* of personal destruction stories from advocates for each side.

A friend mentioned a story to me about John McCain verbally abusing his wife in public. I'm still not convinced the upcoming book is a reliable source, but you can bet the claim will make it into the pro-Obama blogOsphere very quickly:

If true this is a very alarming anecdote but does this rise to the level of showing McCain is an abusive bad character? Will this be countered with Obama drug use stories from the McCain Swiftboating teams?

Are blogs reporting, and you deciding, or is all this out of hand?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Clinton to Concede on Friday

Hillary Clinton will concede the election on Friday, apparently following a large number of influential calls today suggesting that it was important she not stay in the race now that Obama has effectively clinched the party's nomination.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hillary "No Decision Yet"

Despite millions of votes in the primary, Hillary Clinton appears to be in the small minority of Democrats who think she's got a shot at the Primary, even as Obama has clinched the decision based on current and almost certain totals. In fact by morning more superdelegates will commit to Obama, giving him an even more insurmountable lead in the Primary.

My take is that Hillary is now "running for VP", and her strong speech was basically telling Obama "you need my peeps".

Obama, however, is unlikely to choose Hillary as a running mate based on most reports that suggest the gravity of the Clintons is simply too overwhelming to support her as VP and Bill as ex president in residence.

But hey, we are talking about party politics where ... anything can happen.

It Is Obama

Even as the final state votes come in favoring Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama now has clinched the nomination based on the delegate total after the South Dakota primary.

Clinton is speaking in New York at 9:45 EST but it's still not clear if she will officially concede or wait until later to do so. Clinton's speech is both powerful and intriguing as she's not yet giving a clear indication of her intentions.

We'll know more in a few minutes....

Obama Within 7 Delegates - Will Clinch For Certain

Obama may actually clinch the nomination *before* the polls close today, though strategist Karl Rove speaking on Fox appears to have it right - the Obama campaign wants to win tonight based on pledged delegates putting them over the top rather than the party hack vote from superdelegates.

Obama To Clinch Nomination at 10pm EST

It's now *very* clear that Barack Obama will clinch the Democratic nomination within minutes - and probably within seconds - of the close of the polls tonight in Montana at 10 pm EST.

Many superdelegates have already said they'll be committing to Obama at the close of the polls, including some of the most potentially influential superdelegates such as Jimmy Carter and several US Senators.

Hillary Clinton may not concede the race tonight though I'm guessing she will do so, and immediately announce her unqualified support for Obama. Network TV is reporting that Clinton has said she'll accept an Obama VP spot based on conversations with campaign insiders.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Electoral Vote Mapping McCain and Obama

This site has a great idea - track the state by state voting polls and then assign electoral votes based on that to see if McCain or Obama has the edge in the National Election.

Unfortunately the methodology has a serious flaw until the Demcratic primary is over, and that is the fact that Clinton supporters are likely to shift their perceptions dramatically once Obama is the "annointed" candidate. My view is that almost all of Clinton's support will flow to Obama even though at this time there are many Clinton supporters saying they won't vote at all or will even support McCain.

My view is supported by the 15 day average which shows Obama winning general election while the 50 day average favored McCain. By next week, when the Democratic Primaries are wrapped up and Obama will be the presumptive adn perhaps the actual winner, I think the electoral voting will line up with national polling and show Obama with a strong lead over McCain.

Obama to Clinch Nomination within minutes after SD Polls Close

Extremely reliable sources are reporting that some superdelegates will pledge to Obama *immediately* after the polls close in South Dakota on Tuesday June 3rd.

The pressure to commit to Obama and effectively line oneself up with the next President is already weighing heavily on the remaining superdelegates and it is likely the party will seek to have a large block - enough to put Obama over the top - commit to him Tuesday night.

Prediction: Obama will clinch the nomination Tuesday, and Clinton will concede Wednesday morning.

Half a disenfranchisement is better than a whole

The Democratic Party rules committee has decided to give half power to the delegates from Florida and Michigan. Had this decision been made earlier it would have seemed wiser than now,and Clinton is suggesting she may dispute this decision later. The inept process has made the end of the Democratic Primary as much an example of contentiousness and poor planning as party unity, which is still sorely lacking for the Democrats.

The Clinton campaign is now making the (correct) case that more voters cast a vote for her than for Obama, although the process is not about total votes and thus it's not clear how you should allocate, for example, caucus activity since those states did not have a popular vote.

As with the 2000 election we are seeing that our "democracy" is ... seriously flawed. Rather than simply count everybody's vote in both primaries and the general election we have system that are designed to "balance out" the process but have been co-opted by party insiders to make it messy and questionable. The solution is very, very simple. One person, one vote, abolish delegate voting and abolish electoral college.