Thursday, January 31, 2008


So, it appears that my observation that Hillary and Barry on the same ticket generates more power than simply looking at their relative strengths is the meme of the evening in the blogosphere. However, there is an assumption among the blogbots that HRC gains more from having Obama as a running mate than Barry gets from having Hillary.


Look at the cumulative cross-tabs. Obama's weaknesses among voters are more pronounced than Hillary's weaknesses, and his strengths are either concentrated in small voting groups or are based on unreliable constituencies.
  • HRC pulls over 50% of the white vote, and appears to be pulling more than that of hispanic voters, who are a constituency that is wavering between Republicans and Democrats.
  • She significantly outpolls everyone in either party on women voters who are the single largest demographic voter group. To the degree that people do identity voting, the sheer numbers of women voters quickly provide volume.
  • Hillary consistently outpolls Barry with people over 40, who make up 60+% of the voter turnout. Her margins with younger voters aren't too shabby, either.
  • On issues, more people care about domestic policy (economy, health care, housing, etc.) than about Iraq, and they favor Hillary. As far as Iraq goes, more voters will agree with HRC's position than with Barry's, if only because they intially supported the war and now feel foolish.
  • HRC also attracts and holds the Democratic base far more than Barry, and these are voters who will not defect in the general, the way cross-over Republicans or weekly committed Independents might be.
  • She gets union, pink and blue collar votes far in excess of Obama or Edwards, and she inspires voting among low income, less educated women.
  • Finally, she strongly out perfroms Obama in the suburbs where the soccer moms congregate and where voter turn out is highest. As it happens, she also polls better than he does in urban and rural areas.

In short, she already dominates the core constituencies on the left except for African American voters. If she keeps her campaign clean, that constituency will probably give her at least a strategic if not very enthusiastic vote.

What Obama can do is bring in a new cadre of younger voters who will likely stay committed to vote for him down the road. He can bring in some of those Independents and convert them to Democrats. This is a group that is increasingly made up of people who have defected from the Republican party, but need some extra "oomph" to take the final step and join up. I'm not sure about the male vote, as guys sexist enough to refuse to vote for HRC overlap considerably with guys who vote along racial lines, too. Finally, he gives a fig leaf to the HRC haters who wil have to walk back their bigotry, allowing them to hold onto their disdain but claim to be seeting up a strategic situation for the next time.

Hillary's strengths are deeply rooted in the core of the party. Barry would do well to cultivate that connection.


Win in November

As goes Florida, so goes the nation.

After watching the juxtaposition of the querulous white guys (they aren't quite energetic enough to be angry white men) last night and the "too much talent and intelligence to safely occupy the same auditorium at one time" dynamic duo tonight, it becomes painfully obvious that the only force that can defeat the Democrats in November will be the party divided against itself. There is less than nothing on the Rethuglican side of the aisle and they know it.

The obvious solution is for Clinton and Obama both to be on the ticket. With that, there would be a political tsunami to sweep the Democrats into power the likes of which we have not seen since 1964. Coattails don't even begin to describe the effect of that combination on down-ticket voting. It might be possible to win outright a 60 seat Senate majority - without Lieberman. Apart, with only one or the other on the ticket, there will be a decent but not overwhelming win. This is truely a situation where the whole would be much greater than the sum of its parts.

I think that HRC will win a clear majority (though not a super majority) of delegates to the convention. This is what the demographics of the polls are saying - she wins women, registered Democrats, blue collar, white and hispanic, over 40, and polls strongly with all others. She has the longest and more complete experience of dealing with economics and finance at a national political level. How the Democrats handle the deepening recession could lead to a multi-generational electoral dominance. She is a person ready to face the immediate future.

Barry is potential that needs shaping. Too much like the Big Dog at the same point in their careers, trusting to their own intellect and "personal touch" approach to politics more than is good, better campaigners than executors or leaders. Barry has been too eager to rely on the anti-Clinton vein in American politics than is healthy for his campaign or his psyche, confusing those who see him as a useful tool with those who actually want him elected. Such as the entire Republican party. The nation needs to NOT have such talent thrown into the political malestrom to be worked over by the VRWC while trying to learn on the job.

Hillary can handle it. Indeed, there is no one, not even Bill, who has better psychological resources against it. The more the right screams, the stronger she gets. I compare the person she was during Big Dog's presidential run and the person she has matured into being. How many others would have been able to take on what life (and the Right) threw at her and come out as whole, as mind-bogglingly normal as she has? Just compare her to good old Bill, who as Bob Somerby noted a few days ago, still lets the press get under his skin and bait him into self-defeating acts. Bill's always needed to be the smartest smart-ass in the room, and therein lay his downfall.

The big question, then, will be whether the professional Clinton-haters on the Left will set aside their own Tweety-level obsession with Hillary and promote the party. The Naderites will always be with us, like the Paultards on the Right, but what about those who are in the grips of CDS and who literally cannot escape their prejudices against HRC? Most HRC supporters can treat Obama with equanimity, but certain opinion leaders on the Left cannot treat HRC as a human being, let alone as the well liked, well supported, much respected leader of the party that she is.

So, for November, the Obama faction has a chance to actually walk their talk and bring unity to the Democrats, a strategic maneuver for long term political gain.

Besides, won't it be fun to watch Tweety's head explode when he has to say "President Hillary Clinton"?


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Edwards Factor - Analyzing Florida County Voting Patterns

Instead of going to my usual crosstabs, I'm going to delve into county level voting patterns and how this might play out with Edwards leaving the race. I have heard that he is not doing so because of Elizabeth Edwards' health and I fervently hope that is true. I suspect it has to do with money plus realizing he won't make a delegate difference at the convention. Can we say A.G. John Edwards? I knew you could!

My county data is drawn from this map on the New York Times. I recommend you have it open as I will be referring to geographical information it presents.

The first thing to note about the map is that Hillary dominated the state. Her areas of weakness were highly concentrated in the northern and panhandle areas, where Florida stops being an extension of New York and starts being part of the old south. There were only three counties where she did not get at least 30% of the vote: Gadsen, Baker and Washington. She was second in all three of those counties. In Gadsen, Obama dominated with 55% of the vote. That was the only county where he received more than 50%. This contrasts with South Carolina, where he had a number of wins with 60+% of the vote. In Baker and Washington counties, HRC was defeated by Edwards. She lost more counties to Edwards than to Obama. The only county where she finished third (and then only by 70 or so votes), Edwards was the winner.

This points to the phenomenon that where Edwards did well, he was highly competitive with HRC. There was only one, very small county where an Edwards win had Obama come in second. Where Edwards did well, so did Hillary, which could indicate that on a political spectrum, more Edwards supporters are going to fall into the HRC camp than into the Obama camp. Edwards did best where Obama polled badly. Four of the six counties where Obama won gave more total votes to HRC and Edwards than to Obama. In three of those counties, had Edwards only polled his usual amount (14%), Hillary would very likley have won.

Where Hillary's margins were thinnest and Obama strongest, it was accompanied by a strong Edwards vote. If Hillary was under 45%, you usually found Edwards above 20%, which then created an opening for Obama if the other two could cancel each other out.

HRC maintained both the highest percentage of votes and the least variation in the percentage she took:


Her highest percentage was 61%, her lowest was 26%, more than double the poorest showing of the other two, the range between high and low was smaller and the median percentage was 42%. Edwards and Obama had the same range, though Edwards' median was 6 points lower.

In the next table, what I have done is look at the counties where the candidate won (horizontal row) and recorded the average % of votes in winning counties. I then looked at the percentages earned by the other two in relation to the winning amounts (vertical columns). Thus in the first row, when HRC won, she averaged 53% of the vote, with BHO pulling 31% in those counties and JRE getting 13%:


What we can see from this is that changes in preference between Obama and Edwards come at HRC's expense. She goes down to 32-33% (still much higher of a base than the other two) and the bulk of that defection goes to one or the other candidate. They do not benefit equally at the same time. Obama gets a little more of the HRC defection in Edwards strongholds than Edwards gets in Obama strongholds, but they don't share the spoils. I estimate that more Edwards voters will go to HRC than to Obama, though it will not be 100%. The crucial measure here is that 10 to 15 times the vote volume was to be found in HRC strongholds vs. Edwards or Obama. They may have some nice percentages, but she overwhelmed them with actual votes.

As an anecdote, at work today I had a colleague come over to my desk and ask me who she should vote for now that Edwards, her first choice, was out. I did not say a single negative thing about Obama except that I did not think he had enough political experience at a national level given the work that lies ahead to clean up the mess left behind by Bush. I focused on the ways in which HRC and Edwards shared many of the same policy perspectives and goals. She admitted afterwards that she really always preferred Hillary, but had not believed HRC was electable - until Florida.

And that is why Obama supporters are so frantic to say Florida is nothing. Democrats who have supported Edwards until now because of the electability factor may make a significantly different calculation next Tuesday.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Big Picture

I had a lovely dinner with the spousal unit, where we toasted Hillary's most recent victory and talked over our impressions of the campaign so far. I'll have more to say about the exit polling (and also the NYT county by county analysis) another time, but I want to set down a few points from my thinking tonight.

First, as I pointed out in the post "Caught With Their Pants Down," it is abundantly clear that neither Edwards nor Obama have a national campaign strategy beyond the first four plus a mad dash to Super Tuesday, while HRC has been running a national (and general election) campaign from day 1. She pushed hard for the Florida vote for the role it will play in the nomination, of course, but, after listening to her speech tonight, what she did was the first part of her general election campaign to get Florida into the Democrat column in November. Over all, her speeches and appearances lately have been occasions for her to talk about winning in November. Those who bitch about Hillary trying to break the rules have to read the rules (these delegates cannot seat themselves, but the others may vote to allow them in) and are not thinking about party success in November.

On the other hand, Obama is clearly frantic to keep afloat on technicalities and delegate margins. His rejection of Florida tonight is probably a necessary campaign tactic, but it is also an example of cutting off your nose despite your face. It might or might not help him keep Florida from being seated and boost the relative strength of his delegates, but he has just alienated one of the biggest block of voters (and not just Democratic voters) in the country.

What is also clear is that Obama's South Carolina strategy was very deliberate. He was trying to "energize" AA voters to get them out and give him a substantial delegate victory because he will need every delegate he can get. (Look for him and his surrogates to mess with Nevada county and state conventions to hold onto that one additional delegate.) Looking at Florida, you can see his campaign made a calculation, that negative campaigning and trash-talking the Clintons as racists would pay off in a high AA turnout and support in SC, and that it would have a negligible effect on the Florida results. I expect they calculated that Florida in percentages would end up looking a lot like New Hampshire, with him polling very well with Independents and Republicans and staying competitive with Democrats. In fact, it appears that a general "Tweety" effect was in play, where voters went strongly for a maligned candidate, in excess of poll numbers. Post-SC deciders fled him in droves.

Here is a very odd and really rather unfortunate phenomenon. John Edwards is the choice of conservative white men. Looking carefully at the exit polling, Edwards is clearly the recipient of the support of a fairly compact interest group - conservative white males who are often defectors from the Republican side of the aisle. This makes no sense, given Edwards' populist rhetoric and policy positions. All I can glean from this is that social identity trumps rational reflection on the candidate's actual stances. It is also darkly amusing that the constituency treated as normative by the press - conservative white males - is behaving far more like a special interest group than any other demographic, whose candidate choices have been flexible and fluid throughout the contests. Then again, they have the most to lose by diluting their vote, so they are the quintessential speical interest.

The ultimate lesson to draw from the larger picture is that the small strategic blunders on the part of Obama's campaign (believing their own hype from Iowa, being personally dismissive of and arrogant towards Hillary Clinton, waging excessively belligerant contests for a bare handful of delegates, getting seriously beaten in Michigan, Nevada and Florida because of trying to game the process, dismissing the efforts of over a million Floridians to cast a vote in defiance of the party Grand Poohbahs, trying to duck Rezko rather than simply get the pain over with at once, being too eager to play footsies with the MSM in attacks on Clinton, etc.) demonstrate a lack of larger strategic vision and objectives. This points to a very simple fact - he ran too soon. Golden Boy Barry's initial promise (and I well recall listening to his keynote address, enraptured, thinking "You got my vote, Dude!") is being squandered in a campaign where the inability to think four states ahead is steadily chipping away at what he has to offer. His frustration at not gliding to victory on the back of his own wonderfullness is surfacing more and more.

We all know that The Golden One wants to be preznit. We have yet to hear why we should give this to him, what it is, precisely, that he will do with this office. Hillary = Healthcare for all. Edwards = Empowerment of the ordianry citizen. Obama = support me, I'm cool. It is deeply ironic that Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama. When Kennedy challenged Carter, he gave a television interview where Roger Mudd asked him why he wanted to be president and Kennedy could not answer the question. It was clear he thought simply being a Kennedy was answer enough. Then, at the national convention, Kennedy refused to shake hands with Carter and congratulate him on being the Democratic nominee. Carter followed Kennedy around the stage, trying in vain to get a handshake. These two incidents - a vacuous answer to why he should be nominated and an act of petulance of staggering proportions - ended Kennedy's presidential ambitions.

Thinking about that, it's not so bad being compared to Jesse Jackson.


Preliminary Florida Crosstabs

I take the results from the MSNBC page here. Yea, they are acting like pricks, but numbers are numbers, and they have them in the easiest to access format. These are simply some fast numbers. I will do more analysis after the dust settles and I can study trends in more depth.

The news tonight is that Hillary has won a sweeping victory in a state that more closely resembles the national average demography than any of the other states so far in the primary season. Even more than the number of votes, the make up of the voting public is important, because it is a window into how the nation as a whole may look at the candidates. Florida is alos not next door to any of the big three, has been closed to campaigning, and has no reason to hustle votes because of the threatened DNClock-out. Therefore, we're seeing a pretty interesting and non-skewed sample of the American mind.

The second story here is Obama fatigue. FLorida voters who decided in the last few days (since South Carolina) broke heavily for Hillary. Something in Golden Boy Barry's message is turning people off. My guess is that the media Clinton-Hate-In that has been going on for the last week has also had an effect on voters who are calling bullshit on the more egregious exaggerations and misrepresentations.


The BIG story here is that Clinton's percentage of Black voters has gone up again. She received more Black votes in Florida than all the votes she received from all voters in Iowa or Nevada.

16% - IA
Not reported - NH
30% - MI (Obama not on ballot)
14% - NV
19% - SC
27% - FL

Obama did his worst among Black voters in Florida so far this year, dropping to 70% of that vote.

Party Affiliation

Clinton cleans up with 53% of Democrats. She also wins the most Independents, and a quarter of the Republican vote. Obama is back to low 30s for party support, and shockingly only gets 28% of the Independents. His numbers and HRC's numbers are reversed on this, which indicates that Independents abandoned Barry in Florida. This is very, very big.


Hillary won all age groups, even the young vote. Her percentage of the elderly vote, 58%, is actually less than in Michigan or Nevada, but still more than double Obama's. The age distribution in Florida is comparable to what occured in Michigan, except for HRC winning the youngest age bracket. Obama significantly underpreformed among older voters this time around. One of those elderly female hispanic voters in Florida was my mother-in-law, who is a rock-solid Hillary supporter.


The big story here is that HRC performed extremely well with male voters, comparable to the margins she achieved in Nevada and Michigan. Her numbers among female voters was slightly better than Nevada, though not quite as good as Michigan. Obama's numbers with men are the same as his polling in Iowa, so the extra Edwards voters went to HRC. Thsi was his worst showing among female voters at 29%

That's it for now. I'm off to have a celebration dinner. Next up, Super Tuesday!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Time for No Tolerance

I've had two emails in the last 24 hours, one from an old friend, the other from a new interlocutor.

Fergus says,
OK, so the media lied their butts off about what Bill Clinton said or did. The impression is what matters. I came from a blog thread where a few people were making statements barely within the boundaries of civil discourse about black voters. I dont' even want to repeat the words, they made me so pissed off. What can be done about the way black (and female and gay and Latino and poor)voices are being stigmatized? What's old Big Dog going to do about that?
Francis Holland, in a comment to an earlier post, says,

I still strongly support the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama presidential/vice presidential ticket, but there is only so much I can do for Hillary in the Black community if her campaign continues to engage in stereotypical color-associated attacks that denigrate ALL Black people.

She should also consider the fact that Blacks are inseparably associated with the public identity of the Democratic Party. To the extent that Blacks are besmirched, the Party itself loses popularity with the public. That makes it harder for Hillary Clinton to be elected in the fall.

If this seems ethereal, just remember how stereoypical portrayals of Blacks (Willie Horton) helped to doom Mike Dukakis' 1988 campaign. Fanning the flames of those stereotypes ultimately makes the Democratic Party less acceptable to white voters.

A word to the wise is sufficient. But a word to the wilfully deaf and ignorant is a waste of time. Let's see what whether the wise or the wilfully deaf will prevail.

I've spent a good amount of time here on this blog defending HRC against bogus claims of racism, and I've smacked The Golden One around for engaging in his own race-baiting, trying to milk liberal white guilt for all it is worth. But the fact is that when racism enters the conversation and settles its stinking, rotted carcass on the couch, it takes some ordinary extermination efforts to excise it from the body politic. I was particularly disturbed to read in more blogs and threads than I want to think about the number of people who talked about AA voters as having been "duped" (to either vote for or against HRC) or as "stupid" (for the same reason).

Paul Krugman, in The Conscience of a Liberal, speaks extensively about the way in which the Republican Party has made racism the foundation of their electoral success. There is no advantage to Democrats in touching this crap except to renounce it and denounce it in the most unequivocal terms. There is no ethical, legal, or electoral advantage to our party to engage in any kind of racial demagoguery.

To stigmatize or marginalize any constituency within our party makes the party weaker, and that is the way the Republicans continually try to portray Democrats - every Democrat is in the pocket of some "special interest." What is a "special interest"? Anyone who is not a wealthy WASP male and all groups such people belong to. The key point of congruence between New Hampshire and South Carolina was not the top two candidates - it was the derogatory way in which the media treated the winner's chief voting group. All the boo-hoo weepy, weak, wimmin for Hillary the Bitch and all those race-obsessed Black people voting for their homey Obama.

The media narrative was "Oh, man, neither of these candidates really appeal to white men all that much," as though this is A) true or B) meaningful. But this is how the media narative is shaping up. Hillary is the female candidate, Obama is the Black candidate and the lame-ass Republican who manages to stagger through to the nomination is going to be the "American" candidate.

Let's understand Krugman carefully: as he warns us, the Movement Conservatives want to roll back America to the 19th century. They want to destroy the economic gains and social equality that was a direct result of FDR's New Deal, and they are going to do this by racial and gendered attacks on our candidates, our policies and our governance. They want to eliminate equal rights and have no problem with apartheid. They want to roll back sexual equality. They are for eliminating rights to manage our own affairs, such as birth control and marriage, and want to remove the safety nets and legal safeguards that protect us from the selfish whims of the mega-rich.

The recent who's calling whom a racist shit has to stop.

I'm calling on the candidate I support, Hillary, to make it clear she will not tolerate any more questionable statements from anyone associated with her campaign, from Bill right down to the lowliest volunteer. She should refuse to answer race-baiting questions from assholes like Russert, and instead ask why the media is so determined to inject race into the campaign. And she has to make it clear who is and is not speaking for her campaign.

There is no person, no campaign, no victory that can justify deliberate use of racial divisions. Leave it to the Republicans to immolate themselves on the pyre of racism come November.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Krugman on Politics, Policy and Partisanship

Paul Krugman bestows a long needed whack up-side the head to all Democrats concerning the presidential campaign. He talks about the uncanny resemblance of Golden Boy Barry's campaign to the Big Dog's first run, right down to the message of "Hope" and promises of bipartisanship. Then he throws some cold water:

Whatever hopes people might have had that Mr. Clinton would usher in a new era of national unity were quickly dashed. Within just a few months the country was wracked by the bitter partisanship Mr. Obama has decried.

This bitter partisanship wasn’t the result of anything the Clintons did. Instead, from Day 1 they faced an all-out assault from conservatives determined to use any means at hand to discredit a Democratic president.

For those who are reaching for their smelling salts because Democratic candidates are saying slightly critical things about each other, it’s worth revisiting those years,simply to get a sense of what dirty politics really looks like.

Message to the Democrats, particularly the netroots screamers out to denounce the eeeeviiiilllll power-mad Clintons - the enemy is Movement Conservatism. Clinton failed because he wasn't prepared to deal with the utter, unhinged savagery of the right-wing attacks. Nothing was out of bounds, nothing to personal, too heinous, not even accusations of murder and drug-running.

Krugman then very specifically addresses the pitfalls of another point of congruence between the Big Dog and The Golden One, their comparably weak and vague health care policy plan. His objection to Obama's plan is based in the historical failure of Clinton's - too little, too late, too careful. It was a privately crafted wonk piece and not a sharp presentation, complete with drawn up battle lines, and specifics to be defended. Krugman provides a few lessons to all Democrats, but most specifically to the Clinton Haters:

So what are the lessons for today’s Democrats?

First, those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves. Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect the same treatment: an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false (at least not on Page 1).

The point is that while there are valid reasons one might support Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, the desire to avoid unpleasantness isn’t one of them.

Second, the policy proposals candidates run on matter.

I have colleagues who tell me that Mr. Obama’s rejection of health insurance mandates — which are an essential element of any workable plan for universal coverage — doesn’t really matter, because by the time health care reform gets through Congress it will be very different from the president’s initial proposal anyway. But this misses the lesson of the Clinton failure: if the next president doesn’t arrive with a plan that is broadly workable in outline, by the time the thing gets fixed the window of opportunity may well have passed.

This cuts to the heart of Obama's two very serious weaknesses without letting Hillary off the hook. First is Obama's inherent claim that somehow the conservative battle is specific to the Clintons and that people will melt before his incredible awesomeness. No. They hate you, too, and you will end up as slimed and reviled as the Clintons. Probably more so. Don't believe me? Two words: Al Gore. Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler has documented those atrocities. And, Barry, they aren't going to wait for you to reach the White House. It will start the day you clinch the nomination.

The second weakness is your flaccid wonkery. Yeah, yeah, you charm and you promise, but you don't have the goods where it counts, hon. Hillary and Edwards both have you beat on detail and there ain't nobody in the race who knows more about the executive office than HRC. Experience does matter because the nation doesn't have time for a learning curve. It needs something ready to go yesterday, and it needs an advocate who has no illusions about nicing these people into agreement.

Krugman concludes with another solid slap to all participants, but most directly to Hillary. I think he's pretty much given up on Golden Boy Barry. John Edwards gets some Krugman approval:

My sense is that the fight for the Democratic nomination has gotten terribly off track. The blame is widely shared. Yes, Bill Clinton has been somewhat boorish (though I can’t make sense of the claims that he’s somehow breaking unwritten rules, which seem to have been newly created for the occasion). But many Obama supporters also seem far too ready to demonize their opponents.

What the Democrats should do is get back to talking about issues — a focus on issues has been the great contribution of John Edwards to this campaign — and about who is best prepared to push their agenda forward. Otherwise, even if a Democrat wins the general election, it will be 1992 all over again. And that would be a bad thing.

Quit the freaking hissy fits over who said what asinine thing to whom and start wonking up the place, dammit! Of course, Barry can't because he never has been able to, so it's up to Hillary to get her act together (and get Bill to back off a few steps for the good of the nation) and make this a campaign about issues, details, policy and plans.

The problem here, of course, is that Hillary is doing this. She bores the poor reporters to death with her incessant yammering on about the things only the unimportant plebes care about, like how to pay heating bills and what can be done to save your house. If the media will not report the issues, if they reward candidates who play the "Kill Hill!" demonization game (I'm looking at you, Obama), if they ignore the candidates when they discuss policy and planning (case study - Mr. Edwards), how can the progressive agenda be advanced?


UPDATED: Is It Racist to Mention Jesse Jackson?

Edit: Not only did Bill Clinton not say anything wrong with the quote people have been viewing, the video has evidently been edited to eliminate the question the reporter actually asked Bill, basically asking Bill if Obama could win as a Black candidate. That was the question Bill was responding to. For more on this, see Mike Pridmore's blog on MyDD: Clinton's comment about Jackson manufactured by media?

This simply emphasizes that the media is intent on destroying the Clintons, and they will use any filthy tricks they can to do so. In the context of the question, Bill's answer becomes even more reasonable.



I'm sorry, but all the hyper-ventilation over Bill Clinton stating God's own truth - that Jesse Jackson did darn well not once but twice in South Carolina - needs to stop. Clinton made a perfectly valid, if politically strategic, observation.

The argument from the outraged parties seesm to be that if either Clinton (but especially Bill) makes mention of anything that has even a hint of racial emphasis or analysis in it, they are doing something so far beyond the political pale that we need to just crucify them NOW before they destroy the nation's soul any further. Will no one think of the children? (staggers to fainting counch with the vapors)

Please, just fuck off. Bill Clinton made exactly the right point and Obama's defenders are playing into the worst of the Right-wing racist tropes, that there is something tainted about successful black candidates who get majority black support.

Clinton was challenged by a reporter to explain HRC's 2-to-1 loss in the primary. Big Dog responded in a perfectly reasonable way - present the facts and give it a spin to favor his own candidate. Here's the facts:
  • South Carolina Democrats are majority African American.
  • They have fought tooth and nail to get and keep their enfranchisement, despite savage opposition from whites, both Democrat and Republican.
  • They are determined to support qualified black candidates and they are determined to support viable Democratic candidates.
  • At the start of the campaign, there were doubts among all Democrats about Obama's viability as a national candidate. As the campaign went on, the doubt subsided, and he solidified his support.
  • A qualified black Democratic candidate in South Carolina is going to get the majority of the black vote. How do we know this? Jesse Jackson's great performances here in 1984 and 1988.
  • Thus, no one should be surprised that Obama did extremely well among AA Democrats in South Carolina. Pleased, excited, satisified, affirmed, yes. Surprised, no.
  • And, therefore, HRC's 20% support by AA Democrats needs to seen in this light. She was up against a strong competitor who for a variety of historical and demographic reasons had an incredible advantage in this primary.

From my perspective, Jackson is a far more historical and groundbreaking candidate than Obama. He walked into the middle of the fray at the height of the Republican's "Southern Strategy" and refused to dissemble on either his race or his liberal political stance. He presented his case and he not only won South Carolina, he also won Michigan. And then he won a bunch more states. He didn't get the nomination, but he made the Democratic party sit up and take notice that black Democrats weren't ornamental or to be taken for granted. They had clout, they had a voice, and they could put a candidate up who could compete. For example, South Carolina is one of the early primaries in most part because of Jackson and his demand that the party stop taking the black vote for granted.

The strategic part of Clinton's analysis, of course, was to make the listeners reflect on the course of Jackson's campaigns, to engage in their own comparison and constrast between Jackson and Obama. Obama's supporters are giving away the store with their caterwauling. They agree with the right-wing and the MSM that there's something wrong with getting the majority of the black vote and having that be the margin of victory. This is a mirror image of the way they attacked New Hampshire female voters for supporting HRC, trying to belittle and dismiss female voter preference.

Trying to deracinate your own candidate on the national level while taking advantage of local or regional race politics (notice that is NOT the same as racism) is what Clinton called out, and rightly so. Go read any of the pro-Obama bloggers and really look at what pisses them off over the statement. They are furious that Clinton made clear the racial breakdown of Obama's support. They were happy to yell to the rooftops that their guy won in "lily white Iowa" but they won't accept the flip-side - that he wins even bigger in black SC. They hate having it made obvious that Obama will not enjoy this demographic advantage again. They really hate having Obama connected to Jackson, even as Jesse Jackson Jr. is part of the Obama campaign and responsible for the single most egregiously racist statement uttered by any participant.

Tell you what, when JJ Jr. is fired for his Katrina comments, and Axelrod dismissed for his Bhutto statement, and Obama goes on national TV to apologize for the "D- Punjab" racial slur, and the Obama campaign agrees to never again use sexism as a campaign tool, then I will be first in line to demand Bill Clinton quit being a tough, forceful, aggressive advocate for HRC.


South Carolina Crosstabs

I continue to take my cross-tab results from the MSNBC page. They are simply easier to read than any other site. I think that the exit polls from this primary are very slightly under-reporting Obama's strength, with less than 1% error, but it is still important to note.

I keep track of the following crosstabs: Party, Sex, Race, Age, Issue, and Population. The reason I chose these (vs. Religion, Income, Political Spectrum, Candidate Qualities, etc.) is because they are easy to measure and relatively inflexible. They also tend to map more directly onto a voters' choice, while other tabs help to explain the particulars of a specific primary.

In my post last week, Crosstabs - Age, I said "I think South Carolina will look a lot like Iowa, with Edwards taking away a significant number of HRC votes, and Obama's showing among AA voters comparable to his margins in Iowa." This has proved true, except that Edwards was much weaker with Democrats than in Iowa, and that most of his lost votes went to Obama. For me, the big, under-reported story of South Carolina is the Edwards implosion. That Obama should win big is no surprise and requires no explanation. The key numbers in this primary are with HRC and Edwards.


The obvious tab for this contest is race because of SC's substantial AA population. Some people are making hay out of the fact that the % of Obama's support among AA voters dropped from 83% in Nevada to 78% in South Carolina. I don't think this is statistically very important. There was a much larger sample in SC, so it may be that the NV sample was not as accurate. As I mentioned above, I think that the exit polls are slightly undercounting numbers, too, so the actual percentage is probably closer to 80%. In any event, this is a non-issue. One percent of AA votes in SC is larger than the total of all AA votes in Iowa.

Obama pulled the level of AA support he was expected to pull. This demographic was 55% of the electorate, approximately 292,000 voters, and so explains all other numbers for Obama. He will never see this kind of vote distribution again.

HRC increased her proportion of the vote with both white and black voters compared to Iowa. She increased her % of black votes (rising to 19-20%, see below) over all other states except Michigan, where Obama was not on the ballot. As I've said in a previous post, I think half of those AA votes would have gone to Obama had his name been there.

Edwards also increased his proportion of the white vote in relation to Iowa, from 24% up to 40%. His slice of the black vote plummeted from 8% to 2%. He had pulled 8% AA votes in Nevada, too, so I think this has to be seen as a true decline. So, why did Edwards' white vote go up so sharply? I think that is explained in the next crosstab.

Party Affiliation

There is a lot of movement in this tab compared to the others, and I think it is the most significant, but will be the hardest to interpret.

Obama took a clear majority of AA Democratic votes, 78%. He also took the clear majority of non-Democratic Black votes. 77%. Hillary polled 20% of Democratic black votes and 19% of non-Democratic black votes. Edwards took only 2% of Dem. black votes and 3% of non-Dem black votes. Edwards simply does not attract minority votes.

With non-black Democratic votes, HRC was the winner at 42%, with Edwards at 35% and Obama at 23%. This is the only time Obama has underperformed his usual percentage among white Democratic voters. Does this mean South Carolina white Democrats are racist? I'm sure some of them are, and probably at a higher level than Democrats veiewed nationally. But I think the better explanation is that HRC attracted her usual percentage of Democratic voters for whom there was no explicit race identification. (White normalizing to "non-racial", etc., etc., race/class/gender studies, yadda yadda) . Obama benefitted from a strong racial identification which tipped the balance in his favor among those Democrats. Thus, the "up for grabs" Democratic vote were for non-blacks who were not already voting for HRC.

OK, I want to say the next part veeerrrryyyy carefully. Edwards got higher than his usual chunk of white Democratic voters. I think two things explain this. First and most obviously, he won SC last time, he's from SC and he has been strong all week. Thus, Democrats who are not HRC supporters and did not have a strong race identification reason broke for Edwards. In essence, he pulled away a good part of the Dem. vote that would otherwise have gone to Obama. Among white Democrats, I would venture that it is less racism than it is annoyance with the Obama campaign so overtly playing race politics. In short, I suspect that Obama could have won a bigger percentage of the white SC vote if he hadn't been making up shit about the Clintons being racists. I also think that, to the degree there was white racism involved (unwilling to ever vote for a non-white candidate), those people went with Edwards. Racists don't tend to be feminists, and they would not have gone with Hillary. In short, Edwards is the blameless beneficiary of bad politics.

Among non-Democrats, Republicans are consistently 3-4% of the Democratic party primary voters. Republicans were most likely to go with Edwards and Obama (43% and 37% respectively) than with HRC. However, a full 20% voted for HRC, which is much larger than she has polled before. This says to me that HRC is running more strongly with Republicans (i.e., her ability to attract votes from the other side is increasing), though I want to see a few more primaries before I say there is a trend. Why might this be? The declining economy, I suspect, and the search for someone who they trust to know what to do about it.

Independents voted for Obama in about the same numbers as they alwsy do (low 40s), so he didn't make any gains there. Clinton picked up more Independents compared to Iowa (26% vs. 17%) , but less than she has polled in NH, MI and NV, where she was in the low 30s. Edwards burst up to 32% of Independents. To the degree that white racism played a part in this primary, I think you see it in the disproportionate percentages of Edwards. Again, this is not something Edwards did, nor did he ever make any appeal to that retrograde segment of the population.


The variations in this tab are, as with the rest, skewed by the racial demographics, but still say intersting things. First, the youth vote (under 30) continues to remain low after the initial good showing in Iowa. It is at 14%, comparable to the Nevada 13%. HRC pulled more of this vote than in Iowa, about the same as in New Hampshire, and less than in MI or NV. Edwards clearly is not appealing to this bracket. The big uptick in turn out is in the 30 - 44 group, though this may be an artifact of how the age groups were sliced. This percentage went up from 19% of the voters to 26% of the voters comapred to Nevada. In other contestws, the numbers were also in the teens, but the age group stopped at 40. Since people are more likely to vote as they get older, taking an age slice off the top of a demographic group can greatly reduce the percentages. There were significantly fewer elderly voters in SC than in NV (26% vs. 36%) and a slight majority of them went for Obama. Edwards got a larger than usual slice of them as well, eliminating HRC's usual dominance of this age bracket.


The really fascinating number to me is that women made up 61% of the voters in South Carolina. Clinton won the same percentage of male and female votes in SC as she did in Iowa - 23% and 30% respectively - keeping up her demographic advantage with women even as the total percentage declined. Obama polled the same with both sexes (54/54), just as he did in Iowa (35/35), showing no gender gap. Edwards polled almost the same percentage among men (23%) as he did in Iowa (24%), but did poorly among women (16%). It was better than his NH and NV showings, but this is clearly a weak point and doesn't look like it is turning around.

The rest of the numbers are not worth going into except to note that Iraq becomes less and less important to voters as the economy worsens, which is not good for Obama, and that South Carolina had fewer urban voters compared to the other contests, though the suburban percentage was comparable. HRC polls about the same whether the voter is urban, suburban or rural, Edwards does worst with urban voters, and Obama does best with urban voters. HRC is slightly stronger with rural and suburban voters than Obama, though he won all three categories in SC.

Take away? Edwards simply doesn't appeal to as wide a range of voters as HRC and Obama do. The only demographic he dominates is white non-Democrats, which is not exactly a winning ticket for the Democratic party nominee. Obama won the AA vote, but may have seriously alienated white voters with the vehemence of his race-baiting. He has a lot of repair work to do, much more than HRC will have. HRC chugged along and actually increased her AA support compared to the earlier contests, all of it at the expense of Edwards. In upcoming primaries, look for further declines by Edwards, with a majority of his losses going to HRC, especially women.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Caught With Their Pants Down

So I'm standing at the sink, washing the dishes, thinking about the primaries. It's just something I do.

I was pondering the heavy breathing on the part of the media over Golden Boy Barry's unexceptional win (Jesse Jackson has done it twice before in South Carolina, kids, with about the same margins. A good AA candidate had better win in South Carolina. ), and about John Edwards' embarrassing loss. HRC performed about the same here as in Iowa, but Edwards underperfomed and Obama was stronger. Then I started thinking about long-term campaign strategy, and I realized that the only one of these three who has planned for the full primary season is HRC. The boys got cocky and believed the bad press about Hillary and all the good press about themselves.

The key here is that Obama and Edwards each had, at best, a four state strategy going in to the campaign. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the original four states selected were all expected to be Edwards strongholds: Iowa and New Hampshire, where he had run strong second places to Kerry, Nevada, which was supposed to reinforce his strength with unions, and then South Carolina, which he won last time. Then Hillary and Obama jumped in and things got tighter. But a funny thing happened on the way to the nomination. Barry and Johnnie started to see that Hillary was polling really well nationally. Along with the entire blogosphere, they couldn't believe this could possibly be true. After all, everyone they know hates Hillary!

If you look at how they ran their campaigns, a certain pattern appears. They were both angling to reinforce her negatives and the meme of unelectability, run hard in the early states, and force her out early. This would leave them a leisurely combat for the rest of the season. This is another way (besides Joe Trippi backstabbing his candidate) to explain Edwards' bizarre reluctance to attack Obama in early going. He was trying to take out Hillary, pick up her votes, then blaze through on Super Tuesday to defeat The Golden One. The key here for Edwards, however, was winning Iowa. Barry, for his part, had been (obsessively) reading his internal polling data and figured he would run a strong second to Edwards in Iowa, would contest for New Hampshire due to student vote, and then do a blowout in South Carolina. That would leave them:

Edwards: IA, NH, NV
Obama: SC
HRC: Zilch and out

Then Michigan and Florida muscled in and Hillary was immediately running well with the upstarts. The original states were having their delegate count over-shadowed and their authority as the selectors of the nominee challenged, and both Edwards and Obama were short on organizations in these new states. Hence, full support for disenfranchising HRC-leaning states. They each figure they can strong-arm the to-be-seated delegates at the convention when the time comes. (Remember, the rules of the game do allow for eventaully seating FL andf MI delegates.) Whew! Dodged that bullet!

HRC kept campaigning strongly. Polls were not looking good, especially for Edwards. Remember, he was the first to petulently declare he would not promise to support the party nominee, obviously trying to threaten people with the boogey-monster of a divided party because of Hillary. In the debates, Edwards and Obama crudely ganged up, though it redounded more to Obama's advantage than to Edwards'. Obama throws himself into Iowa and South Carolina, sensing he very well could win the former and that he must win the latter. Edwards is getting nervous, but still thinks he can pull it out, even though those pesky unions are supporting HRC more than him, and those rotten poll numbers keep dropping.

Iowa arrived and went according to plan. Full of themselves, they assaulted her again in the New Hampshire debate, and wavering HRC supporters rallied to their leader's side. Boom - the four-state strategy goes up in flames. Edwards suddenly realizes that he is DOA in 3rd, and Obama understands that South Carolina is now in danger. They frantically throw shit at Hillary, in the form of race-baiting, voting machine fraud, and running an anti-HRC campaign in Michigan. She beats them handily. Obama turns on full Chicago-style political nastiness in Nevada and is smacked back into the ring ropes when Big Dog shows up and demonstrates how they do it in Arkansas. HRC gets the votes again and her numbers everywhere climb.

Edwards has finally figured out his goose is cooked, and begins his vengeful candidacy to try to draw off support form HRC. He gets a little traction in South Carolina, but he is sinking and has nothing in place to carry him beyond today. He obviously was counting on wins in earlier contests to help him raise money and endorsements to continue past SC. He's fundamentally running as a spoiler.

Obama's campaign goes bat-shit crazy throwing everything and the kitchen sink at HRC, who stops him with one word: Rezko. He redoubles the race-baiting and media suck-up behavior. It gets him nothing in South Carolina, only managing to hold himself in place, and HRC is holding or climbing everywhere else. Obama did not improve his margins in major categories significantly in South Carolina, not even with Blacks. He was weaker with White voters, but I think that is probably a reflection of Edwards' greater strength in the state since HRC's proportion of White voters dropped as well. It is more a comment on Edwards inability to draw Black voters than a reflection of some kind of racisim of White Democratic Party voters. Independent voters did not support Obama in the numbers he has seen in other states.

The guys have been left with their pants around their ankles, having dropped their drawers to piss all over Hillary, imagining their own disdain for the Clintons to be shared by the rest of the nation. They don't have strong organizations outside their own states (IL, NC), they are going to find fund raising difficult, and they are now both on record as supporting the disenfranchisement of Florida, where they don't take too kindly to that kind of thing.

Had they watched a certain Charlie Rose show a few weeks back, when the Big Dog was the guest, they would have known that Hillary's campaign has always been about fighting past the first four with competitive showings, and then leveraging the large and deep support she has across the nation. The Clintons have done this before, twice, on a national scale and they won both times. They have organization in place, a strong network of community support, and will have plenty of money. They will not have Tony Rezko and a Federal investigation dogging their heels. And they will have many states where the voter demographics favor Hillary.

Face it, the cornerstone of both the Obama and Edwards campaigns has been "Beat the Bitch!" They have run on a platform of exploiting Clinton Derangement Syndrome, and they have lost. Both are now scrambling to deal with a competitor who was supposed to be out of the race by now, not rising in power.

Never count a Clinton out.


SC Primary Results - Updated

Let's see:

The biggest story not being reported - Democrats had a turn-out of 522,485 for the primary, while Republicans only brought out 431,196. This is excellent news for the Democrats. The Republican field is an unispiring lot while the Democrats are getting their constituents fired up.
  • Hillary is pulling @ 28-30% 25.5% 27% of the total vote, which is what slightly less than she's been polling in SC since November.
  • She is also getting @ 18% 20% of the AA vote, which is comparable to bettter than what she has received in all other states except Michigan, where Obama removed himself from the ballot.
  • Edwards is getting the most conservative votes, as he has in the other contests.
  • Obama is winning 75-80% of the AA vote, which is the percent he has received in all his other contests.
  • Hillary and Obama are both strong with voters, with the majority of them saying they would be satisified to see eiother of them as the presidential nominee. Obama has an edge in this measure, which is due to the demographics of South Carolina.
  • Youth vote came out strongly and voted strongly for Obama, as expected, with a higher margin than he has received before. HRC is slightly down from NH in this bracket and Edwards is bombing.
  • Voters are saying that the economy is their biggest concern.

So, no surprises but probably a big disappointment for Edwards, who had obviously hoped to do better. Obama did not exceed expectations and commentators will (wrongly) go on and on about the racial aspect of the vote. South Carolina has a large AA population and Obama polled among that constituency better than he did in Iowa (72%) but less well than he did in Nevada (83%). [Added] I don't think this is statistically significant. Nevada was a very small sample and had a higher margin of error, so his support may have been over stated there, plus there is reasdon to beleive the exit polls are underestimating Obama's strength by just inder 1%.

The final polling results are explained through the demographic balance of the specific electorate, but the actual allocation of who attracts which voter is comparable to national averages. On to Florida.

Update note: Obama opened a little more margin in the actual vote compared to exit polls. His constituents turned out in great numbers and so did HRC's. So much for the MSM meme of how horrible the Democratic race is. Supporters are energized and getting to the polls. Republicans can only wish they had as much energy and excitement as this "negative" Democratic campaign.



Poor little Golden Boy Barry and his pathetic followers are all offended and disturbed (well, hell, the fact they are supporting Obama at all shows they have some mental issues, but I digress...) at how Bill Clinton is, ahem, inserting himself into the campaign. They are all atwitter over the Big Dog's sharp, on-target, effective attacks on both the media and The Golden One.

Get a grip.

Bill Clinton is doing exactly what he should be doing, which is being the Big Dog and taking on all opponents. He gives his candidate cover from attacks, keeps the other side off balance and prevents them from getting out an effective message. This is exactly what is needed to win. Anyone who has a true political bone in their body knows this. This is what Obama and Edwards would have to do to win. This is what Kerry failed to do. He didn't win.

Clinton is the most effective campaigner on the left since, well, Kennedy. How do we know this? He wins. Over and over. This is good for our side. In the general, he will run just as hard as Hillary (if we could harness their energy, we could power the West Coast and have enough left over for DC) and all of his formidable talents will have a single target - the Republican nominee. You think he's being rough on Golden Boy Barry? Folks, he's just warming up.

The mystery here is why won't the elite netroots left acknowledge this incredible weapon we have against the movement conservatives? It is more than he's supporting someone other than their favorite candidate. The answer is that they hate him as passionately as does the Right. Why? The usual explanations of he's a triangulator, he's not liberal, he cheated on his wife (Oh, please, and you little bastards don't sleep around? Gimme a break.), he's a "corporatist", etc. don't hold water, because all the public issues can be applied to the other candidates and the fucking around one is probably true, too.

I wrote a post two years ago called "Bubba" in which I try to explain Bill Clinton's deep popularity with ordinary Americans. Here are the key paragraphs, though there is much more to the post:


You know, the biggest strike against Bill Clinton in the eyes of the left as well as the right is that he is southern white trash. This man, who can think circles around them and who has out-maneuvered, out-governed and out-charmed every politican of his era, they hate him as much as the right does, and for almost exactly the same reason. He makes them feel inadequate. He points out their own social and economic privileges, their own indulgent policy biases, and the ways in which they take so much of their success for granted....

He's a bubba.

A Rhodes scholar. A policy wonk to beat all other wonks. A well-read, well-traveled man. A workaholic. A sharp lawyer. A tireless advocate for social justice. An American success story who pulled himself out of poverty and obscurity by intelligence, ambition and hard work

Yeah, that's Bubba.

Ordinary Americans like Clinton a lot. His "Bubba" background makes him more appealing, less threatening. He's what they could have been if they had tried, and he is respectful of what they became, because he knows just how damn hard it is to try when you're down that far. This is the emotional connection that the netroots elitists either don't get or don't want to acknowledge. Why did Clinton succeed so well across the political spectrum.

Because he is Bubba.

This one fact offends the elite of the left (blogosphere, inner-sanctum, magazine publishers, etc.) no end, because, damn it, they have good ideas, too! They know what is best for all the Bubbas of the world. You know, the benighted sheeple who really don't understand what's good for them? The not-us who should know their place and stay there while we manage the world into a better place, eat sensible diets, and are culturally hip (or at least socio-economically powerful). The left elite is still angry at the compromises, the half-measures, the careful weighing of what was possible against what was likely, even when the flat-out success of this governance is shoved in their faces. Had Clinton governed the way the left elites wanted, he would have done as Bush is doing now - do as I say 'cuz I'm the Preznit.


It is exactly his "Bubba" features that offend the elite opinion makers and all the upper-crusty Obamabots who can afford to have their candidate fail.

In computer programming, we have a snotty saying, "Fast, cheap, good. Pick two," which indicates that there is a negative relationship between these three elements. You can't have good and cheap unless you can wait for someone to do it in their spare time, and so forth. Bill Clinton is someone who broke the rule of threes for politicians. He's a policy wonk, immensely popular, and utterly pragmatic. If someone is two of those things, they are supposed to fail on the third, but Big Dog just won't do it.

I wouldn't underestimate the degree to which the hatred the elite left feels is because Clinton is an unapologetically lower class Southern white man, and possesses "teh Elvis." Cruicially, he is someone who doesn't feel a need to "pass" as one of them. He just flashes that big grin and gets to work, whether it is crafting public policy or effective campaign strategy. He is the walking talking embodiment of where the nation is moving - away from racism, away from parochial nativism, away from interest group divisiveness, towards effective government, and towards a more egalitarian society. He is the face of the Democratic majority.



Friday, January 25, 2008

Seating Michigan and Florida Delegates

The We Hate Hillary crowd of greater blogistan have their collective jock-straps in a wad because Big Mean Mommy-Monster Hillary is asking for the delegates at the Democratic National Convention to reconsider the decision to not seat delegates from Florida and Michigan because of the kerfuffle over primary schedules.

Background: The Democratic Party was being besieged by states that wanted to get their primaries moved up earlier in the year - before the February 5th "Super Tuesday" - as a way to have the opinions of their voters weigh more strongly in the nomination process. (Note - Republicans were trying to do the same thing.) Frankly, rank-and-file Democrats are fed up with the Iowa/New Hampshire stranglehold on what candidates get nominated because they are unrepresentative of either the Democratic Party or the general electorate. Nevada and South Carolina had been given permission to move up, but not to move ahead of IA and NH. Michigan said "To Hell with that," and scheduled a primary on January 15th. In Florida, the Republican legislature moved the primary up to January 29th over (weak) Democratic protests. The Democratic National Committee declared that, as punishment, neither Michigan nor Florida delegates would be seated at the national convention, and told candidates they could not campaign in those states, though they could fund-raise.

Political Strategy: The candidates agreed not to campaign, but left their names on the ballots. Edwards and Obama were quickly being out-polled by Hillary in those states. In addition, Iowa was screaming bloody murder about anyone threatening their precious position as the first primary/caucus in the nation. In a totally strategic move, Obama and Edwards (I sense the hand of Joe Trippi in this...) removed their names from the Michigan ballot. Why would they do this? To try to invalidate or reduce the impact of the expected Clinton win, especially among Black voters. They were also trying to curry favor with Iowans in theis great sham show of support for Iowa's (please, God, let it be the last time) "unique" role in the nomination process. After Iowa itself, it looked like a good strategy as they both beat HRC and it looked like she was going to bomb in New Hampshire and Nevada, too.

Then Hillary rebounded big in New Hampshire. It was only after that win that Obama and Edwards frantically tried to do a non-campaign, encouraging voters to go "Uncommitted" to stop the HRC wave. Michigan was the first place where Obama first played race-bait politics, but didn't quite have time to get the momentum going. The hope was not just to "defeat" her with a protest vote, but to see if a large enough block of uncommitted delegates could be picked up and then courted at the national convention itself.

However, they are both on the Florida ballot, can't take themselves off, and can't take advantage of day-of-vote registration practices. Obama has been running his "Democrat for a Day" strategy in Florida for months now, explicitly telling Republicans to re-register as Democrats just for the primary in order to vote against Clinton, then change back to Republicans. He tried this in Nevada and is trying to do it in California, too. The trouble with this tactic is that it only works if the Republican primary is uncontested, and it is pretty tight if not exactly inspiring. Finally, Obama is violating the DNC's rules and is running campaign ads on CNN in Florida.

Analysis: Oh, will you little boys puh-leeze grow up? Josh Marshall is a total whore for Obama now with his outrage over that dreadful Hillary monster's dastardly dirty politics! Ezra Klein is explictly playing the race-card as an Obama surrogate when he says "Imagine if African-American voters feel the rules were changed to prevent Obama’s victory, if young voters feel the delegate counts were shifted to block their candidate." Oh really, Ezra? How about all the thousands of Floridians of all races who are right here and now getting their votes ignored? Wouldn't they be thrilled to have their voices heard? Wouldn't they really, really want to have THEIR preferred candidate garner the delegates she (or he - remember, Obama and Edwards are on the ballot in Florida!) has earned? Cuts both ways, cupcake. If Obama can't win unless the contest eliminates everyone who prefers Hillary, what does that say about his stregnth as a candidate?

Clinton is conducting smart and strong political strategy here. She dominates these states, and she is very intelligently solidifying her postion. She has put forth an idea that will ferment in people's minds, particularly those people in Florida already inclined to vote for her. She basically calls the DNC on its bluff that it won't seat the delegates, particularly Florida. She has nothing to lose and heck of a lot to win, especially when she is the nominee and she goes to those states in the general. Her message - I fought an unfair bureaucratic decision for your sakes. I'll keep doing this for you.

Michigan and Florida will be seated. The Michigan uncommitted delegates will be courted as assiduously as second-choice caucusers in Iowa (much the same dynamic, frankly, but with more alcohol). Hillary will take the lioness' share of the delegates, as she should, for knowing how to get people on her side.

This is important. HRC is painted as unelectable, divisive and polarizing. In contrast to these claims, she is consistently winning over people who did not previously support her, she is consolidating her support, and she is strengthening her position by showing herself to be the best informed, most prepared, toughest fighting pol in town.

America likes a winner.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Polling Trends

I am following Pollster's South Carolina poll reporting fairly closely, not because I think HRC will win in SC (though it is now a faint possibility) but more to watch Golden Boy Barry's long deflation after Iowa. It's kind of like watching the housing bubble flatten out - lots of irrational exuberance, people taking out lines of credit that aren't really supported by the fundamentals, and a lot of people left holding a property that is no longer worth what it was when they first bought it.

First, one perpetually silly thing that keeps happening is people are trying to compare apples to rutabagas in the polls. A poll is really only directly comparable to a poll previously done by the same operation and then only if they use the same polling methodology. Even then it's not so good. You can't compare something done by Zogby (notoriously unreliable, as I've pointed out before) and a poll conducted by Clemson. A collection of polls can help to establish trends, though no one data point is completely reliable. On Pollster's South Carolina page, what you can see are polls over time conducted by various organizations.

One thing to look at first is how candidates do over time. While Clinton had some forays into the low 40s, she has consistently been polling in the 30s in SC. Her worst recent numbers are right after Iowa and she shows a small but steady upward trend. The Clemson poll is not really an outlier. Compare it to the previous Clemson polls and you will see that all the candidates have low numbers from that poll. When I see her numbers in SC, I think we're seeing the support she has always had there (a solid 30% ) without much of anything else. She's not increasing her margins significantly, but neither is she losing them. Think about NH. I see her drop as wavering supporters kinda thinking maybe someone else, then seeing her win three in a row and fighting fiercely in the debate and this brings them back. I don't think she'll break 35%.

Obama started a real climb in early December, when the anti-HRC/pro-Obama press orgy was winding up into a fever pitch to make Iowa more important than it actually was. Before then, his numbers veered erratically between high-teens and mid-thirties. Why? As I've said in other posts, Barry's support is soft. Many people think about voting for him, but few commit and many uncommit just as quickly. I do not think this is primarily because of race because his race demographics among his supporters are diverse. He does pull a bigger percentage of the Black vote, but his key demographics are youth, income and Independent status, not race. AA voters are actually the most sceptical about The Golden One if interviews and past polls are to be believed. It is the solidification of that demographic support (previously in the "Undecided" column) that has given him his abrupt rise in SC.

Edwards has made some clear gains in the last week, due in great part to the debate performance. He didn't say anything different, but he came across as "not extreme", and so has shifted a good portion of Undecided to his camp. I think he could, with a truckload of luck, squeak past HRC for 2nd.

So what will make the difference on Saturday? Turn-out. If the youth vote decline continues, plus if a significant portion of the soft Obama vote goes all wobbly because of the Crown Prince's recent hissy fits, he's in trouble, even with a majority of AA votes. I doubt the attrition will be enough to cause a loss, but this will be a closer contest than many have presumed. However, HRC may see significant defections to (or, rather, lack of pick-ups from) the Edwards camp. This split is what will prevent HRC from winning. They must think it is a possibility or they wouldn't waste the Big Dog there when he could be wowing the crowds in Arizona and Colorado.

Take away message: February 5th is the next real primary, and it will put HRC permanently ahead.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How is the House Coming Along?

Well, since last I commented on the house, back in Spetember, we've been making progress in fits and starts. It has been a lot of little things that have suddenly added up:

Every window in the place has been restored, with new glass, new frames, and new casements. We have also had all the doors stripped and sanded, and all the hardware cleaned up.

In the kitchen (be sure to check out the demolition photos from the last post), the interior electrical and plumbing is done, and the gorgeous finishing work is well under way. This arch will be over our stove. A beautiful French door has replaced the ghastly metal security screen door. Under the window at right, there is now a custom wood bench with open storace spaces below the seat.

Cabinets are mostly in, and need finishing work. The big labor yet to be done is the tile, which is going to be gorgeous. The floor has been done in true, old-fashioned linoleum (not vinyl) in a color and pattern very close to the original floor in the house. That was wrapped up yesterday.

In the back bedroom, we have our french doors, plus paint, crown molding and a brand new oak wood floor. The floors throughout the house were stripped yesterday and today, and will eb stained tomorrow. They look incredible.

The yards are still a mucky mess, we've got some water seepage in the basement (that's next on the to-fix list), and the exterior is still the ugliest mustard yellow color you've ever seen, but we're getting there. Due to my recent computer hardware impolsion, I lost my Photoshop program so ahven't had a chance to update my photos. I'm trying to get that problem solved over the weekend.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

As for Obama's Ties to Rezko...

Hat tip to Fergus for alerting me to this write up: Obama's Faustian Bargain with Antoin 'Tony' Rezko

Taylor Marsh, a feisty liberal blogger from Nevada, has been doing some homework on the connections between Golden Boy Barry and a real sleazebag Chicago business guy, Tony Rezko. Obama has been less than honest about the depth and breadth of his business and law relationships with Rezko.

Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating Rezko right now. The trial starts on February 24. Since Obama isn't likewise under indictment, I take that to mean Fitzgerald has not uncovered any criminal activity by The Golden One. It does not relieve Barry of the fact that he is purposefully trying to deny that he has a long and involved relationship with this guy.

Poor Little Boy Barry. He is just another Chicago pol, after all.


Polling News

As always, go to Pollster for the best selection of state and national polls, plus some of the most illuminating commentary on the ins and outs of political polling anywhere.

New Hampshire is going along with its hand-recount. Here is a page from the NH Secretary of State's office listing results from Hillsborough County. NOTE: the Weare results are not yet in so there is a funny glitch in everyone's recount. Just subtract Weare from the first column for a candidate and that takes it out as a factor.

It turns out that the machines did overcounts for everyone, even Obama. The margin of error was less than .001%. So much for the massive machine based fraud done on behalf of the Clinton campaign. For the wonks out there, here is a white paper discussing the various reasons for the higher vote margins for both Clinton and McCain, none of which have anything to do with rigged machines.

South Carolina polls are coming out (though none post-debate) and they are showing HRC with 15%-17% African American vote, which is what she has received in all other states except Michigan, where she got 30%. Obama is just under 75% of African American votes. After last night's debate performance, I expect that Edwards is going to come up sharply in South Carolina polls, though his gains will come more from HRC's side of the ledger than from Obama's. When I compare a pollster's number over time (such as all Rasmussen, all Survey USA, all PPP, etc.), I see that HRC was flattening out on her percentage of the vote in South Carolina back in December. Only one poll was done after Nevada, and that one shows declines or stalling for all three major candidates. The other polls do not reflect any effect the Nevada caucuses may have had - which I expect is not much. There are two things to note about South Carolina polls:
  1. Obama's gains are almost all immediately after the Iowa win, not after the race-baiting allegations. This points to African American voters being assured that they were backing a viable candidate, so moving from undecided to Obama. Overall, however, trend lines show HRC rising in the polls in SC. It will not be enough for a victory unless some very bad scandal hits the Obama campaign that SC voters would give two figs about. I don't see any.
  2. South Carolina has always been a tough primary for HRC. Her margins over the competition are narrower here than in any other state except Iowa, where she held the polling lead for a very short preiod of time, and actually took it back towards the end. The actual loss in Iowa, as I've explained elsewhere, is easily explained by Edwards' relative strength (drawing off her voters) and through excellent caucus "second-choice" strategy by Obama.

The campaign has made a strategic choice not to spend more political capital in South Carolina, which is probably a good decision. Obama will win reasonably handily, but it will be more like Michigan for Hillary than another Iowa win for him. No surprise, no real contest, and the other people are not giving him much fight.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Who Pays for a Party's Mistakes?

This is something that has been going around in the back of my head for a number of weeks, but has come to the fore as a result of my analysis of polling crosstabs and from thinking very concretely about the reactions of people I know to Hillary Clinton.

One of the uglier memes to come out of the New Hampshire scramble to explain away the pollsters' mistakes was that the people who voted most consistently for HRC - working class women - were de facto racists (I heard the term "unconscious racists") because they were too poorly educated and uncultured to overcome their prejudice against Obama. For several months, there has been a discussion going around the blogosphere about wine track vs. beer track Democratic Party members (i.e., a class distinction), and how the wine drinkers go for Obama and the beer drinkers go for Clinton. The triumphant, and smug, conclusion of this kind of discussion was how Hillary's "own class" of college educated women knew better than to trust her or support her.

The sotto voce argument here is that those blue collar people, especially the uneducated broads, are suffering from false consciousness and don't have enough brain power to understand that, really, they need to ditch the bitch and let themselves be swept away by the Golden One.

I know too many people with less than a college education who are smarter than your average bear to buy that crap. I know way too many "edumacated" people (starting with C+ Augustus) who haven't the sense God gave geese to give much creedance the instincts of the wine crowd.

So, why does Hillary, a wealthy, hyper-educated woman who travels in elite circles appeal so much to Joe and Jane Bag-o-Donuts? It comes down to who pays for a political party's mistakes.

I grew up eating out of food banks and buying second hand clothes from the Salvation Army. In my family's case, it was temporary poverty, eventually overcome by steady employment and paying down large debts. Since then, I've had to struggle a bit to make my way in the world. I worked my way through college, won scholarships and took out loans for grad school, made some dramatic career changes when things weren't working out and now I'm doing pretty darn well. It doesn't matter to me who is president or what party controls Congree from a very cold-minded and objective view. I'm white, I'm married, I have highly marketable skills and a wide professional network, and enough money that I never have to go without any necessity. I'm an incredibly privileged member of of this country, in other words.

But what about people who aren't? These are the people who, as HRC points out in the recent New York Times article, need the power of the government and regulatory agencies firmly on their side to avoid catastrophic consequences to events that would simply worry and inconvenience me. These are most of the people in the US. These are people for whom a dysfunctional agency, like FEMA, is not just the difference between life and death, but the difference between recovery and being mired in misery month after month after year. When a party messes up something like health insurance, it is not the politicians who pay, save perhaps in electoral success. It is the mother whose child dies of a curable fever. It is the widow whose joint disease never gets treatment and so her mobility and independence are impaired. It's the father who gets laid off from work due to recession cuts and no longer has insurance to cover his family.

For these people, it matters very, very much that the person sitting in the White House pays attention to them and demonstrates that she's aware of just how close to the edge they live. Even more, it matters that the party in power be dedicated to advancing the cause of ordinary people. They want good old-fashioned FDR Democrats running things and making the government work for the people, because they know who will be the first to pay for systemic problems.

While "change" resonates because the current condition of the country blows chunks, not just any change will do. This is why, over and over, Hillary out maneuvers, out performs and out polls the rest of the guys. People remember the 90s as being significantly better and more stable than what they have now, they know HRC was a part of that government, and they want to start with someone they trust to get the basic shit in order right away. They don't see it as "picking between evils." They see it as returning to a time when somoen with talent and a hellacious work ethic was in charge. Whatever warts there were (and are) dwindle in importance compared to the good performance they have seen before.

People who support Obama, by the demographics, are people who won't be harmed if he loses the election or fails to perform in office. It is a nearly costless vote for them, an extravagance. If they are wrong in their choice, it will be Clinton supporters who pay the price.


Crosstabs - Age

More crosstab goodness. As with my other posts, I get my raw numbers from the MSNBC site. Caveats abound, mostly because we are dealing with only four voting situations, three of which are non-standard: Iowa and Nevada are caucuses and Michigan's primary is not recognized by the DNC, which may have reduced and/or skewed results.

One of the problems with trying to do age sampling from the exit polls is that no two polls use the same age brackets. I have combined things in ways that make sense to me, but be sure to examine the actual charts on the MSNBC site. Jerome Armstrong has done an analysis of age representation in the primaries, along with a few other trends, and notes interesting things. First, the youngest age cohort, 18 - 29 year olds, have declining participation levels. He doesn't include Michigan in the mix, but the age turn out there is in keeping with his findings, namely that it is less than New Hampshire and greater than Nevada. He also notes that people self-identified as "Very Liberal" are now voting more for Clinton than for Obama, and thinks there is a correlation between fewer younger voters and fewer Obama-aligned Very Liberal voters. There is no doubt a connection between fewer young voters and Obama's declining vote share, but the self-identification is a bit of a red herring.

One trend he doesn't note about the youth vote is that HRC has tripled her % claim on it, evidently pulling from the other candidates. In IA, Obama got 57% of the 29 and under vote, while HRC garnered only 11%. By NV, HRC had raised her proportion to 33%, while Obama had increased by only 2, to 59%. The share of youth voters as a percentage of the whole is going down, while Hillary's share of that slice is going up. I suspect that what we're seeing is attrition from prospective Obama voters. Compared to the percentages in IA, Obama lost over 5,000 votes from the youngest age cohort in Nevada - they just weren't there.

In the other age groups, much attention has been given to the elderly vote, but in truth the numbers for voters over the age of 40 have been increasing since Iowa. Here is a little counterintuitive information. Obama is increasing his support among senior voters. The trouble is he isn't substantially increasing his percentage of any other age cohort. The table below shows, once again, that HRC is the one benefittting from John Edwards' loss of support. She is steadily increasing her percentages from Iowa:


I have asterisked the Michigan line because Edwards and Obama support is merged there. In truth, I suspect Michigan shows that Edwards supporters easily moved over to HRC's column, and that most "Uncommitted" votes cast were from Obama supporters. I also think that the numbers in Michigan were lower than Obama would have earned had his name been on the ballot directly. Edwards was definitely the big loser for having taken his name off. It may have been the second most fatal mistake of his campaign, the worst being joining ranks with Obama to go after Hillary, which damaged Hillary but did not benefit Edwards at all.

Without a solid set of fully comparable primaries (and I'm afraid we won't get that until Super Tuesday itself), this is more than a bit reading tea leaves. What I think the numbers do show is, again, how anomalous Iowa was compared to the other contests. Without Edwards in the running, I think Hillary would have trounced Obama soundly in Iowa. She did not lose votes to Obama (though she did lose second round support from Richardson, Biden and Dodd voters, probably due to Obama aggression on the caucus floors - remember, that's totally legitimate in a caucus situation), she lost them to Edwards.

What I'm also not able to really show in these tables is the big difference between the number of voters in one age cohort within a given contest. For example, (more counter-intuitiveness), the 65 and over crowd had their second greatest proportional representation and their largest turn out in raw numbers in Iowa, something that listening to the main stream media would not be obvious. Had they voted for HRC in the same numbers there as they voted for her in Nevada, for example, she would have won Iowa. Where Hillary pulled out her victory in New Hampshire was among working age people 40 to 64. They were more than half of all voters and she beat Obama by 10% with them. While her percentage with retirees is high, the bulk of the votes come from middle-aged voters. Nevada is the only location where seniors outnumbered the middle-aged cohort, and only by 4600 voters out of 115,000+. That was less than her margin of victory.

The big picture here is that Obama is increasing his margins a little bit from his Iowa showing, but nowhere near as much as Hillary has done, particularly among young voters. I think South Carolina will look a lot like Iowa, with Edwards taking away a significant number of HRC votes, and Obama's showing among AA voters comparable to his margins in Iowa.


Krugman on Narrative

One of the pitiful excuses Golden Boy Barry's sycophants offer to try to explain away his increasingly embarassing support of right-wing positions is that he has to use this kind of language to thread his way through the media minefield, or that he's actually fooling the big dummies on the right that he's not dangerous to them, or that he's really using brilliant rhetorical strategy to twist the right wing's words into really good progressive goals. Which leads Krugman (and the rest of us) to ask why doesn't he just say what he means and strongly defend progressive policies, objectives and goals? Which then brings up the extremely embarassing fact that Hillary is simply more progressive than Barry, exploding the fairy tale that The Golden One's followers blindly believe:

So, Candidate A says things like this:

I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

And Candidate B says things like this:

If you go back and look at our history, we were most successful when wehad that balance between an effective, vigorous government and a dynamic, appropriately regulated market. And we have systematically diminished the role and the responsibility of our government, and we have watched our market become imbalanced. I want to get back to the appropriate balance of power between government and the market … Inequality is growing. The middle class is stalled. The American dream is premised on a growing economy where people are in a meritocracy and, if they’re willing to work hard, they will realize the fruits of their labor.

And somehow many people believe that Candidate A is the true progressive — he wasn’t really saying that Reagan was right — and that Candidate B, despite the progressive talk, is just Bush the third.

These people could be right; politicians have been known to say things they don’t believe. But where does their certainty come from?

Sauce for goose is sauce for gander time. If everything HRC says is nothing but soulless pandering to keep herself in power, why isn't that true of Obama, too? If what he says is not pandering for right-wing votes, then what is it? In short, why does everything HRC says get cast in the worst possible light, even when backed up by a legislative record that shows she fights for progressive policy, while Barry gets a free pass for egregiously anti-progressive crap?

Hillary doesn't have to pander to the right. She states right up front what she's going to do and lets the right go suck eggs if they don't like it.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Getting the Details Right

Returning to the themes of an earlier post, "It's the Facts, Stupid," there are two articles in the New York Times for Monday that demonstrate why Hillary Clinton is running so solidly with the Democratic base, and why Golden Boy Barry is starting to lose steam.

The first is an article about HRC's plans for restoring the economy, "For Clinton, Government as Economic Prod," which succinctly lays out both her economic philosophy and her practical responses to the looming recession. Some key excerpts:

Reflecting what her aides said were very different conditions today, Mrs. Clinton put her emphasis on issues like inequality and the role of institutions like government, rather than market forces, in addressing them.

She said that economic excesses — including executive-pay packages she characterized as often “offensive” and “wrong” and a tax code that had become “so far out of whack” in favoring the wealthy — were holding down middle-class living standards. ...

“If you go back and look at our history, we were most successful when we had that balance between an effective, vigorous government and a dynamic, appropriately regulated market,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And we have systematically diminished the role and the responsibility of our government, and we have watched our market become imbalanced.” ...

Mrs. Clinton, whose campaign initiated the interview, can speak in both fine detail and sweeping historical terms about the economy — almost as would a policy adviser, which she essentially was for a long time. When talking about the middle class, she divides the decades since World War II into two periods, using the same cutoff point that many economists do. ...

If she were to win the Democratic nomination and the general election, she would most likely take office at a similar economic moment as her husband, with the economy struggling to emerge from a downturn. In 1993 — with Mrs. Clinton playing a role that Bob Woodward later described as “de facto chief of staff” — Mr. Clinton pushed through an economic plan without a single Republican vote.

Many analysts say that plan played a role in the Democrats’ loss of Congress the next year, but it is also widely credited with helping lay the groundwork for the 1990s boom. Mrs. Clinton suggested that she would be willing to take a similar approach in 2009.

“You try to find common ground, insofar as possible. But if you really believe, you have to manage the economy,” she said. “You have to stake a lot of your presidency on it. Because at the beginning is when you’re strongest.”

A powerful command of the historical and economic facts, a plan with clear goals and specific objectives, but open enough to change with changing circumstances, and an unswerving committment to ordinary citizens' basic financial needs. Most of all, in the last few paragraphs, an unequivocal statement about where compromise belongs - nowhere. No mushy bipartisanship to placate the Broderites and the Kewl Kidz. Big Dog passed his economic plan without a single Republican vote and the country was better for it.

Now go to Krugman's latest column, "Debunking the Regan Myth," where he takes on Obama's arrogant and tone deaf blather to the Reno Republicans:

Historical narratives matter. That’s why conservatives are still writing books denouncing F.D.R. and the New Deal; they understand that the way Americans perceive bygone eras, even eras from the seemingly distant past, affects politics today.

And it’s also why the furor over Barack Obama’s praise for Ronald Reagan is not, as some think, overblown. The fact is that how we talk about the Reagan era still matters immensely for American politics.

Bill Clinton knew that in 1991, when he began his presidential campaign. “The Reagan-Bush years,” he declared, “have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.”

Contrast that with Mr. Obama’s recent statement, in an interview with a Nevada newspaper, that Reagan offered a “sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Maybe Mr. Obama was, as his supporters insist, simply praising Reagan’s political skills. (I think he was trying to curry favor with a conservative editorial board, which did in fact endorse him.) But where in his remarks was the clear declaration that Reaganomics failed? ...

I understand why conservatives want to rewrite history and pretend that these good things happened while a Republican was in office — or claim, implausibly, that the 1981 Reagan tax cut somehow deserves credit for positive economic developments that didn’t happen until 14 or more years had passed. (Does Richard Nixon get credit for “Morning in America”?)

But why would a self-proclaimed progressive say anything that lends credibility to this rewriting of history — particularly right now, when Reaganomics has just failed all over again? ...

This is, in short, a time when progressives ought to be driving home the idea that the right’s ideas don’t work, and never have.

It’s not just a matter of what happens in the next election. Mr. Clinton won his elections, but — as Mr. Obama correctly pointed out — he didn’t change America’s trajectory the way Reagan did. Why?

Well, I’d say that the great failure of the Clinton administration — more important even than its failure to achieve health care reform, though the two failures were closely related — was the fact that it didn’t change the narrative, a fact demonstrated by the way Republicans are still claiming to be the next Ronald Reagan.

Now progressives have been granted a second chance to argue that Reaganism is fundamentally wrong: once again, the vast majority of Americans think that the country is on the wrong track. But they won’t be able to make that argument if their political leaders, whatever they meant to convey, seem to be saying that Reagan had it right.

Not a lot of sympathy for Bill Clinton in those last few paragraphs, but even less for The Golden One. The message here is that details matter, getting the story right matters, figuring out how to frame the problem which then gives you control of the possible outcomes matters. It is amazing that someone so adept at oratory doesn't understand that a shitty message delivered in dulcet tones is still a shitty message.

Obama appears frozen in the 80s, unable to escape the siren song of Reagan, the gifted speaker entranced by the clever words of a long dead huckster. He's proposing to reengage the Republicans on the same issues Bill Clinton did, but not be so divisive and confrontational. He isn't rejecting the conservative framing of the problem - that the out-of-control Democrats are causing a conservative backlash, so we all just gotta calm down, meet in the middle and be reasonable about this.

Bullshit. Message to Barry - We already fought those battles and WE WON. Big Dog showed how to get economic plans passed without a single opposition vote. He kicked Newt Gingrich's butt over trying to shut down the government. He held the party together through the last stages of a massive, two-generation long realignment, when the Dixiecrats finally got the hell out and joined the Republicans. And he laid the foundations for a resurgence of a Democratic party with fewer internal divisions.

Compare HRC's sharp and historically nuanced understanding of America's economic past since the New Deal with Obama's uncritical estimation of Reagan's failed policies. It is as though he has never contemplated the ingenuity of FDR or the brilliance of the Democratic post-war governance. He accepts without question the narrative of the movement conservatives and agrees to play within their fairy tale of what the world is like. Even giving him the small bone that he was trying to curry favor with a pack of conservative newspaper editors (which calls into question just what he was doing in that office in the first place...), he still does nothing to defend the Democratic vision of what we should do going forward, capitulating to the lie that Republicans, not Democrats, were the party of ideas.

Getting the details right matters because it creates the boundaries and possibilites for future action.