October 31, 2007
Tonight, the Democratic field (as well as moderator Tim Russert) finally engaged Hillary Clinton with success. Our early thoughts: The winners of the debate were Obama and Edwards, who repeatedly drew contrasts with Clinton and criticized her political pandering. One perfect example occurred during the debate, when Clinton refused to be pinned down on a question regarding giving driving licenses to illegal immigrants. Edwards commented, “Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of two minutes”, and Obama nodded in agreement. The best line of the night went to Joe Biden, who characterized Rudy Giuliani’s sentences as such: a noun, a verb, and 9/11. Also, congratulations to Tim Russert, an excellent moderator who pressed for answers and clearly did his research.
Coming into the debate with a large bulls-eye on her back, Clinton was evasive at times and appeared rattled. In the first debate in which she underwent heavy criticism, Clinton turned in an unimpressive performance. Another flip-flopping moment happened during the Social Security round, when Russert brought up differences between her public and private statements. The victim of post-debate coverage had to be Dennis Kucinich, who claimed to have sighted an UFO. On the MSNBC analysis, Chris Matthews kept coming back to the UFO reference, lampooning the Ohio congressman.
We’ll have a more complete analysis tomorrow, these are just preliminary thoughts. Who do you think won? And why?
October 26, 2007
A neat video from whytuesday.org explaining the caucus process.
October 24, 2007
The latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll reveals an interesting tidbit about the Republican race. One question: “Could you vote for a candidate for president who supports abortion and gay rights if you agree with him on other issues, or could you only vote for a candidate for president who opposes these issues?” Out of the 39% of Republican primary voters who could only vote for candidates opposing these issues, 19% are supporting Giuliani in the primary. Another surprising number: a plurality (20%) of Republicans believe Giuliani would be the best among the field at handling social issues such as abortion and gay rights.
There are some fascinating general election numbers revealing Obama’s immense cross-over appeal. In a hypothetical Clinton vs. Giuliani matchup, Clinton gets 10% of registered Republicans. On the other hand, Obama is supported by 23% of registered Republicans in a Obama/Giuliani contest. Clinton vs. Thompson – the junior NY senator gets 12% of Republicans. Obama vs. Thompson – Obama gets 22% of Republicans. Obama also beats Clinton in Republican support against McCain and Romney by five and three points, respectively.
October 22, 2007
The early reviews for last night’s Republican debate in Florida are in, with the large majority of reporters giving John McCain the line of the night. He blasted Hillary’s now-dead proposal to spend $1 million for a memorial to the Woodstock rock concert, “a cultural and pharmaceutical event” that he said he couldn’t attend because “I was tied up at the time.” The line drew a rare standing ovation from the debate crowd in appreciation for the former prisoner of war.
In the round focused on bashing Hillary, the Fox moderators put up the network’s latest poll numbers showing hypothetical general election match-ups. The Republican who performed the best was not Giuliani, but McCain. Although McCain bettered Giuliani’s showing by a statistically insignificant margin of 1%, the Arizona senator can boast of the same electability Hizzoner claims. The most recent series of Rasmussen polling has Hillary leading Giuliani by 7%, but she squeaks past McCain by only 1%. A case can be made for declaring McCain the most electable Republican, but his problem is resuscitating his campaign to win the primaries.
A main component of Giuliani’s strategy is emphasizing his ability to beat Hillary in a general election, a mask covering up his more liberal social views. If he were to become president, then a large pillar of his appeal is knocked out – his purpose to prevent Hillary from the White House is achieved. Then, when it comes time to actual policy making, his vows to nominate strict-constructionist judges may not pacify the base. On the other hand, McCain stands firmly with Republicans on the deal-breaker for many, abortion; he has a 0% NARAL rating. Although he differs on immigration and campaign finance, you don’t see candidates saying “I can’t support a pro-campaign-finance-reform nominee” – the issue isn’t necessarily a tipping point (although it still galvanizes the base).
McCain’s chances at the nomination still seem slim, although the electability and experience appeal remain.
October 16, 2007
In an unusually brash email entitled “Hillary’s money” sent out today, Barack Obama castigated Hillary Clinton for accepting money from lobbyists and PACs, saying, “Washington lobbyists and special interests rallied to help Hillary Clinton out-raise us for the first time.” The math behind that reasoning is somewhat fuzzy. Obama says he’s $2.1 million behind, but Clinton has raised only $1.2 million from lobbyists and PACs. The $1.2 million didn’t push Clinton over the edge to surpass Obama, but it helped pad her margin. Full email after the jump.
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October 15, 2007
Mitt Romney’s campaign just filed their financial disclosure reports for the third quarter, revealing $9.2 million cash on hand. The campaign spent $21 million for the quarter after pulling in $18 million (which included a sizable $8.5 million personal loan from the candidate) , continuing the heavy burn rate seen in the first half of the year. Signs of where the money’s going: the 10,893 ads Romney has run, mostly in Iowa, dwarfing his Republican competitors.
Rudy Giuliani’s campaign spent $13.3 million over the summer and has $11.6 million on hand, while Fred Thompson spent $5.7 million and has just over $7 million available. No word yet on the other candidates.
October 15, 2007
The tension between John McCain and Mitt Romney has spilled over into public display this past week, beginning with the former governor’s comments that he is “the only real Republican” in the race and speaks for the “Republican wing of the Republican party”. Intended to spotlight Rudy Giuliani’s liberal social views, Romney’s remarks provoked a fervent response from McCain, who said the following:
“When Governor Romney donated money to a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans. When he voted for a Democratic candidate for president, Paul Tsongas, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans. When he refused to endorse the Contract with America, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans. And when he was embracing the Democratic position on many issues of the day, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans.”
McCain made the preceding remarks in, guess where, New Hampshire. The Granite State is his Waterloo, where voters place him in third place in recent polls. By doling out harsh criticism aimed at Romney, the faltering front-runner in the state, McCain hopes to boost his own support. Is McCain’s strategy likely to work? Romney’s support is soft, only 37% in NH strongly support him according to the latest Marist poll. However, Romney supporters are much more likely to flock to Giuliani over McCain – 47% have the former mayor as their second choice, only 25% for McCain. The real beneficiary of the McCain-Romney tiff is Giuliani, who gets to stand above the fray while the others battle it out.
Four years ago, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean engaged in their own war of words, the verbal sparring leaving many Iowan voters disgusted with the both of them. The caucus-goers found alternatives, leading to a Kerry-Edwards one-two finish. A similar situation may replay this time around in New Hampshire.
October 12, 2007
Ramping up his efforts to spark his stagnating campaign, Barack Obama told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that his campaign is moving into the “next phase”, meaning Obama’s going to increasingly emphasize his differences with Clinton. The first signs of the shift in strategy were spread across the New Hampshire Union Leader’s op-ed page, with Obama criticizing Clinton (and by name, not a veiled shot) for her Iraq vote and recent support of the Lieberman-Kyl amendment. A choice quote from Obama’s editorial: “Five years after the original vote for war in Iraq, Sen. Clinton has argued that her vote was not for war — it was for diplomacy, or inspections. But all of us knew what the Senate was debating in 2002.” He then pivots to the present, saying “I strongly differ with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was the only Democratic presidential candidate to support this reckless [Lieberman-Kyl] amendment.”
A day before the Nobel Peace Prize is set to be announced, Al Gore surpassed Obama on the political futures website, Intrade.com. Clinton leads the race for the Democratic nomination with a commanding 68.0, Gore’s a distant second with 12.7, while Obama trails close behind at 11.5.
October 10, 2007
Some straight talk from Obama in his new New Hampshire ad.
October 10, 2007
Adam Nagourney wrote recently about Obama and the youth vote, saying:
The truth of the matter is that every four years – as sure as a sunset – stories appear about a surge of interest among younger voters in presidential politics, typically predicting a jump in turn-out that will benefit one campaign or another. It rarely turns out to be true: the percentage of voters under 30 in the total electorate was basically unchanged between 2000 and 2004– 17 percent, according to surveys of voters leaving the polls.
Let’s look at the Iowa caucuses. From 2000 to 2004, the percentage of Democratic Iowa caucus-goers under 30 nearly doubled, going from 9% to 17%. The leap was the largest among all age brackets and reflected increased turnout at the caucuses overall.
With the explosion of social networking sites, thousands of students have joined candidate-themed groups. And although just joining a group doesn’t guarantee voting, there’s heightened awareness of the election which will increase voter participation. There’s a potential feeling of exclusion as well, if all your friends are either going to caucus night or attending a rally (events publicized on sites like Facebook) and you’re left out. YouTube is also a handy conduit for campaigns’ messages, with over 3.5 million views of Obama videos. None of these websites were mainstream in 2004, and all of them are means for increased the election’s visibility.
There has been an evolution in politics in the last four years. Howard Dean first exposed the fundraising power of the Internet, a capability Obama has harnessed to great financial benefits. Now, young people are using the Internet’s communication skills and networking ability to support campaigns. Hopefully, they’ll go out and vote as a result.