A Preview of Tonight’s Speech

August 28, 2008

Obama reportedly drew inspiration for his address tonight from three past convention speeches: those of Clinton in 1992, Reagan in 1980, and Kennedy in 1960. As a taste of what may come, here’s JFK, whose words hold truth today:

We know that it will not be easy to campaign against a man who has spoken or voted on every known side of every known issue…And after eight years of drugged and fitful sleep, this nation needs strong, creative Democratic leadership in the White House.

But we are not merely running against Mr. Nixon. Our task is not merely one of itemizing Republican failures. Nor is that wholly necessary. For the families forced from the farm will know how to vote without our telling them. The unemployed miners and textile workers will know how to vote. The old people without medical care – the families without a decent home – the parents of children without adequate food or schools – they all know that it’s time for a change.

But I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high – to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. As Winston Churchill said on taking office some twenty years ago: if we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.

Today our concern must be with the future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.


Obama’s Voter Registration Drive

August 27, 2008

Obama’s Latino Outreach Director, Temo Figueora on tomorrow’s speech:

You’re going to be hearing tomorrow from Barack Obama the kick-off of the largest voter registration drive ever in a presidential campaign…he’s going to mention some numbers that we’re going to be spending on voter registration through the month of September that will be mind boggling.

Tinker with turnout models using our interactive spreadsheet, where you can adjust youth and African-American participation in eighteen battleground states.  One scenario:

Scenario 2 – 20% Increase Among Blacks and Youth: Shade both Florida and Nevada blue, providing an additional thirty-two electoral votes that boost Obama’s total to 316. Colorado, Virginia, and Missouri – thirty-three electoral votes combined – narrow to within two percent.


The Second Night

August 27, 2008

Last night’s speeches visualized (click image to enlarge):

No Bush, no Republicans. No taking advantage of an unpopular presidency and a tarnished party. Many are getting jittery, but the contrasts should shine through in the latter half of the convention — Biden will unload tonight and Obama promised to “make clear the choice that the American people are going to face in November” in his speech Thursday night.


What’s Tamping Obama Down

August 25, 2008

Hillary supporters have not yet flocked to the Democrats’ tent, even though they concur with the party platform. Wary of Obama’s slim resume and perceived aloofness, the group remains a roadblock to victory. In this tact, the Republicans have succeeded: changing the election into a referendum on Obama. But this convention is about undoing that change and shifting the attention to McCain’s record. The indispensable Ambinder notes about the Democratic holdouts:

It is MUCH harder to convince them to vote for Obama because they LIKE him. It is much easier to convince them to vote for Obama because they think McCain represents a continuation of President Bush’s policies. (Obama’s campaign has polling data suggesting that an unusually large number of pro-choice Democrats don’t know that McCain is pro-life.)

In other words, Obama can consolidate the party by turning it against an external foe. And, using this week to unite the party will lead to a sizable and lasting gain in the polls, not some ephemeral convention euphoria.

Let’s delve into some numbers. Obama hovers in the high-seventies among self-described Democrats, although the precise number ranges from poll to poll. In the past four elections, the Democratic nominee has garnered 89-90% of the vote on Election Day; treat that figure as an optimistic ceiling.

Assume Obama comes out of the convention with 85% of the party backing him. The result: a three to four point bounce in the polls. Right now, the RCP average tacks Obama with a narrow 1.6% lead; the convention bounce would widen that gap to a comfortable margin and potentially put the election away.

It’s worth recalling a point Alan Abramowitz made during the tail-end of the primaries:

The fact that Democratic identifiers now decisively outnumber Republican identifiers means that in order to win, Democrats only have to unite and turn out their own base.

And that’s the purpose of the convention.


Who Says He Can’t Keep Quiet?

August 23, 2008

Biden received the news Thursday according to Obama spokesman Bill Burton: “He’s a discreet man, we are proud to have him on the team.”

Which provides an excuse to post this primary gem:


A McCain Recalculation?

August 23, 2008

Will the Biden pick cause McCain to recalibrate his vice-presidential compass? Mark Halperin previously reported that the Republican nominee had “settled” on Mitt Romney, but Obama’s selection may nudge Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty back into contention.

McCain might want a form of economic ballast to counterweight Biden’s humble background; picking Romney would only widen the wealth chasm between the two tickets. Pawlenty, a man of modest means, advocates Sam’s Club Republicanism, a working-class philosophy much more palatable to Reagan Democrats than Romney’s country-club conservatism.

Romney’s supporters tout his economic fluency, but there’s no evidence that the Bain Capital founder ever connected to voters on bread-and-butter issues. In the Republican primaries, voters who considered the economy the most important issue actually preferred McCain. On the other hand, Pawlenty has a proven ability to empathize with lower-income voters, aided by his blue-collar background.


Veep Wire

August 23, 2008

8:30 PM: Andrea Mitchell reports that Bayh and Kaine have both been informed they’re not the pick.

8:47 PM: The wait continues. Ambinder twitters:

Source: text will be sent tomorrow am, a few hrs before Obama speaks in Springfield.

9:27 PM: Activity at the Bidens’ Delaware home:

Cars have recently pulled into the driveway — including a police car — and Biden’s daughter, son, and wife are now believed to be inside.

9:46 PM: While we bide the time (no pun intended), a review of Biden’s attack-dog credentials.

9:52 PM: A live stakeout of the Biden residence.

10:04 PM: Can’t call Biden an elitist: the guy’s the least wealthy senator, with a potentially negative net worth. That background furnishes him with a perfect platform to assail McCain as economically out of touch.

8:36 AM: It’s officially Biden.