Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's the Turnout, Stupid

A source inside the Pennsylvania Obama GOTV organization recently told me that their internals put the spread in the Commonwealth at under 3 points. {The latest SurveyUSA poll of PA LV, concluded yesterday, puts Obama up 52-43%, with only 1% undecided.)

Think the election is going to be decided by the undecided voters or the soft supporters of either candidate? Nope. The next President is going to be put in office by a very different group of people.

What will win the election is the Get Out the Vote work. The candidate who has the better ground game, who has more key counties or precincts organized, who has been spending the last few months identifying likely supporters, and the last two weeks making sure that they vote, is going to win the election.

An effective GOTV organization can make up as much as a six or seven point polling deficit. As you look at all those light blue or light red states, keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that, over the last decade or so, the Repugs have had the most impressive of GOTV mechanics.

This cycle, Obama has a number of things going for him to offset the usual GOP GOTV advantage. The first advantage Obama has is Hillary. She Who Must Be Nominated die Obama and the Dems a big, if unintended, favor. By hanging on until long after the issue was decided, Hillary forced Obama to build his organizations in many more states than he would have needed to start work in had Hillary been gracious in defeat. This played well in Obama's strength -- expanding the playing field.

Playing in the red put additional pressure on the Repug GOTV in those states -- which may be a little weaker than in other areas, since the Repugs haven't previously had to work to win those states in Presidential elections

Keeping the interest in the primaries going not until the last day, but until the very last day, also kept the Dems out in front of the electorate. In all of those late-primary states, the Democrats essentially were handed the opening statement in the trial against the Repugs, with little opportunity for rebuttal.

It also continued the massive new-voter registration drive that Obama and the Dems have masterfully put together this cycle. While it is beginning to look like new voters will not comprise much more than the usual ten or twelve percent of the electorate, the Dem skew looks to be very very heavy among the new voters.

Finally, early voting. Some estimates are that nearly one-third of the votes cast in this election have already been recorded through early or absentee ballots. Obama appears to have banked a substantial advantage among these early votes. Besides starting out the day with a ten or fifteen point advantage, the early voters also relive the burden on the Obama GOTV organizations -- allowing them to concentrate their resources on the remaining 70% who have not early voted. This thirty-percent increase in efficient use of resources helps the Obama GOTV even out the Repug advantage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Experience Canard

The Audacity of Desperation campaign has long featured slams against Senator Obama's purported lack of experience. Putting aside for the moment how General Powell expertly turned the experience issue against the McCain/Palin ticket, a reality-based examination of the facts shows Obama with more experience than most of the 42 men who have held the office. Not enough? then consider on foreign policy, he's got more experience than four out of the last five Presidents had when they entered office. Still not enough? Well, then consider that "experience" has been as much a predictor of failure as President as any other factor.

John Wilson recently took a look at the facts behind the Repug's experience cackles against Senator Obama. As Mr. Wilson put it: "there are two problems with the attack on Obama's inexperience: it isn't true, and it doesn't matter."

Because the MSM has decided that reviewing the facts is an inefficient way to cover this election, let's spend a moment first taking a look at Senator Obama's resume and experience.

He's a graduate of Columbia University, with a BA in Political Science. His concentration was in international relations and his senior thesis was on Soviet nuclear disarmament.

After Columbia, he worked for as a Writer/Researcher for Business International Corporation (now a part of London's Economist). There he analyzed overseas markets for multinational clients of the firm and wrote for the “Business International Money Report”.

From there, in 1984 he went to the New York Public Interest Research Group, a non-partisan organization that promotes consumer, environmental and government reform. At the NYPIRG, Obama organized student activists at City College in Harlem.

After spending a year at NYPIRG, in 1985 he moved to Chicago, where he became Director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland on Chicago's South Side. While director, he grew the DCP staff from 1 to 13 and their budget from $70,000 to $400,000.

In 1988, Senator Obama entered Harvard Law School. At the end of his first year, based on his grades and a writing competition, he became an editor of the Harvard Law Review. The following year, he was elected President of the law-review, a full-time position in which he supervised the publications 80 editors. During the summers, he worked as a summer associate at a couple of Chicago's prestigious international law firms. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991

Following law school, in 1992, he ran Chicago's Project Vote. They registered 600,000 new voters under Obama. From there, the University of Chicago offered him a fellowship, which he used to work on the book that became Dreams of My Father. The fellowship morphed into a teaching position and for over ten years he taught Constitutional law at the law school.

For a portion of the time that he was at the law school, Obama also worked as a civil rights attorney with a Chicago law firm.

In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate, in which he served for eight years. Among other things, he was Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee.

One wouldn't know this from the "liberal elite" MSM coverage, but while in the state senate, Obama earned a reputation for achieving tough legislation by working in a bi-partisan manner. There, he led a successful bipartisan effort to pass the broadest ethics-reform legislation in 25 years, and gained bipartisan support for his successful bills reforming death penalty interrogations and ending racial profiling by police. He also worked with Republicans to reform welfare and sponsored successful bills expanding tax credits and child-care subsidies for low-income working families, protecting overtime pay for workers, expanding health care for children, and providing job skills training for juveniles.

From 1996 through 2002, Obama sponsored over 800 bills in the Illinois State Senate.

In 2004, Obama was elected to serve in the United States Senate. But even his Senate resume is obscured or mispresented in the MSM. In the Senate, he is a Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. He's visited 17 countries in those capacities.

In addition, he is a member of the Senate Committees on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and on Veterans' Affairs.

Senator Obama shares responsibility for the bipartisan Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, requiring full online disclosure of all entities receiving federal funds, and the bipartisan Lugar-Obama Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2006, deepening non-proliferation work with WMD and including surface-to-air missiles, land mines, and other weapons that may be used by terrorists. He also worked with Coburn to end the abuse of no-bid contracts in the wake of disasters.

Thomas searches of the 109th and 110th Congressional sessions reveal that, while in the US Senate, Obama has sponsored nearly 300 bills, and been a co-sponsor on nearly 1,000 more. (In the same period, John McCain sponsored a little more than half what Obama sponsored (about180 bills) and co-sponsored less than half of Obama's numbers (around 400).)

I'll bet even those of you supporting Obama didn't know some of this. For the life of me I can't understand why Obama hasn't used some of his small-donation fortune to publicize this impressive record.

So, how does all of this stack up against the troublesome world of fact?

In terms of experience in elected-office, Senator Obama's 15+ years in elective office puts him ahead of 22 of the 42 previous Presidents. Indeed, as Mr. Wilson points out, it gives him more experience in elective office than "that of Ronald Reagan (eight years as governor), Jimmy Carter (four years in state senate, four years as governor), Dwight Eisenhower (no political experience), and Harry Truman (10 years as US senator, one year as vice president)."

Counting only experience in Washington, Obama has more Washington experience than 20 of the prior holders of the office. In short, as Mr. Wilson puts it, "[i]n terms of his experience, Obama would be a typical president."

Foreign policy experience important to you? Well, Senator Obama has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his entire tenure in the Senate and has visited 17 countries in that capacity. He's got more foreign policy experience than four out of the last five Presidents -- More than Jimmy Carter, more than Ronald Reagan, more than Bill Clinton, and more than that miserable cretin now sullying the office.

That last bit may not be entirely fair -- as Mr. Wilson also points out -- the dry drunk now in office had the benefit of the advice from two Americans with the greatest of experience in foreign policy -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, and look how well that turned out.

So, the experience lie laid bare, how about this -- Wilson compared his review of the experience levels of former Presidents, with a recent evaluation of the success of those Presidential administrations. In 2005, the Federalist Society and the Wall Street Journal selected what they called an "ideologically-balanced" group of 130 prominent professors of history, law, political science and economics to rate the presidents. They then "adjusted" the results to reflect the ideological leanings of the respondents.

Of the top ten-ranked presidents from that survey -- 7 had less experience than Obama. And the worst? All of the five "failed" Presidencies -- the worst Presidents -- featured men with more experience in elected office than Senator Obama.

So, with the experience canard put to rest, maybe McCain and the repugs can start talking about something meaningful, something that is actually important, something with substance. But that's not likely to happen, instead we will hear about Ayers, and Wright, and the socialism canard, anything but reality. Because reality is deadly to Repug prospects.