2008 Election, Nomination

It is probably no surprise that I am voting for Barack Obama tomorrow. Some thoughts on the Presidential race.

1) I think the election between Barack Obama and John McCain has been a footnote in the 2008 election. Though Sarah Palin, and the Tina Fey skits, will make an excellent bit in “I Love The Naughts!”, brought to you sometime by VH1 in the year 2026, the real election this year was between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

1.a) I still remember when Lawrence Lessig wrote his Pro-Obama piece around 51 weeks ago. People were worried anyone who supported Obama in 2007 were going to get black-listed from a Hillary administration. He wrote:

“DON’T DO THIS!” a friend wrote, a friend who never uses allcaps, a friend who cares genuinely about what’s good for me, and who believes that what’s good for me depends in part upon how easily I can talk to the next administration. “He is NOT going to win. She has it sewed up. DON’T burn your bridges before they’re hatched — so to speak.”

So was my suggestion that I come clean publicly about what many here will have intuited long ago — tha I support Barack Obama for President…

(Oh, and to my allcaps friend, this was my reply: “Don’t be ridiculous. This isn’t about misplaced courage. Barack is going to win this one easily.”)

1.b) Though I had nothing to lose professionally, throughout fall of 2007 I’d take bets at the local dive bar saying Hillary wouldn’t be our next President (“She won’t even get the nomination”). Many free drinks have been purchased for me as payment the times I’ve been back.

1.c) I was recently at a wedding where I talked at length with some fairly libertarian friends. I had recommended Before The Storm , the story about Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run, to one of them. He said he can’t find it anywhere (it’s being reprinted next year, fyi). I mentioned it’s been out of print and it became an inspiration for those, post-2004, as to how to win the nomination from party-insiders by organized youngster who want take back a party. He then, not being a Democrat, asked if I saw any connections between then and 2008 primaries. I did. When people look back at this nomination, with Hillary having insider support and Obama having the dedicated new wave of volunteers, I hope they catch a few things:

1.c.i) Hillary was strong in ballots but Obama was stronger on the caucasus. Ballots are great for name recognition effects. Calling people in Southern California (where Hillary won by a large margin) before Super-Tuesday, I was amazed at the number of people who were going to vote Hillary simply because they hadn’t followed anything but remembered being better off at the end of the Clinton years. (Not a bad reason to vote, incidentally.)

However caucasus was where the early wins come in, and that is all about boots on the ground. Obama’s people on the group, being both dedicated, tech-savvy and well-trained, got people where they needed to be by when, and were able to get the numbers they needed there to make big early wins.

1.c.ii) Hillary had no game plan after Super-Tuesday, and insiders ran out of steam By Super-Tuesday, Hillary was out of cash and out of people. Insiders are great to have at your back, but they get worried when they don’t see a clean-sweep, and at the end are often walking on stilts – they aren’t the same as mass support. Obama had the next several states lined up with volunteers, as per his 50-state strategy (more on which in a second), and his cash rolling was just starting to gear up. Despite what some imply, Obama’s online donation system made it incredibly easy to give just a little bit from many, many people. It was an incredibly democratic system that allowed Obama to keep swimming when Hillary had to go to her own bank account.

1.c.iii) Hillary’s tactics then look as weak as McCain’s does now Hillary was right; her dragging the election out gave Obama a sneak preview as to the absurdity of the Republican smear campaign. (Contrary to some, I don’t think Hillary dragged out the election cause she hated democracy or whatever; whoever won the primary was likely to be the next President, and as such it was worth fighting.) Remember Hillary Six-Pack?

Remember William Ayers when Hillary brought it up? Obama learned the way to handle that was to be smarter than the smears. It is not an easy thing to do – and the way it isn’t working now is based on the fact that it’s already happened.

1.c.iii) Having a dragged-out primary gave Obama a boost in a 50-state push I really didn’t want Hillary to be the nominee because I was afraid of her playing safe to a “50% plus 1” strategy. I thought, between the organization and the money, Obama could make a push across the whole nation, a brilliant (if common sense) idea Howard Dean saw on the horizon in 2004. Fighting Hillary in all kinds of corners, instead of being done after Iowa, built an infrastructure Obama could work with. To whatever extent Hillary didn’t have people on the ground, McCain is even worse. Nobody even sees McCain people going door-to-door. No wonder he has to robocall. Or pay people to read hate scripts. If Hillary couldn’t stop him, McCain had no chance.

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