Hillary Clinton – Enough With the Past and Focus on the Future

The discussion of Hillary Clinton becoming the next Secretary of State has picked up to a feverish pitch in DC – and in the media.  The media, with very little to talk about, is wondering how two political rivals could possibly work together, particularly with the animosity that was shown during the campaign.  The media is asking – could she support his policies?  The answer is an emphatic YES.  Look, the campaign is all about exploiting differences regardless of how minor they may be.  It’s the only way to differentiate a Republican from a Republican or a Democrat or a Democrat. 

That answers the question about such things as when Hillary Clinton claimed Obama would be meet with our enemies.  There is no doubt she supports diplomacy with them, as most analysts and former Secretary of States have confirmed.  Her issue was the level at which dialogue should initially take place.  It’s a nuance in a position that becomes larger than life when competing against another candidate.  The 3:00am phone call is another Clinton classic.  But that’s just politics.  One of the oldest campaign tactics is to show you are more qualified.  However, that doesn’t mean that the other candidate isn’t qualified.

Clinton and Obama both realize it was a campaign and that’s what you do in a campaign.  Like her husband, Bill Clinton, she knows that once the race is over you very often can find common ground and realize the other candidate is intelligent and there may be value in working together.  Bill Clinton did it with both George Bush, Sr. and Bob Dole.  Are there times when there is a true bitterness and reconciliation may be tough or can’t happen? Sure.  There was a little of that with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama after Hillary’s defeat.  And certainly some relationships will always remain tepid.  Somehow I believe that George W. Bush and Al Gore will never work together.  But we are also talking rival parties.  The ideology within one party is strong enough to overcome many of thsoe concerns and issues.  So can we stop with the nonsense talk on whether she respects his position enough to work with him?

This appointment has tremendous potential.  Forget about the politics, they ilrelevant.  She is smart and a challenging figure to Obama.  She can provide him her experience working with foreign leaders, being a veteran in the Senate, and certainly has an inside view how foreign policy works within the White House.  Obama is smart to look at appointing people who challenge him.  She will challenge his decisions, as well as providing insight and an alternate point of view to issues.

Certainly, they may have some conflicts.  Beyond that, Vice President Biden’s role becomes slightly more muddled.  If Obama chooses a John Kerry or Bill Richardson, they wouldn’t create the headlines that Clinton would.  Formally or informally, Biden’s foreign policy role may be slightly diminished.  But that’s ok.  Putting the best team together is the priority and Obama is taking with all the seriousness it deserves.


Washington is a Small World!

Podesta, Emanuel, Reich, Summers, Christopher, Richardson, Daley, Pena, and Tyson are just some of the former Clinton Administration people who have or will play a role in the new Obama administration.  For as much as Obama says he will bring change to Washington, the cast of players, in many ways, remains the same.  That’s absolutely not a knock on Obama and his choices.  You can either choose a full cabinet of oustiders to learn the job and waste two years, as Clinton did, or you can pick a team with Executive Branch experience.  Bush 43 did the same thing, bringing in former Nixon/Reagan/Bush 41 advisers such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, and Card are examples. Bringing ‘change’ to Washington does not mean your team has to be new, but your ideas and the conduct of the administration should be.  Having veteran advisers will help a young President blossom into his role much more quickly.

Yet, it does feel like a club that admits few new members during each adminstration.   You wonder if these folks sit on the sidelines during an oppositions administration, knowing that with their party’s win, they will be back in their ‘career’ role.  Doesn’t it feel like the Blues Brother’s movie?  “Hey, we’re putting the BAND back together.”

President-Elect Arrives in DC and the Bubbling Craziness in Town

I work in downtown DC, about four blocks from the White House.   With President-elect Obama coming into town to meet with President Bush, I decided to go down and be a part of the arrival. As I started my trek down to the White House and it occurred to me that I didn’t know where Obama would arrive.  He could arrive on the South Lawn, typically where the Helicopter lands for the President, as well as an entrance for a motorcade.  The other potential was for him to arrive on the North side on Pennsylvania Avenue, where most of the motorcades come in when they arrive at the White House.

I figured, since he wasn’t going to arrive by ‘copter, I’d try the north side.  Obama’s meeting with Bush was set for 2:20, and figured if I got there by 1:45 I’d have plenty of time to watch him arrive.  When I got to the North Gate, there was a crowd starting to form.  Part of me knew right away this was probably the wrong side since they typically back people off the fence when a motorcade arrives.   But, since there were so many people there and a lot of security, I figured they were just letting folks get a little closer.

It’s amazing, six days out from the election and the electricity is still going strong.  Everyone was abuzz about the arrival of President-elect Obama.  There were dozens of news reporters milling about and talking to the crowd.  Right inside the gate, along the driveway, CNN and all the other crews had their cameras and journalists setup.  This was for a short meeting!  I stood next to a British woman who was talking to some folks from Maine.  The British woman was staying in Virginia with some relatives and excused herself for the chance to catch a glimpse of the President.  The guys from Maine made a detour to be in DC to happen upon this scene.  The Brit was talking about how the UK was awake early in the morning watching the returns.  Everyone seemed to be as excited over there, as they were here.  She claims the media was 100% behind Obama.  If there was any McCain support, it was non-existent.  At the White House ,there were a lot of other folks there – business people, families, and a lot of tourists.  No one knew what to expect, but they all hoped they could be a part of history.

Right around 2:00pm the Secret Service arrived on the roof of the White House, as they do when things are happening.  No sign of the President-elect.  A couple of minutes later the roar of sirens could be heard in the distance.  Quickly they subsided.  In DC, it’s typical to here the sirens come and go and sound far away, so I didn’t pay attention to them.  Shortly thereafter, a man who was talking to his wife on the phone and she said that the Obama had arrived on the South Lawn (rats!).  I checked my trusty PDA and, sure enough, CNN was reporting that Obama had arrived.

I quickly took off and walked to the other side of the White House.  The Secret Service didn’t let you get close enough to even see the Rose Garden, as you typically can see from the south side.  Bystanders and reporters confirmed that a motorcade had passed, but no one was sure if Obama was in the motorcade.  The Secret Service did a great job of confusing reporters and bystanders a like.

With that, slightly disappointed, I headed back to the office.

If anyone is wondering what DC is like right now – it’s getting slightly crazy.  There are peddlers selling newspapers from the day after the election from the standard price ($1.50) all the way up to $50 (not joking, I had one guy ask me to pay that much).  A lot of the street corners have stands selling Obama hats, t-shirts, posters, towels, sweat shirts, jackets, stickers, and anything else you can imagine.  I presume it’s only going to pick-up as the Inauguration gets closer.  I cannot imagine for one second that McCain’s arrival would have created the same buzz and gathering of people.  Nor would it have resulted in the sales of merchandise, as Obama’s election has resulted.

Inauguration tickets (keep in mind they are free) are selling upwards of $40K according to Rachael Maddow.  There is definitely a little more energy in the city right now – you can really feel it.  This truly is an extraordinary time. 

Here are some low quality pictures from my PDA phone, while waiting for Obama


Media on top of the hotel across from the White House

Media on top of the hotel across from the White House

Secret Service on the Roof of the White House waiting for Obama's arrival

Secret Service on the Roof of the White House waiting for Obama


Media inside the North Gate

Media inside the North Gate

Obama’s First Press Conference Post Election

Obama’s first Press Conference was very interesting.  First, he seemed a little tight and off his game. As a man who has campaigned for the last 22 months and was quick with the answers, his responses to day were a little ‘tight’ and ‘off key’ at times.  Part of this can be attributed to a whole new line of questions and appropriate responses.  His mind and game has been so melded into campaign mode, he ability to quickly and off the cuff respond to questions was a little pressed.   I have no doubt once he gets his feet under him he’s going to be eloquent, on the mark, and honest with his answers. I thought he did have a little trouble breaking the shackles of campaigning and assuming the President’s role.  He probably said ‘middle-class’ way too much and tried to hard to be politically correct in his answers, particularly about tax increases for the wealthy.

He did say a few things in the presser that were either reassuring or provided insight into how he’ll tackle priorities early in his administration. He first made it abundantly clear that President Bush is in charge and  that the Nation speaks with one voice.  I believe he also made it clear that he’d stay in touch with the President (and vice-versa) as required.  Obama is going to push hard for a stimulus package to be developed and he’ll work with President Bush to get it passed.  However, there won’t be much compromise – as President-Elect Obama said he’ll pass one after his Inauguration. 

On foreign policy, his answers were on slightly less stable ground.  With regard to the congratulations he received from Iran and potential ramp-up of discussions with the Middle Eastern nation, he was non-committal.  Realizing now that he talks from somewhat of a bully-pulpit, his words were measured.  His security team would need to meet and discuss how to respond to Iran on the congratulations letter, as well as whether it was appropriate to begin discussions after 20 January.  He did make it clear that the U.S. will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.  Candy Crowly, a veteran CNN journalist, asked him if anything in his daily CIA security briefings caused him any concern beyond what he already knew. It’s appropriate to not want to discsuss the topic, but Obama’s response was a little roundabout and not reassuring.

It’s obvious that this President is intent on building a relationship with the press and trying to be candid, as much as he can, when anwering the questions.  It’s only two days in, but he was reassuring that his campaign message will resonate through his administration. He continues to recognize the mind boggling challenges of the office and is very reassuring in stating he’s taking the time to make the right Cabinet appointments.  Regardless of whether he was ‘smooth’ or not, he certainly has a better grasp on issues than our current president and appears to already be engaging at a level that President Bush never considered.  Finally, I thought there was a key moment when he said he’d rely on his economic team to craft the best policy to get this nation moving forward again.  This is a man that realizes he is an executive and to utilize ‘good’ people to develop the policy that will help him lead this country in the direction he believes is right.

Intrade Predictions

For those not familiar, there is a website (actually a few of them) that is a cross between the stock market and a gambling website.  It’s called Intrade.  Basically, the way it works is they are an electronic exchange for buying and selling shares of different events.  One event that is particularly popular is the Presidential Election.  The site shows how ‘trading’ is going at the Electoral College level and the popular vote.  Obama is ahead 364/174 in Electoral Votes and a 93% chance of winning.

I really like this site as an indicator how the election is going.  It’s been a place I’ve turned all election season for a calibration of the races.  What I really like is the agreement between ‘investors’ to find the equilibrium in the chances of a candidate winning a state.  I believe investors are probably the most accurate predictors of the future outcome and the significant number of investors should do a good job of focusing to a reasonable percentage.  In fact, some of the aggregate pollsters use the results of Intrade to help determine the outcome of their polls.

The stock market sensitivity to events is usually extremely fine and relatively accurate as to where the economy or world events are going.  The Electronic Market extension (as is Intrade is considered) is a great way for cutting through Parisian rhetoric and getting to a real idea as to where the election stands.  I don’t have the stats from four years ago, but I believe the site was relatively accurate.  As the day and night drag on, I would suggest popping over to Intrade to see how they are projecting the different states.

The Liberal Crab’s Poll of “Poll of Polls” – 03 November 2008


Popular Vote

Obama – 51.5% +6.8%

McCain – 44.7%

Electoral College

Obama – 347

McCain – 191


Well here we are, the eve of the election and the final Poll of “Poll of Polls”.  The final popular vote total is 51.5% for Obama and 44.7% for McCain, giving Obama a 6.8% poll lead going into the election tomorrow. Oddly, after analyzing the remaining undecideds and adding the Barr/Nadar/Paul third party factor, my final prediction is – 51.5% Obama, 44.6% McCain, 3.9% third parties.  Am I saying the remaining ‘undecideds’ in my poll are actually voting third party?  No.  I actually gave McCain 62% of the 3.9% of undecideds, based on his performance with them in recent days.  However, he is impacted by about 1% more by the third party candidates based on my analysis of 2-way and 3-way polls.  As a result, the final prediction matches the final Poll of “Poll of Polls”.

There was some odd things going on with the national tracking polls.  Despite the pretty radical differences in each of them over the last few days, they all ended up centering between 5-9 points.  There are some games the pollsters can play to make the results trend to the mean such as changing party ID.  However, the important point is that the pollsters who have a stronger reputation – Rasmussen and Gallup, utilizing their ‘traditional’ belief in who makes up a likey voter still has Obama with a comfortable 5-6 point lead (and some even larger).

As the National vote was tightening, the state polls were increasing their margin for Obama.  Now that the national polls have been increasing their advantage for Obama, ironically we see a tightening at the state level.  While the idea of a lag has been widely discounted, even here, since the polls are coming out more frequently, the fact is that poll trends (which is what the other aggregators use) are based on the current polls as well as some of the older polls.  In effect, there is still some lag.  Since the national polls have only helped increase Obama’s lead over the last three or four days, it’s conceivable the minor tightening is a result of the slight lag.  What would that mean for Election Day?  It probably means Obama’s state leads are a bit larger than being projected.  The aggregators have a mean in their evaluation of 347 Electoral Votes.  Based on the latest national polls, I suspect their adjusted estimate (if given 2-3 more days) would be back in the 355-360 range.  Based on the latest polls and my analysis, my final prediction is Obama 302 and McCain 236.  My map is as follows:


My analysis was based on several factors.  First, the latest polling trends.  Second, only including pollsters with good reputations.  Third, past voting trends in the state.  Fourth, level of support for the candidate above/below 50%.  Fifth, a general thought on the GOTV efforts in the state.  Florida has been trending back to McCain.  Ohio was on the edge.  It’s been trending back, slightly to Obama.  It’s close enough that if there is any impact from Palin’s ‘coal’ comments today, I could see that pushing it over to McCain.  Regardless, it’s within the margin of error and a state the Democrats have previously lost twice.  Missouri is close, but the GOTV efforts by Obama, I think, will make a considerable difference for Obama.  Colorado and Nevada show strong trends toward Obama.  Virginia appears to have stabilized out at about 4-5 points. Obama should be able to hold that lead.

More to come about what to look for tomorrow, as well as additional analysis.

My analysis looked at se

A Grandmother’s Belief and Hope in Obama

Just wanted to add my two cents to this blog for anyone who is still nervous about this election, who still worry that we will be disappointed once again.

I remember four years ago, working for Kerry, going to Ohio the night before the election to volunteer, and watching the returns election evening, and believing Kerry was winning, and then to have the rug pulled out from under us, which left us with four more years of misery with George W. Bush. My daughter-in-law went with me to Ohio with such great expectations, and then we returned home on the bus in tears … Kerry lost, he lost Ohio, the state we worked so hard in. THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN THIS TIME!

Well, I am here to tell you I’ve felt like most of you, and I’ve been worried, and I’ve been anxious, because this election is the most important election in my lifetime. I remember when John Kennedy ran for president, an
Irish-Catholic running and winning … could never happen. Well, we know how that turned out. It was a tough race, and I remember finally going to bed at two in the morning believing he had lost, and that Nixon would be our next president. Then my dad came in to my room and said “we won, we won!!” I’ll never forget that morning. Kennedy’s chances were so slim, and his win was slim, but he won. Barak Obama is doing so much better and in a better place than Kennedy was all those years ago.

The excitement I saw around Kennedy, I’ve now seen happening with Senator Obama. Only this time, I’m all grown up, and I knew that this time I could do something to help him win, and perhaps to win big.

So, I got off my “you know what” because sitting around worrying was not going to elect Senator Obama to the presidency. I had a purpose. I’m up there in years, I’m not worried about my future, but I am worried about my 6 grandchildren, who I love more than anything in this world, and seeing another Republican become president to potentially make their world and their future questionable, I knew I had to do something. So, I’ve gone to Virginia three weeks in a row and I’ve knocked on doors. I’ve done phone banking as often as possible. Doing these kinds of things is not in my DNA, I don’t like to make blind phone calls, or knocking on stranger’s doors, it’s not easy, especially when a phone is slammed on your ear, or a door is slammed in your face, it can shake your confidence, but that doesn’t matter how I felt, I didn’t do it for me, I did it for my kids and their kids. I worry about what kind of world I will leave behind. This was my way to maybe make a difference. Leaving them a safe and secure world is the most important thing I can do, and I hope and believe that Senator Obama will give our children the world they deserve.

I was phone banking last night, every space that could be used to phone bank was used, and the majority of the folks, and I had some good results with more people saying they will vote for Senator Obama. A not too many saying they will vote for McCain, that made my night.

It is 6:37 p.m. on the eve of the most important election in our lifetime, which means there still is time to volunteer. You can make calls for Obama, you can volunteer to phone bank. You can drive people to the polls who have no way of getting there.

Tomorrow, after I vote, I will go back to the Obama campaign office and start matching people who cannot get to the polls on their own with folks who have volunteered to drive.

If you can’t do some of these things, then drag someone to the polls with you, remind people to get vote, do whatever it takes, and we will have a President Obama on Wednesday morning.

We will not have what happened four years ago happen again. This is the time for Barack Obama, let’s make it happen!