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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

November 5, 2004 PERMALINK
Our Infrastructure, The Good and The Bad
(posted Nov. 4 11:45 PM ET)
(updated Nov. 5 10:45 AM ET)

As said here yesterday, Dems and liberals need to hit the ground running in order to begin a multi-year effort to better define and articulate our principles, and persuade more Americans to rally behind us.

But we have a problem. We have no leaders.

No one who can quickly design and execute such a campaign.

Neither Nancy Pelosi in the House nor Harry Reid in the Senate (who is expected to be Minority Leader) have the stature and influence to be seen as the leader of the party.

And they are both more skilled at behind-the-scenes Capitol Hill politics than big picture politics.

Some may look to the DNC chair for leadership, but that position is more party hack than visionary.

Because of this lack of leadership, we are going to see tons of ideas flying back and forth throughout the Left, but no way to easily and quickly choose the best and execute them.

However, while we won't have the efficiency of a single leader, we are blessed this time around with some new infrastructure:

Center For American Progress for fresh policy proposals.

MoveOn for grassroots activism.

Democracy For America for supporting liberal candidates at the federal, state and local level.

Air America for engaging alternative media.

Media Matters For America, playing defense against the right-wing media.

And the blogosphere, where individuals with outsider perspective can directly communicate with power centers as well as each other.

But how well can these components work together to revitalize the liberal movement and recharge the Democratic Party? We don't know yet.

It is not the top-down infrastructure of the modern Right, and there is no Grover Norquist-led "Wednesday Group" to tie it all together.

But not everything has to directly emulate the Right. We want to beat them, not tie them.

We have to find a way to work with what we have -- which, it should be stressed again, is more than we have had to work with in some time.

But all of us in this new infrastructure have to step up, and do our best to collectively take the lead.

And if we successfully take the lead, our congressional friends will follow.

QUICK HIT

Still Lurking...

From Knight-Ridder, 9/3/04:

Several U.S. officials and law-enforcement sources said Thursday that the scope of the FBI probe of Pentagon intelligence activities appeared to go beyond the [Larry] Franklin matter.

FBI agents have briefed top White House, Pentagon and State Department officials on the probe in recent days.

Based on those briefings, officials said, the bureau appears to be looking into other controversies that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch [Douglas] Feith's office.

They include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S. intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African country of Niger...

..."The whole ball of wax" was how one U.S. official privy to the briefings described the inquiry.

November 4, 2004 PERMALINK
What Happened? What Now?
(posted Nov. 4 2 AM ET)

1. Terrorism

This was the only issue that Bush had consistently positive ratings. He basically bet the farm on it and won.

But he didn't win by simply standing on his record fighting terrorism.

He won by spewing out a steady stream of lies about Kerry's ability to fight terrorism.

For example, repeatedly it was said by Bushies that Kerry would wait until we get attacked to respond, and that Kerry had a strategy of retreat in Iraq that would embolden terrorists.

Both were baseless lies, backed up with overt distortions of Kerry's remarks that were never called out by the media.

And LO can only conclude that Kerry couldn't pick up enough late deciders (undecideds broke to Kerry less than 2-1, violating the so-called "incumbent rule") mainly because of terrorism concerns.

Lies stick when people find them believable.

And Democrats have a wimp stereotype that makes such lies believable.

How can you get past a stereotype?

Dems thought nominating a veteran would do the trick (and that is the main reason Kerry was nominated), but we learned it's not that simple.

The problem is, you usually can only debunk a stereotype by being in power and having the opportunity to directly debunk it.

In the 1980s, post-Jimmy Carter, GOPers were able to paint all Dems as irresponsible stewards of the economy.

Since Dems didn't have any control of the economy, they couldn't prove otherwise.

Then, Poppy Bush screwed up the economy, nullifying the GOP's argument of economic superiority.

And when Clinton was in charge, he did such a good job, the stereotype was debunked, and now Dems have the good economy rep.

But Dems haven't had the opportunity to show their stuff fighting terror since it became a prominent issue.

And Clinton's record on it has been unfairly maligned (easily accomplished, thanks to the stereotype).

As such, Dems will remain susceptible to lies on the subject.

That means terrorism will be a political hurdle for Dems until the GOP, through its own failure, loses credibility fighting terror, or terrorism subsides as a prominent issue.

Democrats can, and should, continue to articulate terror-fighting strategies.

But it's the events outside of our control that will allow Dems the chance to prove themselves.

2. The Religious Right

Some are arguing that Bush won thanks to increased turnout among evangelicals and born-agains.

(Jon Stewart, in a Daily Show interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer, said Iraq and the economy were trumped by "dudes kissing".)

Such increased turnout was certainly part of Rove's strategy. But we don't really know if it worked.

As David Broder reported, 22% of the electorate were evangelicals and born-agains, but we don't know what that number was in 2000.

(In 2000, 14% of voters were classified as "white religious right," not necessarily the same thing.)

In any event, that 22% ain't all of Bush's 51%, and doesn't speak to any mandate for a hard-right social agenda.

In fact, the overall electorate continues to reject that agenda.

55% of voters surveyed said that believe abortion should be "always" or "mostly" legal.

And 60% of voters surveyed said they support either same-sex marriage or civil unions.

We have not lost these arguments. Terrorism, it would seem, has trumped all.

3. So Now What?

After the congressional losses of 2002, LiberalOasis offered a 9-Point Plan for returning to majority status. A lot of it is still applicable.

Most importantly is for the congressional Dems to get into "Government In Exile" mode.

Not regularly obstructing (except on the big stuff), but not regularly compromising either.

But making clear, every step of the way, how Dems would handle issues differently, building an enticing vision what life would be like in an alternate Dem universe.

Having said that, the 9-point plan was drafted to secure a majority in two years.

After several denied attempts to regain majority status, it's time for the party to think longer-term, and not be preoccupied with short-term gains.

The GOP was able to argue that no one knows what Kerry stands for.

But that's an easier argument to make when he comes from a party hasn't expressed a consistent vision for four years.

Since fewer and fewer Americans understand what Democrats as a whole stand for, why should we expect them to quickly grasp what our nominee stands for?

Kerry sought to build a majority coalition by combining the best of Howard Dean's approach and the best of the DLC's into a single vision of pragmatism.

He did a good job of it, and it fit his record and worldview.

But it was still a patchwork job, put together a few months before an election because the party had laid little groundwork.

It's a bogus attack when the GOP says the Dems have "no ideas". We have plenty.

But as they are articulated by our leaders, they often seem scattered and not interconnected into a larger vision and a set of bedrock principles.

Why? Because too many Dems are afraid to articulate our main principle:

Belief in the ability of a representative, responsive and accountable government to address certain community problems and protect personal freedoms.

Granted, it was not the failure to articulate this principle that sunk Kerry. It has nothing to do with terrorism.

But we are headed into some major domestic battles on Social Security, Medicare, taxes, torts and more.

We have to give the public a reason to oppose Bush's efforts.

If we can't explain why it is fundamentally and morally wrong to privatize New Deal programs, they will get privatized.

If we can't explain why slashing taxes further will harm the quality of life for Americans, they will get slashed.

If we can't explain why it is important that all Americans have the right to their day in court, it will be denied.

And if were too afraid of losing again in 2006 to make a true case to the public on these key issues, then we will lose.

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
11:15 AM ET
We Won't Find Out

CNN reports that Kerry has conceded and will give a speech later today.

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
3:30 AM ET
What Will We Learn?

Apparently, Ohio doesn't start counting provisional ballots until Nov. 13.

We didn't know everything about Florida 24 hours after Election Day 2000.

What will we learn about how Ohio went down between now and then?

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
3:15 AM ET
What's In Those Provisional Ballots?

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Heather Kirby thought she'd just have to make sure to touch the right name in the electronic voting machine and she'd be done voting in less than five minutes.

After waiting two hours in line, she was anxious to record her vote and leave.

But things didn't go as planned for the 19-year-old first time voter — her name didn't appear on the voting rolls so she was offered a provisional ballot instead.

Disappointed, Kirby diligently punched out her choice, pulled the paper ballot from the punch machine and examined it for hanging chads.

"I want to make sure this counts," she said, as she held the ballot up to the lights. "I already have doubts that it will be counted since it's a provisional one and I'm so disappointed.

"This was my time to make my voice heard and to use this paper ballot, makes me sad and nervous that it will be for nothing."

Tearrill Watkins of Whitehall also had to punch his vote in using a provisional ballot. The 25-year-old first time voter made sure he registered to vote before the deadline, so was quite upset to find his name omitted from the rolls.

"Man, just as long as they see the important vote — the one for Kerry, that's all that really matters," he said, as he left the polls. "That's all I'm worried about."

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
2:15 AM ET
Statement From Kerry Campaign Manager Mary Beth Cahill

“The vote count in Ohio has not been completed. There are more than 250,000 remaining votes to be counted. We believe when they are, John Kerry will win Ohio.”

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
2 AM ET
CNN

CNN just officially projected OH "too close to call" and colored the state green. There's an estimated 380K votes outstanding plus an estimated 250K provisional ballots, and Bush currently has a 100K lead.

Get ready.

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
12:55 AM ET
Columbus Mayor Expresses Confidence

The mayor of Columbus, on Air America, says he thinks Ohio will go for Kerry, that Fox News called OH for Bush "back in January," that it may go down to provisional ballots, that the night is "not over, so hold on!"

November 3, 2004 PERMALINK
12:30 AM ET
Status

At the risk of stating the obvious, it's pretty much all about Ohio at this point. Kerry is out of red state pickups save for NV and NH (which would create a 269-269 tie).

What's the deal with absentees, provisionals, paper ballots, suppression and litigation? Not sure, trying to find out.

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
10:15 PM ET
Status

Going back to the three main sections of electoral map that LO discussed earlier today -- The Big 3, The Upper Midwest and The Southwest -- nothing has happened yet of significance. Sit tight.

Remember, Kerry only needs 10 Red state EVs to win, if he holds on to Gore states. Neither side has picked off a state from the other yet.

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
8:45 PM ET
OH and FL Exit Poll Data

The exit poll data from FL and OH that's available at CNN.com looks great for Kerry. Scroll down and check out the pie charts.

(UPDATE 11/3 3:45 AM ET -- The exit poll data, which had showed a big gender gap in favor of Kerry, as well as sizeable leads among independents, has magically changed)

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
8:05 PM ET
What's Up With Ohio?

Air America's Sam Seder just relayed an instant message from his sister, who is on the ground in OH.

She says the polls are staying open late because the lines are so long and people are still voting.

But CNN (and most likely others) are reporting raw vote totals from OH, even though people are still voting. What gives?

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
6:15 PM ET
Tonight's Schedule

LO is heading over to the Air America party. The Majority Report will broadcast live from there from 7-9 PM ET. LO should be on-air around 8:45, and will live-blog from there all night. Atrios and Daily Kos are scheduled guests as well.

After 9, Air America's coverage will be anchored back at the main studio, while checking in with gatherings across the country throughout the night, including The Majority Report in NYC and Al Franken in Boston with the official Kerry victory rally.

LO is also slated for an interview on XM's Channel 133 (XM Public Radio) at 2:45 AM ET.

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
3:30 PM ET
Let's Win Big

LO would rather not talk about unreliable exit poll data, but once it's out on the bigger websites, it's hard not to, because it becomes part of the story and part of reality.

As you can see from the links on the BlogWire to the right, the early round was very good for Kerry, with leads (some small, some big) in most battlegrounds, though the Drudge Report claims the sample was heavily female.

Of course, whether your side is up or down in early exits, the message to the foot soldiers is the same: exit polls are meaningless, don't let up, get the vote out until the polls close.

But on the chance that the exits will be reflective of the final results, we must recognize that we have an opportunity to win big and earn a real mandate for the next four years.

Two weeks ago, LO talked about the importance of spreading the field and contesting as many states as possible, so we could win big.

The amazing job the grassroots did to fund the campaign and provide volunteers made it easier for Kerry and the Dems because they didn't have to make tough choices due to lack of resources.

We can finish the job tonight.

Don't forget to vote, even if you're not in a swing state. Popular vote matters when it comes to the mandate.

Take someone to the polls who otherwise wouldn't be able to make it.

Provide snacks and coffee to people waiting on long lines in the final hours, so they'll be less inclined to go home.

In Colorado this weekend, the story was shared to the volunteers about how the Dems won New Mexico in 2000 by several hundred votes by working until the final minute, and offering coffee to voters on line.

Colorado volunteers will be using that as inspiration. You should too.

Every little bit matters. Every little thing you do counts. Let's get it done.

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
1 PM ET
Sizing Up The Map

Here's how LO will be looking at the electoral map tonight.

The Big 3: FL (27 EVs), OH (20) and PA (21)

These are the states that the pundits are most focused on, for good reason, but many are overstating their impact.

If either candidate sweeps these three, it's over, barring something totally bizarre.

Many are saying (and may well say tonight) that the candidate who wins two of these three will win.

Maybe. Such a candidate would be in a good position.

But to be on the short end of that is a hurdle that can be overcome.

For example, let's say those three states go the way they did in 2000, PA for the Dem, OH and FL for Bush.

If Kerry held the rest of the Gore states, he's at 260 EVs.

And the name of his game always was to hold the Gore states and pick off 10 EVs from one or more Red states.

If Kerry can't pick off OH or FL, it is still plausible that Kerry could take one or more of the following:

NH (4)
WV (5)
NV(5)
AR (6)
CO (9)
AZ (10)
MO (11)

If Kerry took NH and WV, or NH and NV, or just CO, the Electoral College would be at 269-269.

That would throw it to the House to decide (while the Senate picked the veep), unless there was an "unfaithful elector" who voted against his party in the Electoral College.

The Upper Midwest: IA (7), MI (17), MN (10), WI (10)

The Bushies are very worried about losing OH and/or FL.

As said before, if Kerry wins both and holds PA, it's over.

If Kerry wins one, and holds FL, Bush is still alive, if he can return the favor and deny Kerry the ability to hold all the Gore states.

He probably needs two of these to do that.

Michigan could do the job for Bush by itself, but that's the least likely state of this group to turn red.

The Southwest: AZ (10), CO (9), NM (5), NV (5)

This group has not received the same attention as the Midwest states and Florida, but if things are close after those states are decided, the southwest region could be determinative.

For example, Bush could beat back a Kerry win in OH by taking NM as well as one of the blue Midwest states.

Kerry also could recoup losses in this region.

As said earlier, if Bush wins two of the Big 3, Kerry can win by picking off 10 EVs from Bush's 2000 tally, which are certainly available here.

NH leans Kerry. If he gets that, he only needs 6 more, so Colorado could be enough.

Furthermore, pundits will be looking at the early states that concluding that certain wins in the east and Midwest speak of trends.

But since the Southwest electorate is changing, and becoming increasingly Latino, it's possible that some Midwest states could go in a different direction than Southwest states.

So Bush could show strength in IA and WI, and still fail to hold states like CO, NV and AZ.

(AZ does not appear to be contested as strongly as CO, NM and NV, but some polls there show Bush below the danger point of 50%, so there could be a surprise there depending on the turnout.)

Taking this all into account, we could see Kerry swipe OH, causing pundits to say Kerry wins, then have Bush snag IA and WI, making people then call it for Bush, only to have Kerry take CO or NV (along with NH) and win the whole thing.

Unless of course, Cheney's last-minute trip wins Hawaii for Bush.

For the record, LiberalOasis is not predicting it will be that close.

In the bragging rights-contest held by blogger Mathew Gross, LO said Kerry will win 299 EVs and about 52% of the popular vote.

You can play with the LA Times electoral map here.

November 2, 2004 PERMALINK
8 AM ET
Election Day Blogging

LO returned from CO early this morning. After a little catch-up sleep, LO will be blogging throughout the day and night, and will be part of Air America's evening coverage, so keep checking back.

Don't forget to vote, and to get out the vote!

November 1, 2004 PERMALINK
Dispatch From Colorado
(posted Nov. 1 12:30 AM MT)

For three days, LiberalOasis has been working with the Colorado Democratic Party to get out the vote. Some observations and scuttlebut...

The rank-and-file here are optimistic and enthusiastic. Many pundits have taken Colorado off the battleground map, but there is no evidence of that on the ground.

From what LO can pick up, it seems like the state party likes its internal data.

Plus, this is the strongest GOTV effort Colorado Dems have put on in recent memory, according to locals.

Out of state volunteers are prevalent here (though the vast majority of volunteers are Coloradans).

LO has heard that some Ohio volunteers were redirected to Colorado, which can only be interpreted as a sign of ample resources, allowing us to spread the field and contest everywhere that's plausible.

Both major papers in Denver give Bush a solid lead in their weekend polls, but it has not been mentioned among the volunteers, and confidence has not been shaken.

Why? Most likely it's because both were "likely voter" polls, and as Colorado Luis notes, they are not taking into account the already high levels of turnout in early voting.

And the Dems here feel good that the new voters will go Kerry's way.

Since 1964, no Dem has received more than 45% in CO (Dukakis). Clinton won the state in 1992 with 40%, and lost it in 1996 with 44%.

Gore got only 42% here, but there was an above average Nader vote of 5%.

That Nader vote speaks to a big independent streak in CO. Perot got 23% in 1992. John Anderson got 11% in 1980.

This year, there are Republicans showing that independent spirit, who are actively volunteering for Kerry (while there is little Nader presence).

To win in CO, Kerry needs to hold Gore's share, add Nader's, add some new voters, and pick off some independent-minded GOPers.

From the looks of things on the ground, those pieces may well be falling into place.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

Atrios: "am I the only one who remembers the good old days when broadcasting these types of videos were thought to be a threat to national security?"

Counterspin Central finds a Minnesota TV news crew saw the Al Qaqaa explosives in mid-April '03

MyDD: Rumor that NYT/CBS poll with Kerry up 4 in FL is being suppressed

Winning Argument: "[Rumsfeld] compared the looting of powerful explosives to what he believes were exaggerated reports about the looting of the Iraqi national museum."

James Wolcott: "I'm not saying Fox News is anticipating a Bush loss, only that they seem to be laying the ground work for the blame game should he cough it up on November 2nd. They are taking the first baby steps to denying the legitimacy of a Kerry win, preparing the first batch of sour grapes."

Get Your War On: "Hello, is this the National Genius Association? I just wanted to confirm that the proper way to secure 380 tons of Saddam Hussein's old explosives is to not." (Buy the book!)

Talking Points Memo quotes MSNBC transcript from today, which further confirms LO's analysis of the missing explosives story

The American Street has swing state dispatches from MI and AR

Mark A. R. Kleiman: "crime today is noticeably higher than it would have been had Clinton-era trends continued"

Baghdad Burning offers her endorsement

War and Piece: WH admits it scrapped plans to get Zarqawi before the war, tries "no actionable intelligence" spin

**************

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