What we're seeing on the ground with volunteering, especially with public polls showing double digit leads in Pennsylvania, is that the "flake rate" for volunteers is higher. "Flake rate" is the term for how the percentage of people who sign up to do a canvassing or phonebanking shift, and then don't show up. It tends to happen when a candidate's supporters get complacent. And it can happen in a hurry.
Indeed, Barack Obama himself hopped on a nationwide all-staff conference call Friday to emphasize this point to the troops. Pledging to "come down hard" on anyone getting "too cocky," Obama specifically and pre-emptively called out any semblance of lack of focus. High-fiving, for example, is strictly verboten. Acknowledging everyone must be exhausted, he pointed out that he was pretty worn out too. "I've been doing this longer than you, and I'm older than all of you." The message: if I can finish this off, so can you. Do not doubt that this is a man firmly in control of his campaign.
David Plouffe followed Obama with steady words, and, because he doesn't swear often, language timed for effect. As a baseline, the campaign was in excellent shape to win all the Kerry states, Plouffe said. In many Bush 2004 states, the campaign was in very strong shape as well. The message: we just have to stay focused and do our jobs, not let up one inch and we'll win the election.
"I'll say what I said back in New Hampshire," he concluded. "Let's go win this fucking thing."
Vote early. When you do, you ensure that your vote gets counted, and you get your name crossed off the lists of potential voters that the campaign has to target, meaning that they can concentrate on a smaller and smaller group as the days go by.
After you vote, spend as much time as you can getting voters to the polls in states where it matters. Knock on doors if you can. That’s the best way to get out the vote. Much more potent as a tactic than phone-banking.
McCain and Palin are using a playbook from the early 1950s. Listen as Joe McCarthy addresses “my good friends” and accuses Edward R. Murrow of defending “traitors” and associating with “terrorist organizations.”
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama announced that his campaign had raised more than $150 million in September, shattering the previous record he had set in August when he drew $66 million in contributions.
Amy Chozick reports on the presidential race from St. Louis.
Barack Obama attracted 100,000 people at a Saturday rally here, his biggest crowd ever at a U.S. event.
The crowd assembled under the Gateway Arch on a sunny Saturday afternoon to hear Obama speak about taxes and slam the Republicans on economic issues.
Lt. Samuel Dotson of the St. Louis Police Department confirmed the number of attendees piled into the grassy lawn by the Mississippi River.
To be sure, big crowds don’t always signal a big turnout on Election Day. But Obama’s ability to draw his largest audience yet in a typically red state that just weeks ago looked out of reach, could signal a changing electoral map.
For months Missouri polls put Obama as much as ten percentage points behind Republican John McCain. It was widely believed that McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate would have won over the state’s conservatives and boosted his chances there. So far, that hasn’t happened.
A Rasmussen poll released on Friday shows Obama leading in Missouri 52% to 46% for McCain.
John McCain entered tonight’s debate needing to halt Barack Obama’s momentum and fundamentally change the dynamic of the race. Not only did he fail to achieve this goal, McCain dug himself an even deeper hole. Undecided voters watching the debate felt McCain gave a decidedly un-presidential performance, appearing rude, negative, and easily flustered – a stark contrast to Barack Obama’s cool, commanding presence. Obama was seen as the clear victor in the debate, and a group that was much more disposed to support McCain at the outset instead shifted decisively toward Obama (42 to 20 percent) after viewing the debate.
Based on Bill Kristol’s advice today that John McCain should “fire his campaign,” Ripley writes:
I can't help but wonder if McCain might change his campaign slogan from "Country First" to "Fuck it! I'll do it live!" At this point, he really doesn't have anything to lose.
I just saw the old coot on the TV trying to fire up his base by telling them they’re behind by six points and the national media has “written us off.” And now he’s telling them “I know what fear feels like. I know what hopelessness feels like.” And the audience is undoubtedly thinking, “Yeah, it feels kind of like this.”
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
As the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s (I was then chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of Michigan and took over the Weathermen prosecution in 1972), I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers’s terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child.
Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen.
Because Senator Obama recently served on a board of a charitable organization with Mr. Ayers cannot possibly link the senator to acts perpetrated by Mr. Ayers so many years ago.
I do take issue with the statement in your news article that the Weathermen indictment was dismissed because of “prosecutorial misconduct.” It was dismissed because of illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions, initiated by John N. Mitchell, attorney general at that time, and W. Mark Felt, an F.B.I. assistant director.
The last paragraph is an especially nice touch given the current revelations of wiretapping of citizens by the Bush Administration.
And alas, this will probably do nothing to calm the wingnuts, for whom Obama is a “terrorist” simply because of his race and political party.
The Washington Times reports that in 1986, John McCain wrote a note on House stationery to Charles Keating, chairman of a failed savings and loan association who went to prison in the late 1980s. In the letter, McCain apologized for listing Keating as part of his Senate campaign finance committee. Keating wrote in response: “You can call me anything, write anything or do anything. I’m yours till death do us part“:
In some parts of the world, they’d be considered married after a written declaration like that, right?
Extra bonus innuendo: Keating’s handwritten note begins, “Don’t be silly.”
John McCain is not man enough to own his shit. John McCain will not openly confront Obama with his smears and lies and innuendo. John McCain will not come out and talk about Ayers, he has to be asked. That is why he goes to places like Fox News, so he can be asked. What a coincidence.
John McCain is a coward.
John McCain would rather hide behind his wife and Sarah Palin than say it himself.
He would rather produce 2 minute ads that his campaign will never pay to air anywhere, and hope that the tire-swinging media will bring up the topic so he doesn’t have to do it himself
John McCain just wants to throw shit out there, and "raise questions" about Obama, and hope his supporters connect the dots, because he is too much of a coward to directly push this toxic stew. He would rather hide behind right-wing bloggers, surrogates, and scummy websites staffed with wingnut welfare recipients like the NRO and the Weekly Standard.
John McCain had 90 minutes to bring this stuff up to Obama, to his face, and passed.
John McCain is a coward.
Joe Biden adds:
"All of the things they said about Barack Obama in the TV, on the TV, at their rallies, and now on Youtube and everything else," Biden said — referring to McCain and Palin tying Obama to Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers and accusing him of "palling around with terrorists."
"John McCain could not bring himself to look Barack Obama in the eye and say the same things to him," he said to cheers. "In my neighborhood, you got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him."
Given McCain’s performance in the debates, that “look him in the eye” comment is especially sharp.
MCCAIN: I know you grow a little weary with this back-and-forth. It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney.
You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. (points to Obama) You know who voted against it? Me. I have fought time after time against these pork barrel—these bills that come to the floor… .
Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.
The good folks from fivethirtyeight.com are doing some amazing field work in their On The Road series, traveling the country and looking at the Presidential candidates’ ground games up close and personal. Today’s report from Missouri is jaw-dropping:
Let’s be clear. We've observed no comparison between these ground campaigns. To begin with, there’s a 4-1 ratio of offices in most states. We walk into McCain offices to find them closed, empty, one person, two people, sometimes three people making calls. Many times one person is calling while the other small clutch of volunteers are chatting amongst themselves. In one state, McCain’s state field director sat in one of these offices and, sotto voce, complained to us that only one man was making calls while the others were talking to each other about how much they didn't like Obama, which was true. But the field director made no effort to change this. This was the state field director.
Only for the first time the other day did we see a McCain organizer make a single phone call. So we've now seen that once. The McCain organizers seem to operate as maître Ds. Let me escort you to your phone, sir. Pick any one of this sea of empty chairs. I'll be sitting over here if you need any assistance.
The McCain offices are also calm, sedate. Little movement. No hustle. In the Obama offices, it's a whirlwind. People move. It's a dynamic bustle. You can feel it in our photos.
Up to this point, we’ve been giving McCain's ground campaign a lot of benefit of the doubt. We can’t stop convincing ourselves that there must – must – be a warehouse full of 1,000 McCain volunteers somewhere in a national, central location just dialing away. This can’t be all they’re doing. Because even in a place like Colorado Springs, McCain’s ground campaign is getting blown away by the Obama efforts. It doesn't mean Obama will win Colorado Springs, but it means Obama's campaign will not look itself in the mirror afterward and ask, "what more could we have done?"
You could take every McCain volunteer we’ve seen doing actual work in the entire trip, over six states, and it would add up to the same as Obama’s single Thornton, CO office. Or his single Durango, CO office. These ground campaigns bear no relationship to each other.
This is how you win an election (and in the case of the McCain campaign, how you lose one). It’s also how you build a veto-proof majority in Congress.
Sarah Palin … doesn’t know shit about shit. She has opinions - uninformed ones - and she’s sticking to them come hell or high water. I pity the poor bastards that had to prep her for tonight’s debate with Joe Biden. And while I wasn’t taken with her performance, I will give them credit. They made an organized mess out of a disorganized disaster. So there’s that.
The truth is that Palin didn’t answer any questions she didn’t want to tonight, and she said she’d do exactly that at the start of the debate. She had a hand full of index cards and a brain full of buzz words, and it was her job to say them all in front of the camera. Actually, it was her job to say them while looking at Joe Biden for five seconds, then looking at the camera for five seconds, and then looking back at Biden to start over again. It was like she was on a timer. One of the many things she’d probably been coached on after the whole flap about McCain not looking Obama in the eyes.
According to the Bush campaign, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush." Are people who think this way likely to improve, or degrade the personal safety of the American people? It's a question that, I think, answers itself.
As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where-- where do they go?
Straight here. To this blog.
You are now in American Airspace.
My initial reaction to the “in what respect, Charlie?” moment was that it was like watching a student try to fake a term paper in real time: “well, the Bush Doctrine, Charlie, is a doctrine developed by George Bush. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘doctrine’ as ‘a: something that is taught; b: a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief,’ and the Bush Doctrine has taught us much about the body of principles in George Bush’s system of belief, which is to defend America and never blink, Charlie.” Not surprisingly, Palin’s moose-in-headlights performances have reminded almost everyone of what it’s like to try to fake it, and, since many of us have been (woefully unprepared) students at some point in our lives (including me), Palin seems to evoke painful memories across the political spectrum.
I could continue excerpting, but it’s oh so much better if you go read the whole thing, as those liberal elitists like to say.
What? Not convinced? K, fine, one more excerpt:
The idea, of course, is to run “ordinary people” (even if they hail from families who have been among America’s political and economic elite for generations) against us Volvo-driving liberal elitists. You know that already. McCain/ Palin merely seemed the most outrageous gambit on this culture-war front, the most deliberate and direct assault on the idea that being reasonably informed about shit should be some kind of prerequisite for the presidency.
Because, you know, the campaign didn’t have to say anything at all about Palin’s foreign-policy expertise. They could simply have said, “it’s not her strong suit, sure, but she’s a quick study and brings a lot of populist energy to the ticket.” Or they could have said, “she’s a strong social conservative and deeply knowledgeable about how to organize a Rapture.” But no. Instead, they went on national television and made a series of arguments so stunningly and egregiously stupid that they wouldn’t have passed muster forty years ago in my third-grade class’s debate over the relative merits of Nixon and Humphrey. Seriously: if one of my fellow eight-year-olds had said anything like, “Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience because Alaska is close to Russia,” we would have laughed his (or her!) right out of the room. And if someone had then tried to follow up with “no, really, she has foreign policy experience because she knows more about energy than anyone in America,” he (or she!) would have been sent to the principal’s office. Or to the school nurse.