10 September 2008

Gordon Brown endorses Barack Obama?

Evening Standard: Gordon Brown has broken with British convention and made clear that he favours Barack Obama as the next US President.
In a departure from the usual self-denying ordinance of Prime Ministers past, Brown has written an article for The Monitor magazine in which he praises Obama's plans to get the US out of the housing slump.

Referring to the anxieties facing voters across the globe during the economic slowdown, he says: "Around the world, it is progressive politicians who are grappling with these challenges....In the electrifying US Presidential campaign, it is the Democrats who are generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times. To help prevent people from losing their home, Barack Obama has proposed a Foreclosure Prevention Fund to increase emergency pre-foreclosure counselling, and help families facing repossession."

In a tongue-in-cheek jab, the McCain camp called the endorsement 'coveted' - anyone familiar with Gordon Browns political fortunes will find this somewhat amusing.

Southern Comfort

It was once called ‘The Solid South’ for the Democratic Party. States which made up the 1861-1865 Confederacy, ranging from Texas in the west through to the Deep South and onto Florida and the Carolinas in the east, used to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate come rain or shine.

The Statistics speak for themselves. Democrats won by large margins in the South in every general election from 1876 to 1948.Even in 1928, when the candidate was Al Smith, and as a New Yorker and a Catholic as far a son of Dixie as you could get, states from the former CSA provided Governor Smith with nearly three-fourths of his electoral votes.

Yet, in the 1950’s and 1960’s as the Democrats became more aligned with the Civil Rights movement and memories of the Republican’s Civil War role became less acute, ‘The Solid South’ soon swapped its blues spots for red ones . In 1972, Richard Nixon made history as he became the first Republican candidate ever to carry every southern state.

The last time a significant amount of southern states voted for Democratic Presidential candidate on mass was in 1976 for the Georgian Peanut Farmer, Jimmy Carter. Even Arkansas’s own Bill Clinton could only pick up a few of them in 1992 and 1996, whilst in 2000 Al Gore, Tennessee born and bred, didn’t even capture one of them.

However, as the 2008 Presidential Election etches near us some commentators, a few pundits and politicos have mooted that this could be the year that at least some of South comes back to its Democratic roots.

‘How on earth can you suggest this when Obama is the party’s nominee?’ I hear you cry. Yes, on the looks of it my above prediction does seem a bit silly. It would seem possible, perhaps, if say John Edwards was the Democratic nominee, but not Obama.

In fact, the liberal African- American Chicagoan is probably more of a discomfort to the historically conservative southern Democrats than any white East Coast progressive could ever be.

Yet, the Democratic Dixie revival prediction is not based on such historical Democrats coming back into the fold, but by Obama re-taking the South for the Democrats by tapping into the substantial African-American vote.

When the former Lawyer swept to victory in South Carolina’s Democratic Primary back in January, he did so thanks to the Black vote.

African-Americans accounted for a majority of voters in South Carolina, 55 percent -- the highest turnout among African-Americans in any Democratic presidential primary for which data are available. And a huge proportion of them, 78 percent, supported Obama

Steve Hilliband, the deputy campaign manager for Mr Obama, has already commented that by some estimates there are 600, 000 unregistered black voters in Georgia, a state that in November will be worth a decent 13 Electoral College votes.

One thing’s for sure, if Obama and his shrewd campaign managers do happen to sweep Dixieland through such a strategy, not only will the Illinois Senator become the next President of the United States, but by re- conquering the South, the Democrats may be able to steal the Republicans claim as the ‘natural party of Government’ for generations to come as they did from 1933 to 1968.

Democrats won by large margins in the South in every presidential election from 1876 to 1948 except for 1928, when candidate Al Smith, a Catholic and a New Yorker, ran on the Democratic ticket; even in that election, the divided South provided Smith with nearly three-fourths of his electoral votes.

By Mike Watkinson

This campaign is getting ugly...

This is the latest John McCain ad claiming that Barack Obama supports teaching children about sex before they can read.

McCain conference call: Obama comments "disgusting" and sexist

The McCain camp has held a conference call attacking Barack Obama's 'lipsick on a pig' comment, claiming it is sexism aimed at Sarah Palin.

Obama causes stir with 'lipstick on pig' comment

9 September 2008

Should Obama by worried about the polls?

Rasmussen / Fox News Poll

A key states poll by Rasmussen/Fox News has been released overnight and will be good reading for the Obama Campaign. While Virginia continues to be too close to call (although McCains has opened up a small lead), Florida is now a dead heat. Obama continues to lead in both Colorado and Pennsylvania and McCain keeps a healthy 7 point advantage in Ohio.

The good news for Obama is that 4 of these 5 states were won by Bush in 2004 and McCain really needs to hold on to them.

Florida

Florida being tied will be a major concern for McCain. 27 electoral votes up for grabs and a dead heat means that he will need to plough money into it if he has any chance to retain it. This is expensive media and could take money away from other key states such as Michigan or Colorado.

In 1996 Clinton won Florida by over 5% in and was only won by bush by 0.01% in 2000. It is therefore winnable for Obama and vital for McCain.

Viriginia and Ohio

While McCain is in the lead in both Virginia and Ohio, the margin is so close in Virginia that the campaign will have to direct resources there in order to retain it. While Bush had a similar struggle holding Ohio, Virginia was much safer for him (around 8% lead), now with a statistical tie McCain needs to out-spend Obama here to ensure it stays Republican, again diverting it away from other key areas like Michigan and even Ohio.

McCain Democrats

The 2 statistics that stand out from the poll are the number democrats supporting McCain in both Florida and Ohio. In both races 18% of democrats are supporting McCain. By Election Day I was guess that these would be around 10% as Hilary voters move back to the Democrats (she will no doubt play a part in this and take the credit). It is therefore likely that Obama's position in both will strengthen. Whether or not this will be enough to take Ohio is difficult to judge, but it does mean Florida is very much in play.

Independent Support

The final guide of which way the state may go is who the independents are currently supporting. In Florida, Colorado and Pennsylvania Obama gets the support of between 52-56% of the independents while McCain only manages to score in the 30s. In Ohio and Virginia on the other hand, McCain hits 58% and 50%, this time with Obama in the 30s.

It would therefore seem likely, on this polling, that Obama should take Colorado, Pennsylvania and possibly Florida and McCain will just hold Virginia and Ohio.

By Beyond New Labour

Should Labour follow the GOP?

There has been unprecedented interest this side of the atlantic in this year's US elections. British politicians of all parties have been seen at the Democratic convention mingling with Senators, Presidents, Governors and Mayors. The enthusiasm for the race that brought them to Denver didn't seem to stretch as far as a ticket to St Paul. But Milliband the younger and other Labour MPs should, as one Radio four pundit suggested, pay more attention to the events of the RNC as Labour have more in common with the Republicans then they would like to admit.

After considering this point I would have to agree. Labour had a lot to learn from the Republicans. Before all the staunch Labour supporters implode with indignant wrath at my daring, to associate them with a brand of conservatism that they fundamentally oppose, let me explain. The Republicans and Labour are both long standing incumbent governments, they both have deeply unpopular leaders, they both face youthful opposition that the public seem to have taken to, they both are facing an unstable economy and how they handle it will be a huge factor in whether they are re-elected and so on. Labour could do worse then look to the McCain campaign for inspiration to attempt to draw the public back on side.

Not that I am suggesting that Labour descend to the smear campaign, question avoiding, lie endorsing tactics that have typified the Republican campaign rather that they could do worse then the Republicans have done by bringing in new blood to reinforce party line and leadership and to bring a new energy and drive without changing the message.

You may not like McCain, you may not agree with Republican policy, but you have to admit that at the moment Palin seems to have been a home run for the GOP. Labour should look to St Paul and think how to do likewise.

By Beth Connor

8 September 2008

... Rice doesn't quite

ABC - In a weekend interview, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice passed up an opportunity to defend Sarah Palin from allegations that she does not have the foreign policy experience to be vice president.

In a less-than-hearty endorsement, Rice declined to say anything more positive about Palin than "she gave a terrific speech" and "she's a governor of a state here in the United States" during her interview with Zain Verjee of CNN.

Asked point-blank if Palin has enough experience, Rice said, "These are decisions that Senator McCain has made. I have great confidence in him." Confidence in Palin? Rice didn't say.

Rice added: "I’m not going to get involved in this political campaign. As Secretary of State, I don’t do that. But I thought her speech was wonderful."

Comparing Vice President Cheney's foreign policy background Palin's, the interviewer asked Rice to respond to critics who say she "just won't be able to handle it."

Rice's response: " There are difference kinds of experience in life that help one to deal with matters of foreign policy."

More Rice: "You know, she’s governor of a state here in the United States."

Rice also said she'd be the "last" to advise Palin in a foreign policy debate against Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Cheney endorses Sarah Palin pick

AP - Cheney, who is in Rome for talks with Italian leaders, said he watched on television as the 44-year-old Alaska governor addressed the Republican National Convention to nominate John McCain as the party's White House candidate.

"I thought her appearance at (the) convention was superb. I watched that with great interest. I loved some of her lines: 'What was the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? It's lipstick,'" he told reporters.

"We have had all kinds of vice presidents over the years and everybody brings a different set of experiences to the office and also a different kind of understanding with whoever the president is," Cheney said.

"Each administration is different. There is no reason why Sarah Palin can't be a successful vice president in a McCain administration."

Cheney added that a McCain-Palin White House in 2009 "won't look exactly like the Bush administration," but would be "relatively unique."

Cheney, who was on a tour of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine when the Republicans held their convention in Minnesota, has met Palin before and called to congratulate her when she was named McCain's running mate, an administration spokeswoman said.

Cheney also dismissed criticisms over her lack of experience.

"I think she is a good candidate and I don't see any reason why she can't be an effective vice president," he said.

New McCain ad: 'We're the original mavericks'