Skip to main content

As DHinMI  points out in his front page diary (Repub Congressman Diagnoses GOP Illness, Declares Them Terminal), Tom Davis, former head of the GOP congressional campaign, has done a very interesting analysis of the problems House Republicans will have hanging come this November.  The memo is very much worth reading, as DHinMI says, for that reason alone.  But that isn't all of what Davis writes about in his memo.  A good piece of it concerns the presidential race, and what Davis perceives to be Obama's weaknesses as a candidate vs. John McCain.

You don't have to agree with Davis in order to learn something from his analysis.  But the core of it is this: Davis believes that economic populism is the key to the presidential vote, and he believes that Obama is not reaching this populist vote.

We need to make damn sure that Davis is wrong.

Davis writes:

I point this out because Obama’s appeal is to the liberal cultural base of the Democratic Party, not to its liberal economic base. His connection to high income suburbs, the granola belt and college towns, is strong, but his connection to poorer whites, rural voters and other voters who may be susceptible to the Democrats’ message on the economy is not yet demonstrated. Conservative value voters are a long way from being sold on Obama, even while they feel pinched by global trade, a soft housing market and high gas prices. But Republicans have to hold these voters to have any chance in 2008.

Whether this is correct or not you can argue; but clearly, he thinks this is true.  On this basis, he concludes that

2008 is different. Demographically, the nation is more diverse and more urbanized than in 2004. The Iraq war has proved to be the ultimate cultural issue, fueling and giving oxygen to the cultural left, as well as planting doubts in many swing voters minds about the direction of the country. The economy is softening and gas prices are skyrocketing, giving Obama an opening to court conservative value voters who are hurting economically. Fortunately, Hillary Clinton has driven a wedge between these competing constituencies, keeping them in play at the Presidential level. It begs the question of how these voters will vote in Congressional races.

Moreover, John McCain is not a polarizing figure. One could argue he is the opposite – moderate, bi-partisan, and unifying, which makes his claim on value voters different from Bush. How these lunch-bucket Democrats, who are culturally more conservative, vote this fall is the key to victory.

Certainly, McCain is going to have difficulty doing this; working class whites are pissed off at the GOP for good reason: the GOP's earned it.  But I want to point out something that we've been taking for granted for while, and should not be.  Clinton held out as long as she did mostly because she, as Davis says, drove "a wedge between competing constituencies, keeping them in play."   While you can argue (and I personally agree) that Clinton has pushed the envelope on some of the racial anxieties of working class whites, I don't think this is really what's kept things going as long as they have.  It's that Clinton, who was initially the establishment – even corporate – candidate in the race, managed to get to Obama's left on economic issues.  Clinton, and not Obama ran at and largely got voters who found Edwards' populist approach compelling.

In the argument about Clinton's "negative campaiging", this point has gotten lost.  Somehow, the establishment candidate successfully made populist frames work for her.   Against a former community organizer who take very little in corporate contributions, no less.   We should be surprised by this.  Hell, we should be astounded by this.  It's a testimony to Clinton's political skills that she pulled this off as well as she did.  And it should raise concerns about Obama's skills that he did not prevent this, by pushing populist frames, and pushing them hard.

While I've been supporting Obama since Edwards dropped out, this has certainly been a surprise to me, and a very unpleasant one.  I'm still shocked that Obama and his team let it happen.  But now that Obama has tied up the nomination,  it cannot happen again.

Let the lesson be learned: in the current political environment, economic populism works.   While Edwards was unable to pull off a nomination himself, Hillary came very close to denying Barack the nomination, by running like Edwards.  And Obama nearly lost it by failing to connect his culturally progressive message with solid, populist economic themes and policies.

Davis is not pitching a working strategy to his colleagues for either the congressional or presidential campaign.  McCain isn't offering a solution to the economic anxieties of lower middle class or working class whites, nor are Congressional Republicans.  And appealing to the lesser angels of their political nature has been taken as far as it will ever go.  So the campaign is Obama's to lose right now.  But lose it he can.

Running as a cultural progressive is not enough.  Obama will need to run as an economic populist as well, or risk losing.  Again, I am still astounded that Obama did not run hard for the populist wing of the Democratic Party, and finish this nomination fight two months ago.  But he has been very "shy" about populist frames so far, and appears to be genuinely uncomfortable with them.

Now is the time to get comfortable.  The economic populist vote is very large this year, it is very angry, and it is very much up for grabs.  Will Obama reach for it?  We all have to hope he will.

Originally posted to mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 08:54 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar for the old time populist religion (12+ / 0-)

    Because we need Obama to get that old time religion too.

    "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

    by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 08:55:30 PM PDT

  •  Interesting analysis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    C Barr, trivium

    Good points.  It's interesting that Edwards didn't do as well with the populist message as Hillary seems to have done.  Edwards was branded as "angry" (didn't make any sense to me). Obama can't afford to be seen as "angry."  For some reason, with Hillary it was seen as
    "feisty" not angry.  Makes no sense.  But I agree that Obama needs to do a better job of reaching those voters.

    •  The Press is not neutral (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doinaheckuvanutjob, ge0rge

      The corporate press hates populism generally, and anti-corporate populism in particular.  Edwards could not rely on the press to carry his message, and really did not figure how to create alternate channels to get his message across.

      This was neither Hillary's nor Barack's problem.  In Hillary's case, she had the traditional Democratic Party machine, and a good chunk of labor. So she had the money for paid media, and she had ways of getting her message across that did not rely on the "good offices" of the corporate broadcast and cable networks.

      Barack, who built a really amazing set of local groups linked via the web, was also able to get a message across without the cooperation of the corporate press, and later, enough money for paid media.  And arguably, by avoiding Edward's populist message, he had press coverage which has at least benign for a lot longer than he would have had otherwise.  He won't have this going forward, as we're seeing.

      Edward's mistake was in not putting together the kind of Dean-like infrastructure that the Obama people put up very early.  It certainly hurt him here in California.  I'm guessing it hurt him in other states as well.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:09:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But Edwards had run against Dean in 2004, so how? (0+ / 0-)

        how could  he not know how crucial that infrastructure was??
        Did he think that because he had outperformed Dean in 2004 without
        a comparable infrastructure, he could do it again??

        "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

        by ge0rge on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:15:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Damned if I know (0+ / 0-)

          You'd think that Edwards would have gotten that.  Hell, Trippi was even one of his main advisers.

          But I agree, Edwards did not draw the correct conclusions from his 2004 run as far as organization went.  His message shows a great deal of learning.  But not his use of field or of the new internet tools of the trade.

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 02:00:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The MSM took Edwards out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ge0rge

      without even trying, by covering the campaign as an epic struggle between two Celebrity Candidates. Talk $400 haircuts, characterize him as "angry" but make sure no one gets to hear what he's actually saying (remember a Dean and a "scream"?) and shazaam! Two-person horse race, full of scandal & hesaidshesaid, and utterly devoid of substance--just like they wanted.

      Edwards threatened the MSM establishment because when he talked economic populism he meant it and they knew it. Whereas with Clinton, just as it was with her husband, it's just another handful of soundbites & talking points with no other purpoose than to win an election, to be quietly dumped into a potted plant the minute they're no longer needed.

      May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

      by Uncle Cosmo on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:16:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Press::Information as Lawyers::Justice (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Uncle Cosmo, limpidglass

        The corporate press (I don't go for "MSM") is not an ally.  I'd argue that Edward's biggest mistake was that he did not figure out how to get his message out without its cooperation.  And that the best chance with Barack Obama we have is that he can do so.

        Clinton never assumed the press was going to help her, but she had enough of a machine that she did not need it.  In addition, supporters of the Clinton have had a long time to figure out that the corporate press is hostile.

        Edwards never built the kind of local organization or internet infrastructure that would give him an alternative way of getting his message out.  So the press killed his candidacy.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:25:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tipped for this point specifically: (0+ / 0-)

          I'd argue that Edward's biggest mistake was that he did not figure out how to get his message out without its cooperation.

          Upon reflection, I think you've nailed it. My (fairly uninformed) guesses:

          1. There was a presumption in the Edwards campaign that the generally favorable press he'd gotten in the 2004 campaign would continue, & no Plan B when the haircut & "angry" memes got play.
          1. The campaign emphasized organized labor too much as a basis for organization in preference to organizing youth & other "outsider" blocs. Edwards may have overestimated the degree to which tying Hillary to NAFTA would bring the OLM over to him.
          1. The campaign presumed that Edwards would attract the vast majority of ABCDs (Anybody-But-Clinton Democrats) as well as the youth/outsiders who'd have for all practical purposes nowhere else to go.

          Essentially, the campaign either didn't anticipate Obama or didn't take his campaign seriously, probably for the same reason the Clintonians didn't until too late: because in order to be a viable opponent BO would have to generate some sort of national credibility and create a ground game almost from scratch, both very low-probability events.

          (Again, these are just my wild-arsed guesses.)

          And that the best chance with Barack Obama we have is that he can do so.

          Exactamundo--continued organizing & voter registration is the best way to immunize the cause against the media's love affair with Geezer BBQ & fascination with the horse race to the exclusion of intelligent discourse.

          May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

          by Uncle Cosmo on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:49:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Media Fight the Populists & People Powered (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doinaheckuvanutjob

      candidates.

      They fight Obama for the same reason they fought Dean and froze out Edwards.

      If Hillary gets the nod, they'll revert to their normal mode of fighting the Democrat. She'll return to being elitist, inexperienced and shrill.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:22:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Every campaign needs an enemy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doinaheckuvanutjob

        and I'd argue that the corporate press makes a great enemy.

        Of course they oppose the People Powered.  But in the new media environment that's springing up, you can make the press' hostility into a virtue.

        Clinton, to her credit, did a great job of this.  Barack can learn from this.  Edwards, on the other hand, never had a working strategy to deal with this.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:28:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Edwards never had a strong base (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theran, doinaheckuvanutjob

        he never built a machine that could help him win. Even in his own state he was apparently never very influential within the Democratic party. It's no surprise that he twice failed on the national stage.

        Obama's a much better politician than Edwards. He built up a lot of favors by stumping for Democratic candidates in the 2006 elections, and used his PAC, the "Hopefund", to donate to their campaigns. Most of those politicians gave him their endorsement in 2008.

        And of course, he's skillfully made use of the youth vote, for foot soldiers in the caucuses which he dominated, and of Internet micro-donations, which have allowed him to renounce lobbyist and PAC funding for his presidential run (though he took lobbyist and PAC money in his Illinois state and US Senate campaigns).

        Combine all this with the nation's disgust with eight years of Bush and need for a change (but not too much change) and his youth, biracial heritage, and soaring oratory, an establishment frontrunner who failed to grasp the changing nature of politics in the 21st century, and a second-string Republican candidate who is distrusted by much of his own base, and you have the makings of a successful presidential candidate.

        •  I agree with you on most of this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          limpidglass

          I'd be ecstatic with a candidate that had Obama's organization and Edward's policies.  And if we had to choose, we are likely better off with Obama's organization, all things being equal.

          But over the last 4 years, many of us have fought a lot of political fights, and we've won them.  And we've fought a lot of battles like the one for social security, and for various state and local campaigns.

          Our problem is that while Edwards' campaign, well, sucked frankly, the Edwards type approach has won most of those battles.  The Obama type approach strikes many of us like the more cautious, "conciliatory" approach of folks like Obama's mentor Tom Daschle, or the current Democratic leadership in Congress.  Worse: many of Obama's endorsers have been from that part of the party.

          This perplexes many of us.  It makes us wonder what Obama means when he says "change".

          I intend to work hard to help elect him, but I worry that I will have to work harder to oppose him from the left once he takes office.

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:53:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I share much of your worry (0+ / 0-)

            about Obama's true nature. I think he may prove to be as much a triangulator as Bill Clinton.

            Certainly there are already signs of this. His claim that he isn't taking lobbyist or PAC money is literally true for his presidential campaign. But he did take lobbyist and PAC money in his campaigns for the Illinois state senate and US Senate. And he donated a lot of this money to Democratic candidates and organizations, many of whom supported him in his presidential bid.

            This tactic of making a big deal of minute distinctions that are ultimately trivial reminds me of Clinton's careful parsing of "I smoked, but I didn't inhale."

            The problem with Edwards' approach is that he misread what we needed to do. It's not enough to get a mass popular movement; you must also change the economic forces that prevent progress.

            You can't totally break the power of corporations; that's not possible, nor is it even desirable. What's needed is to break the power of the old, moribund corporations and replace them with a new economic coalition based on green business--alternative energy and sustainable technologies--and the tech industry, integrating agriculture and labor into the sustainable framework, to replace the old one based on dirty energy.  

            The problem as I see it with Obama's approach is that while he is attempting to build a popular movement for the purpose of getting himself elected to the White House, he has no interest in trying to replace the old corporate alliances (coal, oil, nuclear, auto) with a new one, preferring instead to conciliate the existing power structure while throwing a bone to the populace with his insistence on "transparency" in government and voter participation. That kind of approach worked OK for Bill Clinton, but the country is in much deeper crap now than it was in 1992 and so it is unclear if this will work.

            The only one who I see who is both trying to rally a popular movement for change and build this novel economic coalition is Al Gore, and he has decided for the moment that this is easier done outside of our political system than within it.

  •  hmm, if you included some examples of where (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, paul94611

    Obama "has been very "shy" about populist frames so far," and "appears to be genuinely uncomfortable with them", your diary might be more persuasive. As it is, I am led to wonder if your definition of "populist" is the same as mine (or Webster's).

    I also strongly question the premise that after Edwards dropped out Clinton started "running like Edwards" -- what are you talking about?

    winning union support? not particularly. talking about poverty? no. Talking about corporations' and lobbyists' undue influence in D.C.? no. Promising to bring all combat troops home from Iraq in 10 months? No. Promising to "remove President Bush's explicit endorsement of a preventive war doctrine from {the U.S.] National Security Strategies"? no.

    Edwards didn't campaign using the right-wing demogoguery we heard from the Clintons and their allies before West Virginia and other contests. Edwards never railed about "latte sipping Prius driving elitists who think they don't have to play by the rules".

    •  Don't take this as an attack on Obama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doinaheckuvanutjob

      It isn't.  In fact, I'd argue that your comment proves my point.

      It's a fact that Clinton is taking votes from Obama, and that economic issues appear high in the exit polling as to why.  You don't have to be persuaded; you apparently support Barack, and feel you have to defend him here.

      You're not at issue. It's the folks who have been voting for Clinton that need persuading.

      How best can that be done?

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:37:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Asking you to explain what you're (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theran, Junah

        talking about as far as Obama being "genuninely uncomfortable" with populist frames is not defending Obama, it's being skeptical about you and where you are coming from. if you are able to come up with any specific examples, then after that, maybe then I'd defend Obama.

        an Edwards supporter until he dropped out, I AM defending Edwards 100%, absolutely. no answers from you on that front, either.

        I don't agree with the MSM analysis that "Clinton is taking votes from Obama" -- in the main, these primary votes weren't "Obama's votes" to begin with, some of them will not vote Dem in November no matter who the candidate (1 out of 5 Clinton voters in IN told exit pollsters they were McCain voters in the fall), and some of them will.

        anyway, I'm done now, and shouldn't have answered this time, because you still haven't come up with any support for the original assertions in your diary, which I find so far off base.

        •  This diary has a lot of assertion (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Al Rodgers, Junah

          and very little justification.

          As time goes on, Obama has definitely gotten better at explaining his approach to the economy and helping the non-rich.  Just because this wasn't sufficient to get him a big win in WV does not mean that he lost because of populism.

          •  Whether diarist is correct or not, it's still an (0+ / 0-)

            interesting question the diarist raises about how to win over the economically disenfranchised white blue collar workers that Davis and the Rethugs want to keep.

            Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

            by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:15:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  For me personally, health care (0+ / 0-)

            I think that for me, the crystalizing issue has been how Obama has handled the health care issue, and how specifically he's used the mandate issue.

            Like it or not, this is not a populist frame.  It is not even a progressive frame.  It's an "economic conservatism" frame, and like or not, many of us were surprised to see him use it, and appalled when it began to appear that it wasn't a fluke.

            Most of my activism is around that issue, and it gets my back up with the people who are siding with the insurance industry use a frame, and I hear the same damn thing from Democratic candidate.

            Also: I've been a real fan of Paul Krugman for years.  I don't agree with him on everything, but as someone with some economic training, I have immense respect for him.

            I know he drives many Obama people completely ape-shit.  But he's attacking Obama for policy, and not for personality. It's telling that Krugman gets attacked less on policy than personality, and it does not impress (or "convert") people to Obama's campaign for his followers to do it.

            I have never been a Clinton supporter.  I should be an easy sell.  Obama has (and will have) my support, at least until November.  Afterwards, I'm worried about where it goes from there.

            "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

            by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:34:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Skepticism is entirely misplaced (0+ / 0-)

          Obama being "genuninely uncomfortable" with populist frames is not defending Obama, it's being skeptical about you and where you are coming from.

          The diarist is not running for President and it does not
          matter whether he has any credibility.  What matters is what Obama
          is talking about.  And you are every bit as much as obligated as the diarist
          to present some things Obama has said in support of  your viewpoint.
          For our side it's necessarily harder because we are complaining that
          he's not talking about populist themes.  Everything else he talks about
          is an example.

          "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

          by ge0rge on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:13:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Because I'm not "Of The Body" (0+ / 0-)

          it's being skeptical about you and where you are coming from.

          And you wonder why I have a problem with that?

          I'm not the enemy.  And it pisses me off to be treated as if I was.  Do you have so much support that you are willing to do that?

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:56:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Why the "LA-LA-LA" (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not the enemy.

      What's with the refusal to entertain the notion that the campaign might have a problem here?

      You folks should have beaten Clinton like a drum.  You didn't.  Might that reflect some problem in the Obama campaign's strategy.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:48:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your concern (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Al Rodgers

        You folks should have beaten Clinton like a drum.  You didn't.  Might that reflect some problem in the Obama campaign's strategy.

        It's not like Hillary! was the most famous current Dem politician.  With the most money ever.  Married to the most famous retired Dem politician.  With ever major institutional party endorsement and 100+ super lead before IA.

        Yeah, any semi-competent candidate would have totally thrashed her.  There's no such thing as a huge upset or a transitional period.

        •  Not attacking you, but... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran

          You folks should have beaten Clinton like a drum.  You didn't.  Might that reflect some problem in the Obama campaign's strategy.

          Barack overcame not only Hillary Clinton, but the Clintons' entire kitchen sink, during this campaign.

          Basically, the only "problem" with Obama OR his campaign is that some people won't vote for him simply because he's black, and now some women won't vote for him because he beat Hillary.

          Them's our cards...but there's nothing wrong with his message.  What aspects of economic populism is he supposed to endorse, the gas tax holiday?  I mean, middle-class tax cut, universal health care, no taxes on Social Security recipients making under $50K a year...what more do you want?

          "The thought of McCain being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." --Thad Cochran

          by Initiate Plan B on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:49:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That isn't analysis. That's wishful thinking. (0+ / 0-)

            Race is certainly a factor.  And certainly, Hillary has a loyal following.  But the numbers do not bear you out.

            "The message" is not reaching a substantial piece of the electorate we're going to need in November.  It is definitely reaching middle class and upper middle class people more effectively than it is reaching working class whites and hispanics.

            You can't wish this away.  You can't argue it away.  You need to understand it, and you need to use that understanding to talk to groups of voters that the stats show, with terrible clarity, that the campaign is not reaching well.

            McCain can't win this unless he gets a wedge in with people who are hurting economically.  There is not reason for Obama to allow this.  And there is every reason to worry about it if what I'm hearing here really reflects the campaign's thinking.

            I'm hoping you folks are deluded, frankly.  Because if you aren't,  it means that the Obama campaign may be too sure of itself, and too arrogant to make the changes it will need to make.

            "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

            by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:45:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm listening... (0+ / 0-)

              What do you suggest, exactly?

              I personally think this whole meme is overplayed, but I'm willing to assume it isn't.  Given that, what would you suggest Obama do to work on this problem?

              "The thought of McCain being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." --Thad Cochran

              by Initiate Plan B on Sun May 18, 2008 at 09:06:15 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I'm concerned for my country (0+ / 0-)

          I think Obama will make a good president.  But I don't think he walks on water or does that thing with the bread and fish, and I'd be happier if were sure the people around him thought the same.

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:36:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Burden of proof is on Jennifer (0+ / 0-)

      You need to include some examples of where Obama has been unabashedly
      populist.  Two places where he hasn't are 1) concern trolling about the
      solvency of Social Security and 2) letting you KEEP paying your full gas
      tax.  Obama does not talk about poverty or Two Americas.
      He's talking about one America instead.

      "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

      by ge0rge on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:10:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My frustration with many Obama supporters (0+ / 0-)

    I'll admit I don't get this.

    The comment by jennifer poole is something I hear a lot.  It's the kind of thing that's been worrying me for months.  It suggests that many supporters of BO are not learning from the last few months.

    This is part of why this is the first diary I've posted in months.  Clinton supporters strike me as shrill, and surprising capable of spitting out whatever nonsense the campaign PR machine has decided has traction "today", even if it's the opposite of what the same PR people were pushing the week before.

    The Obama people seem to think the campaign makes no mistakes, and take any criticism of the campaign's strategy as criticism of the candidate.  The previous comment as an example of this.

    How do we reach these people?  I saw a bit of this in the Kerry campaign, and it worried the hell out of me then.  But this is worse.

    Are Barack's supporters his worse enemies?

    "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

    by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:45:11 PM PDT

    •  Look, objectively (0+ / 0-)

      Obama's policies better address the economy than Hillary.  As an Obama supporter, I'm offended by the idea that the fact that Hillary has manged to draw a wedge in the Democratic party has anything to do with Obama's failure to address economic issues.

      First of all, Obama was always agaisnt NAFTA.  Although there have been scurrilous attempts by the Clinton campaign to suggest otherwise, I think most voters get that she is the one whose husband was for NAFTA and who never until now said anything about NAFTA.
      Second of all, Obama has gotten all the union endorsements.  Union leaders know he is the labor candidate, and their members should too.

      The problem is, uneducated white voters haven't responded to this.  This could be because they are stupid or uninformed.  Or this could be because uneducated white people are more often racist against black people.

      If you think that the Obama campaign has done a poor job simplifying their message for stupid people, I guess that's one conversation we could have.  But I believe that racism is the culprit here, and I think enough people in November are going to see that changing the economic policies of the last 8 years are more important than race.  I think the economy is one of Obama's strengths that he is capitalizing on well.

      •  it's astonishingly condescending and arrogant (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doinaheckuvanutjob

        to ascribe blue-collar white support of HRC solely to unsavory reasons such as stupidity, ignorance, and racism.

        There are many other reasons: Hillary's carefully cultivated hawkishness and "toughness" may appeal more to them than Obama's studied moderation; or simply the fact that she's a known quantity and Obama is not. And it is simply possible that they find her more credible on labor and agricultural issues.

        The very qualities many here deride in HRC: her awkwardness on the stump, her meat-and-potatoes focus on small details rather than soaring oratory, her "toughness," may well appeal more to working-class whites who distrust Obama's more high-toned approach. His campaign, with its highly-sophisticated marketing and branding techniques, and cutting-edge media methods, may simply strike them as another case of a city-slicker trying to hustle them.

        •  Occam's razor, man. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran

          You can see it on a map, a swatch of country along the Appalachian mountains.  You can see it in the categories of groups that Obama has trouble connecting with.  Hispanics.  Lower Class Whites.  Jews.

          You're telling me it's a coincidence that the groups that traditionally teach their children to be racially sensitive are somehow very much in favor of Obama, while the groups that traditionally teach their children to be racist are against him?

          I'm not saying that we should throw these groups under the bus.  Obama is a uniter.  But I am saying that his campaign shouldn't be blamed for people's biases.  

          And no, I'm not a hypocrite, I'm a realist.

    •  This should be a recommended diary. (0+ / 0-)

      Try posting it at EENR, should get a good reception there.

      I don't believe you have to back up your assertions with detailed data-- that always helps credibility and to convince the more skeptical, but I think the merits of your ideas are strong on their own and worthy of promotion and discussion.

      Timing is hard to figure here, the same diary could be better received hours later, a day later, months later, who knows.

      But I do think things have changed around here where some of what is recommended or met without hostility is things that people want to hear, sadly, whether it is factual or merited.

      I think your diary's great, and I hope this topic will get greater play. It hasn't been avoided, I've seen other diaries about it get some play with less hostility, and certainly there were recommended diaries about WV and Appalachia, but they focused more on the cultural rather than the economic elements you targeted well.

      Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

      by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:11:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What-dat EENR? (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not familiar with the abbreviation.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:23:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Newer progressive blog site. (0+ / 0-)

          EENR stands for Edwards Evening News Roundup, but now it's more just a general progressive blog (not just about Edwards nor affilliated with the campaign) with a lot of Edwards people there from daily kos-- gotten to be a fairly prominent lefty blog site.

          The subheading at the site describes it as:

          This is not an Edwards' blog but we do consider ourselves Edwards' Democrats and have created this blog to promote Progressive ideas and candidates.

          I think your diary could get a good reception there. Lots of Edwards people from daily kos blog there too.

          Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

          by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:38:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  A little hostility I don't mind (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limpidglass

        If I could get more people to engage, even if they were angry, I'd actually be happier.

        What mystifies me is that I keep seeing self-identified Obama supporters treat potential allies like The Enemy.  No interest in coopting people.  No interest even in persuading them, even.  As near as I can tell, these people don't want the support of many of us.

        I've never seen an organization run that way that came to a good end.  It worries the hell out of me.

        My instincts tell me that there are any number of congressional or senatorial campaigns that need, and perhaps even deserve more support that the Obama campaign.  And that the best tactic for progressives and populists is to worry more about the coattails than Obama's many-colored-coat.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 02:10:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very very important point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doinaheckuvanutjob, ge0rge

    If Obama fails to connect with the white working class and occupy the populist ground he will be painted as another Jimmy Carter after he is elected. They will dance on the racial-economic devide and choke off his message.
    M

    •  Why is this controversial with some BO folk? (0+ / 0-)

      What I don't get here is how, well, uninterested some folks are in this.  So far, we've seen one clear Obama partisan on this diary.  She doesn't take this seriously.

      Meantime, there's a 300+ comment flame fest going on worrying about Clinton.  I don't get it.

      Clinton's a non-issue at this point.  Obama is within less than 120 delegates of a first vote win at the convention.

      It's an interesting question about the nature of Barack's organization.  The Faithful don't seem to, well, listen very well.  Why is it that we're getting this?

      I've always felt it was important to learn from mistakes quickly in a campaign.  Can the Obama campaign learn from its mistakes?

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Sat May 17, 2008 at 09:57:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can they learn from mistakes?? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theran, markizi, Junah

        Did you seriously just ask if the Obama campaign is adaptable??

        Look, I don't want to sound like a total partisan here, but you're throwing softballs, man.  I can blow on that one and knock it out of the park.

        So, yes, in my opinion, the Obama campaign can learn from its mistakes.  Next question, please.

        •  Campaign is well run and well organized (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran

          and don't doubt that Obama and his folks (which includes me) are fast learners. But that should not diminish the seriouseness of this aspect of this contest. Republicans, Right Wing Media machine, corporate money, and Pentagon fed militarists will use the racial-economic devide to the hilt. I hope everybody is ready for that.
          M

        •  Two excruciating months says you're wrong (0+ / 0-)

          No offense, but what exactly have the months since South Carolina been?

          The campaign may be adaptable.  But it wasn't adaptable enough to knock Hillary off, in spite of its many advantages.

          If the last couple of months is what you call "knocking it out of the park", then you've kinda got me worried here ;-)

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:09:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Davis does not believe economic populism is it (4+ / 0-)

    Davis believes that economic populism hasn't been effective for Obama, and as a corollary believes that cultural populism may be effective for the GOP.  (As it was for Hillary.)

    Clinton's micro-targeted economic programs didn't win for her in Appalachia.  Her cultural appeals did.

    •  Davis doesn't see it that way, true 'nuf (0+ / 0-)

      Davis thinks that these are "conservative voters" who can be swayed by scary demagogic appeals to people's economic interests.

      But if you look at who Davis is talking about, and why he believes that Obama is not currently reaching them, then it's worth looking at his numbers.

      I don't look so much at his words as which demographic he's talking about:  working class whites.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:13:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I simply don't buy it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Al Rodgers

        You're just repeating your core misreading of what Davis said.  Anyway, the fact is that Clinton's cultural appeals seem to have carried her in Appalachia, which is a shrinking market for both pre-civil-rights Dems and the GOP.

        If you want to panic, ask why Obama has so much trouble with Latino worker or Asian ones.  

  •  Well this is the ONE thing that explains.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..why it took  Edwards so long to endorse...

    Somehow, the establishment candidate successfully made populist frames work for her.   Against a former community organizer who take very little in corporate contributions, no less.   We should be surprised by this.  Hell, we should be astounded by this.  It's a testimony to Clinton's political skills that she pulled this off as well as she did.  And it should raise concerns about Obama's skills that he did not prevent this, by pushing populist frames, and pushing them hard.

    I was grateful to see that the diarist was, like me, originally for Edwards.
    I was a long time switching too.  It was the extreme missteps (out of
    tactical desperation, I presume) taken by the Clinton campaign (e.g.
    trying to seat MI & FL "as is") that eventually moved me, more than
    trusting Obama to stand up for the people who need it most.

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Sun May 18, 2008 at 12:08:40 AM PDT

  •  Obama has been plenty economically populist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran

    He has described an agenda just as populist as Clinton, it's just that he simply refuses to blatantly pander, unlike Clinton (see gas tax holiday, etc).  This may cost him some votes in the short term, but with the kind of campaign Obama has run, I think in the long run voters will respond to the message.  

    Once Clinton concedes and gives her support to Obama (and I do think lieve this will happen), I believe white blue-collar voters who had backed Clinton will give Obama a second look and back his positive pander-free populist agenda.  That is unless they happen to be part of that group of 1/4 of WV voters who "considered race a factor in their vote".  Sadly we'll just have to let these people go.

    •  Saying you'll fight for folk isn't pandering (0+ / 0-)

      The gas tax business absolutely was pandering, and Clinton has done plenty of pandering beyond a doubt.

      But "change" as I hear Obama explain in his speeches sounds to me like "process change".  For many of us who have been following politics since the Reagan years (or longer for some of us),  it's very difficult for us to see how reducing conflict with the corporate world is going to create any kind of change worth waiting for.  Obama is not convincing many of us that he "gets" this.  We aren't hearing what you're hearing.

      Worse: there are quite a few voters in certain demographics that aren't hearing the right thing either.

      Yelling at folks like us doesn't so much persuade as mystify.  It's a source of the "cult" comments that were popular a couple of months back: there's a real worry that "the Obama people don't listen."

      The exit polls are making it clear that this is a real problem.  The responses I see here suggest that there is some basis in reality for the claim.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Sun May 18, 2008 at 01:22:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  After (0+ / 0-)

    reviewing the discussion thread I would like to add my pennies worth of observation.
    I believe that mbayrob has put forth some valid items for debate.  I also agree with some here that a little extra meat on the bones would not hurt, but I view this particular diary as an attempt to foster the discussion necessary in order that we may be able to do just that.
    In my analysis I believe that Obama as done as well as he could have to date all things considered.
    Remember that his campaign has achieved things very few believed were possible just 18 short months ago.
    What I think has happened over the past 3-4 months is that the Obama campaign & both political parties have been consumed by a wild fire of events that have become a political movement.
    I am confident that with discussions like this one and the many that are no doubt ongoing that the issues addressed here and others that have been expressed will be incorporated.
    Remember that the Obama campaign and the democratic party is not equipped to handle what has and is transpiring.  We have achieved wonders.  More than even we appreciate today.
    Our party needs us to redouble our efforts and to keep discussions like this one ongoing so that items do not fall through the cracks or that the foundation gets lost in the climb.
    Let us remain true to our ethos of rigorous debate, voter registration, netroots & GOTV and I am confident that we will be far more successful than not.
    Yes, we will not win everything we want, but we must use the tools at our disposal to insure that things remain on track even when our candidate & party is overwhelmed.

    We are more than the sum of our parts.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site