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Tin foil antenna twitching

There’s always been something a little disturbing about the flood of Obamaphiles to the caucuses in the red states. It’s unsettling on so many levels. I have no doubt that Axlerod and his team have been very good at mobilizing their supporters but for some reason he does *less* well motivating them in primary states. Take NJ for instance. Why wasn’t Axlerod able to swing a victory here? Was it because there were too many asians? Not enough african-americans? Because this state has the densest population (in more ways than one)? He poured massive amounts of money into NJ. He also wasn’t able to swing Florida despite a flood of cash ($1.4 Million by some reports).

But predominantly red states like Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Utah and Colorado he wins easily. The Obamaphiles turn out in record numbers where in other caucus states like New Mexico and Nevada, he and Clinton run about even.

Others have pointed out the high number of crossover votes in some states and that may be part of it. But there is something aggressive in this that feels reminiscent of the Brooks Brothers Riot in Florida in 2000. As we now know, that was a completely manufactured incident composed not of regular Floridians but Republican congressional staffers and people like John Bolton. It reminded me of a Haka. The opposing team is so fierce and intimidating that it catches regular Democrats off guard. In general, Democrats are not like that. We’ve been rightly accused of being too collaborative and nice. To have the kind of supporters that Obama has had in the caucus states seems weirdly un-Democratic.

A lot of this can be chalked up to the exuberant insolence of young college aged Democrats and the recent numbers on the IA poll out of Texas shows that the 18-30 category is where Obama wins in overwhelming numbers. In every other age category, Clinton beats Obama by small margins with Clinton edging him out significantly among older voters but not nearly at the same margin as he beats her with the young and stupid.

So, how many of these young voters would have been Republicans 8 years ago? Or is a Rovian behind the massive turnout of rowdy Obamaphiles at caucuses. These voters don’t stick around long. They rush in, do the dirty deed and split as soon as they can. Who ARE they and are we seeing another Brooks Brothers Riot? Or should I say an Abercrombie and Fitch riot? Since they are a lot of first time voters, how do we know that college Republicans aren’t behind it, specifically recruiting students from Republican families to register as Democrats for the caucuses? It would explain how Clinton’s campaign was caught offguard. They really did think that SuperTuesday would be decisive. Indeed, in any other year, it would have been. They made a lot of mistakes but what if the Republicans manufactured some the Obamaphiles?

Ok, I’ll go increase my meds now.

8 Responses

  1. I’ve wondered about this ever since Kos encouraged people in Michigan to vote for Romney, since the Democrat primary votes weren’t going to count, in order to stop McBush’s momentum. I didn’t like the idea, precisely because I didn’t like the idea of faux “crossovers” voting in Democratic primaries.

    Obama’s purported crossover appeal continues to mystify me. If it exists, it is a reflection of how wrong the blogosphere is in viewing him as the more “progressive” candidate. I worry that he is much more likely to “compromise” core Democratic values as president than to fight for them over the objections of a Republican minority.

    I don’t know I very many hard core Republican voters, because I live in Manhattan, and indeed, in the epicenter of the Democratic Party, the People’s Republic of the Upper West Side. But I do know a few Eastsiders through my daughters’ school who have reliably voted Republican for years, and enthusiastically supported Bush in both 2000 and 2004 (they were practically the only people I knew who were not suicidal the day after the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush). Anyway, these people are now so disgusted by Bush’s foreign policy incompetence, and fiscal lunacy, that they say they are seriously considering supporting Hillary if she gets the nomination. Why? “She’s smart, she’s disciplined, she works harder than anyone, and she knows and respects the military.”

    Now to me, that’s REAL crossover appeal. But what do I know?

  2. Litigatormom: This is kind of what I’m getting at. The numbers of people in the 18-30 group are skewed so wildly to Obama’s favor that it “looks” like he is motivating the youth vote. and this could be partially true. But what if these are really crossovers that we wouldn’t have detected because they are first time voters and were specifcally recruited by Republicans to register as Democrats for the caucuses. How would be know? And what is doubly weird is that the edge drops off dramatically for Obama in the next age group up. He goes from something like 61% to 44%. As far as trends go, it is a very strong outlier. It just screams something to me. Her support numbers make much more sense to me. She is up slightly in every other age category but this one where you would probably not catch the crossover votes.

  3. Litigatormom, re: crossover appeal – I agree with you and share your fears that his mantle of “progressive” candidate might be unwarranted. I have consistently gotten the feeling that Obama is much more conservative in general than he has ever been forced to admit thus far in the campaign.

  4. saltybitch: Yes and no. Kennedy probably wouldn’t have endorsed him if he were *too* Republican lite. More likely, he is progressive with a more centrist team of advisors who are specifcally targetting the libertarians. It’s more like an advertising team trying to figure out how to appeal to the independent-libertarian swing voter.
    But what I *have* noticed about Obama is that he is an Invisible Man. He doesn’t want to be solidified as anything in particular so as to get as many crossover votes in the primaries as he can. And this is where he is going to get slaughtered in the election because the Republicans are going to make him visible to everyone. And when that happens, the libertarian independents will go to where their heart lies, with McCain.
    When it comes to strategy, this is where Clinton’s campaign made a strategic error. She should have made him wear the party as a badge of honor and force him to admit that he is a progressive. Then, he would have been much less appealing to the independents. Her record is obvious. We know all about her political philosophy. She is liberal in some areas and moderate in others, just like most of America. And she is not afraid to say she is a Democrat and has core Democratic values. That was her strength and she didn’t capitalize on it enough to force Obama to show himself.
    But yeah, I think the young Obamaphiles are partially planted from the Republican side.

  5. I’ve done a fair amount of organizing young voters. OK, mostly just college students. The reason is that college students are much, much easier to organize than non-college young folks. In small states (e.g. Iowa, NE, etc.), large universities can dramatically skew the results of a caucus. Take Nebraska. One can easily imagine that their low turnout numbers could easily be skewed by an organized college effort. Contrast that with, say, California where there is a large non-college youth population. Clinton won there.

    At colleges, there is a lot of peer pressure and a “herd” mentality. Supporting Obama is the cool thing to do. (In their defense, it’s the cool thing to do amongst many in the blogosphere and latte liberal circles so it’s not just young people.) Also, I’ve heard some stories about shady practices amongst college student Obama supporters. (Want to get more people on the record to verify some allegations.) Organizing universities is one of the most efficient things to do in a campaign but the potential for mischief is pretty high.

    At the risk of sounding smug, I pointed out last May that Hillary was leadinig in the 18-29 age group. Had she actively courted that group, this thing would have been over a long time ago. She could have saved millions that went to Mark Penn instead.

  6. Riverdaughter,

    Susan over at NoQuarter had a great video posted:


    Look at congressman Eugene Miller (Hillary surrogate). Couple of times, I have videos of people like him for Hillary.

    Hillary campaign should use this guy day and night. It’s really wroth a watch.

  7. The idea that Repugs would register first time voters as Dems is not unheard of. Here in my part of the world (Buffalo, NY) there is a long tradition of doing this when it comes to the minor parties. We call them “zebras” – half Democrat or Republican, half (Independent, Conservative, Working Family – you name it.)

  8. Regarding his crossover appeal:
    Kevin Drum posted a snippet of Pew poll re. general election matchup against McCain. As you suspect, Hillary gets more democratic votes, and Obama gets a bit more of R/I votes.


    When you do the math, they EXACTLY wash out, which I pointed out:

    I have noticed that for presidential approval, Gallop uses about 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. So Obama loses 8 percent of democrats, but gains 5 percent of independents and 3 percent of republicans. Say all of these hold true. So he loses 8%*33.3=2.66, and gains 5%*3.33 + 3%*33.3=2.66.

    It’s a wash.

    So, at least this poll shows that all this talk of Obama’s amazing support among independents and republicans is really much ado about nothing.

    But don’t expect press to do math. They are good at feelings, though.

    I managed to post the FIRST comment in that thread. You think people would read it?? No, they all go on and on about how it shows that he is a very strong general election candidate!!

    Either they are robots assisting the campaign, or mindless chatterers. Sorry to be so much beating my own drum here, but I mean, he gets 8% from the other groups (compared to Hillary), but loses exactly 8% to Hillary among democrats.

    Reminds me of press narrative on Hillary being polarizing. Bush could have any number of approval/disapproval, with a number strongly disapproving, etc… etc…. You never read press refer to him as polarizing. On the other hand, she can any favorable numbers … doesn’t matter, they’d say it anyhow.

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