Campus and Careers

May 13, 2008
I just got a mass e-mail from the McCain campaign advertising its new store items: "Eco Friendly Clothes." I have done absolutely no research into this, but I'm willing to bet this is the first time a GOP candidate (maybe any major party candidate) has tried to sell "polo shirts made from biodegradable fabric" with the candidate's name embroidered in green on them. (Ralph Nader doesn't count.) The McCain campaign is getting some good mileage out of this greenhouse gas speech. While I haven't been in Ann Arbor since the end of April, it's these kinds of issues that will give McCain a shot among some voters there. For a lot of students and young people, George W. Bush is the Republican Party. We're too young to remember anything else. Raised on the Daily Show and South Park, many people my age see Republicans as the people who don't believe in global warming and aren't so sure about that evolution business. I'm sure this move isn't an attempt to pull young voters from Obama (that's...
May 8, 2008
The other day, Politico profiled Matthew Segal, a Kenyon College student and the founder of the Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE). The group, Segal told Politico, was borne out of irregularities he witnessed as a volunteer at Kenyon during the 2004 elections. The article also says Segal worked as a field producer for the documentary "Stealing America: Vote by Vote." Alas, it's time for me to voice my inner cynic: Segal along hundreds of other students on campuses throughout the country organize these "get out the vote" efforts every two or four years. However, like Segal, many of the activists have vested political interests, despite working for nonprofits like SAVE. Though many of these organizers may have civic interest as their top priority, working to turn out the vote among college students--who tend, more often than not, to support Democratic candidates--has a profound political impact. Whether you'd get these activists to admit some satisfaction with this...
May 8, 2008
Coming to Ireland after a week of mostly tuning out the campaign in Italy (not by choice -- no Internet where I was staying), I finally got my hands on an English-language newspaper.  The analysis from Denis Staunton, The Irish Times's reporter covering the race, is this: The race to the White House is over for Clinton.
May 6, 2008
As people go to the polls for the Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina today, many have voted already with their checkbooks and credit cards.   Donors have been pledging money to Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton for months. And the latest tally of political contributions in the two states reveals the differences in their electorates and may hint at the final vote numbers. The starkest difference comes in the sheer amounts raised by the two Democrats. Senator Obama, who has been setting records with his fundraising, has outraised Senator Clinton in both North Carolina and Indiana. That marks a switch from their totals in Pennsylvania, where Clinton actually raised more cash than Obama did through the end of February. Carolina blue has more than a tinge of green for Obama. His haul blew away Clinton’s in the Tar Heel State through the end of March –  $1.7 million to $1.14 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group in Washington...
May 5, 2008
As the Democratic primary battle has moved from state to state, one thing has stayed constant: Voter registration has climbed in the weeks before election day. And Indiana follows the pattern. Since Jan. 1, the number of voters in the Hoosier State has increased by 138,000. Is that enough to change the results of the vote on Tuesday? That depends on how close the final tally is. Hillary Rodham Clinton has about a five-point edge over Barack Obama, according to RealClearPolitics.com’s average of Indiana polls. And some polls show the race nearly even. While North Carolina also holds its contest Tuesday, Indiana is seen as the big battleground. The Hoosier State’s open primary means that voters don’t have to declare party affiliation to cast a ballot. This makes it especially difficult to discern how those new voter numbers could affect the race. But filtering the new registrants though Patchwork Nation’s community types provides some clues. The biggest jumps...
May 2, 2008
Rising gasoline prices, and ways of handling them, created a small stir on the campaign trail this week. Sen. John McCain has proposed a suspension of the federal gasoline tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day this year to give people a break. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has one-upped Senator McCain: She not only supports a gasoline tax holiday but also advocates taxing the oil companies’ profits to make up for the lost revenue. Sen. Barack Obama, for his part, opposes the holiday, saying that it won’t save people much and that the money used for it could be better spent elsewhere. The gasoline tax debate raises interesting issues when viewed through the Patchwork Nation prism. No one likes the idea of paying $4-a-gallon for fuel, but in some places in the United States driving is a way of life. It’s hard to bring your steers to the auction house on a subway car, after all, and at last check no one was offering to build an extensive mass transit system through rural Iowa or up the...
April 29, 2008
I have to disagree with Andrew's take on Rev. Wright. The reappearance of Wright has put the campaign in, arguably, the worst position it's been in since last summer. "It seems that Wright speaking out can only be good for Obama," Andrew wrote yesterday. "The more people see of Wright, the less they’ll care about this — if they ever did in the first place." Um, wrong. But don't just take my word for it. Bob Herbert of The New York Times (not exactly an Obama opponent) wrote, "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him." Mike Allen of Politico called it Obama's "pastor disaster." Dana Milbank of The Washington Post wrote, "That significantly complicates Obama's job as he contemplates how to extinguish Wright's latest incendiary device." Milbank's colleague at the Post, Eugene Robinson, said he's "had it" with Wright. And this afternoon, Obama said he is "outraged" by Wright's most recent comments. And leave it to...
April 29, 2008
Daron Shaw’s excellent recent book on campaign travel, “The Race to 270,” notes that one of the most precious resources a campaign possesses is a candidate’s time. Accordingly, where each campaign schedules its candidate teaches us a lot about the people and places that count as political priorities. At Patchwork Nation, our accounting of candidate stops from February through the third week in April shows some intriguing patterns. First, affluent cities and towns (our moniker is Monied ’Burbs) are high priorities for all of the candidates, and understandably so since these locations are good for fundraising and contain one-third of the nation’s voters. These locations are also politically divided, so it makes sense that campaigns would allocate their candidate’s time there. Our figures report that Sen. Barack Obama has allocated 34 percent of his visits to these affluent locations, compared with 25 percent of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, and 27 percent of Sen. John McCain’s....
April 28, 2008
As the Democratic Party looks ahead to its next Super Tuesday, this one on May 6, the battle lines are being drawn around Indiana. The Hoosier State isn't the only primary battleground that day; North Carolina will also hold its contest. But Sen. Barack Obama has a solid lead in North Carolina's polls, so the new conventional wisdom for the next week goes: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton must win Indiana or her campaign may be finished, again. These days, every primary vote seems to be a cliffhanger for Senator Clinton. A new poll by American Research Group shows Clinton with a five-point lead in Indiana. So what does the state's political landscape look like through the frame of Patchwork Nation? The final tally may be determined by turnout, particularly in counties that would seem to favor Senator Obama. In many ways it's odd that Indiana is playing such a significant role in the Democratic primary process. The state hasn't voted for the Democratic presidential...
April 28, 2008
I've been watching Jeremiah Wright's event at the National Press Club for most of the last hour. It seems that Wright speaking out can only be good for Obama. While he was silent, he was defined by the grainy clips of his sermons. Now, he'll be defined by events like these. And Wright plays well on TV. He's clever, funny and smart. He doesn't sound like a radical or a man on the defensive. He quotes the Bible liberally. The more people see of Wright, the less they'll care about this -- if they ever did in the first place.