Tying together several different threads, there are some hopeful/interesting developments as of very early today:
- Some Black Congresspeople, who prematurely decided to endorse Hillary Clinton in their capacities as Superdelegates, are reconsidering, especially in light of pressure from their constituents. That's only fair: as Mark Meyers of the Superdelegate Transparency Project points out here, since Superdelegates aren't bound by any rules -- a point Clinton loves to make -- then they're free to put their constituents' concerns before all else, especially a promise they shouldn't have given so soon, in the exercise of a power that shouldn't apply in a two-candidate race where a "tiebreaker" isn't needed.
- Obama -- who managed to beat Clinton's early fundraising lead by using grassroots organizations to win in smaller and "caucus" states where big TV ad buys weren't so important -- is now raising enough money to compete head-to-head with Clinton by buying TV time (also here) in the large states where she previously was dominant. That's important, because Clinton's banking on winning Ohio, Pennsylvania, and/or Texas -- all states where television is key to reaching the huge numbers of voters. Basically, she conceded smaller, caucus states to Obama while she used her large war chest to buy votes in larger, primary states -- an error, because the momentum he gained with his "unimportant" wins brought him enough new contributors to allow him to compete with her on her own turf. As between these two, anyway, this election isn't going to be bought and paid for; it's got to be won.
- As I reported earlier, the fastest-growing union in the country decided yesterday to throw its weight behind Obama, using not only its 1.9 million members, but also its ground-level organizers and its strong relationships with the Latino community and others to try and tip the scales Obama's way. (UPDATE, FEB. 27: It's happening; Clinton's starting to lose her grip on her "firewall" Latino vote.) The story here, which the mainstream press hasn't caught onto yet, is that taking a strong stand against an incumbent or a favorite in a Democratic primary is a new tactic for unions. These aren't Jimmy Hoffa's "scratch my back" insider politics anymore, which again hurt Hillary, who is backed by most of the AFL-CIO unions and was counting on Hoffa-style favor-trading to tilt labor her way. I'm betting it will pay big dividends here, both for Obama and for the SEIO and other unions that spun off from the more conservative AFL-CIO to create the new Change to Win organization partly to gain leeway to do more creative politicking like this.
- Finally, John McCain is embarrassing himself when it comes to fundraising. He's criticized Obama and dared him to accept public funding (and therefore limit the amount his campaign can spend in privately-contributed money) -- basically, hoping that Obama will voluntarily hobble himself by surrendering his (unexpected) advantage over McCain in fundraising. But now it turns out that McCain wasn't just being noble in limiting himself to public funds: rather, it turns out he ran short on money and privately agreed to go the public finance route as security for a loan he needed to stay competitive. I'm all for public financing of elections, but only if it's mandatory, not optional. If private contributions are going to play a role, then Obama -- who still has taken far fewer corporate and lobbyist contributions than Hillary has -- might as well retain any fair edge he's got over McCain.
Don't forget to stay on top of both the Superdelegate and Michigan/Florida controversies. They're being "spun" wildly, but the issues remain simple, and we voters need to keep reminding all parties -- including Obama -- that they need to do the right thing by (a) encouraging all "supers" to surrender their pledges and instead vote however their constituents did, (b) encourage the Michigan and Florida parties to hold new primary elections so that their delegations can be seated fairly, and (c) if they don't do so, insist that the party's Rules Committee NOT seat those delegations if doing so will tilt the apparent popular vote in a different way than it otherwise would fall. Studies of these issues are here, here, and here; please keep on top.
I'll be away for a couple of days with the family, and offline. See everyone next week, and have a great weekend.
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