Tagged: Electoral Politics

The GOP is Screwed Either Way so They Might as Well Do What They Want

I’m on the late train but over the last couple weeks there’s been another round of soul-searching among conservative political strategists.   All this “soul-searching” is getting exhausting.  Republicans should just give it up.  Finding the soul of the GOP is like finding your missing other sock behind the laundry machine.  It’s just not there so you might as well stop looking.

It seems as though House Republicans have mostly decided to either completely sink immigration reform or gut it beyond all recognition (if they don’t like the incredibly compromised Senate bill, there’s pretty much nothing left to give).  I think they’re being assholes, but if I was them I would probably do it too– in the long run, the truth is they’re screwed either way.

Why drop their initial interest in making a deal?  They never wanted to do it in the first place.  It seemed like a political necessity after Obama won over 70% of both the Latino and Asian vote in November.

But all of a sudden, they have a justification to go with their hearts.  Recently conservative pundits have jumped on this guy named Sean Trende who came up with an idea called the “Missing White Voter” theory.  Basically it goes like this:  The real reason Republicans lost in 2012 is that a whole bunch of poor rural white people were like “Obama is a Muslim socialist but Romney is a Wall Street elitist.  Fuck it, I’m not gonna vote.”

The solution being put forward is for the Republican Party to adopt “libertarian populism”, whatever the fuck that means– basically my understanding is it’s the same exact policies as Mitt Romney’s Wall Street elitism– cut taxes and government programs, deregulate businesses, but you call them “populism” because you talk about them in a folksy way while wearing a cowboy hat.

The major implication here is that congressional Republicans should NOT support citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, because they probably won’t gain much support among Latinos anyway and they’ll further alienate the white people they really need to motivate to vote.

This is the sound of Marco Rubio being discarded.

I think the Missing White Voter Theory is pretty weak.  Other analysts say the numbers don’t add up and the GOP can’t win in the long run solely by making more gains among white voters.  But Republicans don’t like it because it’s smart, Republicans like it because it tells them what they want to hear.  It’s like a new fad diet where you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight.  They get to make no fundamental changes or tough choices and still win because if the GOP goes even farther right wing, white people will be stoked about voting again, right?

I actually agree with part of what Trende and others are saying:  They’re right that Latinos probably won’t support Republicans even if they back immigration reform.  They won’t get much credit for it, and the truth is, immigration is secondary to issues like education and jobs for most Latino voters.  The problem is not just that Republicans are anti-immigrant.  The problem is that Republicans are fundamentally anti- poor people.

An Awakened Giant  The Hispanic Electorate is Likely to Double by 2030   Pew Hispanic CenterWhere I disagree with the conservative pundits is that they think they can still survive with another strategy.  The demographic demise of the GOP (as we know it) will happen whether immigration reform passes or not.  The main growth in Latino voters is coming from American-born kids growing up, not from people becoming citizens.  Most young people who grew up poor and brown in America wouldn’t vote for the Republican Party no matter how much “rebranding” they try to do.  And the usual conservative ploy of trying to wedge communities of color away from white liberals using social issues like gay marriage and abortion is especially doomed to fail among young Latinos.

The spike of immigration from Latin America that reached its peak in the 1990’s is pretty much over now.  Net migration across the southern border is approximately zero.  But the boom of immigration from Asia is just ramping up, and despite higher average incomes, Asian Americans are very progressive.   As Latino kids born in the 90’s come of voting age, Republicans are totally fucked.  As Asian kids born in the 2010’s come of voting age, Republicans are going to be even more fucked.

The fundamental problem of the Republican Party is something that can’t be rebranded or restrategized.  The Republican Party made the wrong bet, right around the late 1960’s.  They doubled down on bigotry and intolerance and it really worked for a while.  But sometimes when you gamble, you lose, and there’s no take-backs.

Sorry guys.  The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

So I leave you with this image I found on the internet of Thomas Jefferson singing “Apologize”:

tumblr_lg6eyytsGV1qg98mlo1_500

Advertisements

Where is Our Modern Martin? (It’s Not Barack)

One might say the ultimate dream of progressives is to replicate the Civil Rights Movement and the accompanying progress on a range of political issues that occurred throughout the 1960’s (and to some extent 1970’s).  In fact, I like to talk a lot about how I believe we’re at the beginning of a “movement time”– a decade or so where social change advances quickly on many fronts.   (Here’s my case for why I think conditions are ripe.)  But if so, it seems like a problem that the face of progressive America is Barack Obama.  (I’d challenge anybody to come up with someone else who they can honestly call the face of progressive America.)

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2013, which also happens to be President Obama’s second inauguration, like many in the media, I’m irresistibly drawn to compare and contrast the two men.

I’m not angry about Obama being sworn in on MLK’s bible.  I’m a strong Obama supporter and I think by historical standards of American presidents, he’s been great for progressives.

But Barack Obama has done a good job as an American president, not as an American social movement leader.  As much as the Obama team has adopted the language of organizing, as much as he painstakingly emphases passages in his speeches like “this has never been about just one election” and  “this campaign belongs to you”, Barack Obama left the community organizing business decades ago.  He inspires people to come to events to see him speak, and to wait in lines to vote for him.  He can claim the most “liked” picture in Facebook history.  But he does not inspire people to march on Washington together or engage in civil disobedience to demand change (except the Tea Party).  Not a personal failing.  That’s just not what presidents do.

pb-120419-obama-rosa-530p.photoblog900

President Obama sits inside the bus made famous by Rosa Parks

Barack Obama is not our Martin Luther King.  Barack Obama is our Lyndon Johnson, to a yet-undiscovered Martin Luther King.

I’m really interested in his new organization that he’s been asking his supporters to join, the revamped OFA– Organizing for Action.  I think it could be an innovative tool for advancing the president’s legislative agenda in Congress– it’s got a big list and can probably generate insane numbers of phone calls and petitions etc.  But I don’t think anybody seriously believes it’s going to be a movement-building organization like MLK’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  It’s run by people with the Campaign Brain, and will never be truly independent of the Democratic Party, will never have people willing to be beaten and jailed and shot for it.

At the time of his death, King was not just the de facto leader of the civil rights movement, but also one of the nation’s most prominent labor/antipoverty activists, one of America’s premier antiwar activists.  He did not need to engage in fiscal cliff negotiations.  His job was instead to fuel the burning engine of pure human will that drove forward social progress– and allow the axles and cogs of the legislative machinery to be ground along by the miserable grunts of the United States Congress.  As a social movement activist, he was not constrained by the demands of re-election, by the pull of donors, by the gravity of his office.  He could say things like this, that Barack Obama could never say:

“In the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers, as I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.

But they ask — and rightly so — ‘what about Vietnam?’ They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

He could take unequivocal stands for justice without having to hedge his words while simultaneously awkwardly holding the reins of a government whose laws dictate separating undocumented immigrant parents from their children and sending suspected enemy combatants to detainee camps.  The leader of a movement cannot also be the Commander in Chief (unless his name rhymes with Schmitler).

We don’t seem to have our time’s Martin– a powerful, independent, multi-issue voice of the American Left, committed to organization and movement building.  Maybe instead we have an equally important behind-the-scenes figure that I’m too inexperienced or unimportant to know about– a modern Ella Baker or Bayard Rustin.  Maybe the army of paid staff of advocacy organizations made possible by the nonprofit industrial complex has replaced our need for a few big leaders as the pillars of social movements.  Maybe we don’t need leaders at all anymore because of the interwebz and tweets and whatnot.

But I do feel like many of the shortcomings of progress in Obama’s first term were due to a lack of outside social movement.  They were due to Obama being the face of the left, the glowing messiah of 2008 who allowed movement activists to chill out and let Barack take care of it.  I believe the first black president is part of King’s legacy.  But I think a new generation of leaders of organizations within an independent movement for equality, peace and freedom would be a more important legacy.

How the Growth of High-Income Asian Communities Will Reshape American Politics

asianamer3.gifNew York Times article today noted the rise in influence of Asian-Americans in philanthropy.  It has some weird stuff about Asian cultures having a tradition of giving to charity, which as far as I know may be made up.  But the point remains that any time you have a growing community of new money, it means new money to give away.

And in this case, the large numbers of highly-educated Asian immigrants (mostly from India, Korea and Taiwan) who have been brought to the US by high-tech employers might be the biggest new money community in American history.  As you might expect, this is making some old money white folks freak out.  Mostly about the prospects of their children getting squeezed out of Harvard by the kids of the engineers who designed their iPhones.  (Some even say there is an “Asian quota” in the Ivy League, similar to those once faced by Jewish Americans, another new money group of highly-educated immigrants that threatened the halls of America’s elite institutions.)

But what America’s elites should really fear is the inevitable result of trying to close the doors on others:  political backlash.

And here’s what it looks like:

Asian and Pacific Islander voters went even harder for Obama last year than Latinos did.  That’s more than double the 31% of Asian-Americans who supported Clinton 20 years ago.

Political analysts are dumbfounded– shouldn’t any group with high average incomes vote Republican out of basic self-interest?  In the aftermath of the election they scrambled to come up with all kinds of stupid explanations– Asian culture is collectivist not individualist, Asians like science and the GOP is anti-science, Asians mostly live in liberal coastal cities like SF and NY– none of which makes sense, since it doesn’t explain the shift over the last 20 years from Asian-Americans being conservative voters in the 1990’s.

My theory is that this trend is being driven by younger second-generation API folks who have grown up within the context of America’s racial politics.  Most countries have some kind of left/right political divide, but America’s left vs. right is deeply rooted in race in a way that isn’t as intuitive to new immigrants.  You also see this among Latino immigrant communities, where US-born Latinos are more likely to self-identify as “liberal” than their parents.

Even if you might have been a conservative in another country, for a person of color in America it takes about 10 minutes of watching Glenn Beck foam at the mouth about Obama’s plans to destroy white America to realize you’re not welcome at this particular tea party.  The more familiar you are with American political culture the more likely you are to notice that American conservatism has a racist, exclusionary undertone in a way South Korean or Taiwanese conservatism probably does not.

According to the National Asian American Survey, taken in late September, young (under 35) Asian-Americans were nearly twice as likely to support Obama as their parents’ generation, and also less than half as likely to be undecided on who to vote for.

asianvotersbyage

I predict eventually Asian-Americans will occupy a strange political space similar to Jewish-Americans.  (Jewish voters have overwhelmingly backed Democratic candidates as far back as data is available).  Asian-Americans will also become a group who, despite high average incomes that might otherwise predict conservative leanings, consistently vote Democratic and are heavily represented among prominent progressive activists, academics, politicians and donors.

Money brings political clout.  And you can bet that growing philanthropy mentioned above is not just funding universities and soup kitchens, but candidates and advocacy organizations too.  And because many API advocacy groups are not ethnic-specific but work on behalf of API Americans as a whole, they often take strong social justice stances because of the many smaller API ethnic groups and older immigrants who are low-income and politically disenfranchised.  Like Jewish-Americans, Asian-Americans will likely have an influence on politics larger than simple numbers as voters.

But the numbers will be important too.  Asian and Pacific Islander Americans are now the fastest growing racial group in America.  Jewish people make up only 2% of the U.S. population, much less even than the current API population.  But Asian-Americans are expected to grow to 9% of all Americans by midcentury.  That’s nearly the size of the current black population.

In fact, Asian-Americans will be the fastest-growing, wealthiest, and most rapidly leftward shifting group in America, all at the same time.

And that’s bad news bears for the right wing.

And now for your moment of Zen, Bill O’Reilly being confused by the existence of liberal Asians:

What Working on Campaigns Won’t Teach You

For most people, the end of elections means listening to empty threats of moving to Canada, trying to fit lawn signs in trash cans, and finally returning to Pandora radio now that campaign ads are gone.

But for many political workers it means unemployment.

That’s one reason I didn’t work on a candidate’s campaign, but more importantly it reflects the fundamentally different approach that electoral campaigns take towards social change compared to community organizing.

Campaign people operate with what I call the Campaign Brain.  On Election Day, there can only be two outcomes: total victory or ultimate defeat.  The sheer overwhelming number of voters that need to be contacted to win an election means an election worker’s interactions with each person must be short, efficient and transactional.  They can essentially only be engaged in three ways– voting for candidate X, volunteering to tell other people about candidate X, or donating to the campaign.  Most people working on the campaign are parachuted in a few months before and sent off quickly after the vote is won or lost.

Even the Obama campaign, which put unprecedented resources into grassroots outreach, operated within the confines of the Campaign Brain.  Despite using the language of community organizing during the election and building one of the largest organizations in the world, Organizing for America was for the most part abandoned.  The void left by the Obama team’s weak engagement of its supporters after the election helped spawn the Tea Party’s rise to power.  While the Obama administration folded OFA into a piece of the Democratic National Committee, the right-wing read Saul Alinsky and began community organizing.

I want to note that I don’t think electoral politics is bad– it’s a crucial element of successful social movements.  And innovative groups like California Calls and Virginia New Majority are integrating electoral politics with community organizing in visionary, strategic ways.  I don’t even think the Campaign Brain is bad– it’s not bad or good, it’s just how you win an election.

 

However, I think some people miss out on what working on campaigns won’t teach you:

 

1. Developing leaders for the long-term.

Organizers try to move people along a leadership ladder.  As they work to transform society, they also work to transform individuals, so that over years of political involvement, a housekeeper or a farmworker becomes an important community leader.  Cesar Chavez tells how he was recruited by an organizer named Fred Ross, who knocked on his door over and over and was met with refusal, until ultimately his persistence led him to the breakthrough conversation where Chavez changed his mind and began his involvement in activism.  The Campaign Brain doesn’t allow for this kind of investment in people.  Even with volunteers, the goal of the campaign is to increase their involvement in terms of work-hours, not develop them after the campaign is over as leaders of their own.  They are given little decision-making power, training, or ownership, simply because campaigns can’t function that way– the clock is ticking and they have to win.

2.  Building relationships to organize communities.

Campaigns’ relationships with community members start a couple months before Election Day and end immediately after.  Campaigns know very little about their supporters because their conversations with them tend to be under five minutes.  At most afterwards they get email updates about what the candidate is working on in the Capitol.  Organizers know that to get people to overcome their fear and be interviewed by a reporter or speak at a city council meeting, the organizer has to build a close personal relationship with them and understand their deeper motivations.  This involves a lot of sitting down and talking with them about their life that the Campaign Brain has no time for.

3. An analysis of power and its transformation.

Campaigns don’t really talk about power.  The candidate would probably seem creepy.  But ultimately all attempts at social change are about the distribution of power.  Period.  You build an organization with a hundred thousand members because it creates power that didn’t exist before to accomplish change for the lives of those people.  Social movements seek to transform systems of power– like creating a union so workers can negotiate with their boss rather than passively accepting working conditions.  Campaigns seek to win within the existing systems of power– if suburban white professionals are more likely to vote, resources and messages will be mostly targeted at convincing them.  This is just practical.  But it means that campaign workers don’t spend much time analyzing what creates power in their community, growing organizations and bringing together coalitions.

 

My point here is not to dismiss electoral work.  It’s just to say that if you’re like me and want to learn a diversity of skills needed to create social change, there’s no substitute for spending some time as an organizer.

Election 2012: 7 Reasons Why Last Night Was the Best Night Ever

Let me start off by saying that elections get way more emphasis than they should, and that most of the real work of social change happens in the aftermath, pressuring elected officials to do the right thing.

But that being said, elections really do matter, and this one was truly beautiful.

To me this election confirmed my belief that we are at the beginning of a movement time, one of those eras when waves of progress seem to come all at once.  You’re looking at me like I’m crazy.  But it’s a lot more messy and uncertain when you’re experiencing it live than when we look back in the history books.  Here’s my case for why I think progressives are going to win huge victories in the coming years.

 

But here’s my 7 Reasons Why Last Night Was The Best Night Ever:

 

Contributors-Table

1.  Barack Obama is our president and we never have to hear about Mitt Romney again.  In terms of policy change, I’m not that excited about this– honestly the next four years will look like the last two years– Republican Congress, total gridlock, not much getting done.   Basically they just gave a black man the worst job in the world for another four years.

What was significant about the presidential race was that in the age of Citizens United, Wall St. wasn’t able to buy this election.  Finance normally hedges their bets by giving to both parties or the expected winner.  But after the major financial reforms enacted by the Obama administration, they went all in for Romney.  And lost.  When was the last time Wall St. lost anything except your money?  Now I hope Obama has the cojones to give them some ice cold retribution.  I’m also happy that in the darkest hour of the campaign, right after the first debate, I still called the election for Obama.  Saying I told you so is the best.

2.  The youth vote made an even larger impact than in 2008.  I was so sick of all the bullshit narratives about apathetic young people who came out in 2008 for a fluke because they were brainwashed by Obama and won’t vote anymore because now they’re stupid and lazy blah blah blah. Oh what’s that?  Young people made up 19% of the vote in 2012, EVEN MORE than in 2008?  SUCK. ON. THAT. SHIT.

3.  California passed Prop 30 and defeated Prop 32.  This is near and dear to my heart because it’s what I’ve been working on this election.  I think the incredible thing about Prop 30 is it’s a turning point.  Since Prop 13 passed in the “tax revolt” of the late 70’s, California has been on the path of endless budget cuts to education.  Yesterday we turned this around– the voters chose to invest in our youth and our future.  In concrete terms, this resulted in a tuition freeze at the UC’s this year instead of a 20% fee hike.  And Prop 32, which may have actually been more important than 30 for big picture strategic reasons, went down too.  This all despite millions of dollars spent against us by billionaires and Super PACs who are now being investigated for money laundering.  I worked with dozens of high school and community college students who spent countless hours volunteering to get out the vote because they knew their future depended on it.  I’m so proud of them.

4.  In California, Democrats will likely win 2/3rds supermajorities in both the State Assembly and State Senate.  Some close races have ballots left to be counted, but newspapers are already calling it.  This is a big fucking deal.  Much of California’s budget craziness is due to the fact that you need a 2/3rds vote to raise taxes, or until recently, to approve the budget at all.  The California Republican Party has become increasingly isolated and radical, viewing any compromise as a sign of weakness, making it nearly impossible to get the couple of extra votes needed to pass no-brainer bills like the Middle Class Scholarship Act.  The bill would have closed a corporate tax loophole that benefits out-of-state corporations and used the money to slash college tuition by 60% for most students in California but failed this year.  But this also opens up huge new opportunities.  Some of these Dems are pretty conservative, and will be reluctant to vote for more revenue.  But with a Democratic supermajority and some good organizing, you could potentially get single payer health care in California, or universal preschool, or dramatically reduce college tuition.  As I said, big fucking deal.

5.  The next Congress will have more women than any Congress in American history.  Women candidates broke records in both the House and the Senate.  One of these women, Tammy Baldwin, is the first openly-gay Senator ever.

6.  Marriage equality made major strides.  Maine and Maryland voted to legalize gay marriage, and Washington looks like it’s on its way.  The tide is moving, it’s only a matter of time.

7.  We can all stop talking about Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney!

Also, bonus points.  For my Ventura Couny folks, we were in one of the closest congressional races in the entire country, and the Democrat, Julia Brownley squeaked out a victory over Tony Strickland, a politician I personally can’t stand.  And Measure S in Berkeley, which would have criminalized the homeless for sitting on the sidewalks, was defeated.

Prop 32: The Best Way to Win a Game is to Control the Rules of the Game

Like many people working for progressive organizations in California, I’m spending most of my life right now trying to pass Prop 30 and defeat Prop 32.  Prop 30 is simple– tax the rich, prevent cuts to schools.  But to understand what’s at stake with Prop 32, you have to step back and look big picture.  Politics is about winning, but the real winners are those who control the rules of the game.  And the right-wing is particularly good at thinking two steps ahead, winning the battles that change the rules.

I imagine people like Karl Rove and David Koch to be kind of like two kids I met during my very brief flirtation with Speech and Debate in high school.  In fact, these guys actually looked a lot like young versions of them.

It was the first debate tournament I ever attended.  I realized something was wrong with these pudgy 17-year olds when they began pacing around before the debate, performing what appeared to be a pre-rehearsed intimidation routine, casually talking to each other about the high scores they had gotten on their AP tests.

The topic we had been given was “Is Russia a threat to American national security?”  At the beginning of a debate, you can set definitions for each of the words in the prompt.  This is the point where I, being a typical teenager, tune out and think about sex or drugs or something.  I zoned out as Koch and Rove Jr. defined the word “Russia” as “Present-day Russia or the Soviet Union” and defined the word “Is” as “Is, was or will be”.  You can imagine how the rest of this story goes.

Guys like this grow up to write things like Prop 32.

Prop 32 claims to be campaign finance reform– it bans corporations AND unions from using payroll-deducted dues for political campaigns.  The thing is, ONLY UNIONS are actually affected by this– they have membership dues which workers vote to have deducted from their paychecks.  When Exxon Mobil wants to spend money on a Super PAC to promote environmental destruction, they don’t need membership dues– they just use the money you pay them at the pump.

Why are conservatives pushing this?  Unions are the main contributors to the Democratic Party in California.  They’re also the only formidable opponent to big corporations on issues like health care or the minimum wage.

Prop 32 is a perfect example of how conservatives make it a priority to define the rules of the political game.

All over the country, conservatives are trying to silence unions, who have always been the strongest institutions of the American left.  They’re passing voter ID laws to suppress young, poor, and immigrant voters to turn back the clock on the demographic shifts that favor Democrats.  They’re working to take down powerful liberal-leaning organizations like ACORN and Planned Parenthood.  And conservative interests funded the Citizens United Supreme Court case, creating a money-megaphone for the voice of corporate America.

Sometimes it feels like we’re playing one of those rigged carnival games where you’ll never get the giant stuffed bear.  Why are our efforts for Prop 30 constrained by dividing our resources to fight bullshit like Prop 32 at the same time?  Why aren’t we two steps ahead?  Progressives could be focused on defining the rules of the game right now, rather than playing a game whose rules were written by the other side.

Here’s a Two-Steps-Ahead Agenda for the Democratic Party

1)  Reform immigration.  First off, it’s the right thing to do.  But it also means millions of progressive-leaning people who live in the US but can’t vote would gain that right.  The Obama administration dropped the ball by giving up their bargaining power from the start– cracking down on enforcement first, rather than trading that for a path to citizenship.

2)  Get money out of politics.  We’re seeing a flood of corporate money in politics, and although it’s going to both sides, (Hedge fund managers like to hedge their bets) it’s decisively favoring conservatives.  Democrats should be constantly bringing up new campaign finance proposals and endlessly hammering Republicans in the media every time they filibuster them.  At least Republicans will be exposed for being corporate lackeys.

3)  Make voting easier.  The national Democratic Party should look to California.  Our new online voter registration system has resulted in record voter registration.  By the next presidential election in 2016, you won’t even need to register before Election Day– you can just do it at the polling booth.  The GOP knows that higher voter turnout is bad for them.  As Republicans push to make voting harder, Democrats must be stupid for not pushing just as hard to make voting easier.

 

Obama is Still Winning Because Debates Don’t Win Elections, 22-Year-Olds With Clipboards Do

 

The media’s been blathering on, with a nauseating amount of corny sports/war metaphors, about how Romney dominated Wednesday’s debate against President Obama.   I agree that Romney did better.  And it did move the polls a bit.

But I will still literally bet anyone cash money right here right now that Obama’s going to win.

Why?  Check out the graph on the right.

 

What’s going on in this picture?  Obama and Romney were essentially tied in non-swing states, but Obama leads by an average of 11 points in the states that will actually decide the election.

That’s because swing states are where the real campaigning happens.  If you live in California like me, you might forget what a presidential campaign actually looks like.  Obama and Romney volunteers don’t knock on your door or call you at night, their fliers don’t come in your mailbox, and their ads rarely show up on your TV.   But in places like Ohio, every four years this shit called a campaign goes down on your block.

Here’s what that graph on the right means: Obama’s campaign team is just plain smarter and harder than Romney’s.  It doesn’t show up in most of the country.  But in the swing states, it’s very obvious that the Obama team is killin it.

 

Which is why Nate Silver, whose statistical model is probably the best in the game right now, calculates Romney hasn’t had more than a 1-in-3 chance of winning since late August.  He puts Obama at a 78.4% chance of winning right now, which is down a bit since the debate.  But it’s not nearly enough to really turn things around for Romney.

That’s because debates just don’t matter that much.  Most debate viewers are people who follow politics and have already made up their minds.  Think about all the swing voters you know.  How many of them actually watched the debate?

What does sway voters, in the crucial swing states, is a passionate 20-something-year-old volunteer knocking on their door on a Wednesday night after dinner, and maybe fumbling the script they’re supposed to read a little bit and fidgeting with their clipboard, but ultimately getting some main points across and more importantly making a personal connection.

That’s where the Obama team is kicking the ass of the Romney team right now.  And that’s why Obama is going to win.

The point I’m ultimately getting at here is I think most political journalists should be shipped off to some forsaken island and forced all day to watch two ants race across the barren rocks for moldy leftovers and report about it to each other.

They spend all their time on gaffes and speeches, but rarely cover the grueling behind-the-scenes work that actually wins or loses political battles, which really hurts the feelings of people who do that grueling behind-the-scenes political work.

But it’s not just my personal beef.  This article from the NY Times sums up perfectly how political reporters just can’t keep up with how modern campaigns work:

Journalists tend to mistake the part of the campaign that is exposed to their view — the candidate’s travel and speeches, television ads, public pronouncements of spokesmen and surrogates — for the entirety of the enterprise. They treat elections almost exclusively as an epic strategic battle to win hearts and minds whose primary tools are image-making and storytelling.

But particularly in a polarized race like this one, where fewer than one-tenth of voters are moving between candidates, the most advanced thinking inside a campaign is just as likely to focus on fine-tuning statistical models to refine vote counts and improve techniques for efficiently identifying and mobilizing existing supporters.

The bumbling incompetence of political reporters doesn’t just misinform the public.  It implies that most of the work done by campaigns doesn’t matter.  Which is funny because if they didn’t, candidates would just make speeches all day instead of spending so much money hiring field organizers all over the country.

So I just want to counter the bullshit by telling all the 22-year-olds with clipboards out there that you’re winning this thing, even if Barack Obama is a shitty debater.   The proof is in the numbers.