Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ten Chumps Who Helped Elect Barack Obama

The Huffington Post, 11-14-08

Barack Obama ran a great campaign. While shattering all fundraising records, he created a movement backed by small donors, not big lobbyists. Using community organizing techniques derided by his GOP opponents, he mobilized millions of supporters and gave them an ownership stake in his historic candidacy.

But he got some invaluable help along the way. With the post-election analysis season almost over, it's worth taking one final look at some of the characters who ensured President-elect Obama would make it to the White House.

This list is devoted to a special breed, seasoned political players and 15-minutes of famers alike, who did everything they could to stop Obama, only to see their efforts backfire. It's a bipartisan honor, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. For obvious reasons, this list omits the folks with the most to gain from Obama's defeat, namely, John McCain and Sarah Palin, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. Although they also deserve special recognition for trying every boneheaded trick they could dream up.

Jeremiah Wright - The good Reverend's sin was enjoying his turn at the microphone too much. From the start, he was a nuisance and distraction. Wright got irritated with Obama after being asked not to deliver the invocation at his 2007 announcement speech in Springfield, IL, and made sure the press knew about it. Rev. Wrong for Obama should have disappeared after tapes of his most incendiary sermons aired on national TV last March. But by resurfacing barely a month after Obama's masterful speech on race in Philadelphia, Wright tried his best to sabotage the damage control. And by continuing to draw attention to his outrageous beliefs in the process of defending himself, he allowed Obama to repudiate him entirely.

Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt - Joint acclaim for the two strategists who were initially hailed by the press as turning around McCain's campaign. They undid all their own hard work by advising McCain to pick Sarah Palin, thus undercutting Schmidt's strategy of painting Obama as too inexperienced to lead. They urged McCain to ignore his gut instinct to choose either Sen. Joe Lieberman or former Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania. Together, their counsel trumped Mark Salter's preference of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who would have been a formidable VP candidate. Pawlenty's only drawback was that he was sold to McCain as the safe pick, which left him out of step with McCain's need to gamble on a "maverick" choice.

Schmidt also deserves special props for convincing McCain to announce he was temporarily suspending his campaign and returning to Washington for what turned out to be bungled negotiations over the $700 billion financial bailout package. And Davis gets a shout out for signing off on TV spots attacking Obama over ties to former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac advisors, shortly before it was revealed he had been earning $15,000 a month as a lobbyist on Freddie Mac's payroll for the past several years.

Mark Penn - Assigning honors to Hillary's strategists is tough, because collectively they ran a criminally dysfunctional campaign unequaled in modern politics. But Mark Penn was at the center of much of the infighting and tension that plagued her inner circle. According to Newsweek's behind-the-scenes account of the election, Penn was suspected of being less than honest with the campaign team about polling results that were unfavorable to Hillary, which helped Obama catch them unaware and unprepared with his Iowa caucus victory.

John Edwards and Mike Easley - This pair of North Carolina pols each contributed an assist through the self-serving ways they tried to play the endorsement game. Edwards withheld his endorsement for months, until it was clear Obama would beat Hillary and be the Democratic nominee. Thus Edwards made sure he would not be identified as an Obama team player, and limited damage to the Democrats' chances when Edwards' own career went up in smoke in August in his self-inflicted adultery scandal. Outgoing N.C. Governor Mike Easley endorsed Hillary a week before the state's May 6 primary. In doing so, the unpopular lame duck enraged Obama voters in North Carolina, particularly African-Americans, and solidified Obama's support.

Joe The Plumber - By basking in his moment in the spotlight, and running his mouth about his far-right wing nutty beliefs, he was immediately discredited as a spokesperson for average working stiffs. The unlicensed plumber whose name wasn't even Joe and whose income level would qualify him for a tax cut under Obama's tax plans made a mockery of McCain's last-minute campaign gambit to frighten voters with the spectre of higher taxes.

Sheldon Adelson - The wealthy casino mogul behind the right wing 527 group Freedom's Watch was suspected of being the Republican sugar daddy who anonymously funded the Clarion Fund, which dumped 28 million anti-Islamic scare DVDs in swing states around the country through mailings and paid advertising supplements in newspapers. Adelson and similar fat cats who bankrolled GOP-leaning PAC's wasted lots of money producing an avalanche of hate propaganda - mailers, robocalls, even DVDs. But this campaign tactic has lost much of its effectiveness in a world where people have access to multiple sources of information on the internet, instead of being limited to what they see on TV, read in their newspapers, or find in their mailboxes. Should have spent their cash on registering new Republican voters at conservative churches, state fairs, and NASCAR races.

Geraldine Ferraro - The most prominent member of the Nobama Democrats, she gave credibility to the divisive, time-wasting efforts of pro-Hillary deadenders who clung to PUMA, Just Say No Deal, and other faux-grassroots groups after Obama clinched the nomination. Ferraro was forced to step down from her official role with the Clinton campaign in March after claiming, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," similar to comments she made in 1988 about an earlier black presidential contender ("If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race"). She reared her head again in May, quoted by the New York Times as saying she might not vote for Obama in the fall, because "I think Obama was terribly sexist."

Yet by refusing to cede her role as a Hillary surrogate, and tirelessly fanning the fames of party disunity, she helped keep media attention on the myth that there were legions of disaffected Hillary voters whose allegiance was available for harvest by any candidate in a pantsuit. Without Ferraro's efforts to keep the gender pot stirring, Sarah Palin might not have presented such a tempting opportunity for Team McCain to make a play for women voters.

Ashley Todd - It didn't get any uglier than this. Dishonorable mention goes to the mentally unstable McCain campaign volunteer with delusions of grandeur who thought she could scare America into believing she was attacked and robbed by a 6' 4" pro-Obama black thug who cut a (backwards) "B" into her face after spotting her McCain bumper sticker. Despite skepticism from police, the McCain camp rushed to exploit the situation, peddling breathless versions of events to the press that could not be confirmed at the time. McCain and Palin even called Todd to wish her well, guaranteeing the incident would receive widespread media coverage. Then Todd's story fell apart, as she admitted it was all a hoax and was charged with filing a false police report. The McCain campaign was left burned and looking even more desperate and unbalanced than they had before, with less than a week to go until the election.

Looking back over this parade of campaign horribles, it's no wonder the GOP blame game started long before election night, when the depths of McCain's meltdown became evident. There's a lot of credit to go around. But every fool on this list can rest assured that despite their worst intentions, they made a unique contribution towards helping the best man win in 2008.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wave of Racist Terrorism Follows Obama Victory

NewsOne, 11-11-08


Most of the post-election reaction to Barack Obama's presidential win has been beautiful. People from all backgrounds, races, cultures and religions are elated to see such a good, decent, inspirational man become President. Many are proud of the historical significance of the United States electing a leader of African descent after the turbulent history of blacks in America.

There has also been a significant racist backlash in the wake of the election results. Which is not surprising. After seeing videos of the hate mobs attracted to McCain-Palin rallies, I politely declined an offer to cover election day in Pennsylvania or Ohio out of fear of being attacked by some angry bigot.

One of my greatest fears after the euphoria faded was that the irrational Republican crowds who were drilled into believing that Obama was a terrorist, communist, Muslim traitor would continue their anger toward the President-elect and his supporters. The campaign was heavy with racial undertones, from Rush Limbaugh's racist rants to Sarah Palin turning a blind eye to someone yelling the N-word at a rally.

Sure enough, a few pathetic racists and violent extremists have been lashing out. Since election night, there has been a string of disturbing firebombings, assaults, and incidents of vandalism directed at African-Americans.

A black church in Springfield, Massachusetts burned down on election night. While I would like to believe it was totally unrelated to racism or Obama’s triumph, I am fearful that it was. If this was a hate crime in liberal Massachusetts, it is a painful reminder of the destruction and terrorism that greeted the civil rights movement, in particular the bombing that killed four little girls in a church in Alabama.

A black family near Pittsburgh had their car torched right outside their house, while they were watching Obama give his victory speech on TV. Before the cowardly arsonists burned the car, they tossed the family's Obama yard sign through a window and spraypainted "Obama" across the trunk. The blaze almost caught the family's house on fire, leaving them afraid for their safety in a home where four generations of black Pennsylvanians have lived.

This can only be seen as an act of terrorism. Instead of a burning cross on the family’s lawn, there was a burning car, symbolizing the torching of our new African-American president. Carbombings are something you'd expect to happen in Iraq, not America.

There was another election night incident in Staten Island, New York where a 17 year-old Muslim, African-American male was beaten with baseball bats by a group of white men who repeatedly yelled, "Obama." This brings back memories of Yusef Hawkins who was chased and beaten by an angry mob in Bensonhurst during the summer of 1989, which resulted in his death.

Ali Kamara, beaten on election night

At North Carolina State University in Raleigh, four students admitted spraypainting an entire campus walkway with racist and violent threats including "Shoot Obama" and "Kill that nigger." As disgusting as that display of bigotry was, it was encouraging to see nearly 500 students and school officials including the chancellor rally against the hate. In Austin, Buck Burnette, a back up center for the University of Texas football team, wrote on his Facebook page, "All the hunters gather up, we have a Nigger in the White House." Burnette promptly apologized and was kicked off the team.

Like the examples set by NCSU and the University of Texas, we all must condemn any post-election outbursts of hatred or intimidation. While Obama's presidency is a great thing for the nation, it may trigger what remains of the lunatic racist fringe to resume their old tactics of bombings and assassinations. Already the FBI and ATF have broken up two plots to kill Obama, each originating with radical white supremacist groups.

Clearly, this election was a statement on how much progress black Americans have made in this country and how much tolerance, acceptance and even admiration whites have for an African-American candidate like Obama. The cynic in me would like to talk about how far we have to go to reach a truly colorblind society, but the optimist in me prefers to consider how far we've come.

I actually thought we'd see even more hate crimes both before and after Obama’s victory. Rather than being standard among whites, blatant racism in 2008 has been marginalized. This is not to say average white people don't have their own prejudices and stereotypes, but the dehumanizing bigotry that defined America during the Jim Crow era is now discredited. Just like Bloods and Crips don't represent most black people, and Al Qaeda doesn't typify the Arab world, bigots and white supremacists do not in any way showcase the general feelings of today’s Americans.

But terrorism perpetrated by radical racist extremists must be taken as seriously as attacks from radical Islamic extremists. We must condemn the culprits and support the victims just as we did during 9/11. Our country has matured considerably, enough to enter the age of Obama, but the fight against racism is not over. We cannot tolerate the acts of a lunatic fringe still caught up in the outdated philosophy of white supremacy.

To send a check to the rebuilding fund for the church that was burned down in Springfield, MA:

Macedonia Church of God in Christ, c/o Greater Springfield Council of Churches, 39 Oakland St., Springfield, MA 01108

Donate to the charitable fund set up to support the carbombing victims:

Whiteside Family Relief Fund, c/o First National Bank of PA, 4140 E. State St., Hermitage PA 16148

(Casey Gane-McCalla is a writer, rapper, producer and actor, and the assistant editor for NewsOne. The Latest Outrage editor Erik Ose contributed to this report.)

(UPDATE 11/25 - I (Erik) was on NPR’s News & Notes today along with Mark Potok, Director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, talking with Tony Cox about the post-election rise in hate crimes and violence first covered two weeks ago by TLO & NewsOne. You can listen to the audio of our segment HERE.

This is what I would add to the discussion we had:

Thinking about the hundreds of incidents that have occurred since the election, it's possible to lose sight of the hurt caused by any single act of racist terrorism. Here's one incident up close.

Phillip Whiteside, an African-American who lives in Greenville, PA, about an hour outside of Pittsburgh in Western Pennsylvania, was watching Obama's victory speech on election night at home with his family when his grandmother saw a fireball erupt outside. Phillip's grandfather, who has MS, rushed outside to find Phillip's car on fire, parked right next to their house.

This is a home where four generations of Whitesides have lived, in fact, their family came up from Tennessee and helped settle the town. The blaze threatened to spread to the house until Mr. Whiteside hosed down the outside walls with a garden hose.

After the fire burned out, the Whitesides discovered the arsonists had tossed the family's Obama yard sign into the flames and spraypainted "Obama" across the car trunk.

"We're striving for change," said Phillip. "People don't want to change. It's going back to the olden days. It doesn’t make sense that in these times we have problems like this."

In the aftermath of the fire, community members wrote letters to the local paper denouncing the hate crime, which ran an editorial reminding folks that Obama's victory does not spell the end of racism. A local bank has sent up a relief fund for the family.

But the carbombing has left the Whitesides afraid for their safety in their own home. "Not knowing what's coming," said Phillip, is how his family is feeling now.)


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Supposedly Safe GOP House Seat in CA Too Close To Call

The Huffington Post, 11-6-08

Prop 8 Hangs In Balance as GOP Lawyers Try To Influence Vote Count

Two days after the Nov. 4 elections, a congressional race in conservative Orange County, California that was dismissed by most observers as a lock for the GOP remains unresolved. Democratic challenger Bill Hedrick is down by 4,600 votes against 16-year incumbent Republican Ken Calvert in the 44th congressional district, but nearly 100,000 provisional and vote-by-mail absentee ballots have yet to be counted.

GOP lawyers are descending on registrars’ offices in Orange and Riverside, the district’s two counties, trying to influence the vote counting which began today:

Rebecca Martine, Riverside County's chief deputy registrar, said there are 38,000 paper provisional ballots and 9,000 electronic provisional ballots to be counted.

This is in addition to approximately 50,000 absentee ballots still outstanding.

Calvert's team has apparently been having private conversations with the registrar’s office in Riverside County, which was the last county in California to report its election results. There were numerous reports from Democratic Party officials, voters and even a poll worker in Riverside County that voters were "forced to use provisional ballots" or "denied ballots entirely" on Tuesday.

Hedrick's campaign today issued a call for all votes to be counted. "We are urging any voter within Riverside or Orange County who voted in the 44th congressional race and were issued a provisional ballot to contact the registrar of voters in their county," said Hedrick communications director Lori Vandermeir, "to demand their ballots are counted."

44th district incumbent Ken Calvert (left), and challenger Bill Hedrick (right)

The fate of California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 initiative is still up the air, with the measure’s foes refusing to concede before all provisional and absentee ballots are counted. Voters in Riverside County approved the initiative by a heavy 64-36% margin, but provisional votes may skew differently.

If you'd like to ask elections officials to count all the provisional votes fairly, free from influence by GOP lawyers, call the Riverside County Registrar’s office at (951) 486-7200, where you can leave a message for Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.

The 44th congressional district includes San Clemente, home to Richard Nixon’s Western White House. It is a GOP stronghold. The Hedrick-Calvert race was rated solid Republican by Charlie Cook's Political Report as of mid-October. In 2004, Bush beat Kerry in the district by 59-40%.

Calvert was named one of the most corrupt members in Congress for three years running by the independent watch dog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. He has served in Congress since 1993. Calvert outspent Hedrick in this race by more than 5-1, raising and spending nearly a million dollars to Hedrick’s $150,000.

Despite voting with George W. Bush 94.4% of the time, this fall Calvert distributed mailers without a single mention that he belonged to the Republican party, proclaiming himself "An Independent Voice Working for You." The 44th district has seen a jump in voter registration this year, with Democrats outpacing Republicans, especially in Riverside County. It is the second-fastest growing district in California, adding almost 200,000 new residents since 2000, the majority of that growth in the district’s Hispanic population.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports Hedrick got an assist from Obama voters:

Republicans still hold a slight edge over Democrats in the Riverside County portion of the district, with roughly 5,000 more registered GOP voters than Democrats. But Hedrick, perhaps aided by the excitement surrounding President-elect Barack Obama, was ahead by almost 6,000 votes in Riverside County, according to the Riverside County registrar of voters.

Voters wait in line in Riverside, CA on election day

National Journal's Hotline on Call blog agrees:
"Calvert...appears to not have taken his re-election seriously enough, and may have gotten tripped up by the big Obama-influenced turnout. An unlikely win by Hedrick would be the story of the cycle."

Although the Obama tsunami wiped out GOP incumbents across the country, this is one congressional contest no one predicted would become a cliffhanger. Help bring public pressure to bear in support of a fair counting of all the votes in this race, which is shaping up as a poster child for meaningful voting reform that takes us beyond the sloppy provisional ballot system. Any form of Election Day confusion that leaves 47,000 citizens in a single county unsure whether their votes will count is not what a true democracy looks like.

(UPDATE 12/1: Last Thursday, Nov. 27, Bill Hedrick conceded the race to Ken Calvert after falling about 6,400 votes short in the final count. In an e-mail to supporters, Hedrick vowed to run again. "We have shown quite clearly that we most certainly can win this seat two years from now," Hedrick said.

In hindsight, the national Democratic Party dropped the ball by not ponying up behind the Hedrick campaign. It's reminiscent of how they similarly ignored North Carolina congressional challenger Larry Kissell in 2006, before he lost by a heartbreaking 329 votes to right wing nut Robin Hayes. Kissell came back to beat Hayes this cycle with the full support of the DCCC in a solid 55-45% victory. Likely, Hedrick will enjoy the same turnabout in party support for his 2010 rematch.)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can, Said Barack Obama, And We Did

The Huffington Post, 11-5-08

The day after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, our first African-American President, it is a truly historic time to be an American. Slavery was one of the United States' original sins, practiced and tolerated even as the country declared our independence from England in 1776, and part of the national fabric for nearly a century afterwards. The violent overthrow of Reconstruction in the South and imposition of Jim Crow laws relegated most black Americans to second-class citizenship for another eighty-odd years, until the civil rights movement smashed the legal underpinnings of segregation and the 1965 Voting Rights Act finally gave the power of the vote to all.

The wounds borne of such a long struggle against racism, hatred, and enforced economic servitude remain with us today. Less than a year ago, the concept of a black American president was still considered fantasy to many, or, as Bill Clinton swears he was misquoted in January, "the biggest fairy tale" imaginable. Some thought Obama’s presidential run was destined to fail for this reason alone.

Yet he won in Southern states like Virginia, capitol of the old Confederacy, and North Carolina, cradle of the sit-in movement in 1960, by mobilizing the same multi-racial coalition that first swept him over the top in South Carolina's primary early this year. And Obama carried Florida, with a big assist from his early vote strategy, the state where elections stolen from black voters shut down Reconstruction in 1876 and led to our current national nightmare under George W. Bush in 2000.

A wave of euphoria gripped the country starting on election night, with Americans dancing in the streets from coast to coast. Today, newspapers sold out their entire press runs and rushed to print more copies to meet demand for the celebratory headline, "Obama Wins." The eminent Duke University historian John Hope Franklin confirmed the national mood, calling it "one of the most momentous, if not the most historic moment in the history of this country."

Obama's victory does not spell the end of racial disparity in America, but it is a ringing sign of progress, a triumph on the road to greater equality and realizing the Dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. revealed to us.

Earlier this afternoon, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. delivered a stirring commentary on NPR’s All Things Considered (originally written for in which he compared today to the day after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and shared the reaction of Frederick Douglass:

"the greatest black orator in our history before Dr. King Jr., (who) said that the day was not a day for speeches and 'scarcely a day for prose.' Rather, he said, 'it is a day for poetry and song, a new song.' "


Monday, November 3, 2008

Early Voting Flood in Swing States Predicts Obama Tsunami

The Huffington Post, 11-3-08

Beyond election-eve polls, the best indicator of how this election will turn out is to look at who has already voted. Early voting has now ended across the country, and the results are very good news for Barack Obama and the Democrats. In four swing states - Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina, the early voting period has seen numbers equal to at least two-thirds of all ballots cast in 2004. More than half of the '04 totals have been surpassed in Florida (54%) and Georgia (60%).

More Democrats than Republicans have early voted in these states - in some by big margins. In most, this is a sharp reversal from the early voting edge Republicans enjoyed four years ago, when Bush won all six battlegrounds.

Just as Team Obama out-hustled Hillary Clinton by devoting time to organizing the caucus states, they have soundly beaten McCain-Palin on the early voting front. And they were helped by McCain's cash-strapped, strategy-challenged, demoralized, disorganized campaign. True to form, McCain dropped the ball. Judging by turnout figures, the GOP had no early voting plan.

Early voting in Charlotte, N.C.

For example, in North Carolina, where 2008 marks the third presidential cycle early voting has been made available, 2,573,899 voters cast early or absentee ballots, or 41% of the state's 6.25 million registered voters. This is an astounding 259% increase over the 992,231 early and absentee votes cast during 2004.

52% were Democrats this year, versus 30% Republicans and 18% unaffiliated, a 22-point Democratic advantage. In 2004, the Democratic Party also made early voting an integral part of their GOTV game, but only managed to gain an 11-point advantage over Republicans (48.5-37.5%) in a much smaller early voter universe.

Early voting turnout already represents 72.5% of all the 3.5 million votes cast in North Carolina during 2004, which skewed 56-43.5% for Bush over Kerry. Black voters are overrepresented in the statewide early vote numbers, accounting for 26.5% of the total. 2006 Census Bureau figures estimate North Carolina's African-American population to be 21.7%.

Research on early voting shows that it "disproportionately rewards campaigns that are better organized," according to UCal-Riverside political science professor Benjamin Bishin, who has studied early voting in Florida, because it requires campaigns to roll out more complicated GOTV efforts. It also may benefit Democrats because it "lowers barriers to participation," especially for working class voters who can't afford to take time off to vote on the Tuesday of Election Day.

Early voters in Fort Lauderdale, FL on Sunday, Nov. 2

The Obama campaign's early voting advantage was evident around the country. Celebrities and rock stars streamed into battleground states and drew crowds to rallies held during early voting hours, usually located close to early voting sites.

In Florida, Matt Damon and Jason Alexander headlined a string of early voting rallies. In North Carolina, Ashley Judd and Chris Rock held events in the vote-rich Triangle region during early voting's final days. Judd and Rock have also hosted rallies in Missouri and Florida for the campaign, and Colorado saw Kevin Costner pitch early voting. James Taylor returned home to North Carolina to play five free concerts across the state that doubled as early voting events.

Interviewed by the Miami Herald, Jason Alexander summed up why it made sense for the campaign to deploy stars at GOTV rallies:
"I don't think people like to be proselytized to because someone's been on a television show," he said. "It doesn't give us special powers . . . the key reason for a celebrity surrogate is to create an environment where people come out and then go early vote."

Even absent celebrities, Obama offices organized community marches to early voting sites. In Florida, 27 such marches were held statewide on October 27th, one march for each of Florida's electoral votes. Drum-line marches were staged in Miami's black neighborhoods. In North Carolina, early voting marches organized by students at the state's historically black colleges drew thousands to the polls on the very first day of early voting.

Early voting march in Nevada, Oct. 18

Banking base voters early is now allowing the campaign to focus its energy in the home stretch on independent and undecided voters. "You're simply able to throw that much more at the people who haven't voted yet," said Bishin. And Obama volunteers were sent not only to greet early voters at pollsites and arm them with information about each state's ballot design and down-ticket Democratic races, but to provide bottled water to voters when lines backed up.

This all builds on the historic gains in Democratic voter registration that the Obama campaign has engineered in the battleground states. Since 2004, voter rolls have surged by 946,000 in Florida (up 9%), 737,000 in North Carolina (up 13%), and 375,000 in Nevada, a 35% increase.

Democratic registrations have increased the most in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and shockingly competitive Arizona. Republican registrations declined in Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania but were up by 16% in Nevada (compared with a 39% jump for the Democrats).

More about the actual early vote totals. In Colorado, 56% of the state's registered voters have cast 1,477,836 early votes or mail-in absentee ballots. Democrats have outnumbered Republican early voters by 37.7% to 35.9%, with 26.4% declaring other or no party affiliation. This is up from the 48% of registered Coloradoans who voted early or absentee in 2004, or 913,222 early votes out of 2,148,036 total.

Early voters in Colorado

Four years ago, Republicans led Democrats in early voting by a 42-34% margin, on their way to carrying Colorado for Bush with 51.7% to Kerry's 47%. In 2008, the number of votes already recorded during the early voting period in Colorado is equivalent to 69% of all votes cast in that state in the 2004 general election.

The Obama GOTV operation in Colorado has gotten out more of the core Democratic vote than its GOP counterpart. In the state's Democratic strongholds of Denver and Boulder, early vote turnout ran higher than in rock-solid Republican El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs. Enough votes have already been cast in Denver County to equal 58.7% of its 2004 totals, and 62.7% for Boulder County, versus 52.6% in El Paso County.

In Florida, Democratic voters have cast 46% of the state's eye-popping 4.1 million early votes and absentee ballots, versus 38% for Republicans. During 2004, GOP voters led Democrats in early and absentee balloting by 44-41 percent. Florida's early voting turnout this year represents nearly 54% of votes cast in 2004 (7.64 million), when Bush beat Kerry by 52-47%.

African-American turnout is sharply up in urban areas. Through last Thursday, black voters had cast 39% of all early ballots in Broward County, 30% of votes in Miami-Dade and Orange counties, and 36% in Duval County. As of 2006, African-Americans made up an estimated 15.4% of Florida's population.

Early voting rally in Nevada

Early voting is here to stay, and Democrats adapted to the new environment first, culminating in this year's Obama-led nationwide early vote effort. Its success marks the clearest indicator seen so far that Tuesday night will bring a Democratic landslide in the wake of Obama's tsunami.

(To report voter suppression tactics at the polls, call the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition toll-free at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, or visit their website to see the latest reports from your state.)

(UPDATE 11/5 - En route to his historic victory, President-elect Obama carried most of the battlegrounds his campaign targeted, helped enormously by his early voting leads in states including Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. With 100% of precincts reporting and only provisional ballots still to be counted as of Wednesday morning, McCain trails Obama in North Carolina by slightly over 12,000 votes. Defeated Republican moderate Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut summed up the election:

" 'There was this tsunami throughout the country,' said Rep. Christopher Shays, a 21-year House member from Connecticut and the last Republican in the New England delegation, who suffered defeat at the hands of Democrat Jim Himes.")


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