Hello Everyone,

Over the past year, I have written in this format on many topics. Among other things, I have reminded all of us that patience is required. We are being rewarded for that. Now we have to bear down to help Barack do well on March 4. Recognizing that this may go into April or June or beyond, I sense we have a major opportunity on what might prove to be the real Super Tuesday.

First, some observations on the state of play. We have talked before about the importance of “delegates and dollars.” I want to talk about those and about a number of other “indicators” which give a fuller picture of how well Barack is doing.

DELEGATES

The more I learn about the delegate selection process, the more I realize how little I know. The New York Times has been puzzling about this, too. The attached article from the Times provides some insights into both the complexity and fluidity of the delegate selection and counting process.

As I’ve said repeatedly, Pledged Delegates (won through primaries and caucuses) are what we should focus on. As I understand it, Super Delegates (allocated by the party to party and elected officials, like governors and members of congress) were created to give party regulars a means to intervene if the primary/caucus process seems to be producing a distorted result that they deem would be bad for the party. Despite all the pundits perseverating over Super Delegates, I doubt they will eventually play a decisive role in the nominating process. They should ratify, not decide, who the nominee should be.

Going forward, all of us should ignore any count we see that includes Super Delegates or subtract them from it.

After several attempts, the Times seems to have arrived at a similar conclusion. The attached Delegate Count table in today’s edition is the best one I’ve seen. Wisely, the Times has decided to leave the Super Delegates out of their counts, and, importantly, have decided – after some vacillation — to include caucus-awarded delegates. It also provides three other counts, from the Associated Press and from the two campaigns themselves.

The Times Pledged Delegates table can be summarized as follows:

      Clinton Obama
  NYT AP Campaign Campaign
Obama 1095 1112 1141 1139
Clinton 982 978 1004 1003

You will notice that Barack’s lead ranges from 113 to 137. The difference may largely lie in the Times’ omission of 68 “unallocated” delegates which will eventually be divided between the two candidates.

Several commentators have said it is mathematically unlikely that Senator Clinton can catch up to Barack in Pledged Delegates. Some say she would have to get over 60% of the vote in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania to do so. That seems highly unlikely because she has attained that level only once in the 35 contests so far – and that was in her home state of Arkansas.

The Clinton campaign’s hope that Texas and Ohio will be her firewall – after potentially losing 10 straight contests – is reminiscent of Mayor Giuliani’s failed Florida firewall strategy.

OTHER INDICATORS OF SUCCESS

As many of you know, my wife, Penny Sebring, does educational research at the University of Chicago. When trying to assess the progress of students in urban public schools, there is currently an over-emphasis on standardized test scores. Think of No Child Left Behind. Simple-minded. One dimensional.

Sophisticated researchers look beyond the test scores to other “indicators” to try to better evaluate the health of schools.

In a similar vein, we can examine other indicators, in addition to delegates, to discern the health of the Obama campaign. Overwhelmingly, they look very good.

Contests Won. Barack has won 22 contests to Senator Clinton’s 12. Remember, however, that contests are like innings in baseball and delegates are more important — like runs scored.

Red States Won. Barack: 11; Senator Clinton: 5.

Popular Vote. All the reports I’ve seen, imprecise as they are, indicate that Barack is ahead, despite Senator Clinton’s repeated attempts to draw attention to the small handful of large states that she has won.

Enthusiasm Gap.” The Times coined this apt term. Caucuses: Enthusiasm is evident in Barack’s dominance in the caucuses (10-1.) It takes a much greater personal commitment to caucus for a candidate then to simply vote in a primary, as Penny and I witnessed first hand in Iowa. A superior ability to organize is surely another factor in caucus success; Barack should get indicator points for that, too. Crowd Size: We’ve all seen the basketball-arena-size, 15-20,000-person crowds Barack draws everywhere he goes. Winning Margin: In the last 8 contests,

Barack’s winning margin has not been less than 18 percentage points, and in one case it exceeded 51 percentage points, even ignoring the 84 percentage point blowout in the Virgin Islands. Senator Clinton’s vote total has reached 41% only once during this stretch. No contest has been remotely close. In the 35 contests so far, Barack has received 60% or more of the vote 12 times, while Senator Clinton has reached it only one time – in her home state of Arkansas.

Demographics. Barack has won the Latino vote in 5 states. He has won the women’s vote in 16 contests, compared to Senator Clinton’s 11.

Best Sellers and Grammys. Both of Barack’s books are back on the New York Times best seller list. He recently has won his second Grammy for his recording of Audacity of Hope; he won one earlier for Dreams from My Father.

Money. Fundraising breadth is also another indicator of voter sentiment – like a “proxy primary” where donations count like votes. “Dollar-votes.”

As a sometime college fundraiser, I have always believed that alumni funds are like elections. Alumni who are proud to be associated with their alma mater, give to it. So the number of alumni who give is a good indicator of a college’s overall health. It seems that this applies to modern political campaigns, too.

Last year, over 500,000 donors gave to Barack’s campaign, probably double or triple the number who gave to Senator Clinton’s. In only six weeks this year, once he started to be validated by the voters – 300,000 additional people have given to Barack. The Clinton campaign’s donor count is less visible – I heard a 100,000 number for a certain stretch in 2008.

Money is the critical fuel for the campaign’s engine. It also provides an indication of how skilled and strategic the driver of the car is compared to the other drivers on the track. Barack’s campaign has a full tank of gas, and it’s constantly being refilled. Our competitor’s tank seems to be running low. This is, in part, because we’ve raised many more “currently usable dollars” – primary dollars – then Senator Clinton has. How much more is difficult to discern due to lack of disclosure. All we know is that she has been raising a lot of general election dollars – “not currently usable dollars” – while we have not.

Senator Clinton seems to have used up her primary dollars faster, hence the need for her recent $5 million bridge loan. Perhaps she anticipated that the finish line would be Super Tuesday, February 5 – a miscalculation. All of this calls into question the experience and judgment of the Clinton team.

In January alone, we filled our tank even faster than last year — $36 million compared to Senator Clinton’s $13.5 million.

A Proxy for “Experience.” At the start of the campaign, Barack said to us that one way we would be able to judge whether he was capable of doing the President’s job would be to judge how well he manages a sprawling, complex, long, and intense campaign. So far, Barack seems to be passing with flying colors. Financial management: Excellent. We just talked about that. Barack’s campaign seems to have out-performed Senator Clinton’s campaign on all fronts – and she is suppose to be the most “experienced.” Campaign Leadership: The
same people at the top from the start. No shakeups that I know of. Big field organizations established early and in most of the states. The Message: Consistent. Right on target. Think of the campaign’s slogans — which have never varied: “Change We Can Believe In” – “Stand for Change” – “Fired up and Ready to Go” — “Yes We Can.” In fact, the last of these was first used in 2003 during the Senate campaign. Our competition can make no such claims of consistency and recently both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain have had the
audacity to actually borrow some of our slogans!

DOLLARS

I am beginning to feel that the nomination is within Barack’s reach. Where’s the finish line? No one knows.

I have been asked by many people – how can I help? Two ways. Keep spreading the word that Barack is the “real deal.” And keep adding fuel – dollars – to the tank.

The number of dollars raised and the number of donors are both critical in getting Barack to the finish line. Anyone 16 years or older can give. Every $30, $60, or $600 donation given on-line at barackobama.com enables each of us to play our small part in making
history and turning the page.

Time is on our side. We now have ample evidence that people will vote for Barack if they get to know him in person, on TV, in the press and through advertising. With only 19 days to go to the next Super Tuesday (Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont on March 4) we have it within our power to enable voters in those states to get to know Barack. If they do, most will vote for him.

Please pass it along.

Chuck

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