Hello Everyone,

Twelve days left (and it’s my birthday today, too). Barack isn’t sitting on his lead; he’s pressing to not only win, but win big. Warning against complacency, he reminds us of his “loss” in New Hampshire in January (although he actually didn’t lose; he tied Sen. Clinton with 9 pledged delegates each.)

As I’ve written before, I think Barack essentially won the nomination on February 19, even though the last primary was on June 3. I now think historians may write that he won the presidency on August 28. That was the day that Sen. McCain picked Sarah Palin. She has proven to be the political equivalent of a “sugar high.”

Ownership

I think that Barack may wind up winning the presidency by a comfortable margin – the “L” word may even apply in the end. Let me tell you why.

I think Barack has created a new approach to politics – what I am calling the “Ownership Campaign”.

In keeping with his recently-mocked community organizing experience, Barack is naturally predisposed to be inclusive. So, from the start, he designed his campaign that way.

Twenty months later, over 3 million donors, untold numbers of young people and African Americans, and unprecedented legions of volunteers all have taken a stake in the Obama campaign. We all have a sense of ownership never felt before.

The centerpiece of this strategy has been Barack’s on-line fundraising apparatus. Why has the campaign repeatedly asked us for $5 contributions – a seemingly measly sum? I suggest it’s because they understand the psychological concept of “commitment and consistency,” which we have discussed before. They know that once a voter makes a donation of any size, he or she has made a commitment. Once made, he or she will defend that decision in order to be consistent. Critically, he or she is also more likely to advocate for Barack among family and friends and to turn out to vote. In some ways, making a first donation is the equivalent of very early voting.

As has been widely reported, young people have committed to Barack in unprecedented numbers. There is also ample evidence that they are “influencing up” — convincing their parents and grandparents to vote for Barack. Like Jimmy Carter’s and Teddy Kennedy’s did. By committing and convincing, they too are acting like owners.

African Americans have probably never been this energized. Their emotional investment in Barack is undoubtedly greater than previously witnessed in any segment of our society.

Registration among these two groups is at an all-time high, as we all know. But on a deeper level, the act of registering which is motivated by the desire to vote for a specific candidate is also a form of investment. I expect it will translate into much higher turnouts than have been the norm for both of these groups.

The Obama campaign’s approach to volunteer recruitment and deployment is also groundbreaking. Using cutting-edge technology, it has been able to attract volunteers in numbers previously unimaginable. Of course, committing time to canvas, phone bank, or stuff envelopes represents an even greater investment than making a donation.

The Obama campaign has many more field offices with vastly larger contingent of paid staff members, and they have been open much longer than those of the McCain-Palin campaign. These offices are important for many reasons, principal among which is serving as a home base for hoards of volunteers. They also demonstrate a commitment to, and respect for, a community – much like when a community organizer joins a local church, synagogue or mosque. If you invest in a community, it is more likely to invest in you.

In all of these ways, the Obama campaign has encouraged ownership to an extent we have never seen before. Even the campaign’s slogans emphasize inclusiveness – Yes WE Can; Change WE Can Believe In; and Change WE Need.

These fundamentals of Obama’s Ownership Campaign are the main reasons for my confidence in the outcome.

Other Reasons

There are a couple of additional reasons, too.

I suspect the much-feared “Bradley Effect” (white voters lying to pollsters) will be impossible to discern in the final analysis. I’m not even convinced there is such a phenomenon. Were it to exist this time, it may be more than compensated for by a countervailing force which some are calling the “Obama Effect” – the source of which is what I have described as the Ownership Campaign. And, all of this is undergirded by the proclivity of Americans to back a winner or jump on the bandwagon.

I believe that Barack will win big not just because of a throw-the-bums-out reaction to the credit crisis. That is one factor, but I think it is more complicated than that. More fundamentally, I think the current situation has provided both candidates an opportunity
to demonstrate how they would lead in a crisis. Barack clearly took advantage of that opportunity while Sen. McCain faltered badly. As Frank Rich wrote on Sunday, “Bush and the economy alone did not cause McCain’s collapse.” (See attachment.)

Likewise, I believe that Gen. Powell’s endorsement on Sunday was as important for its careful reasoning as it was for its persuasive power. As with most utterances offered at critical moments, it bears reading as well as hearing. (See attachment.) Since his comments were made without notes, they are all the more remarkable for their clarity, coherence and completeness.

I have said repeatedly that three of Barack’s fundamental qualities – his intellect, temperament, and worldview – have long been the sources of my attraction to him. It is reassuring to see Gen. Powell basically coming to the same conclusion.

Public Funding and Governing

The magnitude of Barack’s impending victory matters because winning by a large margin will enhance his ability to govern. On the heels of raising more than $150 million in September alone, we can all now see his wisdom in foregoing federal financing (by taking it, Sen. McCain has been limited to spending $84 million during the two months following his convention).

In July, I wrote that Barack was catching “flak from all sides,” starting with this campaign financing decision. I thought at the time that he made that smart decision in part so he would have the resources to compete in more states. In so doing, he could roll up a larger popular-vote (and Electoral-College) margin. He could also extend his coattails to more Democratic congressional candidates. This could possibly provide a filibuster-proof majority, enabling him to end the gridlock in Washington. (Do not, however, expect him to abuse that concentration of power. Expect him to govern more from the center, drawing even more flak from the left in the process.)

Moreover, Barack’s rejection of public financing has permitted him to enlist millions of additional small donors. After the election, they will also have a stake in helping him succeed in office, as a friend recently pointed out to me. A large margin of victory will also give him greater legitimacy following two election cycles where narrow victories have stirred controversy.

So, go vote early. Penny and I have. They were the most memorable votes we have ever cast. We all own this the Obama campaign, and we will all share in his victory.

Please pass it along.

Chuck

adobe pdf file Click here to download this article in PDF format.

 

adobe pdf file Attachment: He Just Can’t Quit W

 

adobe pdf file Attachment: Powell Endorsement

 

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