November 5, 2008

Tonight’s results were wonderful–not just a win, but a solid mandate. More than that, the excitement and engagement of people all over the country about this election was tangible: people spending hours in line to vote, political discussions, celebrations with family and friends.

We did it. We made a difference.

Tomorrow is the first day of the new America.

Dear Friends,

Have you noticed the sun is shining brighter this morning? And the air is just that much easier to get into our lungs. After these long dark years, America has done it. We have sent a message to the world – enough of us really do, finally, get it. This country really can do great things, huge things, phenomenal things, audacious unbelievably wonderful things. Americans can hold our heads high, finally, again. We have our first truly global president. We have just made the world a better place. Even with all this work to do, it’s already better this morning.

I was getting our daughter ready for school this morning and reminded my husband we still needed to make a lunch for her. He answered, “What, can’t she eat hope?”

And just take note … swing states to whom we sent signs and/or buttons:

  • Ohio
  • Florida
  • Virgina
  • Missouri

And compare, swing states that have gone blue …

  • Ohio
  • Florida
  • Virginia
  • Missouri remains too close to call, with 49.3% for Obama and 49.5% for McCain. Squeaker!

So – yes we can, yes we did – we joined hands with our friends in those states, and together with hundreds and thousands of others, we got this thing done.

We are going to have a beautiful and REAL family inhabiting the White House. A married couple who really love and respect each other and let that all show. Two beautiful little girls whose parents care for them more than anything. A role model family for us, our country, our world, front and center. Wow.


How far we’ve come…

October 29, 2008

Heard on NPR this evening:

“Rosa sat, so Martin could walk. Martin walked, so Obama could run. Obama ran, so our children can fly.

One week from tonight…we will make the differenc


October 19, 2008

Virginia is a swing state.

Hello Make-A-Difference,

I hope you appreciate this incredible slide show that our local paper put together of the rally that Obama had in Richmond last week.

Thank you again for shipping the signs. They have gone all over the
Richmond metro area. I love the ones that ended up in Powhatan where I
teach dance on Tuesdays and I see signs that say things like “Powhatan is
McCain Country” We were able to access people who weren’t working directly with the Obama office here in Richmond. They were all impressed by the work you all are doing in reaching out to other states.

Your work is just one of the many examples I see over and over of people who are inspired to go the extra mile during this election. I once had a teacher who said that inspiration is a limitless source of energy.

I send my deepest gratitude for your efforts. They are not wasted.

– signed C.S.

Landowner with Obama sign in Richmond, Virginia

Local homeowner with Obama sign in Richmond, Virginia

With Obama signs

With Obama signs

A little Obama supporter

A little Obama supporter

Sample Betty Brigade “get involved” Letter

September 27, 2008

Here’s a sample email letter that you can send out to your friends and colleagues that links to this blog, Betty Brigade news and donation information. Thank you!

Hi everyone. A group of us were sitting here in a very blue part of a really blue state feeling, actually, pretty blue about how little we could do to impact this election besides write checks.

Although it has been great to be virtually ad free, there is a feeling of dislocation–not really knowing what is going on. We’re tired of seeing the ongoing circulations emails trashing McCain or Palin, which don’t do anything proactive to help Obama/Biden win on November 4th.

After much discussion with other friends, we came up with a couple of ideas. The first is a website with links to everything from voter registration to the presidential candidate’s views on science and the environment, to how to volunteer to work in Nevada (a swing state), to fundraisers. And because it’s a blog, you can leave comments and tell us about more links to other critical information:

You can access this site at https://makeadifferencein2008.wordpress.com/ or just www.makeadifference2008.org. Please forward this to anyone and everyone you think will be interested.

But best of all we’ve created something very concrete that you can help with: The Betty Brigades. Our good friend Betty, whom we’ve known for many years, lives in Ohio–a state that could well decide this election. It turns out that for whatever reason, Obama yard signs, buttons and bumper stickers are difficult to come by in Ohio, so we bought yard signs in CA and sent them to Betty.

Well, they were snapped up like hot cakes. Now Betty has contacted friends in other parts of the state and they would like yard signs as well. And another friend in St Louis has also asked for signs. We have committed to an initial package of 150 signs, and at $6 per sign, that is $900 which will be shipped overnight using technology from Spotsee, learn more on this page. That is just to get us started–so of course we need money.

There are three important things you can do to support The Betty Brigades:
1. Help fund this project–donate on the Betty Brigade site
2. Start other Betty Brigades and post the information on our website

3. Forward information about the website and Brigades to your friends and family

Of course, if you have other links or sites that are useful, please sent me the info and we will add it to the links and resources pages. Please feel free to comment on the site as well. If you’d like to write full blog posts, email me and I will make you an official poster.

And, if you know other Betties in the other swing states, we will be happy to support them as well. Just let us know.

We have 5+ weeks to impact this election and we really do believe that you and I can make a difference. Let’s go out and do it!


News from Ohio

September 27, 2008

Salon.com article on “why-o-why-Ohio”:


Race — and the race for Ohio

Center-stage again, the Ohio contest between Obama and McCain may pivot on the impossible-to-handicap racial factor.

By Walter Shapiro


AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Sen. Barack Obama campaigns at Stebbins High School in Riverside, Ohio, Sept. 9, 2008.

Sept. 15, 2008 | COLUMBUS, Ohio — The rest of the political world may be obsessed with Sarah Palin, but the four-letter word that comes up most often in conversations with Ohio political insiders has nothing to do with the overhyped vice-presidential nominee.

What shapes campaign discussions — both on- and off-the-record with leading Democrats and Republicans alike in this tightly knotted industrial state — is uncertainty over the electoral impact of Barack Obama’s race. No one has the hubris to try to quantify the racial factor (unlike amateur political mavens who exude ill-informed certainty) and no one dismisses the chances of Obama winning Ohio’s 20 electoral votes. But with early voting scheduled to begin here Sept. 30 (another first for Ohio), there is an undercurrent of nervousness among Democrats about the party’s great experiment in nominating Obama.

“I know there is a real concern out there that some people who normally would be voting Democratic might not vote for an African-American,” said Tim Burke, the Democratic chairman of Hamilton County (Cincinnati and its suburbs). “Gov. [Ted] Strickland has spoken openly about this.” Campaigning for Obama in Jackson County in the Appalachian southeastern corner of the state earlier this month, Strickland declared, “I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room — and I’m not talking about any Republican. The elephant in the room is what everybody’s thinking but nobody willing to talk about … it’s race.”

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In 2004, John Kerry came within 118,000 votes of winning Ohio and the White House. But while Ohio may be a swing state, it also shows unusual internal political stability, with only two counties changing their party allegiance from the 2000 to 2004 presidential elections. “The biggest difference between the Obama campaign and Kerry in 2004 is race,” said Mike Curtin, an Ohio political expert who recently stepped down as the associate publisher of the Columbus Dispatch and continues as a consultant to the paper. “You can’t avoid it, since Hillary Clinton trounced Obama here.” While Clinton won the March 4 Ohio Democratic primary by a 53-to-45-percent margin, she overwhelmed Obama among white voters by 64 to 34 percent, according to exit polls.

It does not take a UFO hunter to find Ohio voters who believe that Obama is … well … alien. Having breakfast Friday morning at the counter at Paul’s Restaurant in Whitehall, a blue-collar suburb of Columbus, retired aircraft designer Richard Beard stressed that he knew all that he needed to know to vote against Obama. “Anyone who won’t salute the flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t worth voting for. And Obama doesn’t have an American birth certificate or one that you can believe. The one from Hawaii is a fake.” But the bearded Beard, an original Ron Paul supporter who was wearing the black baseball cap that the NRA gives its $1,000 donors, would have been an unlikely Democratic voter even if Obama had been born in the Ohio State end zone on a football Saturday. Smitten with Palin, Beard said, “She doesn’t throw in any of that doublespeak like other politicians.”

Palin has unquestionably roused the Republican faithful, like financial planner Peter Stadler, who gushed over breakfast at Paul’s, “She’s dynamic. She’s more capable than Barack Obama.” Jon Seaton, John McCain’s regional campaign manager in charge of Ohio and Pennsylvania, said, “We’ve run across a large number of Hillary Clinton supporters who were very much looking for a political home and were very interested in who McCain would pick as his vice president.” But it is difficult to find evidence in the polls that Palin has done more than electrify the GOP’s base.

A striking feature of the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll, which was released Friday, was that while McCain is winning the support of 90 percent of Republican voters, Obama is only picking up 82 percent of the Democrats. These differing levels of party loyalty — which might (note the conditional tense) be attributed to Palin for the Republicans and Obama’s African-American heritage on the Democratic side — partly explain why McCain leads 48 to 44 percent in the survey. (A Quinnipiac University poll gave Obama a 49-44 edge in Ohio over McCain, which underscores why slavishly following the gyrating surveys can be an exercise in frustration.)

But polls, which tend to put the undecided vote in single digits, may understate the volatility of the race. In the Ohio Poll, 19 percent of the state’s voters said that they could change their minds before Election Day and another 4 percent were undecided. “I think voters know less at this point about Obama than they do about McCain,” said Eric Rademacher, the co-director of the Ohio Poll. “The people who were saying that they could change their minds are those who normally don’t pay attention to politics until after the convention.”

Chris Francis, who works for an international glass company in its supply-chain department, is a classic don’t-bother-me-with-politics-yet voter. Over lunch Friday with colleagues at the Mad Greek Restaurant in Whitehall, the 30-something, goateed Francis said, “Usually about a month before the election, I start to read up on the candidates. But it’s been a crazy summer, so I really haven’t checked anything out.” A Clinton voter in the primary, Francis has not been won over by the Democratic nominee. “I wasn’t much impressed with Obama,” he said. “He promises a lot of things that are out of his control — like having a great job or cheaper gas prices.”

Those who live with cable news droning in the background or check out the rolling national poll averages at Real Clear Politics three times a day can easily lose sight of the reality that many voters take a casual interest in the campaign this far from the election. Francis, for example, said about Palin, the woman who has launched a thousand talk shows, “I don’t know much about her. She’s from Alaska and her daughter’s pregnant. That’s about it.”v

Karen Porter, an economically hard-pressed longtime waitress at Paul’s (“I used to be on a beer budget, now I’m on a bus budget”), would be what political scientists call a “low-information voter,” if only she were registered. Attracted to Obama (“I think he really cares about people in the middle class”), Porter is tempted to vote for the first time. When asked about his Republican rival, Porter said, “I don’t know much about McCain. I hear a lot about his vice president. What’s her name? The one from Canada.”

Young voters and possible new registrants like Porter are part of the Democratic formula for victory in Ohio. But organization, a hallmark of the Obama campaign, may represent the Democrats’ best shot to improve on Kerry’s 2004 vote total in Ohio. With about 250 paid field organizers in the state and another 1,300 volunteers coordinating the precinct-by-precinct campaign, Obama has a significant on-the-ground edge over Kerry. Trying to hoard campaign cash in 2004, the Democrats farmed out much of their get-out-the-vote effort in Ohio to independently funded groups like Americans Coming Together (ACT) with whom the Kerry campaign was not legally allowed to share information. The result: The Democrats exceeded their vote projections in Ohio’s cities and were overwhelmed in the rest of the state by a better organized Bush campaign that handled everything internally.

“We knocked on 100,000 doors in Ohio last weekend,” Aaron Pickrell, the Ohio Obama coordinator, said over drinks Thursday night. “We know what the results were from those door knocks. If ACT had knocked on 100,000 doors in 2004, the Kerry campaign wouldn’t have known anything about it. That’s a humongous difference for us.”

Since the moment that Barack Obama declared his epoch-making candidacy, 2008 has been described as a history-making election so often that the notion has become an instant cliché. But Ohio is a state where tradition dies hard. Which may be why Rademacher, the pollster from the University of Cincinnati, is close to the mark when he theorizes, “At the end of day, despite all the talk about how unconventional this election is, it may come down to the most conventional outcome — a campaign decided by independent voters.”

While the national electoral terrain appears to be broader than it was in 2004 with once reliably Republican states like Virginia up for grabs, there is no place more likely to be in the bull’s-eye than the Buckeye State. In theory, it is easier for Obama to get to 270 electoral votes without Ohio than McCain. But, in reality, this is a state that should silence the doubters who wonder, “Why-o, why-o Ohio?” For Ohio has gone with the White House winner in the last 11 elections – and 2008 is apt to make it an even dozen.

One more from Salon.com on Ohio:


Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008 09:15 EDTv
Tipping state: Colorado or Ohio?

When I give presentations about the election across the country or abroad, I usually talk about which types of exit poll or Election Day information that, were I to have it in advance, would probably tell me the winner of the presidential race. Can Barack Obama get 65 percent or more of the Hispanic vote? Does John McCain carry white women? Who wins Catholics? And so on.

Some analysts are doing this on a state-winner basis, and there is an emerging consensus around Colorado as the tipping point state. Stu Rothenberg, who has joined us here at Salon before to discuss his analysis of U.S. House races, makes the case for Colorado in his latest column. Patrick Ottenhoff of Electoral-vote.com seems to agree, though he tosses in New Mexico as well. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com ranks Colorado fourth, however, behind Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, based on results from his multiple-iteration computer simulations of most-common tipping point states. (See down the right side of his home page for details.)

Ohio 2004 election by county

Ohio 2004 election by county

Click here for Ohio State graphic

As Silver correctly explains it, knowing that Colorado flipped likely tells you Obama also won the more competitive state of New Mexico; or if McCain wins Pennsylvania he probably holds more Republican-favorable Ohio as well. There is some new buzz about Obama taking North Carolina, which, were he to do so, probably means he will be the first Democrat since 1964 to carry Virginia, too. You get the idea.

But these are one-way results. Knowing Obama, not McCain, won Pennsylvania is less informative about who won Ohio.* That said, if I had to ask for a single state result, with the possibility of that result coming in either way, I’d still say I want to know the outcome in Ohio. (*If knowing the answer to the generic question “Who won swing state X?” seems redundant with knowing that a specific candidate in fact won that state — it is not — consider this: If I told you McCain won Vermont instead of just saying I’ll tell you the winner of Vermont, the first provides more revealing information because learning that Obama carried Vermont provides no real insight into the overall outcome.)

Why Ohio? Because knowing that Obama won Colorado does not preclude scenarios where he wins there and loses the election because, say, McCain flipped Michigan and New Hampshire to red and held Ohio. And knowing that McCain won Virginia** may also be inconclusive if Obama can flip Colorado/New Mexico/Iowa, or just Ohio, he doesn’t need Virginia. (**The Washington Post today has a story about a new poll showing Obama now leading McCain in the Commonwealth.)

Are there scenarios where Obama wins without Ohio? Sure: The Colorado/New Mexico/Iowa is the most obvious one. But Ohio’s winner, either way, still seems like the one piece of future info I’d like to have today to predict who is going to win in six weeks.

― Thomas Schaller

Nevada: Key Swing State – Drive for Change

September 25, 2008

Swing State – Nevada is a swing state and Washoe County is key.

Click here: NPR Media Player All Things Considered, September 17, 2008 – Democrats have made big gains in voter registration in Nevada. Eric Herzik, professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno, says while Barack Obama may do well in Clark County, where Las Vegas is, to win the election, the race may come down to Washoe County, home to Reno.

Traveling to Nevada: Drive to Nevada for Change!

Note: You do need some brief training from the Obama office before you go.

Please join us for our work in Reno and Carson City, NV. Please be sure to sign up and return your information as requested in the event’s auto response. Your sign up must be submitted no later than the Monday, the same week you travel. Generally, we work in the area we’re assigned beginning 9:00 a.m. Saturday and again at 10:00 a.m. Sunday. We end the weekend and begin to travel home between 3-4:00 p.m., Sunday. Carpools are arranged and training is provided at the travel meeting the Tuesday before your trip. We meet at the SV4O HQ at 7:00 p.m., every Tuesday night between now and Halloween.

Phone Nevadalocal Obama offices and MoveOn.org.

Fernley Vote for Change office

15 E Main St.
Suite 5
Fernley, NV 89408
P: (775) 671-7994