Obama had a great win in South Carolina yesterday. Unfortunately, it was expected and seems not to have moved the prediction markets much. Yet, I think our country and the world would be much better off if he wins. With our help, he can win.
Sadly, Obama’s chances only rose slightly from 31% before his victory to 35% after his victory. See the chart from Intrade:
Why isn’t the market impressed with Obama’s success in campaigning? I think the markets are skeptical that Obama can translate his state-by-state success into what amounts to a national primary.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
How can you help? You can donate or volunteer to phone voters. Never before has it been so clear to me that a deserving candidate could benefit from a pure increase in awareness. He has proven that his message resonates; he hasn’t yet proven he can spread it nationally. With our help, I believe he pass that final test.
Obama’s win in Iowa was quite impressive for two reasons: it is important and it was indeed unexpected. On Intrade.com’s prediction market, Obama implicit probability of capturing the nomination jumped from below 20 percent on January 1 to 64 percent after the Iowa caucus. See the huge spike in this graph of Obama’s prospects over the last month:
In comparison, Huckabee’s prospects went down on Intrade with his victory. Apparently, he did not do as well as expected. See the chart here:
According to Intrade, Obama has about a 90 percent chance of winning New Hampshire and South Carolina (separately) and about an 80 percent chance of winning them both. So, the market shouldn’t move much if Obama actually wins those states, because his chance of capturing the nomination already includes a high expectation that he’ll win in those states.
It is also interesting how little “bandwagon effects” that are baked into these probabilities. The market is giving Clinton and Edwards a pretty good shot at dethroning Obama on Super Tuesday even in the high likelihood of Obama running the board on the early primaries.
I guess it really has been one of those elections that is too close for anyone to call, and several more opportunities for candidates to shake things up again.
I am a little late to the game here because I was traveling yesterday, but I have some thoughts to share about Obama’s historic victory. I disagree that Thursday’s Iowa caucuses were a victory for extremism, something proposed on e-thepeople.org today. I also disagree with Kent Wicker’s highly rated comment that Hillary Clinton is the same as Obama only more experienced. Nothing could be farther from the truth, in my opinion.
I like both Obama and Huckabee because I think that they are listening to people from all political stripes. They have very different core values, but they are not fixing for a fight. Rather than the combative style of politics that we have seen under George W Bush, and would almost certainly see under Hillary Clinton, they want to build bridges. I know more about Obama than Huckabee, so I will give three examples from Obama’s policy positions:
the goal of abortion policy should be to reduce the number of abortions in the country
faith and religion are important to public policy, but any policy derived from religious sources must be justified by reasons not religious authority
issues facing black voters, like education, health care and poverty, are best addressed as universal not racial terms
I think each of these positions constructively takes valid conservative criticisms of knee-jerk progressive/liberal policy to generate pragmatic solutions to real problems in our country. I really believe that a large majority (e.g., 55-60%) can support these positions, and that adopting these positions would improve many people’s lives.
Of course, Obama and Huckabee have very different values and political philosophies. Obama’s positions are similar to my own preferences whereas Huckabee’s positions are almost diametrically opposed to mine. At this point, I’d rather have Huckabee as President than any other Republican. And in what would almost certainly be a losing campaign, I think he would sharpen the policies of the eventual Democratic winner.
But more importantly: GObama!!! And if you doubt me, please watch Barack’s victory speech here:
Obama continues to think of innovative ways to fundraise on the Internet. Today, the campaign announced a program for matching donations. They will match me with another donor from across the country who agrees to donate the same amount. It sounds really cool. They are promoting it like NPR: donor matching means that you are doubling your contribution. I am not a fan of that appeal because it doesn’t ring true to me. What I do like is that they are fostering horizontal connections, e.g., among supporters, rather than just the vertical connection between the campaign and each individual donor.
I just gave $25, and here is what happened. I was immediately matched by ‘gerald v’ from woodbridge, ct. I sent him a personal note, asking him if he wanted to compare notes about the election and I opted to share my email address with him. The campaign immediately asked me if I wanted to pledge to match someone else.
First, I raised the question: how does Obama plan to fix the oil sharing problem? No one responded, but I think Chris Dodd has the best proposal on this subject yet, whereby the oil revenue would be split among the federal government of Iraq, regional governments and directly to Iraqis.
Second, bocamp22 asked whether partitioning proposed by Biden should be part of the solution. CatsAngel responded by questioned how Shiites and Sunnies could really be separated and Kent Wicker worried that partitioning could lead to ethnic cleansing. Personally, I am not a fan of partitioning and I think it can’t possibly solve anything if the oil issue isn’t resolved first.
Third, several members asserted their belief that military withdrawal would threaten our security. My personal belief is that the state of Iraq poses no threat, but that the terrorist activity within Iraq may pose a threat. I think the innovation of Obama’s plan is that he offers an alternative to a military presence — namely, humanitarian aid and diplomacy — to mitigate this risk.
Fourth, several members questioned whether humanitarian aid and diplomacy would work. Chickmd called diplomacy with Iraqi’s neighbors an “error in judgment” because these neighbors are our enemies. I agree that this is a risk, so I’d like to how Obama wants to go about this delicate task. As for humanitarian aid, Chickmd believes that Obama like “all other democrats he does not care how he wasts other peoples tax dollars.” He wants out now and to cut our losses completely, but when I pressed him, he preferred Bush’s plan to Obama’s if he were forced between those two unsavory choices.
But the highest rated comment by d_jinx says that Obama’s strategy is risky and uncertain, but better than not trying anything different: “Gotta get started because what we what we’re doing now ain’t encouraging.”
Please see a discussion I’ve started on e-thePeople.org for my full thoughts, and hopefully, the comments on it from the community. In a nutshell, I agree with Obama on Iraq (see his plan here). Our security is no longer threatened by the state of Iraq, so our military should come home. In its place, we should use humanitarian aid and diplomacy to fix the mess we’ve made. Its only flaw: it does not address how oil revenue should be distributed within Iraq, the root cause of the instability in Iraq now in my opinion.
Barack Obama announced a major policy announcement about Iraq, which deserves its own discussion here on e-thepeople. On Weiksner.com, though, I want to point out a new grassroots method for getting the word out: an online phone bank. As a supporter, they provide a script, a feedback form and numbers to call. Here’s a screenshot:
Using a crude spreadsheet version of a long-tail distribution, I calculate that they’ve initiated 2,300 calls in the few hours since it’s been launched. If paid outbound calls cost $1 a minute and each of these calls last 10 minutes, then the financial value of this service is about $25,000. A couple of interesting metrics to follow: how many calls are made, what is the distribution of calls per volunteers, and some measure of success (awareness of the new policy perhaps?)
Of course, this technique has important differences from normal outbound calls. First, they have got to control quality – imagine the possible disasters associated with posting supporters phone numbers on the Internet! Second, these enthusiastic supporters may do a better job than a crummy telemarketer. Third, the callers themselves are becoming more invested in the Obama campaign.
So, it is exciting to see a major candidate take such a risk! If it works, perhaps they will start making outbound calls to other lists other than supporters. And if it doesn’t work, I hope they can learn from the mistakes rather than retreat from the initiative. For example, I think that they should try to make sure that they have opt-in lists for these kinds of calls. This technique would be less risky (although perhaps less valuable) if the receiver of the call was on board with the program first. It is refreshing to see new ways that citizens can get involved in politics other than donating money or being bombarded by ads.
The Obama campaign just sent me an email with a link to this video about Barack’s position on New Orleans. It is compelling to watch. But here’s my thought: why doesn’t Barack pledge to contribute 10% of all his fundraising dollars to help New Orleans directly? That could be anywhere from $50mm to $100mm — not chump change. Wouldn’t that be a great way to do avoding wasting more money on tv ads and to prove his resolve to fix this tragic national blight?