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McCain’s very gracious speech is a reminder that there was a path not taken in this campaign. I have never especially been a believer in the McCain myth. But McCain could have run as a bi-partisan maverick, and not as an extremist. He likely still would have lost, but could have been more competitive and not disgraced himself in the process. The Republican Party base is now extremist and authoritarian and that’s poisonous for our politics and a losing hand for the party.


History has been made. The networks call it for Obama. And, it cannot be overstated – in addition to the obvious history-making nature of Obama’s candidacy and now presidency, he and the Democratic Party have re-written the electoral map. They have broken through in Virginia, have battled North Carolina to a draw; they’re becoming the dominant party in the southwest, they have a rock-solid foundation in the northeast and the West and a stranglehold on the industrial Midwest. This is not a one-election fluke. The Republican Party will have to appeal to a new, multi-ethnic, multi-racial and tolerant America, or it will continue to lose ground.


McCain’s electoral prognosis just went from critical to terminal: with FOX and NBC calling Ohio for Obama, there is now no plausible path to 270 for McCain. Barack Obama is going to be the next President of the United States.


The first major Democratic breakthrough in the Senate – Kay Hagan has unseated Elizabeth Dole. Hagan has benefited enormously from Obama’s ground game in the state, and from a huge infusion of cash from the national Democratic party. And, in a desperate eleventh hour attempt to make up ground, Dole ran perhaps the single most disgraceful ad of the entire season. After showing shadowy images of Hagan juxtaposed with atheists, an actress meant to sound like Hagan declares, “there is no God.” Hagan is an elder in the Presbyterian church and the spot caused a huge uproar. Of special note, Republican consultant Alex Castellanos called the ad over the line. Why is this significant: because Castellanos was the mastermind behind the infamous “white hands” ad, one of the most racially inflammatory ads of the past quarter century. That 1990 commercial ran in the final days of a North Carolina Senate race in which Jesse Helms narrowly defeated African American Harvey Gantt.

The ad showed a pair of white hands crumbling a piece of paper while an announcer said:

‘”You needed that job.  And you were the best qualified.  But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.  Is that really fair?  Harvey Gantt says it is.  Gantt supports Ted Kennedy’s racial quota law that makes the color of your skin more important than your qualifications.  You’ll vote on this issue next Tuesday.  For racial quotas: Harvey Gantt.  Against racial quotas: Jesse Helms.”‘

So, for Castellanos to call the Dole ad over the line is really saying something.


The first really big news of the night is in: as soon as the polls closed in Pennsylvania one minute ago, NBC called it for Obama.  McCain threw everything he had into the Keystone state, and it was obviously for naught. There is almost no plausible path to victory for McCain without it. It’s early, but shaping up to be a big night for the Illinois Senator.”


Completely unsurprising, but Democrats have netted their first Senate seat of the night. Former governor Mark Warner, an overwhelming favorite, was called the winner of the Virginia Senate race as soon as the polls closed there at seven.

Perhaps more interesting, conservative stalwart Pat Buchanan just told an MSNBC audience that tonight could be the end of the conservative era in American politics that was ushered in by Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980. I will have more to say about that election as the night goes on.”


Several friends and I have been planning to volunteer for the campaign this afternoon and evening. But the word we’ve been getting from some of the volunteer staging areas in and around Chapel Hill is that they are getting too many volunteers and are turning people away. We’re calling around to try to find offices that actually want the help. We’re getting the same word from Durham. It’s hard to overstate what an extraordinary field operation the Obama campaign has put together across the country and here in Tar Heel territory. And, by the way, it’s been raining here all day.


As folks go to the polls today, I wanted to pass along a pretty heartening canvassing story from this weekend

On Saturday, three friends and I canvassed in Oxford, NC, about forty five minutes from Chapel Hill. It’s pretty downscale, rural and has a large African American population.

The most interesting encounter of the day came when a friend and I hiked through some woods to a run down set of trailer homes that were on our walk list. One home we approached appeared to be abandoned. The window to the front door was partially broken, and peering in revealed a dark and dank living area that looked like a storage warehouse. We got no answer when we knocked so we went around the side and knocked there. No answer, but then we heard a dog barking and went around back, where we met a middle aged African American woman with unkempt hair who had to hold her pants up with her hands.

We introduced ourselves and she told us that she wasn’t voting for “either of one of them.”

Why? Here’s (more or less) what she said about Obama: “He says he’s Black, but he has a white mother and was raised by white parents (she meant grandparents, I am sure). And, he’s a Muslim.

She repeated that a few times, while we tried to interject that, in fact, he was a Christian. We noted that, yes, his father was a Muslim, but that he had no relationship with his father and that Obama had been a practicing Christian his whole life.

Then she said, “in case you haven’t heard, his Muslim minister said God damn America.”

We acknowledged that Jeremiah Wright had said that, but that he was not a Muslim, he was a Christian.

The woman then said that we needed someone in the White House whose soul was saved. She herself believed that Jesus was our Lord and Savior and that the holy spirit would cleanse us. We noted that these were precisely Obama’s own professed beliefs.

She went on to say that Obama was only one man and that the President can be over-ridden by “the House of Senate and the House of Congress.” We agreed, at which point my friend said “Obama really needs your vote.” She was clearly interested at this point, and kept peering intently at the packet of information my friend was holding, including sample ballots and early registration information, before she finally asked in exasperation, “aren’t you going to give me any of that?”

She then said she would, if we agreed to pray that Obama would be saved and after a little chatter, repeated the request. At that point, I said “ma’am, we agree that Obama is going to need all the help he can get.”

We proceeded to discuss registration – she was unregistered, so we explained that until 5pm that day, she could one-stop register and vote, but that there was no such option on Tuesday. We confirmed that she had a ride (there was one functioning car in the back yard) and she said she had a fully up to date driver’s license.

Finally, after we walked her through the sample ballot and the registration stuff, she said “they killed JFK, they killed Martin Luther King, and they’re going to kill Obama, too.”

The journey through her fears in the course of the ten minutes we spoke was fascinating – from the Obama-is-a-Muslim line, to the deeper concern about saving souls, to the perhaps deepest concern of all (they’re just going to kill him anyway).

In any event, we felt good walking away, though my friend let the folks at HQ know that they had a potential voter out there with whom they needed to follow-up.

I am convinced that, regardless of the outcome in NC today, the Obama campaign has reached voters here that no presidential campaign has ever reached before.


From the Associated Press:

“Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, N.H., where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

“Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday’s first minutes. The town of Hart’s Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns’ ballots but got no votes.”

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