Les AuCoin

Poll: How Will President Obama Fare? (Also: The Epilogue To Our Ohio Campaign)

In "team of rivals, 13876092, 13879620, A Better Deal, Carter, Economic Crisis, Ford, Lincoln, Obama, Reagan, Two Wars on November 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Ashland, Oregon

In our month-long Ohio campaign for Obama, we drove 8,151 miles to, around, and back from the Buckeye state. It is now 28 days days since we pulled up stakes in Ohio for the ride home, and 55 days since we first arrived in the Ohio to begin our Last Hurrah on the political stump.


We savor every minute’s effort to eradicate Bush-Cheney-Rove politics and elect someone who excites us more than any candidate since JFK.

It seems like a year ago and yet like yesterday morning. [See more, below.]

Here’s a poll; state your prediction for the Obama presidency:

When Pennsylvania went blue that night, we leapt to our feet in our motel room and Sue wept for joy: McCain’s last, improbable path had been blocked. From that point on, we were lusting for a landslide and, out of pride, Ohio in indigo.

Our actor son, Kelly, performing at the Yale Repertory Theater, placed repeated backstage calls to us and his sister, Stacy, between scenes of the U.S. premiere of Happy Now? Kelly would give and get state-by-state updates, then ring off to run back onstage. (How could he remember his lines for godssakes?)

The Buckeye state went Obama. Stacy called. [She had organized local newspaper ads in Bozeman (signed by more than 800 residents) and canvassed for voter registration and get-out-the-vote.] Whatever she said was washed out by the din at the Bozeman headquarters. Everyone knew what Ohio meant.


When the West Coast came in, CNN threw the results on the screen with Barack’s photo. Each of us felt a spinal jolt as the historic thing we helped cause sunk in. He’ll take the oath in the 200th anniversary year of Lincoln’s birth, in an Inauguration with the theme, “A New Birth of Freedom.” Gives me gooseflesh thinking of it.

Then the hard part begins.

The young political phenomenon faces two wars and an economic crisis, the depth and length of which Americans are only now beginning to fathom.

The solemnity of the acceptance speech at Grant Park suggests that he appreciates the gravity of his challenge, and the nation’s. This isn’t a naif from Plains, Georgia, who stood on a chair at Blair House to tell Democratic congressmen that he’d personally return their phone calls. Nor is the man’s subtle, nuanced mind likely to produce the economic non-sequiturs of Gerald Ford.

Against partisan foes, Obama’s rhetorical skills give him an air capability at least equal to Reagan’s, as one can observe from his victory speech in Iowa caucuses:

However, he yet must learn to master venues presidents use most–press conferences and from-behind-the-desk national TV addresses. On the other hand, Obama’s grassroots network gives him a potential ground force that no previous president possessed.

He’ll need it all and then some.

Team of rivals? God, I hope it works! With due respect to Doris Kearns Goodwin, it didn’t pan out so well for Lincoln.

Yet I feel optimism. One of my heroes, Vaclav Havel, defined optimism as “orientation,” not “prediction.”

The president-elect likely would have his own term: Audacity.

As the eight-year hostile occupation of America comes its end, I’ll cling to both.


9:38PM Update: President GoObama!

In Battleground States, Democrats, Obama, Palin, polls on November 4, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Spearfish, South Dakota

Live blogging through Election Day (and night):

9:40 P.M. (MST): We can’t remember anything like it.

My political involvement began with black voter registration in Nashville, Tennessee, and fighting the electrical violence of lunch counter sit-ins.

<i><b>Yes, we did!</i></b>

Yes, we did!

And now this.

We’ve been laughing through our tears since he went over the top.

Not because he is black. But because he is a magnificent political talent who happens to be black.

(Note to John McCain: You were way off base in your concession, speaking about what Obama’s election means to blacks. The point is how he has liberated whites.)

Now we’re waiting for The Speech. And we’ll bawl like children. And go to sleep. And wake up in the morning to find the world covered with dew again.

7:38 P.M. (MST): YEESSS! Ohio goes blue!

6:15 P.M. (MST): CNN just released the first trickle of returns from Ohio. Obama had 67 percent of those returns. Sue and I did a quick calculation. Those votes came from every county we stumped in. Right.

4:01 P.M. (MST): CNN just broke a report that the McCain Campaign is robocalling bile in Cuban precincts in Florida, telling voters that Fidel Castro has just endorsed Obama. The calls were not made by an independent “swift boat” campaign, or the Republican National Committee, but the McCain-Palin campaign!

“Country First,” John? “Straight Talk Express?” Sit down.

3:48 P.M. (MST): I’m so fidgety, waiting for the first returns from Indiana, I went to the Obama website and started calling voters in Missouri and North Carolina to remind them to vote and give them their polling place.

Amazing political use of the Internet. I get the email “Action Alert” with a map of key state. I click on one and a list of names and phone numbers and ages comes up with the address of the voter’s polling place. Once done, I indicate if the voter has voted, if the line is busy, if the number is wrong, and so forth.

A woman in North Carolina gasped when I introduced myself as a former congressman from Oregon.

1:40 P.M. (MST): One smart aleck-my former congressional chief of staff, Bob Crane–wanted to know why we are heading West before the returns come in, suggesting that the post Baby Boom Obamaiacs had no need for a gray beard in the clutch.

In fact, that’s about the size of it. After Saturday, there were no speaking further opportunities to fire up these Obama volunteers. They were “pre-fired” and too busy working on get-of-the-vote to listen to a speech (except that of their candidate, who wowed a crowd of 90,000 last night in Manassas, Virginia.

Um, Sarah Palin, that would be in your “pro-America” part of Virginia.

So, we are back here again in Spearfish. (Careful readers of this journal will remember Spearfish, South Dakota, as the location of our first overnight stop en route to Ohio. I still can find no spears here, or fish.)

Over at FiveThirtyEight.Com, Nate Silver, has aggregated the last of the national and state polls and, on the strength of them, projects a 349-189 electoral vote landslide for Obama.

More later.

“When Tomorrow Comes …”

In Battleground States, Montana, Obama, Political activism, South Dakota, Undecideds, Waterloo on November 3, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Pierre, South Dakota

“Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men?
“It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again;

“When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums,
“There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes …”

—Do You Hear The People? (Les Miserables)

S. AuCoin

Messaging, 'til the last dog comes home / Photo: S. AuCoin

Our minds are on tomorrow as I write this during a punishing, eight-hour haul from Waterloo, Iowa, to South Dakota’s capital. (They knew what they were talking when they named this the Great Plains; My god, it’s endless!). It helps to have set off this morning knowing that Obama could lose every toss-up state (OH, MO, NC, IN, FL, NV and VA) and still take the big enchilada.

And that there’s no way in hell he’ll lose ‘em all.

We’ve got the volume up on music from Les Miserables, The Man from La Mancha, and Anthony Newley’s, Once In A Lifetime, and we’re singing along at the top of our lungs as if the lyrics had been written for Obama and us.

Damned odd not to be campaigning, though.

Several miles back, I started doodling something called the Low-Downest Post-Campaignin’ Blues. Relax, it’s never going to be published, much less sung!

While we’re here bouncing along on I-90W, Obama’s get-out-the-vote volunteers are out in force across the country—including Stacy, our daughter in Bozeman, who seems to have made it her personal responsibility to turn Montana blue.

Well, if you can’t give a speech or phone a voter, you do the next best thing. Noting that our Blazer’s rear window was bare, we opted for some Interstate freeway advertising. We painted the glass: VOTE OBAMA!

A driver just pulled alongside to see who was behind the wheel of this rolling billboard. Spotting two gray heads, he sped on. Other than that, our impromptu promotion is bringing no responses.

I should call the Gallup people and advise them there are no undecideds left.