• The Nader Effect: Polling from Florida

    Eight years ago Democrats had good reason to blame Ralph Nader for peeling off enough votes from Al Gore to cost him Florida and the presidency. But this year Democrats may have good reason to welcome the so-called Nader effect. According to recent CNN/Opinion Research polls, Barack Obama leads John McCain by four points in a two-way choice among likely Florida voters. That gap grows to eight points with Nader in the mix, along with other minor-party candidates such as Libertarian Bob Barr.Another sign the Nader effect may have reversed course is how the Democrats are dealing with him this time. In 2004, John Kerry met with Nader to try to dissuade him from running, and party lawyers contested his place on the ballot. This time, the Obama campaign has made no similar effort to obstruct Nader.Who are the voters whom Nader siphons from McCain? Kevin Hill, an associate professor of political science at Florida International University, says Nader's populist rhetoric appeals to white...
  • WOLFFE: 'The Palin Effect--in Reverse'

    By Richard Wolffe Call it the Palin effect in reverse. John McCain’s veep pick isn’t just firing up the GOP base with bigger crowds and more cash. Sarah Palin is having the same impact on the progressive base of the Democratic Party.Take a look at what’s happened to MoveOn.org, the signature online left-of-center group that marks its 10th anniversary this year. The group has added almost a million new members since 2007, many of them over the summer, to bring its total to 4.2 million – around the same size as the NRA on the right. Along with the new members, there has been a surge in donations allowing the group to double its advertising budget for the general election period to up to $7 million.“We’ve seen an increase in energy, particularly driven by the tightening of the race, but also by I think McCain’s choice of Palin,” says Eli Pariser who directs MoveOn. “That really sunk in for people that this would be another Bush-style presidency, both in terms of the cynicism of the...
  • Joe Biden Is the Change Obama Needed

    VP candidate Joe Biden's foreign-policy experience is helpful, but what's more important is his scrappy instincts and ability to connect with Hillary Clinton's supporters.
  • Obama: Christian, Not Muslim

    Barack Obama has never been Muslim and never practiced Islam. But rumors about his religion intended to frighten some voters persist, and they mostly return to one point of fact: his name. "Barack" is the candidate's Kenyan father's name; Obama's middle name, "Hussein," is his grandfather's name. Hussein embraced Islam—after first converting to Christianity under the name "Johnson." According to Obama's memoir, Hussein valued discipline and strength and found Christian forgiveness to be sentimental. Obama has described his father as atheist or agnostic. His Kansan mom, whose grandparents were devout Protestants, lived a secular life. Obama's only personal contact with Islam came as a boy when he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, with a stepfather who mixed his Islam with Hindu and Animist traditions. In five years there, Obama attended a Roman Catholic school, then a public elementary school, where he sat through a class each week of religious studies. As an adult, Obama turned to...
  • Crossover Cabinet Candidates

    Since locking up their parties' presumptive nominations, Barack Obama and John McCain have emphasized their bipartisan cred. How might that translate when the winner assembles his team? (Job possibilities in parentheses.)Obama's worked closely with Sens. Dick Lugar (secretary of State) and war critic Chuck Hagel (secretary of Defense) on the Foreign Relations Committee. He admires California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (climate-change czar) approach to the environment—and he's close to the governor's wife, Maria Shriver, and her Kennedy kin. Obama's met with former secretary of State Colin Powell (foreign envoy) during the last two years to talk foreign policy.Sen. Joe Lieberman (secretary of Defense) is one of McCain's most visible surrogates on the Iraq War. McCain agrees with New York Mayor MichaelBloomberg (Treasury secretary) on his moderate fiscal policies and climate change, and he's said he'd like to use business tycoon Warren Buffett (economic adviser) and Gen. James L....
  • When Barry Became Barack

    It didn't happen overnight. But in college, the young Barry took to being called by his formal name. What this evolution tells us about him.
  • Obama's Delta Win

    Buoyed by an overwhelming edge among African-American voters, Barack Obama cruised to victory over Hillary Clinton in the Mississippi primary, posting a 60-37 percent margin and teeing up a crucial showdown in Pennsylvania, the next major contest in the quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.Obama, seeking to become America's first African-American president, has enjoyed strong support from black voters throughout the nominating process. But here in the Delta Tuesday night the racial divide was especially stark. According to exit polls, Obama outpolled Clinton among black voters 91-9. White voters preferred Clinton by a slightly narrower 72-21 percent margin.If the outcome and the racial math were predictable (African-Americans accounted for roughly half the Democratic primary vote), Mississippians did provide a few modest surprises at the ballot box. Exit polls showed some 59 percent of voters disapproved of Clinton's attack ads—part of a strategy that was widely viewed...
  • Obama's Next Moves

    After losing Ohio and Texas, his camp hints that they'll target the Clintons more harshly