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28 July 2006

Strategic Vision Poll for Michigan

Strategic Vision released a poll yesterday for the state of Michigan:
23. For the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination whom would you support? (Democrats Only)
Hillary Clinton 35%
Al Gore 15%
John Edwards 14%
Russ Feingold 7%
John Kerry 6%
Mark Warner 2%
Wesley Clark 2%
Joseph Biden 1%
Evan Bayh 1%
Tom Vilsak 1%
Bill Richardson 1%
Ed Rendell 1%
Christopher Dodd 1%
Undecided 13%
(emphasis added)

Senator Feingold's 7 percent is down from their last poll in May, when he had 9 percent. That said, I think it's important to note that the margin of error is 3 percent, so I'm not too worried yet. Instead, I think it would be helpful to look at how Feingold compares to other potential candidates.

To start with, I'm beginning to wonder why they include names like Christopher Dodd and Ed Rendell. Dodd has at least mentioned his potential interest in the race, but he's done nothing about it except campaign for Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont. (While I don't want to tempt fate, I have a sneaky suspicion that Dodd backed the wrong horse on that one.) As for Rendell, his potentially close battle for reelection got him dropped off most lists a while back, and I'm surprised to see him. For all intents and purposes, I think we could probably add the 1 percent they get to the Undecideds.

With the remaining choices, we have those with national name recognition (either ran for president before or was married to someone that did) and those that aren't really well-known outside their home states. We'll look at the second group first.

  • Former Governor Mark Warner is getting a lot of media attention lately, and it's clear he's positioning himself to be Bill Clinton II-- the moderate, southern governor that everyone likes. I have no doubt that when the primaries start, he'll be a major force. But he gets an unimpressive 2 percent.
  • Senator Joe Biden is a regular on the Sunday shows like Meet the Press and, although he ran in 1988, that was long enough ago that it doesn't count. Despite all he says about being the anti-Hillary and despite his foreign policy knowledge, he's not done a lot to get noticed as a presidential prospect. He got an unsurprising 1 percent.
  • Senator Evan Bayh was once seen as a rising star of the Democratic Party, and he's been fairly decent in the Senate, I think. He's supposed to be Mr. Electability, as an ex-governor of Indiana and good-looking, well-spoken guy. But despite his proximity to Michigan, Bayh got only 1 percent.
  • Governor Tom Vilsack was a big name in 2004, with the Iowa caucus being the first step to John Kerry's nomination. He was on the short list for Kerry's VP, and his position in Iowa is helpful in that swing state and the region in general. Unfortunately for him, Michigan Democrats don't seem to remember 2004's media buzz, or don't care. Just 1 percent for him.
  • Governor Bill Richardson's description reads almost exactly like Vilsack's-- potential 2004 VP, governor of a swing state, in an important region. Add in that he's hispanic, and he really might surprise some people. But apparently not in Michigan, where he got 1 percent.
  • Finally, Senator Russ Feingold. You already know all about him, and he got 7 percent. For those that have been adding as we went along, that 7 percent, small as it is, is more than all the others in this group combined. It's not his proximity to Michigan that did it; only the UP gets Wisconsin media, and it doesn't have enough of a population to make that big an impact in the poll. Even if that were the case, you'd think Evan Bayh would perform better. No, I suspect it's because Feingold has inspired us with his courage and his wisdom and his willingness to stand up for what's right.
But what about the potential candidates that have run before?
  • General Wesley Clark just barely makes this list because most people seem to have forgotten he ran in 2004. He's got the national security credentials, to be sure, but he lacks in experience elsewhere. Made lots of noise in 2004, but apparently Michigan voters have forgotten that. Well, all but the 2 percent he got.
  • Senator John Kerry has an advantage that's also a disadvantage. He's got almost 100 percent name recognition, but he's remembered as the guy that lost in 2004. Whether that's fair or not, he doesn't perform too well in these polls because there's a feeling that he's already had his turn. Personally, I don't see him rising much beyond his 6 percent.
  • Former Senator John Edwards also has the high name recognition, but without the problem Kerry has. People don't blame the VP nominee for losing an election, just as people didn't credit Al Gore for Bill Clinton's victory. Edwards has shown a lot of strength lately, and some say the primary schedule will help him. This early, his 14 percent is a respectable showing.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore shouldn't be in this poll. He says he has no plans to run, and so far, the Draft Gore campaigns have been unimpressive. I loved his movie, but his political career, at least with the presidency, is over for now. I could be completely wrong, but for now I'm not going to worry too much about his 15 percent.
  • Finally, we come to Senator Hillary Clinton. Just saying the name brings back fond memories of peace, prosperity, and general happiness. No wonder she got 33 percent in the poll-- the 1990s have never seemed so good. But saying her name also brings back memories of scandals and baggage that could be a big problem for her. Plus, she hasn't done much lately to excite the base, has she?
The fact that Senator Feingold is performing better than both Wesley Clark and John Kerry is incredible, considering how early it is and how unknown Feingold is. As for Clinton, Gore, and Edwards, their high percentages are the result of name recognition, not concrete support.

That doesn't mean Feingold is the leader. But in Michigan, he's certainly a strong contender.

19 July 2006

Russ Feingold's Patriot Corps

In a previous post, I made reference to an initiative by Senator Feingold and the Progressive Patriots Fund to send volunteers to important races around the country this fall. That initiative, as many of you are no doubt aware, has been given a name-- the Patriot Corps.

What will this involve?
We're looking for 15 energetic, personable activists from across the country. Once chosen, Corps members will participate in an extensive, multi-day training program, before being placed on targeted races in Wisconsin and around the country. Training will focus on volunteer recruitment, organizing a canvas, running a phone bank, advanced GOTV training, and staffing a candidate. Prior campaign experience is appreciated, but not required.
It's an effort to help provide the kind of resources that win campaigns. Sure, a television ad reaches a wide audience, but only for 30 seconds at a time. Real progress is made when a campaign has a strong team to support it, ready to go into communities and make the case for a candidate. Senator Feingold's PAC isn't donating the big money to other Democrats, but it's donating something far more powerful.

For a much better explanation of it's purpose, hear it from Russ Feingold himself. From his Iowa trip, the latest podcast is available here or on the Progressive Patriots Fund website.

If you want to help both Russ Feingold and Democrats in general in 2006, apply for the Patriot Corps!

17 July 2006

Moving Michigan Forward - MI-14

Continuing our look at Michigan Democrats in 2006...

One of the many reasons why Russ Feingold is so attractive as a presidential candidate and as a Senate leader is his willingness to stand up to President Bush, particularly when other Senate Democrats are nowhere to be found. He voted no on the USA PATRIOT Act, opposed the Iraq War, and has proposed to censure President Bush over the illegal wiretapping program. And remember, those are just the big issues that get the headlines. There are plenty more areas where we can depend on Senator Feingold to stand up for us.

But he's certainly not the only Democrat with a backbone. One of the most prominent advocates for accountability proudly represents Michigan's 14th district-- Congressman John Conyers.

Conyers is a favorite of the netroots because he never gives up trying to uncover the truth. When everyone else was silent, he was calling for investigations into the Downing Street Minutes and Iraq. Recognizing what many Democrats are afraid to see, he's a leader in the fight for election reform, making sure every vote counts. And, of course, he's a blogger, which is always something I can admire.

If he wins this fall, Congressman Conyers will begin his twenty-first term, with (hopefully) many more to follow. There's no doubt that the people of the district appreciate his hard work, standing up for progressive ideals. Oh, and he was #13 on Richard Nixon's enemies list, so he must have been doing something right.

Congressman John Conyers - US House of Representatives
MI-14 on Michigan Liberal
Wikipedia Biography
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"Mr. Feingold goes to Iowa"

Senator Feingold made a trip to Iowa, the all-important state in presidential nominations. Pat from Iowa for Feingold was there, as was Ilya from

I'll leave coverage of the trip to the people that were there-- Ilya has write-ups on RussForPresident and a diary on Daily Kos. Pat has posts here, here, here, here, and here. Check it all out, they're worth the read.

I just wanted to point out a couple things, though. First, Senator Feingold announced two new initiatives:
1) Progressive Patriots Fund will be hiring 10-15 staff and sending them out to important districts across the country to help win in 2006. This is how a true Democratic leader should act -rather than hoarding money for an 08 race.

2) Senator Feingold will be introducing legislation in the coming weeks for a trial program for state based universal health care. States will be able to apply for grants to develop healthcare ideas on their own. and 3 will be selected. This way states can be idea laboratories and effective programs can be replicated in other states. This goes along with Senator Feingold's vision of universal health care wherein the government mandates health care and then allows individual states the flexibility to implement their own ideas.

The second one, especially, I like. It's a step in the right direction, looking at the problem rationally. It's basically the perfect way to start up a new health care system.

Then, Ilya writes:
After the afternoon event, a woman called me over and asked about my 'Run, Russ, Run!" button. She hadn't heard about the Senator before but liked what he had to say and was now a supporter. She promptly got ready to put the button on her hat - Senator Feingold had won over yet another voter.
Expect a lot more stories like this in the near future.

03 July 2006

Moving Michigan Forward - MI-01

Whenever I try to talk about Senator Feingold as a presidential candidate, the most common complaint I hear is that I should be focused on the 2006 midterms rather than waste my time with the next election. I disagree completely, because it's possible to care about more than one race at a time, from my town's mayor to my country's president.

With that in mind, I would like to take the coming days to briefly cover the Michigan races which are helping to shape the future of this country. This year is looking like an excellent year for Democrats across the country, and in Michigan, the quality of challengers against Republican incumbents is incredible.

But today, let's begin with an incumbent that's been in Congress for 14 years, yet maintains the contact and respect for his constituents that we admire in Russ Feingold. Let's start with Congressman Bart Stupak.

Congressman Stupak represents Michigan's 1st district, which is not an easy task. With the exceptions of the at-large districts of Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas, the district is the largest in the country, covering the entire Upper Penninsula and a big chunk of the Lower Penninsula. (map)

He is not a "liberal Democrat," and there are plenty of times when left-wing progressives like myself disagree with Stupak. He's pro-life, for one thing, and is a strong defender of the Second Amendment, a position I personally am not comfortable with. But I respect him more than I respect a lot of members of Congress.

Bart Stupak, moderate Democrat, is, more than anything, a representative of the people of northern Michigan. He's an advocate for the things that matter to his constituents, defending Michigan's natural resources from excessive exploitation and protecting the environment. He's a former police officer, and injuries received on duty are what led him to the law and, eventually, politics. Because of this, he's a leading Democrat in Homeland Security, and is known for his "sense of justice and fair play, knowledge of the House and its procedures, and an ability to rise above partisanship" (source).

This year, he faces Republican Don Hooper, and should be elected to his 8th term easily. But where many incumbents would become overconfident, he remains as humble and loyal to the voters as ever. From his campaign website:
As always, I pledge to continue to work hard for my constituents regardless of party affiliation and will remain as fiercely Independent as ever when it comes to what is in the best interest of the First Congressional District, the State of Michigan, and our Nation.
Fiercely independent.

Congressman Bart Stupak - US House of Representatives
Bart Stupak for Congress
MI-01 on Michigan Liberal
Jack Lessenberry's Interview and Commentary
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