December 10th, 2007


We get mail.

Dear Insomnia -- 
"I am 8 years old.
Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?"
- Virginia O' Hanlon

Dear Virginia - 
Your little friends are wrong.  They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age.  They do not believe in anything except what they see.  

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  And, just so your sceptical little friends don't fill your little head with doubt anymore, here's an inside video of what his toy factory looks like. 

 (Video from the excellent, visually stunning documentary "Manufactured Landscapes". Well worth hunting down, if you haven't had the chance...)


Clinton campaign starts sweatin'... bigtime.

...and then suddenly, *snap* everything changes.

This is the post-Oprah rally headline in Hillary Clinton's adopted hometown today, pointing out the huge turnout for the Obama / Oprah rallies this weekend, especially in South Carolina, a state that previously seemed a shoo-in for Clinton.

 Over 29,000 people turned out to see them speak in Columbia, South Carolina. 18,500 in Des Moines, Iowa and another 10,000 in Cedar Rapids, braving the sleet and snow. And 8500 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

But they're just speeches, right? Well, yes and no.

According to Wikipedia, only about 100,000 Iowans are thought to have participated in the 2004 caucus, so if the Obama campaign -- now armed with the names and phone numbers of 28,500 interested Iowans -- just manages to get half of them to the polls, that could lead to a substantial shift in the final outcome.

...byt that's not all. In Des Moines alone, 4,250 people were offered closer seating to the stage, in exchange for promising to volunteer four hours to the Obama campaign. In South Carolina, each person who entered the stadium for the rally was given a list of four phone numbers and first names along with a script of what to say when they called them on behalf of the campaign.

And the tangible advantages from such large, visible rallies near the end of these races don't even touch upon the huge change in national perception about how the race has changed, based upon widespread media interest. Pre-Oprah polls were already showing that the races were too close to call within many of the early states. Polls over the weekend indicate that a major change is in the works, and that Obama now has an edge in several states. It will be interesting to see how the polls shift in the next few days, as it could indicate a larger national trend that could flip the race, especially if Clinton's support is as half-hearted as some pollsters think.  

Apparently, many of her supporters favor Obama, but don't believe he can win... yet.

In other words, what we're seeing signs of here is a very well planned, late-but-not too late viral surge, with one big message emphasized at all the campaign stops:


The question is, what, if anything, can Hillary Clinton do to respond to that message? She can hardly be described as change, and, well, people love an underdog. Is there anything that could swing the momentum back towards her so late in the game, or will she just have to hope that her campaign doesn't face a complete meltdown?  

...and then suddenly,
Everything changes.