Dispatches: Warning Signs for Obama?

02/18/2009 03:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

[This post is part of's week-long series on Stan Greenberg's new book, Dispatches from the War Room].

First, a quick status report: At least two and possibly three of my colleagues here at Pollster are working up posts on the Greenberg book today, but as they do have day jobs it looks like most will not post until sometime this evening (East Coast time).   

Second, I want to add one thought to my introductory post yesterday in response to the comment from reader "Moderate2008." I am not arguing that a pollster's job is to "make public policy." My point is that public opinion will ultimately limit or control the extent to which policy makers can affect change and achieve their goals, and a wise wonk will want to study public opinion -- both as it exists now and where political leaders can move it in the future. In that sense I agree with Moderate2008 that a pollster's primary job is to analyze the data "with competence and without bias," leaving policy makers in a better position to achieve their goals. I  will let Greenberg speak for himself on this, but my sense from from Dispatches is that he agrees.


Third, since I still have the floor, let me throw another question Stan's way (on a subject that at least one of my Pollster colleagues may probe more specifically later tonight):

One of the lessons Stan reports from his experience electing Clinton, Mandela, Blair, Barak and Sanchez de Lozada is that the "sense of triumph on election day almost always obscured political weakness." Examples include Clinton winning with only 43% of the vote, Sanchez de Lozada with only 23%, Barak having to cobble together a majority government that "failed to provide a working majority for any part of his agenda," Blair's Labor government taking the reigns with "no experience running anything," and so on.

Question is, looking forward, do you have any warnings for Democrats about any political weakness obscured by the headiness of Barack Obama's victory?'

PS: Yesterday I neglected to remind readers of my prior relationship with the author. I worked from 1990 to 1991 at Stan Greenberg's company -- then known Greenberg-Lake: The Analysis Group -- as a senior analyst to his then partner Celinda Lake. By chance, I left the company on the very day he announced that he would be working for Bill Clinton in 1992. In other words, I left just as the heart of the story told in Dispatches begins.