Google and Politico Panel Discussion on 2010 Midterm Election

Uploaded by citizentube on 27.09.2010

>> ARIANNA: Welcome, Steven. Becky Donatelli and I met in the lady's room, which is how
all good meetings begin. >> DONATELLI: True.
>> ARIANNA: So we are now already bonded. She's the founder and president of Campaign
Solutions. She is the first person to raise money on the Internet for a political campaign.
Her company, Campaign Solutions, has raised more online money for Republican candidates
and public affairs clients than any other company. And she was the chief Internet consultant
to the John McCain campaign, raising about $100 million online. Amy Walter--Amy Walter
is the new political director at ABC News and she also provides on-air analysis on ABC
News programs. Like Steve, she's a veteran of the National Journal's Hotline and was
the senior editor of the Cook Political Report where she earned her reputation as a top handicapper
of political races. So, let's hope that she has a crystal ball with her.
>> WALTER: It didn't fit in my pocket, but thanks.
>> ARIANNA: And speaking of spot-on election predictions, of course, Nate Silver is the
founder of, the popular poll analysis site that is now hosted by the
New York Times. FiveThirtyEight won the 2008 Weblog Award for Best Political Coverage and
among other things, Nate has been named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people
and has been called a "spreadsheet psychic" and a "number-crunching prodigy." So, we have
a lot to ask you about that. Welcome. So let me start with something that David Axelrod
said. He said that there is a kind of group pathology in Washington, which is one of the
reasons he looks forward to decamping to Chicago. So, you, who sort of are covering campaigns
or working on campaigns, how do you deal with a group pathology and the way in which what
is covered in Washington does not reflect either what is happening or what is being
talked about in real America? >> SILVER: Well, I live in New York and there's
no pathology there at all. But, you know, I think it's probably healthy to kind of,
you know, get out and have conversations with people who aren't like yourself, I suppose.
And that's probably not a lot easier to do in New York than in Washington, but, you know,
the kind of joke Ed was making about kind of reeling daily quotes and stuff, I mean,
I think it's important to read whether you're a liberal conservative, read blogs and all
sides of the spectrum. Some of them are very good, some of them are less good, but still
give you a sense for the zeitgeist. I mean, that seems so essential to me. You know, watch
both Fox News and MSNBC if you want to stereotype them on one side or the other but, you know,
just consume a lot of opinions. And in some ways, it's much easier now because we do have
the Internet and you have people maybe who aren't online who don't have as much of a
voice, but in general, you know, you can know what the local paper in Topeka is saying about
a House race that you're curious about, and that makes things a lot--should make things
a lot easier in theory. >> WALTER: I employ the mother-in-law rule,
which is if I can't explain it to her, then whoever is--whichever side is making that
argument isn't winning it. And I found that on healthcare, you know, she kept saying--and
I will pause it right now that these are--my in-laws are both Republican leaning. They
live in Texas, also not a place that is known for having--you know, they're not--they're
not sitting in the middle of some liberal bastion, but at the same time, they're very
thoughtful and they're really just looking for an explanation. Most people in this country
I find--and I do this by both talking to them and other family members or other folks who
don't do what I do everyday or what we all do everyday--they don't read the blogs and
they don't watch Fox and they don't watch MSNBC and they don't have really strongly
held opinions on some of the things that we think are the most important issue going on
for Americans. And so, if you can't have something break through with them, then the odds are
that it doesn't matter if the Right is all fired up about it or the Left is all fired
up. It's not going to really move the regular voters, and that to me, it just is so much
too about common sense. And we forget about that here when we get caught up in some of
the details of every teeny bit of legislation. >> ARIANNA: But, in fact, a lot of what is
happening right now, dominating the debate is not about common sense; it is a lot of
fear-mongering and we see now the new spay of political ads, and a lot them are playing
on fears which seems to happen every election cycle. And is it true that still fear is the
way to go? Fear rather than hope? >> DONATELLI: It's either love or hate. I
mean, as a fundraiser, we know we have to have somebody really fall in love with our
candidate or be deathly afraid of the opposition. So it's one or the other, and I'm sure we
see it all across the board. Working exclusively on the Internet, we think that we have a kind
of a special seat and we see first what the trends are. We know if our money goes up,
if our sign-ups go up, if the info box is full of people yelling at us--I mean, we are
in the first line. And if you go to your new media people, your Web people and ask them
the trends that they're seeing today, that's going to be what's dominant a few days from
now, and it goes so fast, too. >> ARIANNA: And you have actually done a real
interesting video, which was kind of really innovative with the Michele Bachmann campaign.
Would you tell us about it? >> DONATELLI: Well, that's the other thing.
Everything changes so fast online, what we're doing today will be passé perhaps a year
from now or what we're doing a year from now, we're not even thinking about doing today.
But the whole convergence of media, something that we've been talking about for a while
and it is happening; television sets, our computers, our movie theaters, and it's all
crossing over. So, Google has been an enabler of all of our--to do interesting and cool
things. So we did something for Michele Bachmann's campaign, her core team, Greener and Hook,
did some really great ads. They were very funny, all centered on the Minnesota State
Fair. And if any of you have ever been to the Minnesota State Fair...
>> WALTER: Awesome. >> DONATELLI: It is. It's got the most fried
food... >> WALTER: Awesome, yes.
>> DONATELLI: ... fried spaghetti, fried--yeah, anyway. So, anyway, they...
>> WALTER: Do they fry beer? >> DONATELLI: Yes, they fry everything. So,
her team did this ad that said basically Michele Bachmann's opponent wanted to tax the food
at the Minnesota State Fair. And so, it was a great ad, very funny, played on TV, blah,
blah, blah. >> ARIANNA: Did she? Did she want to want
to tax the food? >> DONATELLI: That, you'd have to fact check
the ad, yeah. >> WALTER: We all do facts.
>> DONATELLI: Exactly. But at any rate, so what Google has done with some of their new
innovations is they allowed us to draw a circle around the Minnesota State Fair, a geographic
circle, and stream ads into the people that are only inside the fairgrounds to their smartphones.
And 2,200 people that afternoon watched an ad inside the fairgrounds about her opponent
trying to tax their corn dog at the fair. So there are no more boundaries, you know,
we're really able to talk and communicate across all kinds of levels.
>> ARIANNA: But is that a problem in terms of what we just talked about for a second,
whether this was a factual ad or not? I mean, doesn't that really matter a lot when we have
this huge breakdown of trust? You know, the public just doesn't trust anybody at the moment;
not the media, not politicians, not Democrats, not Republicans. Aren't we feeding that mistrust,
whether we are in the media or campaign consultants, if we--if we put something out and we don't
really care whether it's factual or not? >> DONATELLI: Well, I'm the only political
consultant up here and I will tell you--all kidding aside, we do work for very honorable
people and we have a standard of ethics that we hue to. We're very involved in our professional
trade association. It does have a standard of conduct. And I think it does begin with
us to try to tell the truth all the time, so.
>> ARIANNA: What else can the media do, Steve to fact track...?
>> STEVE: Well look at--I think one of the upsides of the proliferation of information
sources is the fact that you can go to places and find out whether an ad is truthful or
not. I mean, you certainly have, you know, whether it's some place like PolitiFact or
whether it's local reporters that have teamed up with national media outlets that are fact-checking
these things in an almost real-time basis. So, really interested voters and reporters
who, you know, are just trying to just sort of keep up with--with all of these information
can go to different sources. And get, I think, in many cases, an authoritative, "Up or down.
Yes or no. This is true or it's not," scoring of these kinds of ads. And it's one of the
reasons I think that, you know, having this kind of information technology at your fingertips,
whether it's on a Smartphone, whether it's, you know, whether you're googling, whatever
you're doing, is changing the way that we operate on a minute by minute basis.
>> ARIANNA: So, you think actually people are going to be less willing to just put something
out there and hope it lasts until the election? >> STEVE: Well, it depends I think to what
extent they get caught on. I mean, I think that they will. I mean, ultimately, is a believer
in free markets. I think, if you put--if you put good information out there that follows
bad, if you can identify blatantly misleading political ads, for instance and call them
on it, I think that people will learn that it doesn't pay to run those kind of ads. Maybe,
I'm hopelessly naïve about that. It wouldn't be the first time people have said that about
me. But, I do believe that. I do believe that if you provide people with good information,
provide them places to get that good information, they will ultimately use it.
>> ARIANNA: Well Steve, we were talking in the green room about your feeling that the
way the Tea Party's portrayed in New York, in Washington, is a very inaccurate portrayal.
So, tell us the truth. >> STEVE: I do. Well, I mean, it's interesting.
I was struck earlier by what David Axelrod said when he was talking about the Tea Parties.
The issue came up and the first thing that he did was turn to this New Yorker piece about
the funding of the Tea Party and the Koch brothers. And to me, it was emblematic, not
to criticize him, since he's not here to defend himself; but, to me, it was emblematic of
the problem with the way that Washington sees the Tea Party. There's this huge growth of
outrage. And in most cases, I would say, it's voter outrage, rather than outright voter
anger, that's grown in the country. It's, you know, everybody knows that it's the story
of the 2010 election cycle. And yet, when you look at the New Yorker, and certainly
the New Yorker isn't alone, a lot of people have focused on the funding and the apparatus
of the Tea Parties. The story for reporters that are based in Washington and New York
is all about, you know, the Koch brothers, of these billionaires or how they were raising
money or what-have-you. That's not the story of the Tea Party movement, it's not. The Koch's
have been giving money to libertarian causes for 30 years and they've given money at the
same levels for 30 years. The idea that what we're seeing in the country, our grassroots
level which I think is incredibly organic, almost entirely organic, is somehow, you know,
manipulated by these two brothers throwing money at it from Washington. It's a total
misunderstanding of the way that the Tea Parties have come to be and are operating on a daily
basis. >> ARIANNA: But, and in fact, it's not just
the Tea Parties we're angry. I have this sense as I've been traveling around the country
that everybody's angry. >> WALTER: Right.
>> ARIANNA: It's just that people express it differently. How else do you see the way
they're expressing it? >> WALTER: They hate everybody. I mean, any
institution right now is viewed skeptically. And that's what makes it so hard with these
attack ads. I mean, we saw this in 2006, a Republican said, "Well, we're going to--we're
going hold the House this year because we're going to run these attack ads, just ripping
the face off of all of these Democrats. We got so much stuff there, we can't wait to
start." And they did and it didn't work, because people didn't buy it. And they were already
so frustrated with the status quo that really unless you said this person is cloning aliens
in their basements that are going to come out and take over the Earth and we have pictures
of those people. And even then, it might not have worked.
>> SILVER: What's the [INDISTINCT] club? >> WALTER: That's true, that could be going
on HBO, next week. That wasn't going to work either. And so, we're now seeing some of that
had--coming back to Democrats, right? We're going to run these campaigns. We're going
to give people choice to be negative and people aren't buying it. And partly, it's because
there's a lack of trust by--of any of the messengers, right? So, if you don't trust
the messenger, you're not going to trust the message. And then I started talking to consultants
about, "Well, who would be a good third party messenger now?" All right, so, remember when
there was a time you would want Tiger Woods in your ads? Probably, not now. There was
a time you would want, you know, "I'm a successful CEO." Maybe not, "Hey, I've made a lot of
money on Wall Street." "Nope, nope, don't' want you either. Thanks." And, I've used this
example a lot but, I think--and we're starting to see some candidates do this, but believe
it or not, a humility angle can work a little bit. As well as an acknowledgment that things
are broken and I get it. And so, I thought--it was--it was last year, Domino's did those
ads--did you guys see those that were really smart. It started off with people in a focused
group saying, "This is the most--this pizza's terrible. The sauce stinks, the crust stinks."
And--I thought--okay, then I'm going to see the Papa John's guy jump up and go, "See,
we did all these focus groups." And instead, the Domino's guy comes up and he's like, "Yeah.
You bet,"--he said, basically, "We suck. We know we did and we're sorry. And we're going
to make it better. So, we're going to out and then we're going to bring you guys back
and we're going to give you our pizza and we're going to win back over, because we admit,
we screwed up." And that kind of--that kind of acknowledgement is what voters have been
looking for. The problem is now that every single person who's associated at all with
politics is viewed so skeptically that I don't think it can break through today.
>> ARIANNA: This is an interesting point because--I don't know if you saw this story yesterday
about the candidates who've had financial problems and their homes have been foreclosed,
et cetera. And yet, the public is looking at them sympathetically, maybe because they
feel or at least they get it. >> WALTER: Right.
>> ARIANNA: So, is that--is that what we're really may be in for? Now, you want candidates
who've suffered themselves, so that the public can identify with them?
>> WALTER: I don't know that the public is focusing on this. I mean, I agree that--to
Steven's point that most folks haven't really keyed in on who these people are. And they
just get--they are just awash in all of these ads. So, I don't know if it's--that parts--part
of it, why it's not resonating. But, there's always that piece in American politics, you
want somebody who can relate to you. And if you are in Washington, whether you've been
here for 20 years or 20 minutes, voters are just apt to tune you out.
>> ARIANNA: But then, Nate, does that mean that we are in for continual electoral reversals?
Like whoever is in power is going to be the next target of all the anger at the fact that
government is not working and solutions coming out of Washington are not working, and then
the next guys are going to seize power. Is this like what we're in for?
>> SILVER: I'd think that's probably the most... >> ARIANNA: Yes?
>> SILVER: ...likely scenario. I mean, if you look at--you know, if you look at recessions
following major fiscal crises, they have long term effects, you know, three, five, seven
years, you know, it's going to be a long time before unemployment gets down to six and a
half... >> ARIANNA: How long?
>> SILVER: ...Or five and a half percent. I'm not an economist or--that's my degree,
but... >> ARIANNA: But you're a predictor.
>> SILVER: I--you know, I was out to spot the economy for a while but it seems like,
you know--and also one thing about unemployment, too, is that it doesn't always go down to
four percent. Different kind of troughs, you know, sometimes you only get down to six and
a half percent and that's as good as you do in expansion, you know. But there are enough
problems with the deficit and the environment and the various kind of foreign entanglements
we have. You know, you can--I don't want to talk too much about, you know, is this kind
of the beginning of the end of American hegemony, but these are questions our generation might
have to face and it's not going to be as easy to be an American president. I'm sure in our
lifetimes, we'll have another couple of great presidents. But there'll be also a lot of
presidents who have very difficult times, I would think, and majority leaders, certainly,
and congressmen and senators who have even more difficult times. It's almost like a game
of kind of reverse musical chairs. At some point, the economy will improve and whoever
kind of happens to be in power then will benefit from it, you know. But Republicans in 2011,
let's say they come in with a seven-seat majority in the house that, you know, the Senate's
kind of, you know, decided by Joe Lieberman anyway, and they nominally don't have majority
of it. No one is getting anything done and, you know, unemployment is still slow when
they're having in-fighting within their party. I mean, it's not a great situation for them
exactly when people expect them to, you know, repeal healthcare. Some of their voters will,
and Obama has the veto pen and so, they can get themselves a lot of trouble by 2012. But
it's going to be--it's good for me, right? If you like messy, complicated, hard-to-predict
campaigns... >> ARIANNA: Good for you.
>> SILVER: We should have several of those, I think. But I don't think we're going to
have some resolution unless--you know, who knows? I mean, like Amy, you know, I've been
thinking about third-party alternatives a little bit. I think if we had maybe a, you
know, a Ross Perot-type cat figure in the 2012 election, it could be interesting. And
maybe some of them come in and say, "Look, both parties are such damaged brands. I'm
the one who actually has credibility on the deficit," for example, you know, or in energy
issues. So, we'll see. It should be interesting. >> ARIANNA: But it's not just that it's not
going to be good for the politicians; it's going to be really bad for the country. So
given the scenario that you put forward is really going to be very dangerous for the
country, what are the alternatives? Like, where do you see the possibilities for actually
turning things around? >> STEVEN: Can I--can I challenge your assumptions?
>> ARIANNA: Yes. >> STEVEN: Why do you think it's going to
be bad for the country? >> ARIANNA: No, no, challenge Nate's assumption.
>> STEVEN: Why do you--why do you collectively think it's going to be bad for the country?
I guess I think this is what politics is about. >> ARIANNA: Well, a lot of it is because if
you--if we don't even know... >> SILVER: No, I just think we have--I think
we have some long-term structural problems, you know, the debt, the environment. And if,
you know, if politics behaves as it has in the last couple of cycles, then our--we're
not certain to survive those intact as powerful as America is right now, and you have some
big, you know, debt kind of default issue. I think it's real risk the next 20 years or
so. >> ARIANNA: Also, quite simply, if we--if
we--if unemployment stays at the level that it's at now for a long time, wouldn't you
say that's very bad for the country? >> STEVEN: No, certainly. I guess I misunderstood
you as saying, this change back and forth between political fighting...
>> ARIANNA: Oh no, no, it isn't. >> STEVEN: ...or political parties, that kind
of fighting. >> ARIANNA: The economic reality.
>> STEVEN: I think that's great for the country. And I think, in fact, that the more intense
that kind of fighting, I think it's much more likely to surface the kind of issues that
you're talking about where we can have an adult conversation about entitlement reform...
>> WALTERS: You've been saying... >> STEVEN: ...and things of that nature.
>> WALTERS: I wish we could, but do you really think that's going to help? I mean, I just
keep hoping--and again, maybe unlike you, I'm naïve--but that in a major crisis like
we're in right now, that's when leaders lead, right? It's really easy to be in politics
when the--when we're flush and when we're not at war. But this should have been the
time. This should have been the time when some people stand up and just say, "We're
going to work together." And next year too, like, "Let's--we're really going to talk about
entitlement reform. Do you want to do it? Let's go."
>> STEVEN: But look, I see--I would argue that we're seeing some of that. Now, we may
not agree... >> DONATELLI: Yes.
>> STEVEN: ...on the ideas or what--or the outcome of these ideas, but I would say that
when you ask somebody like a Paul Ryan, who's making--who's making the campaign, for better
worse, you can disagree with his policy prescriptions, but he's saying, "This is what we need to
do. This will work. CVO scored it, here's where we need to be, and let's have an argument
about it." >> WALTERS: But even Republicans won't go
along. I mean, that's what I'm saying. It's like, even his own party is...
>> STEVEN: No. I think--I think... >> WALTERS: ...pushing back on him.
>> STEVEN: ... some of them, I think. But you're also seeing this on, you know, early
presidential discussions with Mitch Daniels who's asked point blank, "What do we do about
this?" He said, "Well, one of the things we need to do is consider raising our retirement
age on Social Security." It's the first time you've heard--I mean, look, I'm not getting
overly excited that we're going to all have this great debate about entitlements in the
next six weeks or the next two years. But to me, it's, you know, one of the first times
in recent memory that you've heard people addressing this on--in a sort of head-on way.
>> ARIANNA: Well, let's take a question from... >> DONATELLI: We are having a dialogue. That's
just it. The whole Tea Party movement, that's what that's about. I mean, there are fringe
elements to everything, but most of those people are just concerned about taxes being
too high, government not working. They want to talk about issues, they want to explore
things instead of just to have two bland candidates with greater, lousy TV campaigns to choose
from. I mean, I'm excited about what's going on.
>> WALTERS: So what happens if it doesn't work?
>> DONATELLI: What do you mean it doesn't work? Dialogue is good. It leads...
>> WALTERS: No, no, no, no. If they come here and all those...
>> DONATELLI: Then they will go again. >> WALTERS: ...perspectives.
>> DONATELLI: And people in America want change. They thought they voted for it in 2008, they
think they are voting for it in 2010, and if whoever wins doesn't come here and change
the way they do business, they will be gone... >> WALTERS: I agree.
>> DONATELLI: ...until we elect people who will make things change.
>> ARIANNA: But I think what you said now, which is change the way they do business,
change the way Washington works, is very different than the specific prescriptions of our taxes
or the size of government. I mean, this is a different debate. The debate, I think, that
the country really wants to have is how broken Washington is. People saw that, even in these
last two years, despite the fact that the Obama administration came in, wanting to change
things. But I really--if you look at the pulse--and I'd love to know what you think, Nate--I don't
think that the anger is about the size of government, it's about how incompetent the
government has been. I mean, if you scratch the surface, it's about the bail-out and the
fact that we're bailed out Wall Street and Main Street is still suffering.
>> SILVER: Well, something--I mean, something like the Wall Street bail-out was not going
to be one of the more popular policies in American history or people don't see--don't
see the upside, right, you know? You know, I'm someone who thinks that if you go talk
to a lot of economists, not all by any means, but they'll say, "Look, if we hadn't done
this, our hand was forced, and we could've had 20% unemployment now." And in some sense,
it makes me a little bit more understanding of kind of the Bush argument about having
prevented another kind of terrorist attack. It's kind of the same thing, you know, where,
you know, people kind of see failure, they don't see the prevention of a worse outcome
sometimes. I mean, there are a lot of things that align badly for this White House. I think
they've also made a lot of mistakes frankly, too, but, you know, people are--I don't know.
I mean, people, when they're unhappy, they tend to be unhappy about everything, right?
So if healthcare happens to be on the docket or, you know, cap and trade are the size of
government right, you know, I'm not really sure that we're seeing some kind of, you know,
Jeffersonian uprising independent from the strain the economy has put the nation under
for quite a while now. And it's been a tough decade going back to 9/11. It's been a tough
kind of time for this country, especially for kind of like, you know, the 90s.
>> ARIANNA: Well, let's quickly go to a question from the Google Moderator. It's a question
from Robert in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Why is it that Democrats have a brain but no spine,
and Republicans have all spine but no brain? When will the American people get a political
party that represents thoughtful and courageous human beings?
>> WALTER: That's really from Dorothy. That is writing in from the... Yes.
>> ARIANNA: So, who is dying to answer this? >> DONATELLI: Oh, I think we have brains and
a spine. Here we go. >> ARIANNA: Would you give us an example?
>> DONATELLI: Ah, me. No. >> WALTER: I think it's sort of simplistic.
I don't know that--but I want to. >> ARIANNA: Challenge the question?
>> WALTER: No, I think he's right. That's the way that the--he's right in the sense
that that's how he views these two parties and how they set up. And Nate's point about
third party is in that, you know, you would think now would be the time where more and
more people are going to start thinking this way and move outside. I mean, we're seeing
more people now who are identifying themselves as independents. Thirty-seven percent in the
last Pew poll identified themselves as independent voters. So, that's a very--you know, that's
clearly a sign that more people are feeling this way. I also want to go back to the point
about, you know, how people view government. And I think what you have in this country,
and we've seen this in the Allstate/National Journal poll, basically file--found this as
well; which is you have a third of people in this country who say government is the
problem, not the solution; a third of people in this country who say we need more active
government; and another third--and these are the--those classic independents, who say,
"I want government to have a role, but I just don't trust that they're doing it effectively."
And that's really just sort of the heart of where we're--you know, we really need to be
going when we're talking about how politicians need to address this stuff to talk to those
people who really do want to see something moving beyond just right and left politics.
>> ARIANNA: And in fact, isn't the way that the media present everything as right versus
left counterproductive at some point? I mean, I'm constantly amazed by, let's say, the debate
around Afghanistan. There are so many conservatives who oppose what's happening in Afghanistan,
you know, George Will, Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough, Tony Blankley, and not to mention The Cato
Institute. So this is not exactly the standard left-right debate and yet, the media reflexively
present it that way. >> STEVEN: But they're all part--I would argue
that they're all part of the media and they have platforms to make their case. I mean,
George Will has made his case persuasively, I think. I mean, I don't find him persuasive,
but he made a very strong case in the pages of the Washington Post in his--in the platform
that he has on ABC. So, I mean I think to a certain extent, they do have their case,
but I understand as--I'm sorry... >> ARIANNA: We're talking about the [INDISTINCT].
>> STEVEN: ...Your broader point, particularly with respect to, you know day to day politics
is certainly true and I think it's a function of our two-party system. Now, things could
change if we see the emergence of a serious third party candidate. It won't--it won't
feel as comfortable to sort of have these right-left assumptions that guide the thinking
on these issues. But basically, I think our day to day politics are run by those kind
of basic assumptions. >> ARIANNA: But don't you think it makes it
harder to have these larger debates? Like, right now, the larger debate about redefining
capitalism, what's the function in capitalist system? You know, you have many capitalists who sleep with a
copy of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead under their pillow who are upset by the Bailout because
they felt that, you know, you bailed-out companies that took excessive risk and then the taxpayer
is on the hook. It didn't seem to make good, free-enterprise economic sense. And yet it's
impossible to have that debate, because it's all, again, left and right. I mean, do you
find that at ABC when you read stuff and it's all the left says that, the right says that?
>> WALTER: I don't know. >> ARIANNA: Or you'd never do it?
>> WALTER: Of--I would never do that. And we set up that brilliantly, right, looking
for the nuance. But I do think that, you know, bottom-line, you had a lot of Democrats and
Republicans vote for the bailout. And in the middle of the presidential campaign, that's
pretty--that's still pretty powerful stuff. And so, that's--in some ways, it's worrisome
because what it says is you literally have to get to that cliff before you're going to
get both sides to hold hands, and maybe sometimes, in this case, hold hands and then jump. And
many of those people aren't coming back to Congress partly because of that vote. But
it also seems to be a truly American thing to sort of wait until it gets really, really
bad. Some ways, this goes to this trait of American optimism because we assume it will
never really get that bad. >> ARIANNA: Yes.
>> WALTER: It's going to always get better because it does. We always come out of these
things. So we don't--we don't have to do these crazy things that they do in Europe and other
places because we know that we can pull ourselves out. It's only when we see the cliff that
we will do something about it. >> ARIANNA: Well, let's go to one more question
from pgunn01. Are sites like WikiLeaks and Twitter the future of news? How will the editorial
fact-checking and fairness roles-responsibility of news be met by this new media?
>> DONATELLI: Oh, you want me to start? Well, obviously, it's hard to give a lot of information
in 140 characters, but the fact of the matter is that's how we're talking to people these
days. So the whole--the whole fairness or fact-checking--you know, when blogs started
and bloggers started they were very good at policing themselves and making sure that they
were checking their facts and checking each other. I think we've fallen out of that a
little bit, with there just being so much information that, hopefully, we go back to
that self-policing. But in essence, there's so much media out there that people are customizing
what they get and how they get it and when they get it, and filtering the content that
they--that they want to receive. There was a larger discussion earlier about people--the
President talking about looking at other sides of the issue and, well, I personally think
that's a good idea too. The fact of the matter is that people are looking for either what
interests them or mirrors what they believe and pulling in this information rather than
going other places where it is served to them. >> ARIANNA: But how do you see the preponderance
of social media in this campaign cycle? Facebook, Twitter, how do you see it affecting the midterms?
I mean we saw, for example, how masterfully Sarah Palin is using Facebook. I mean, she
can bypass all the mainstream media because she can get all her messages, whether it's
about a death panel or anything else, you know, on Facebook.
>> WALTER: But it--I think that Becky makes a great point, which is the filtering piece
of it. And so, when you're in an area where you're not trusting any institution to tell
you the truth, then you're--you really are looking to those people you trust the most,
which usually are your friends or your family or people that you've somehow attached on
to as saying, you know, this person is trustworthy. Until you get--I get--for work purposes, I
have a Twitter feed that I--is very narrow. I don't have a ton of people on there, but
they're the people that I know that I trust what they're writing, I trust what they're
saying, they don't--and if they do have an agenda, I know what it is, and they're very
upfront about what it is. And that's how I'm going to get all of my information. But you're
totally right, I'm not going out to get it anymore.
>> DONATELLI: Right. Right. >> WALTER: I look at my--that's the real change,
is... >> DONATELLI: Yes.
>> ARIANNA: Instead of--I used to open my computer and go right to the papers, now I
open my computer and go right to Twitter, and that's where I'm getting most of my news
for a single morning. >> SILVER: While there's some data that, you
know, with respect to TV news, that Fox News' audience is becoming more and more Republican,
you know, it's kind of a four to one ratio when it was a, you know, two and half to one
ratio just a few years ago. And that's, for--actually is dangerous when--you know, I'm not saying
people shouldn't have the right, I'm not saying any fairness when people should consume whatever
media they want, right? But if people only hear the news presented to them the way they
want it, I think it's--you know, I don't know. I mean, you can't force people to kind of
eat their spinach or read their kind of broadsheet newspaper. But, you know, being part of the
community, I think we should not lose sight of our real communities which are probably
more diverse than our virtual communities in 99% of all cases, I would think.
>> ARIANNA: And what can we do, you think, to strengthen our real communities then? Because,
you know, if this is a problem, it's like I find that what's happening online is strengthening
the way our communities too; there's an enormous of--amount of self organizing online.
>> WALTER: Well, how many times have you've been twittering or forwarding something to
somebody who's sitting in the same room with you? Because that's happened multiple times
with me, you know. >> ARIANNA: You're living a very interesting
life. >> WALTER: A very, very bizarre life.
>> DONATELLI: And you think that's bad? >> WALTER: I'm the avatar. Right. Yeah, what's
bad about that? It's
not I like to stay out of reality. >> ARIANNA: But if you go online, you see,
for example, sites like, and then, solution-based
sites, or ProjectBounceBack. You know, it's just amazing how much is going on, and that
is about solutions, that is about bearing witness or sharing stories of struggle online
that does not get into the mainstream media. >> DONATELLI: But that doesn't mean people
aren't reading it. >> ARIANNA: Oh no, absolutely.
>> DONATELLI: Because they are. They are consuming that, they're just doing it in a different
path whether they have it. >> ARIANNA: And not in large enough numbers
to make a difference to the real communities that enables talking about it.
>> WALTER: I think it's actually better because if you think about it in the sort of olden
days, you know, the place where you're getting advice or information from was basically people
that you could physically see at a day. Now you get the chance to go out and get opinions
and information from a gajillion people. Now, some of it maybe totally bunk, but what were
the odds that your next door neighbor knew a lot about medicine, right? "Oh, I have a
cure for that." "Really? Have you gone to medical school? I don't know."
>> ARIANNA: No, I actually completely agree with that. I feel very optimistic about what's
happening online around solutions. And the reason I raise the point is because I feel
if the media--if the mainstream media, including big sites--I mean, we're trying to do a big
job, a better job of that--covered them all, then others would learn about them. So, it's
more of how we cover what people are doing around creating their own sites or using Facebook
and Twitter. It's really what B. Stone calls as the next age. You know, Twitter has been--started
as something that was fun and life mapping, where you're eating, what you're doing. And
with--its role during the Iran uprising showed us how incredibly important it would be as
an instrument of democracy. And now, B. says--calls Twitter not a triumph of technology, but a
triumph of humanity. And that's still aspirational, but it shows how it can help connect people.
I mean, are you seeing that at all and do you have any examples of how Twitter, Facebook,
social media are being used in ways that are really positive and are countervailing forces
to the--all the forces of division and scape-goating that we're seeing?
>> DONATELLI: I think there are as many good things happening within social media and with
the way people are using the Internet as bad things. With everything in life, I think we
tend to hear more about the sensational, crazy things that are going on than the everyday,
just connections between people. And it is virtual and two people might be in the same
room, but they're still connecting, and they're talking to each other and they're sharing
opinions. And I think--I think I have a lot more interaction with people, frankly, since
the advent of Facebook than I did before. So, I see this all as a positive. Being a
little bit older, I do get concerned on occasion how much information people share about themselves.
But that's become the cultural norm, so, you know, that's just the way it is.
>> ARIANNA: So, let's take one more question from the Google Moderator; from Bill in Texas.
In view of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, what is there to prevent foreign governments
and international corporations routing money through U.S. corporations which are either
majority-owned by or a subsidiary of a foreign parent?
>> WALTER: I think we have Ben Ginsberg come up and answer that question, right?
>> ARIANNA: Ben, would you like to answer the question?
>> BEN: No. The truth is they were law students staff that [INDISTINCT]
>> ARIANNA: Right. >> BEN: And there is no difference before
acquisition. >> ARIANNA: Would you like to try and channel
him? Would you like to channel Ben Ginsberg? >> DONATELLI: I think Ben said "It's okay,
everything's going to be all right. We're going to prevent against this."
>> WALTER: Yeah. I mean, I think I was talking to someone the other day who has been--who
is a non-partisan academic who studies campaign finance reform who had a very good point about
this. Because I said, you know, are we seeing this flood of Republican fund-raising can
we--into third party groups, can we say that it's really--there's a cause and effect between
the Citizens United ruling and how much money they're raising? Because to me, it seems as
if it's really generated by the enthusiasm that's out there for Republicans versus the
lack of enthusiasm for Democrats. And that was his point as well which was, you know,
the--I think a lot of what you're seeing out there is more about enthusiasm, it's more
about the fact you have a lot of people with money who want to affect the elections just
as you had a lot of people with money in 2008 who were Democrats who saw themselves as impacting
the elections. In fact, you know, Republicans have always complained that their folks are
much less successful in doing third party groups than Democrats. I mean, they always
sort of look to groups like ACT in 2004 or some of the other third--and the labor groups
as much better funded, smarter than the Republican groups. And now you're seeing more Republican
groups sprout up and part of it is when you get the chance to, one, flip control of the
House and the Senate; that tends to get money into your coffers. And the second is to learn
a lot of the lessons from those groups that had already started doing it.
>> DONATELLI: And as a fundraiser, I will tell you that most of the money is not coming
in from large donors which is what you tend to see a little bit more on the left. This
is truly a grassroots uprising. You know, there are people with their contributions
of 10, 15, 25 dollars; there's just a lot of them. So it's--we're feeling it from the
grassroots. >> ARIANNA: Now, you're also doing Carly Fiorina's
campaign. >> DONATELLI: Yes.
>> ARIANNA: Are you finding that even for a very wealthy candidate, you're able to get
small donations? >> DONATELLI: Absolutely. She has such massive
appeal across the board and--I mean, the average donation online for Carly's campaign is less
than $100, you know, these are per donation. These are regular, everyday people who are
massing to give to her. And I'll tell you, we sense the health of a campaign by looking
at who's giving and how much they're giving, and Carly is just taking off. People are really
focused on that race and we are thrilled with the response that she's getting.
>> ARIANNA: So how much has she raised online? >> DONATELLI: I'm not allowed to say that,
but they'll report it, I think, in a couple of weeks. A lot, let's put it that way. They're
very, very healthy. >> ARIANNA: You can't just give us an off
the record? >> WALTER: Let's say like more than...
>> ARIANNA: We won't tell anybody. >> DONATELLI: No.
>> WALTER: Right. More or less than a million? >> DONATELLI: People like her.
>> ARIANNA: We're not questioning that. We're just asking how much she's raised. Okay, we'll
find out. Now, Steve, you just did a major piece on Senator John Thune and the fact that
he may very well be a presidential candidate in 2012. What is the impact that all the different
people who are likely presidential candidates on the Republican side, what's the impact
that they're going to have in the midterms? >> STEVEN: Well, I think you've seen them
out and about in the country trying to raise money for Republicans in 2010. It's been an--there
has been sort of an interesting delay. Jonathan Martin, I think, at Politico had a piece about
this a couple of weeks ago and it's reflected in conversations that I've had with political
types in Iowa, in New Hampshire, South Carolina, you know, who say that the sort of on the
ground activity that they are seeing is at a much slower rate today than it has been
in corresponding times in the past. And I think on the Republican side, that's largely
due to the fact that major candidates or would be candidates don't want to be seen out there
sort of pumping up themselves when they really want to be seen as raising money and doing
things for the party. The focus, they think, should be on 2010, not on 2012. So I think
you've seen people sort of pull back and not be quite as active as they have been at this
time in different cycles in the past. >> ARIANNA: Although, of course, Sarah Palin's
endorsements have made already a big difference in the primaries.
>> STEVEN: But that, I think, feeds that broader perception that she's helping, you know, she's
helping these candidates. She's giving them--I mean, I--you know, there's a raging debate,
I think, on the right about how much influence she's had and has it really meant--has it
really led to elections. People--I think, basically, what she's done in some cases is
take people who weren't as well-known and make them well-known. She endorses somebody
and some--a candidate who nobody has heard of, or a few people have paid attention, particularly
in the national media, up to that point have to stop and say, "Well, wow, that person is
interesting. What are the polls telling us? Have there been polls? And where do we go
from here?" She's got an, I think, an uneven record. Brian Murphy lost in Maryland, who
was a Sarah Palin endorsed candidate, and Christine O'Donnel won, surprisingly, in Delaware.
So, I think, you know, you seen her try to do if she--you know, who knows if she's actually
going to run, tried to feed this perception that what she's out there doing now is making
herself busy helping elect Republicans in 2010. And I think other candidates have done
the same with probably not as much fanfare and coverage.
>> ARIANNA: So as we are wrapping up, any concluding comments from any of you? Any big
thoughts you have not yet shared? Nate, your predictions?
>> SILVER: Well, I mean, I think it's... >> How many did you say? How many...
>> SILVER: Well, I guess my big thing--I think this election is a little bit less in the
bag for Republicans than people are assuming on the House side, for example. I mean, I
think, you know, they have case where they'll win 60 or 70 seats, that's, like, totally
on the table. But, you know, the campaign is still just taking place in local districts.
Some local districts have fairly good polling for Democrats, some have terrible polling
for Democrats, but it's--you're getting somewhat more ambiguous messages. If the Democrats
can narrow that enthusiasm gap a little bit, then they might save the House. The question
is whether they want to or not. Would you rather have a three-seat majority in the House
or a six-seat minority? I don't really know, you know. But I think people--I think it's
a hard election to forecast; there's so many districts in play. The House level is still
a hundred seats probably. We aren't quite sure how it's going to turn out that, you
know, we're going to be up late counting on November 2nd and, you know, the night before,
we're going to have somewhat--a somewhat better idea but it's going to be a--there should
still be a few more twist and turns, I think. >> WALTER: Really? I like it. I like the thought
of twist and turns; that means that this campaign will never end. And it's always...
>> ARIANNA: And you'll have a lot to tell to your go to Republican in-laws, yes.
>> WALTER: So it's--that's right. I have a lot of--I have a lot of stories to tell. And
Nate brings up a very good point and I--we saw this in 2006 as well. There are a lot
of people who thought they knew exactly what was going to happen but these things do tend
to ebb and flow. I think the enthusiasm gap narrowing will help save some seats, but the
real question is where independent voters are. And in so many of these districts, if
you're losing independents 60-40, you still can't win even if you get the Democrats to
turn out. >> ARIANNA: Becky?
>> DONATELLI: For the first time in four years, it's great to be a Republican. It's our year.
>> ARIANNA: Steve? >> STEVE: I think it's actually going to be
bigger than most people think. I think, you know, at the beginning of the discussions
of the Tea Party and their effects that the people were talking about the Tea Party just
asked for a turf and it was a small group of people who were really pissed off and we've
seen now since, I think, pretty incredibly through a variety of different polls that
that's simply not the case; that the enthusiasm gap that we had seen has been growing and
building on the Republican side. And I, you know, I don't crunch the numbers like Nate.
I'll never be as smart as Nate is but, you know, I had--I do have a big gut and I think
my gut tells me that this will be bigger than '94 and I don't at all think that the 60 plus
numbers on the House side are crazy. >> SILVER: There--I mean, there are enough
seats there. But I mean, Democrats did really--I mean, there were--the Tea Party was a leading
indicator, you know. Back in kind of April of '09 when Obama still had 60% approval ratings
and Democrats really kind of missed it. You know, they kind of dismissed it and made fun
of it. You know, and there are things about them that you can criticize, of course, right?
But, you know, it was--that day when they had protests in, you know, 200 different cities
or 500 different cities. I kind of did a piece [INDISTINCT] which I counted local estimates
from local papers of what the turnout had been in these rallies, and they're all tiny,
right? They were all like, you know, 500 people or 200 people or 12 people or a thousand maybe
arrived. But in some ways, the fact that you had that welling up in so many different places
spoke to the fact that it was kind of spontaneous, you know. When Democrats have a rally, they
have a big 250,000-person rally in Washington or New York or something, you know. And those
sometimes don't get noticed as much as they should, but, I mean, that was a sign that,
you know, people weren't just upset. They were upset enough to go out and interact with
their neighbors about it and, you know, I don't know, Democrats should have been--maybe
there's something they could have done, right? You know, but that was a--that was a warning
sign, I think. >> ARIANNA: So, okay. My prediction is that
we're moving from hub, you know, looking to Washington and looking to politicians and
elected officials to solve problems to looking to communities, so from hub to hub 2.0. And
I think the social media and the activity online around that is fascinating and underreported.
And the same way that you are saying that we're all kind of taken aback by the Tea Party
growing, I think we're all going to be taken aback by how all this disparate little platoons
here and there all around the country can coalesce to sort of a big movement. That's
very American of sort of people taking matters in their own hands. And actually, for the
good turning things around while, of course, we have all the other forces that are more
destructive that are not going to be named. But thank you all so much, Steve and Becky
and Amy and Nate. And Jonathan, back to you. >> JONATAHAN: I would say thanks, Arianna,
since I'm not hooked up to my microphone yet. Hopefully, folks at home can hear me. That's--this
is why Arianna's so good, she's--she is on it. Thank you all very much. Now, they're
unhooking you...All right, am I...