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January 31, 2008

A single-family house in Clairton, Pennsylvania (outside Pittsburgh) costs considerably less than a parking space in New York City.

Richard Florida

Values vs. Wonkishness

George Lakoff gets to the nub of the matter:

Obama understands the importance of values, connection, authenticity, trust, and identity ...The Clintonian policy wonks don't seem to understand any of this ... They confuse values with programs. They have underestimated authenticity and trust.

The rest is here.

Rich has offered several posts regarding his concerns about the electoral map and the ability for the Democratic candidate to prevail in 2008.  I am strongly convinced that a Democratic candidate can win and he or she can do it without winning big states like Florida and Ohio.

Here's the math.  Assume that all Kerry states go blue again.  Let's also say that the Democrat picks up Iowa, New Mexico, and Nevada, all states where Bush won by less than 3%.  In this a very plausible scenario (remember that Gore won Iowa and New Mexico in 2000).  The Democratic candidate now needs just one more state to prevail-any state. Depending on the candidate, I think that's entirely possible.

If it's Obama, I'd suggest that Colorado might be in play.  Colorado is trending blue and Obama is ahead of Clinton there right now in most polls.  Obama also potentially puts some southern states with relatively large African-American populations into play. Crazy as it sounds, I think Virginia (especially with Mark Warner on the ticket as a Senate candidate), Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas are possibilities. 

If it's Hillary, "home state" Arkansas is a very good bet.

Now that McCain looks likely to be the Republican candidate, Bill Richardson's stock as a Dem VP has gone way up.  The Southwest is the key to a Democratic victory and Richardson potentially minimizes McCain's advantage in that part of the country.

Of course, a Hillary/McCain matchup might just make the race way too tempting for Michael Bloomberg.  If he gets in and gets any traction, I'd put my money on Hillary.  Bloomberg could make a serious play for the white male independents that will be critical for McCain. He'll have much less effect on Hillary's core constituencies.

I also think that there's not been much discussion yet about the branding distinctions between McCain and either Democratic candidate. From that angle, an Obama/McCain race is gold for the Democrats-new, fresh, young guy versus old crotchety curmudgeon.  The Kennedy mystique thing is in full play.  Even if it's Clinton/McCain-the contrast is still rather stark.  McCain's age and demeanor will become an issue in the national campaign and it favors the Democrats.

While I by no means think this is easy, there are plenty of ways to get a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

*Gary Gates is senior research fellow at UCLA's Williams Institute and author of the Gay and Lesbian Atlas.

posted by Kevin Stolarick

It's one of my favorite games. Some rumblings already about McCain-Guiliani (ugh).  Who would Obama choose. OK, I'll get it started: How does Obama-Hagel sound? What about Hillary? Or Romney?

Penny for your thoughts.

Richard Florida


The New York Times Elizabeth Bumiller reports on boom in DC "research groups" (pointer via Ryan Avent)

The economy may be slowing down, but Washington’s ideas industry is booming. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research institution that was effectively broke seven years ago, just bought a $33 million vacant lot downtown as the site for a new home. The Council on Foreign Relations is expanding its Washington office to a $60 million building on F Street. The United States Institute of Peace is erecting a $180 million headquarters of steel and white translucent glass on a corner of the Mall. Not least, the rapidly growing Brookings Institution — its operating budget is up nearly 50 percent in the past two years alone — just paid $18.5 million for a satellite building across the street from its headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue, in a stretch near Dupont Circle known as Think Tank Row.

That's nearly $300 million. A DC insider once told me these so-called think tanks don't so much create new intellectual capital as repackage and recycle it - or as he put it, they run it down.  Candidly, I was shockingly disappointed during my time in DC by the inability of most think tanks to tackle big questions in an open-minded, globally-oriented (that is not American-centric) way.  And while there always are individual exceptions, I was also dismayed by the quality of  much of the work.  My hunch is the increased giving is being fueled by partisan agendas - actually, I have been told many time this is the way think tanks increasingly are funded - as political actors seek to lend credibility and legitimacy to desired actions.

Question: About that $300 million - I wonder how much this works out to per unique new idea?

January 30, 2008

Richard Florida

Social Isolation

Over at City of God, Dan asks:

The place where I worry about a loss of community isn’t in downtown Toronto, nor is it in small, farming communities. Where I worry about this phenomenon is in the vast tracts of land developed into sprawling exurbs around cities. When I drive through the Costco badlands ... I get a palpable sense of isolation - especially when I try to imagine life there without a car.

What do others think?

Richard Florida

Who Is This Man?

UofT student and sometimes Spin correspondent, Chandler Levack writes:

In Richard Florida’s mind, Toronto at its best is a tangle of immigrants, gay men, and a free-flowing intellectual-based economy. Who is this man, and why should we trust him?


It's a nice profile with insight into my upbringing, love affair with music and the evolution of my thinking

Richard Florida

The Year in Music

Check out the 35th annual edition of the Village Voice Pazz and Jop music rankings.  It'sa comprehensive guide to the year in sound based on votes by 577 music critics.

Like James Surowiecki, says crowds sure can be smart. Looking it over, 2007 certainly stacks up as a good year in music. But tell me Pazz and Joppers, how did you rate Taylor Swift ahead of Kevin Drew, Wooden Ships, and Daft Punk?  For my money, Feist, Rilo Kiley, Robert Plant and Allison Krause, and Iron and Wine are better than P&J, while Herbie Hancock's Joni Mitchell  tribute, Neil Young Live at Massey Hall and Jill Scott are a whole lot better. LCD System and Bruce Springsteen - fine albums mind you - seem to benefit from home-field advantage. I'm slightly less enamored of them and of the White Stripes' latest. And when it comes to hip-hop, I take the fifth - ever since Biggie.

January 29, 2008

Richard Florida

Harford Does Colbert

Tim Harford will be on the Colbert Report Thursday night, which means his Toronto event at the Gladstone Hotel is canceled. Fortunately, Tim will still be in town on Friday.  Plus we both think the world is spiky.

Richard Florida

I, Zune

Over at Eye Weekly where the most popular topic is this, Marc Weisblott reviews last nite's Board of Trade event, aiming his very witty key stokes at Toronto's business community, the Board of Trade, local and provincial officials and most of all, moi - I'm the "Zune" to Toronto's iPod (zing, zing).  But I have to admit I just don't think it's a bad thing when 2000 or so members of the business community are led by a female CEO and board chair, are addressed by an openly gay Deputy Premier, and a mayor who has just launched a pioneering Prosperity Agenda with business, academia and labor. Or then again, maybe I'm just too much of an old Walkman ...