Nate Silver (of 538) is attending the Netroots convention in Austin. He makes an observation about the activists and their connection to Barack Obama:
There is a certain amount of arm’s-lengthedness, aloofness, toward the Democratic nominee. Of the 2500 or so attendees here, Obama can probably count on about 2475 votes, and for significant fractions to donate, knock on doors, and volunteer for the campaign. But the enthusiasm toward Obama is a bit more cerebral than you might expect.
Silver attributes it as much as anything to the long primary contest, and concludes by noting some danger for Obama in getting too aloof from not only progressive activists, but from voters more generally. Fair points, but I see Silver’s observations as mostly positive indicators. As much as Obama likes–or, at least during the primary liked–to speak of a “movement,” as much as he can energize a crowd emotionally, and as much as he seems to “get” the idea that the change he promises comes not principally from him but from the people, there is a very real risk that all that movement energy will dissipate as soon as he becomes President (assuming he actually does).
If the activists–at least those Silver refers to–are keeping the candidate at arms length, good. It means they see Obama as a vehicle for their objectives (e.g. 50-state party-building and policy) rather than themselves as a vehicle for Obama’s. That strikes me as very positive for the Democratic Party, and more importantly, for democracy itself.