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For Obama, Small Is Beautiful

President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 20,2011, to discuss the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

November 19, 2011

Today's headlines contain a rare piece of good political news for President Obama: According to the Washington Post's calculations, the president is outpacing all of his rivals in small (as in under $200) donations. More significantly, he's even outpacing his own magical year of 2008.

That represents an important vote of confidence from the grassroots, and is particularly important given the Democrats' notable lack of success in matching outside-interest-group fundraising combine that Republicans have put together in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

The president's ability to maintain the loyalty of $56 million worth of people is impressive in a year when polls have indicated that he and his party are on the wrong side of an enthusiasm gap.

One other politically significant piece of news for the president today: A New York Times report on new Census data that finds an eye-popping one in three Americans struggling to stay out of poverty. 

That could cut one of two ways for the president: On the one hand, it's represents a big pool of discontented voters -- not good news for an incumbent. On the other, it's a large and potentially receptive audience for the populist message that already has delivered some successes for Democrats this year.

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