Here's another solid example of how Clinton's campaign just doesn't inspire voter-generated content in the way that Obama's does, which is a good proxy for grassroots fervor.
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A large chunk of this presidential election is shaping up to be about tone -- big change vs. little change, hope vs. experience. To see how these ideas are manifesting themselves among voters, one needs to look no further than, the online site where people can design their own bumper stickers, buttons, and t-shirts.

Search for Obama and you'll find the first page of results packed with inspirational t-shirts, many with the theme of "Yes We Can." Through the first five pages of search results (as of this morning) the results are uniformly positive. There are "Yes We Can" t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons, "Republicans for Obama"-themed swag, "Latinos for Obama" stuff, "Barack to the Future" t-shirts, and many just with his face or the campaign's official logo. There's nothing about any other candidates. The depth and breadth of the slogans and voter-generated content is impressive.

Hillary's Zazzle page couldn't be more different. Many of the items are negative-one of the lead items is a bumper sticker with the slogan "Monica Lewinsky's ex-boyfriend's wife for President" -- and a good number of items are actually about Barack Obama. In fact, on the front page of results only approximately one-third of the items are pro-Hillary. The lead item is a t-shirt for "Billary" and the fourth and fifth items are both Obama paraphernalia.

Zazzle appears to be another solid example of how Hillary's campaign just doesn't inspire voter-generated content in the way that Obama's campaign does, which is a good proxy for grassroots fervor. Just like on YouTube, where we've seen the emergence of multiple pro-Obama viral videos without any real answer from the Clinton side.

The famed street artist Shepard Fairey, perhaps best known for his sticker of Andre of Giant, in recent weeks has released a limited edition poster with Barack Obama's face and the word "Progress." The first signed set sold out online in just 15 minutes and the posters he hung on the street in advance of the Super Tuesday primaries are now going for nearly $1,000 a piece on eBay. The second set of posters, with the word "Hope" that were scheduled to go on sale yesterday, proved so popular that his website was down for most of the day. Clearly there's something going on here that's larger than just a run-of-the-mill presidential election. Can you imagine anyone competitively bidding for a pretty poster of John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000?

Four years ago, I was lucky enough to be on the floor of the FleetCenter in Boston to watch his keynote to the Democratic National Convention and as part of my research for a big article on Barack Obama over a year ago I watched him speak many times, and even more since then. What's been great about seeing him speak so many times is the chance to watch people react to him for the first time -- and it's in that moment that one can understand why someone would online and create t-shirts to spread the hope.

Truly great speakers offer a chance to believe -- it's the same whether you're talking about pulpit preachers, televangelists, politicians, Oprah or Dr. Phil. The interaction between the crowd and the speaker is also key -- you need the interplay between both to really create the unique environment that allows for just that second of believing.

On the Dean campaign, where I worked in 2004, one of Joe Trippi's favorite sayings was the old baseball slogan, "You Gotta Believe." It appeared at many of our rallies and one of the iconic images from the campaign is Trippi with a "You Gotta Believe" sign thrust high over his head-for a moment even Trippi believed. I remember the highlight of the campaign for me was the final rally of the Sleepless Summer Tour in summer 2003 in Bryant Park, New York, where we packed over 10,000 people into the park. As night fell and Dean took the stage, we reached the million-dollar online fundraising goal for the trip and the crowd went wild. Governor Dean's speech that night was basically the same he had given a thousand times at that moment but the play between his energy, the setting, and the crowd was magical. I never believed more in that campaign than I did at that exact moment.

What Obama does so well is offer that moment of belief -- that, dare we say, hope -- to crowds as he speaks. For just the moment of the speech, you want to believe everything he says -- that the world he describes is one that we can achieve.

As George Packer wrote in the New Yorker recently:

"Obama spoke for only 25 minutes and took no questions; he had figured out how to leave an audience at the peak of its emotion, craving more. As he was ending, I walked outside and found five hundred people standing on the sidewalk and the front steps of the opera house, listening to his last words in silence, as if news of victory in the Pacific were coming over the loudspeakers. Within minutes, I couldn't recall a single thing that he had said, and the speech dissolved into pure feeling, which stayed with me for days."

If Hillary or McCain wants to beat Obama, they need to get better at offering that magical moment of hope. Hillary offers a good story, you believe that she can make change, but by and large she's too practical to offer too much hope. She, as Packer says, represents the art of what's actually possible.

Hope, that moment of believing, is perhaps the gift of the young and the naive, but when you look back over the great speakers of American life, like JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr., few things aren't possible when you offer inspiration and energy at the level they did. The question for this election: Can enough people believe for long enough to get Barack where he needs to be?

As we read this morning that superdelegate Rep. John Lewis has joined his colleague Rep. David Scott in switching their votes to Obama, they're responding to this larger dynamic -- understanding that their constituents, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama, want this moment of hope and believing. If Barack goes on to win the nomination, as appears increasingly likely, it will be because he inspired that single moment of believing in more and more voters as the campaign has progressed. Until the race is settled, though, it's clear his supporters will keep the cause alive -- from's YouTube video to Zazzle-made t-shirts to posters in the street. It's all about the hope.

Garrett M. Graff, now an editor at Washingtonian magazine, is the author of "The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House."

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