The Swing State Project Is Now Daily Kos Elections

The Swing State Project is now Daily Kos Elections. Please update your bookmarks to this link:

Going forward, you’ll find all of SSP’s great content at DKE. Archives will remain available here at SSP, but comments, diaries, and new account creation have been disabled.  For more information on this transition, please check out this diary.

We look forward to seeing you at Daily Kos Elections!

SSP to Daily Kos FAQ

As you know, the Swing State Project is becoming a part of Daily Kos and will become “Daily Kos Elections.” This move will happen on Tuesday, May 3. I wanted to fully detail the transition in one place, to help folks understand what’s happening and to ease the process. (I previously explained the move in this post and also responded to many comments.) I also want to offer everyone another chance to ask any questions. This is a long post, but I’d encourage you to read the entire thing before hitting the comment boards. Alright – let’s start!

1) SSP is becoming part of Daily Kos? What does that mean?

In the simplest terms, all you have to do is bookmark this link:

All the content you are accustomed to seeing here at SSP will now appear on its own sub-site at Daily Kos, called “Daily Kos Elections,” or “DKE” for short, starting May 3. So just visit DKE and you’ll be able to read the same great stuff you’ve always read at SSP, each and every day.

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you don’t need to change a thing (though our account names will change, but that should be seamless for you). If you follow us via RSS, you’ll use this new link:

If you’ve signed up for our daily email summary, there may be a short interruption as we migrate to the DK system, but I expect any disruption will be minimal.

2) What’s going to happen to

The archives at will remain available. New user sign-ups, comment posting, and diary posting will be disabled. However, you’ll still be able to log in to your old account to find your old comments and diaries more easily. At some point, we’re likely to port our archives over to Daily Kos as well, but that’s something for further down the line.

3) Alright, you told me how I can read your stuff at DKE. But how can I comment? Will my SSP account still work?

Your SSP account will not work over at DKE. You’ll need to create a new account. I strongly urge you to do this right away if you haven’t yet already because there’s a one-day waiting period for new accounts at Daily Kos to post comments, and a one-week waiting period to post diaries. You can sign up for a new account by going here:

One suggestion I’ve seen in comments that I like: If you choose to use a different username at DKE (or your SSP name is taken by someone else and you need to pick something different), you can edit your sig line to tell people what your new name is. (Or, on DKE, what your old name was.) To do this on SSP, click on your username anywhere you see it (or on “[Username]’s Page” in the right-hand sidebar), then click on the “Profile” tab. You can then edit your Account Info page as you see fit.

On Daily Kos, log in, then click the prominent “My Page” link that’s just below the site’s logo in the top-left area of the screen, then click on “Edit Profile” in the “Welcome Back” box in the top-right corner. Scroll down to the middle of the page until you reach the “Comment Preferences” section. There you’ll see a box for your signature line. After you’re done, just make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom and hit the orange “Save” button.

4) Yipes! I was once banned at Daily Kos. What do I do?

Send me an email: davidnyc [at] dailykos [dot] com. It’s easiest if we work things out privately, on an individual basis.

5) Okay, how about diaries? How do I post those?

Alright, this part is important. The site software works somewhat differently at Daily Kos, and there’s also one big huge thing you have to remember if you want your diaries to appear at DKE. So here goes:

In the “Welcome Back” box (which I mentioned above in #3), click on the word “New” next to where you see “Diaries.” You’ll be brought to a page which is very similar to the new diary entry form at SSP. You’ve got your title, of course, and then your “Intro” box, which is where the main text of your diary goes. If you’re writing something particularly long and want to put part of it below the fold, that goes in the box labeled “Extended.”

Then scroll down past the Extended box. You’ll see an area called “Tags.” You have to enter at least one tag. This is different from SSP, which lets you post diaries without any tags.

Now here’s the really important part: If you want your diary to appear on the right-hand sidebar of DKE, YOU MUST INCLUDE THE TAG “DK Elections” IN YOUR POST. If you include this tag, that tells the system to post it in the “Related Diaries” box in the right-hand sidebar on DKE. Here’s a screenshot to show you exactly where it will appear:

As you can see, I posted a test diary (since deleted) titled “This is a test” in that box. (Can you hear me in the back?) That’s where your diaries will appear, very similar to how they appear on SSP.

But again, how they get there is different. The “DK Elections” tag is crucial. If you include it, your diary will appear in the right place. If you don’t, it will not appear there.

When you are ready to post your diary, click on the “Save & Preview” button. If you are content, then click the “Publication Manager” button. Here’s where things are a little different. You will see either two or three options pop up. The first is “Publish Now.” That’s equivalent to hitting “Save” on an SSP diary – it’ll go live right away. In addition to appearing in the DKE sidebar if you remember to use the right tag, it will also appear on your personal blog by clicking the “Diaries” link in the “Welcome Back” box. (You have your own personal Daily Kos blog now!) If you hit “Publish Later,” you can set your diary to appear at a particular time and day of your choosing. (If you see a third option, “Queue to a Group Blog,” that means you’re probably already a DK power-user, so I don’t think I need to explain that feature.)

So once more, just remember: Include the “DK Elections” tag in all your election-related diaries!

(One side-note: If you include the “DK Elections” tag at the time you first publish your diary, it should appear in the “Related Diaries” sidebar at DKE right away. If you forget the tag but go back and add it later, that will work, too – but be aware that there will be a delay in your diary appearing in the “Related Diaries” box.)

6) Let’s go back to comments for a minute. What’s the deal with these “Recommend” and “Hide” buttons?

“Recommend” means you like a comment and want to give it an attaboy. It’s a nice way of showing that you think a comment is particularly smart, useful, funny, etc. I sometimes like to give recommends even to comments I disagree with, if I think the person has made a thoughtful point (even if I don’t share their views). I also think they can be helpful defusers – if a discussion gets a little more heated than I’d like, I might give someone a recommend just to show, “Hey, we’re cool.” It’s sort of a technological way of indicating that we can all “leave it on the court” (as they say in the NBA).

“Hide” means you think a comment is so offensive that it should literally be hidden from view. It’s not to be used for mere disagreement, or even sharp displeasure – a “hide” rating is a very serious sanction, and if a comment gets enough of them, it will in fact disappear from view (though it won’t be deleted). Use these sparingly, only for spammers, true trolls, or genuinely offensive rhetoric.

(Note that you may not see the “hide” rating button if you have a very new account. Only “Trusted Users” have access to “hide” ratings, and you need to build up what the site calls “mojo” in order to become a TU. Don’t worry – you can and likely will become a TU before long, if you aren’t already. The traditional way to gain mojo is by having your comments get recommended, but there are many others. If you’re interested in learning more about how mojo works, you can check out this post and this post from Markos.)

7) Looks like there are a lot of other new features at Daily Kos as well. What’s up with all of those?

Indeed there are, but I don’t want to make this post any longer than it is. However, if you are interested in a good primer about the site, Joan McCarter (one of the site’s senior editors) has written a great series of introductory posts:

Getting started at Daily Kos 4.0

How to read, write, and comment in Daily Kos 4.0

What’s new and/or improved in Daily Kos 4.0

8) Why are you making this change?

There are several key reasons. First, I think our coverage last cycle was absolutely top-notch – but we were operating at and in fact past capacity. I had a day job as an attorney which meant I couldn’t blog at all while at work. So those morning edition digests you saw were written by me late at night, after I came home from work, and keeping it up was incredibly exhausting. The other writers here all felt the same way about their workloads. So for us to maintain our existing level of coverage and in fact continue to grow, we had to make a big change. I’m not sure SSP would otherwise have been sustainable in the long run.

The second reason ties into the first. I’ve been hired to work full-time for Daily Kos. This means we get to produce more great content for you on a daily basis. It’s also a dream job for me – I’m getting paid to do what I’ve otherwise done as a hobby for almost a decade. Markos has been trying to bring me aboard for years, and the stars finally aligned. It was an offer I couldn’t turn down, and I’m very glad I didn’t.

And a third important reason is server uptime and general technology issues. As you know, SoapBlox often struggles during high traffic loads and has even gone down more than once. Daily Kos is infinitely more robust – Markos has made uptime one of his most important priorities. To give you an example, on election night in 2008, Daily Kos had nine million pageviews but didn’t so much as hiccup. That’s as many pageviews as SSP gets in three years! (Indeed, this performance was so impressive that the site’s tech guru, Jeremy Bingham, was invited to do a presentation about it at the prestigious O’Reilly Velocity conference.) And more generally speaking, SoapBlox has certainly been showing its age, while DK just underwent a major upgrade and continues to be actively developed. It’s just a much more modern, robust system that will simply never go down on election nights.

There are some other nice benefits for the community as well. We get access to greater resources through Daily Kos, and in my role as Political Director, I’m responsible for all polling that we undertake. I plan on involving you guys in those decisions – expect to see some PPP-style “vote on where we poll next” posts as the campaign season gets further underway.

9) So who’s going to be writing at DKE?

The staff will be (in alphabetical order by first name):

Arjun Jaikumar

David Jarman (Crisitunity)

David Nir (DavidNYC)

James L.


Steve Singiser

And, of course, you’ll all still be writing diaries.

10) What’s going to happen to the community? To SSP’s policies?

DKE will remain an “elections-only” zone. Our focus will, as always, be on pure electoral horserace politics, not policy. There is no editorial direction from up on high at Daily Kos (and never has been) – DKE will retain complete editorial independence. I’m as free to disagree with Markos (or any other Daily Kos staffer) as you are – and I can (and do) exercise that freedom.

As far as community goes, we will do everything possible to maintain what we’ve built here. We will, as always, try to steer conversations in helpful ways and avoid derails and off-topic discussions. While I personally will not have the power to ban users, this is actually something we do quite seldom here at SSP – and if someone is truly disruptive, I can make it known to Meteor Blades, the Daily Kos Director of Community. If you also have concerns about a user, you can reach out to one of the staff members (see above).

Most importantly, though, is the role all of you will play. We are trying something new, by creating this site-within-a-site at Daily Kos, and some people who encounter us will simply not be familiar with our customs and our focus. I know it’s not always easy, but I ask that you be patient with people like that – try to explain to them, calmly and politely, what we’re all about. If someone says something that would be out of place at SSP, try not to get angry or frustrated but instead view it as a teaching opportunity. I’ve done this myself many times over at DK, and it’s proven surprisingly rewarding. Many people are genuinely grateful when you take the time to explain things. I know it may seem ridiculous when someone asks something like, “What’s the DSCC?” but if you tell them without condescension, they’ll appreciate it – and they’ll learn. (In fact, here’s a great example of me doing just that, and getting rewarded for it.) Remember, some folks simply don’t know a lot about the horserace and about how SSP/DKE works. Our mission is to spread the light!

One aspect of DKE that’s appropriate to explain here is how our work will be featured on the main page of Daily Kos – that is, if you go to All of our posts will originate at DKE (, so if you go there, you’ll never miss a thing. But some of our posts will also get published on front page (or “FP”) of Daily Kos itself. This mostly applies to our more general interest stuff: daily digests, stand-alone poll posts, and breaking news (like candidate announcements). Wonkier stuff (like the kind of data crunching that Jeff and Crisitunity are known for) will generally not get cross-posted to the FP.

So what this means is that some folks will “wander in off the street,” so to speak, and find DKE posts not because they first visited, but because they went to These sorts of people are apt to be less familiar with our customs, so they may require some more hand-holding. But I’ll tell you: We’ve cross-posted a bunch of content over the past couple of months, and in the horserace-specific posts, you tend to get a type of commenter who would fit in quite well at SSP. In fact, I’m quite eager to unite these folks with us under one banner. (Believe it or not, not every horserace geek has heard of SSP!)

Indeed, this might seem like a somewhat strange thing to say, but most of the stuff we’ve cross-posted to the DK FP has not gotten a lot of comments… and that’s a good thing! Part of that is because the flow of new posts on the FP is very high, usually one every 40 minutes or so. (The flow at DKE will be what you’re accustomed to here at SSP.) But another key reason is that horserace geeks like ourselves are generally a pretty self-selected bunch, and horserace geekery is only one of many reasons why people visit DK – whereas at SSP, it’s really the only reason. So a lot of the, shall we say, noisier folks that people have expressed concern about at DK aren’t really attracted to horserace diaries in the first place.

And there’s an additional point which is really worth making here: I know a lot of you have concerns about the integration of our two sites. There definitely are some commenters at DK who would not fit in well here (even if they mostly stay out of the horserace stuff) – I won’t disagree with that. But there’s no reason, absolutely no reason, why a few bad apples at Daily Kos should “take over” SSP culture and not the other way around.

You people are some of the smartest, most thoughtful election analysts around. Honestly, the combined brainpower of this place kicks the ass of any other election shop anywhere. (Are you telling me we couldn’t out-hustle the NRCC? Hell no you’re not. I would definitely take that Pepsi challenge.) But you’re also a really polite, friendly bunch who’ve shown how to make a great community work. Yeah, we step in to moderate sometimes, but really the vast majority of the time, this community knows what it’s doing.

So I think we have a lot of ability to make Daily Kos more like SSP rather than the reverse. We’ll have our own sub-site, of course, but even for the posts that also appear on the FP, we can make those comment boards our own, too. The current Daily Digest posts at DK seldom get more than a couple dozen comments. Here they get hundreds! How can a few irksome Kossacks change us, when we outnumber them by a huge margin? Indeed, SSP’s traffic is at record highs. To put it in terms we can all appreciate, our base is huge! Even though it’s a much bigger site overall, the DK horserace base is small, and mostly very much like us. Or put another way: When liberals from the northeast migrate southward for warmer climes, do they become more conservative? Of course not – quite the opposite: they make their new states bluer. There’s no reason why it won’t be the same for us.

I am sure it will be imperfect. I may occasionally post on a topic which unexpectedly brings out the crazy brigade in a way that even I can’t keep a lid on. It’ll happen, it’ll be annoying, and maybe I won’t be able to re-rail it… but you know what? These moments, I expect, will be few and far between, but if they happen, we’ll just move on to the next thread. SSP probably has to be about the least inflammatory progressive blog there is, so if a freak-out does occur, odds are the next post will be pretty chill, especially if it’s a Daily Digest.

And yeah, maybe there will be one or two people who keep wanting Alan Grayson to primary Bill Nelson, and maybe they won’t give up no matter how many times you patiently explain what a bad idea that would be. I don’t expect this see much of this, but if it ever winds up happening, just ignore `em. Or like I said, wait for the next thread. Or if you don’t feel like waiting, then post a new diary of your own.

Many of you have known me for a long time. You know I’ve always been honest with you, and you know I’ve worked hard almost every day for many years to make this site the best it can be. I don’t think anyone owes me anything, but I hope I’ve earned a measure of credibility with you – enough, at least, that you’ll give DKE a shot, that you’ll help export SSP’s brand of community to the new mothership, and that you’ll put up with occasional frustrations and growing pains so that we can continue to succeed in our new home.

I’m incredibly grateful for all the support you’ve shown me, my fellow writers, and this site over the years, and I’ll be even more grateful if you’ll join me in helping to make this transition work. Thank you.

Something I might diary at DK on the merger

Update — I have decided to go through with this.

The intent of this diary will be to test reactions from the DK community.

I will wait a few days to post this on DK. My target date will be the day it is discussed on the FP there, probably when DavidNYC returns from his vacation. My username is the same there. If you’re free at that time, your support will be appreciated.

Title: Will Daily Kos welcome the full range of Swing State Project users?

Subtext: Can a not so liberal Democrat feel Welcome at Daily Kos?

SubSubtext: Can a poster who feels lost in a huge fast moving community feel comfortable in a big city environment like Daily Kos?

I am a Democrat. I mostly left Daily Kos (DK) a while back in ’07, in part because it had grown a bit too large for me. In addition, I was starting to feel out of place, given the tenor of some of the comments. But I am currently a regular poster at Swing State Project (SSP). I felt like I had a home there, because of the focus on more Democrats, because they welcomed more conservative Democrats, and even have a significant population of “respectful” moderate and conservative Republican posters. Now that they are being merged under the DK umbrella, I feel like I’m being pushed back. I feel like I’m about to lose my community.

Susan Gardner, DK executive editor, has tried to make us feel welcome. http://www.swingstateproject.c… She has tried to reassure us that SSP will be able to retain its culture, post-merger. In context, her welcome reminds me of the promises from China just before they took Hong Kong back from the UK. One liberal blogsphere, two systems?

First, I’m not implying any similarity between DK and Communism, Maoism, or any sort of authoritarianism.

With that in mind, here’s a little background on my analogy: There was considerable fear in the first half of 1997, as the UK was preparing to return Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. The fear came from the differences, not only in size, but in systems. The principle used to reassure the people of Hong Kong was “one country, two systems”.

By two systems, I’m referring to how SSP works differently from DK, and how I hope its culture is preserved after the merger.

One important difference is that SSP has welcomed Republican posters as guests. We’ve had several prized posters who’ve clearly identified themselves as R, who’ve provided excellent data and analysis — and overall have participated with honor. (We also have our share of New Democrats and Blue Dogs.)

It is important to me for the SSP section of DK (known as Daily Kos Elections [DKE]) to retain that same welcome. IMO, SSP works because that welcome extends to Democrats and Republicans of all ideologies, as long as they follow the standards of the SSP community.

I am one SSP user. I might be near the middle of the spectrum there. I support more Democrats. I believed it was important to support those Democrats who are less popular here on DK, such as Bart Stupak, Bobby Bright, and Gene Taylor, because they’re the best Ds we can realistically hope for from their districts. I think the move to primary Democrats like Scott Matheson was foolish, but wish someone would take out Dan Lipinski. I love those Democrats who represent me here in Oregon, as they represent me well. I believe we are a big party, better because we represent so many different points of view.

I want to be able to root for Democrats like Jon Tester, Ben Nelson, Heath Shuler, Joe Manchin, and Dan Boren here on DK without fear. I do not know if that is possible. Bluntly, one thing that unified many of us as SSP users is that common fear, based on our experiences at DK.

In general, SSP users don’t discuss policies, except in the context of how it affects election prospects. I believe some policies unpopular among DK users were the reason Democrats were able to hold the line against the R wave in ’10 here on the west coast. I support the fastest possible increases immigration consistent with our security, and want to move up that emerging Democratic majority.

I was discouraged by diaries like this… where so many Democrats here at DK declared that they would vote for a Republican against the Democratic majority leader.

It’s not like I run every time I hear a bit of criticism. I’ve participated in and even helped moderate mixed forums before. By mixed, I mean a group which ranged from Kucinich Democrats through Michelle Malkin Republicans. Frankly, I was not sad when I needed to sanction R users. But I found it necessary at times to criticize people who are politically more like myself, when their behavior went over the line.

However, I’m not the fastest person to react. I try to take time to formulate the my responses. By the time I’ve reacted in the past Daily Kos, I feel like most posters have moved on to the next issue — and have stopped listening.

So I went looking for a smaller community. I tried OpenLeft for a while. I appreciated the quality of the work from the main diarists. But the language and actions from some of the main diarists towards commenters was discouraging.

I eventually found a home of sorts at Swing State Project (SSP), and started to post there regularly in mid-’09.  But now, SSP is being incorporated under the Daily Kos umbrella. Despite the reassurances being given by great moderators like DavidNYC, JamesL, Crisitunity, and Jeffmd, I feel fear.

Perhaps this diary is a passive-aggressive reaction, and I am sorry for that. But given my experiences here at DK, I am gun shy about the coming merger. I do not know if I’ll come along for the ride. Back to my Hong Kong analogy, there have been and still are significant problems. However, many have been surprised by the autonomy retained by the Hong Kong “Special Administrative Region,” over a decade after the merger.

The current SSP welcomed Republican users, as long as they didn’t push issues. They kicked off a number of disruptive Democratic users, when they pushed issues. It is a Democratic site, with a clear bias towards more Democrats. I fear this is about to change. I know some of the Republicans on SSP do not feel comfortable coming along as SSP is brought under the DK umbrella in the coming weeks. I know that some excellent Democrats also do not feel comfortable coming along as well. Some are more, others are less liberal than I. I do not want to come into an echo chamber. While I understand that DK prides itself on being “reality-based,” there’s a peer pressure in numbers that’s often inescapable.

Nevertheless, I am thankful and grateful to DavidNYC, JamesL, Crisiunity, and JeffMD for the great site they created, and the welcome they’ve given to users like myself. I am glad for the opportunities they now have as part of the DK community. I wish them well in their new ventures.

Exciting News for the Swing State Project

I have some exciting news about the future of the Swing State Project that I’m very pleased to share with our community here. As many of you know, I got my start blogging at Daily Kos, and I still serve as a front-page contributing editor there. SSP has always had a close relationship with “the mothership,” with a lot of cross-pollination of users and content. So I’m thrilled to announce that SSP will soon get “beamed up” to DK – that is to say, the entire site will soon have a new home at Daily Kos, likely to be named “Daily Kos Elections,” with a new URL as well. (The old address will re-direct there.)

In practical, day-to-day terms, I can assure you that not much will change. It will still be the same great community – and you’ll still be seeing the same great content – that you’ve grown accustomed to. Our hallmark qualities will remain exactly the same: We will stay laser-focused on the electoral horserace, and we’ll steer clear of policy debates, just as ever before. I recognize that the communities at DK and SSP operate differently, but DK Elections will be its own sub-site, and we’ll retain our distinctive flavor. The comment boards will be friendly, on-topic, and free of personal attacks, just as they are now.

For the moment, we’re staying put. In a week, Daily Kos will undertake a major transition to a new software platform (which you can play with here). As you might imagine, the DK tech team has their hands full, so we won’t get ported over for a little while after that. (We’ll make sure our archives make the jump, too.) In the meantime, if you don’t have one already, I encourage you to create an account at the actual Daily Kos site (not the beta site linked to just above) so that you can hit the ground running when SSP makes its move.

One thing that will change is that I will be working for Daily Kos full-time, which will allow us to amp up our coverage. The rest of the crew will be staying on board – James, Crisitunity, and Jeff – and will continue to contribute as well. DK’s current horserace specialists, Arjun Jaikumar and Steve Singiser, will also join the squad. We’ll expand out our coverage a bit to include presidential primary polls – I think the GOP primary is just too fun not to cover. And when the time is right, we’ll also start looking at presidential polling – but, again, we’re going to stay an issue-free zone.

My official title at DK will be “Political Director,” and in addition to running DK Elections, my responsibilities will include, among other things, managing our polling operations and our Orange to Blue fundraising list on ActBlue. I look forward to getting your input in both areas – for instance, I definitely plan to do some “Where should we poll?” site polls, just like Tom Jensen does now over at PPP. (As you may know, Public Policy Polling is DK’s pollster, and we’ll continue to work with them.)

I do have one request to make of the community: Stick with us. Give it a shot – there will be some changes, but nothing too dramatic. And help us out. We’ll need you over at the new site. While, as I said, we’ll have our own sub-site, it’ll be fairly easy for other Daily Kos users who aren’t familiar with the SSP ethos to migrate over to DK Elections – and we’ll need you, all the longtime, experienced, and chill SSP users, to take newcomers by the hand and explain how things work. The mods will still be there in comments to regulate as needed, but it’s a big world out there, I will be grateful beyond words for your patience and assistance in helping new people adjust. As I’ve said many a time, this community is what makes me keep coming back every day, and regardless of what our web address is, or whether our color scheme is puke green or in-your-face orange, I really hope we can all stay together.

And not like I really need to say this, but if you have any questions, please fire away in comments!

UPDATE: Thank you for all the support in the comments. I also understand the reservations that have been expressed by many of you. I share some of those concerns myself, but I want to re-iterate: We’re going to do everything we can to preserve the SSP community, rules, ethos, and comment moderation policy. And we aren’t going to be swallowed up by Daily Kos – we’ll be our own sub-site, which you’ll probably access by going to That address will feature only horserace content posted by the SSP writers (plus Arjun and Steve) – in other words, it’ll look almost exactly like what the site looks like right now. So I really urge you to give us a shot.

UPDATE 2: I’d like to encourage everyone to read this comment from Susan Gardner, the executive editor at Daily Kos, about what we can expect as we make the transition.