Even if the opposition does not succeed in defeating the constitution, they have achieved some political momentum by capturing more than 40 percent of the vote in the first round and organizing a majority "no" vote in the capital of Cairo. ElBaradei attributes these gains to Morsy's missteps -- notably, issuing a constitutional decree that gave him sweeping powers.
"People ... are voting against a group that they feel is power-grabbing, and they haven't delivered on any of the issues that 90 percent of the issues Egyptians care about," he says. "Food on the table, health care, education, housing -- and they haven't seen it. Where is the beef?"
But the most contentious issue is the draft constitution, whose contents remain a source of dispute despite the fact that it is publicly available to anyone who wishes to read it. The Brotherhood hails it as "the greatest constitution Egypt has ever known," and a product of consensus, while opposition figures and groups like Human Rights Watch have decried its vague language and the lack of protection it offers for human rights, particularly for women.
For ElBaradei, however, the constitution's main hazard is that it fails to find a common ground between Egypt's many different groups -- thereby ensuring future instability. The opposition coalition called for protests on Dec. 18 and more judges joined a boycott of the referendum, throwing the process further into flux.
Instead of pushing through a constitution with a narrow majority, ElBaradei argues, the Muslim Brotherhood should have attempted to build consensus around a set of principles that all Egyptians hold in common. It's an area where U.S. democracy can offer some guidance: "People from the Tea Party to the ACLU believe in the Bill of Rights," he notes.
There is one more opportunity on the horizon for ElBaradei and his allies to chip away the Muslim Brotherhood's dominance: Parliamentary elections will be held in two months should the constitution pass. The question now is whether the opposition can build on its organization in time for that vote -- and do more than claim a moral victory.
"It's a great challenge ... a lot of it is management, a lot of it is structure, how to reach the grassroots, how to get the money," ElBaradei says. Asked whether he believes the opposition can take a majority, he appropriates a line from a campaign past: "Yes we can, as they say, yes we can."