Friday, January 04, 2008

Democratic Race Over?

The Iowa Caucus results are so telling, it may not be pre-mature to say the Democratic race for President is all but over. An impressive win by an measure, followed up by a speech that is already being framed as "one for the ages", Obama is now set to ride a wave that likely makes him unstoppable.

Edwards will move forward, but his strategy always demanded a Iowa victory, anything less and his lack of resources and momentum would be his undoing. The race is now basically a Clinton/Obama duel, but in reality Obama has all the intangibles on his side and a victory in New Hampshire would effectively end the race.

The latest polling in New Hampshire, done prior to the Iowa Caucuses have already shown a tightening, with Obama within striking distance of Clinton. Given the magnitude of Obama's victory in Iowa, his ability to appeal to independents, his ability to energize the casual voter, we should expect a SIZEABLE jump in his New Hampshire numbers, something in the order of 10% or more.

What happened last night was the birth of a phenomenon, in many respects Obama has stolen the "change" mantle, which is the key for Democrats. How Clinton finds an effective voice in this environment is hard to imagine, possible Obama mis-steps aside (Saturday debates). With the condensed timeframe, only five days between Iowa and New Hampshire, momentum is more important than ever, and Obama now blows into the State like a comet.

Anything can still happen, but something profound was unleashed last night in Iowa, something which to my mind appears unstoppable.

43 comments:

Darren McEwen said...

I agree. I think you're on to something with your last sentence. If Obama wins in New Hampshire (and we always knew it would be close) then this thing is over for the Democrats. Edwards is down and likely out now. He desperately needed a first place in Iowa.

If Clinton wins in New Hampshire and holds onto South Carolina then she'll be the nominee.

Steve V said...

darren

I think the key in NH will be the massive independent vote, which is greater than the registered Dems. With all the enthusiasm, coupled with Obama's ability to draw heavily with independents in Iowa, I expect them to flock to Obama, which will nullify Clinton's perceived advantage with the Dem "establishment". The only thing that can stop Obama now in my mind is a very poor showing in Saturday's debate, which is unlikely. I expect Obama's rallies to have a rock star quality, that will make him infectious.

ottlib said...

I like the idea of a President Obama.

However, this is a marathon not a sprint so calling it after Iowa is rather pre-mature.

All of the leading Democratic contenders have the money and the organization so this is still anybody's game.

However, it would be accurate to state that Senator Obama is the front runner right now, which is a mixed blessing this early into the contest.

As well, I would point out that Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton all lost Iowa when they were seeking their nominations.

Steve V said...

"As well, I would point out that Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton all lost Iowa when they were seeking their nominations."

And, none of them faced a juggernaut like Obama. Of course my prediction is pre-mature, but the thing to remember, Obama was already a force in NH before Iowa, and a bounce is a historical certainly, especially given the fact that all the other players competed HARD in Iowa. That reality sets this circumstance apart from the other people you cited.

Just to add, Clinton has done surprisingly well with African-Americans. Now that Obama has proven he can win, watch for those votes to move to Obama. South Carolina has a huge African American population, and we are already hearing a rallying cry with the African American talking heads.

I could be wrong, things change, but I predict Obama will much confidence. We'll see.....

Dame said...

Yes I can see the desire for change and that is a good Thing.

But I am reluctant to think Obama is the best choice for Democrats .He still look to me as more style then substance...

But who am I to say anything?

What really startling me this appetite for the Folksy Preacher on the Republican side ... but again I do not understand Americans and their thinking.

Ted said...

I have no dog in the Democratic race, but "likely makes him unstoppable" and "juggernaut" is clearly filled with wishful thinking or Paul Martin's spirit. I think the only thing that can be said for certainty among the Democrats is that Edwards is basically done, and Obama who would have been out had he not won is in a good place, and Clinton still holds a daunting lead but is clearly beatable if the stars align.

Iowa caucus history
Democrats:
1988 - 1. Gephardt (31%) 2. Simon (27%) 3. Dukakis (22%)

1992 - 1. Harkin (76%) 2. Uncommitted (12%) 3. Tsongas (4%) 4. Clinton (3%)

2000 - 1. Gore (63%) 2. Bradley (37%)

2004 - 1. Kerry (38%) 2. Edwards (32%) 3. Dean (18%)

Similarly, while Bush Jr. and Dole each won Iowa, Bush Sr came 3rd in 1988 with just 18% and Reagan came 2nd in 1980.

Neither the Democratic leadership nor the Republican leadership was settled in Iowa and it won't be settled next week in New Hampshire either. On February 5, in what used to be called Super Tuesday and now called Giga Tuesday or Super Duper Tuesday, 22 states with over half of the delegates will decide who will face each other in the presidential election.

Not surprisingly, that is where Clinton and Guiliani have spent almost all of their time.

This thing is far far far from over. And it certainly is getting very interesting.

Ted said...

Which is of course to say nothing about the actual delegates support that was won last night: Obama - 16, Edwards - 14, Clinton - 15 (this includes the ex-officios).

Steve V said...

"Not surprisingly, that is where Clinton and Guiliani have spent almost all of their time."

Ted, well that's just not true at all. Clinton has spent almost all of her time in Iowa, New Hampshire, a few stops in South Carolina.

Two things on the historical examples you cited, if you look at Iowa, where it was actually competitive, meaning all candidates campaigned hard, then it is very indicative.

You don't have to do well in Iowa (see McCain) if you have another strategy, and you play the expectations game. However, on the Dem side, this was a dogfight of unprecedented proportions. Clinton's staff was 6 times that of any other candidate in Iowa history. Clinton spent more money than any other candidate in Iowa history. Clinton LIVED in Iowa for the last month. This was a big battle, and given how competitive it was, then expect Obama to get a big bounce in New Hampshire. If Obama wins New Hampshire it is over, Super Tuesday will just be a coronation. The Republican race may have many more acts, the Democratic one is reaching crescendo in New Hampshire. Obama could lose, and still go on, Clinton is finished if she loses.

If I'm wrong I'm wrong. If I'm right, just remember where you heard it first :)

Ted said...

It will be all about New Hampshire for a week, and then it will be all about Giga Tuesday. Super Tuesday used to mean about 8-12 states' primaries; last spring, 22 states decided on February 5. This is a huge difference from past years.

Which is not to downplay New Hampshire. If Clinton is third, she is done. If she is 10 points behind Obama she is almost certainly done. If Edwards is not first, he is done. If Obama is second, it is wide open with the momentum swing to Clinton (and I think he's therefore done). If Obama is third, he's done. If he is second but more than 10 points behind Clinton, he is done.

My prediction though is that Clinton (probably first) and Obama (probably second) will be within 10 points of each other. This gives Obama the momentum but (my guess) probably not enough for Giga Tuesday.

In other words, this race is far from over.

Ted said...

Don't forget, Obama did a bit better than polls have been suggesting for weeks, but they all basically ended up where the polls have been suggesting.

Steve V said...

ted

If Obama loses, then yes Super Tuesday is the big day.

The polls were pretty accurate, slight understatement of Obama's support. The polls show Obama a mere 5% behind in New Hampshire, which will be erased in the next two days, when the bounce is factored in, and there will be one.

Joseph said...

Good comments all. But one caveat on Tom's last comment about Obama's 38% last night. The entry polls (not exit polls) for the caucuses - pretty much matched the closeness of the race polls prior to Thursday.

One of the reasons it is notoriously challenging to poll Iowa is some shifting does occur in the caucus itself, particularly if you have movement from the "non-viable" (less than 15%) candidates. So, for example, if 3% of the room was supporting Biden, and that group decides to join Obama's group when Biden fails to reach 15%, that shifts the vote of that precinct caucus. There were reports last night that this type of thing was occurring.

The point being that Iowa is one - if not the only - state where the vote percentage can shift even as it is transpiring. Obviously not something that will happen in a polling booth in NH or beyond. So it's not sufficiently clear that his numbers were under-polled as to intention. The entry polling that was done seemed to indicate the pre-caucus polls had intentions pegged pretty well. What changed happened in the caucus rooms themselves.

Steve V said...

joseph

It's a pretty bizarre system in Iowa for the Democrats. I saw one caucus last night, where the Edwards people were strategically positioning themselves beside the Biden people, so that if Biden wasn't viable, they would have to go through the Edwards group to get to another candidate. Lots of psychology at play. I wish they would abandon that aspect, because candidates like Dodd and Biden have NOTHING to show for their efforts, even though they probably received a few percent support (Dodd scored .02% in the final tally, which doesn't reflect the amount of voters he really had).

Mushroom said...

Steve,

I guess we agree with each other ;)

Did I say that Hillary's firewall is New Hampshire? Did that in nbpolitico's blog a month ago. Here it is:

"McCain needs a Huckabee win in Iowa to weaken Romney. For Romney and Clinton, New Hampshire is a firewall. They need to win there or their reputation as a frontrunner goes in flames."

Anonymous said...

I love Obama, but I am not counting my chickens til they've hatched.

Remember, the twice elected President Bill Clinton did not win Iowa in 1992.

Things could easily change. Hillary can still win this thing (which would not be a bad thing, either).

To me, the fat lady will sing on Super Tuesday, in Feb.

Steve V said...

"Remember, the twice elected President Bill Clinton did not win Iowa in 1992."

Noted. Although Harkin, who did win, was from Iowa, so nobody contested the state- it was a complete non-factor. Clinton did lose New Hampshire, but I would submit that Paul Tsongas was no Barrack Obama.

Just to add, I'm not saying I know, or this is for sure, it's all speculation, just my best guess.

Steve V said...

mushroom

We agree :)

Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton did not win the first 5 states when he went no to win the nomination. More often than not NH disagrees with Iowa. Clinton's candidacy is also not one that will simmply collapse. her numbers are more solid than any other when you look at the internals of polls, and she has the most money. She could lose every state before Nov 5th, which she wont and still win. Last night Obama got 16 delegates, she got 15. That's how not important that win was last night.

She will go t the end.

Edwards does not have the organization or the money to go any further. He can only limp into NH.

Scotian said...

Steve V:

While I think you are premature in calling it, I can see why you are doing so. I noticed the same thing in the raw data from last night too, and I do see it as very difficult for Clinton to beat barring a major stumble by Obama and/or crisis blowing up (like an attack against US interests if not the US itself geographically) triggering a realignment of momentum. It does appear to me that Iowa showed Obama can get the votes of a lot of white people, and that along with both the youth vote and the independents going to him I think could make him unbeatable. There has always been a lingering suspicion that Obama's support from the white community might be overstated in the polling, but now that this result in Iowa has happened it makes it look the opposite, and from what I gathered one of the reasons Obama was not doing as well in the black community until now was because of doubts that a white electorate would elect a black President, which given the unfortunate history of racism in America is quite understandable.

This does have the feel of a once in a generation type of movement to me, but as others have noted it is also early days yet, and I don't see Clinton resigning from the race until she is certain she cannot win, so the next month is going to be interesting. I do think Obama could well end up motivating a generation given what we saw in Iowa, especially if NH shows a similar youth phenomena as Iowa did.

There is clearly a strong desire for change, and I thought the only thing Clinton had going for her was the latent racism question regarding Obama's viability to counter balance his strong change message along with being the first woman to get this far to the Presidency also being a change message if not as powerful a one as Obama's. That it was easier to believe a woman would be elected before a black man, but that took a real hit last night. Now she is much weaker, and I do think she clearly has a sharp uphill battle on her hands. Unless something significantly alters the dynamics I am seeing though I don't think she can win overall. As for Edwards, he is toast, he had to either win Iowa or come in a close second at worst if he were to remain viable in my view, and losing by 8 percentage points to Obama hurts him majorly I think.

It is going to be interesting to watch the next several weeks how this all shakes out, and I must admit watching the GOP side is almost as fascinating this time out given the lack of any clear consensus within the GOP electorate other than not wanting to lose the WH yet now knowing how to pull that off.

Understand, I am not quite to the point of saying it is all over, but I do think the chances/likelihood that this will end up being the result is clearly in the probable to highly probable range for me at this time, at least on the Dem side of things, the GOP well that is a whole other ball game.

Anonymous said...

Steve please remember, Obama's 38 was not really 38 it was more like 34, with Richardson sending him non viable caucusers. It happened. you could watch it live. There was a very weird, and illegal in Canada, reporting of returns while people were still deciding with outside communication that went on last night. That can't happen in primary states. Many states are also closed, no independents. McCain will also be drawing more independents than Obama. They love him there and you can only vote once. There were lots of factors at play last night that will not be factors elsewhere. Clinton is by no means finsihed even if she loses NH, which is doubtful. Florida, NY, California etc are the big guns and they are in her field.

Steve V said...

anon

She doesn't have the most money, Obama has actually outperformed Clinton in the last two quarters. Yes, Iowa and New Hampshire are different, but Obama is already well positioned in NH, it doesn't take much now to put him over the top.

Scotian

Premature for sure, more a hunch than an absolute. You are right about Obama resonating with a white audience, Iowa proves that he could win almost anywhere. The Clinton's have always enjoyed great support amongst African Americans, but now that Obama has emerged as a "winner", I'm going to watch and see if there isn't a ground swell to him. One commentator made a shrewd comment "blacks have always supported the Democrats, maybe now it is time for the Democrats to support a black".

In my mind, this run by Obama is starting to take on a character that does make it seem like a pivotal moment, and he referenced that in his speech last night. I will note that Obama's first rally today in NH was massive, loud and energetic. There are only five days between Iowa and New Hampshire, which is unprecedented and makes previous analogies more of a hard fit. Momentum is at an all-time premium, which is why I am so "pre-mature" here. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

And while Candian soldiers die Obama can't even be bothered to convene the Senate committe that oversees NATO that he chairs. He's too busy running for President.

Steve V said...

anon

Yes, Obama benefited from second choice voters, although the entry polls showed a pretty even distribution, that didn't skew the results much. People keeping talking about California, the big states, but the simple fact, you don't recover if you stumble badly in the early primaries. If all this late state stuff was really viable, then why don't more campaigns run national campaigns? The only one to do it is Guiliani, and he made that move because he kept getting pushed out of the early primaries. Iowa didn't look good, then NH, then South Carolina, so he went to Florida, not because it was great strategically, but because it is really his only chance.

Clinton could have passed on Iowa, in fact many in her camp argued just for that, seeing Iowa as possibly problematic. However, she went hard, very hard, with the other two competing equally as hard, which makes her 3rd place the worst possible scenario. California will mean nothing if she loses New Hampshire, this is it.

Mushroom said...

Ottlib,

This was what I posted at nbpolitico a few moments ago.

"It could be that bad (for Hillary). Hillary's concession speech in Iowa was dry and uninspiring. Obama, meanwhile, seized the initiative and gave one that reminds people of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy!!!!"

Nbpolitico has gone on record that Obama can win NH by 16 (43-27)!!!! Harvard Law trumps Yale Law in the Granite State!!!!

Anonymous said...

Steve go to the suffolk university poll for NH, which can be accessed through the Real Clear Politics web site. Out of 1000 people surveyed, 50% are likely to vote in the republican primary, 50% the democratic primary, exactly. Very different from the 3:1 turnout for the Democratic race in Iowa, which favoured Obama and hurt Clinton. Further, the offically republican, democrat, independent split is a three way tie at a third each. So take one third independents, not the stagering number that showed up last night in Iowa to vote in the Democratic caucus. Then take away non viable movement to Obama. See where I'm going here. Its not going to be the same at all. Also add in a whole working class night shift, who favour Clinton and who couldnt come out last night because you can vote all day in primaries. See the different picture.

Anonymous said...

Steve you can go to websites that track all themoney. She has the most money, but Obama has spent more, 4 million more. Something he can't sustain. One quarter does not all the money make.

Steve V said...

anon

First of all, independents make up 45% of registered voters in New Hampshire, which the Suffolk poll doesn't demonstrate. Also, according to the WMUR poll:

"63% of New Hampshire's unaligned voters are likely to vote Democratic, according to a CNN/WMUR poll taken Dec. 27-30."

This result was taken prior to Iowa, and many pundits agreed that if Clinton lost, the race in NH would draw more independents to the more exciting Democratic race. McCain will also appeal to independents, but given what we saw in Iowa, why would anyone not think Obama can't replicate his independent support in NH? There are always way, way more people that vote in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa, so I'm not sure how your point translates.

Steve V said...

anon

Are you serious with the money angle?? I'm willing to bet the farm that the money is POURING in today for Obama, raining cash- it happens ever time. You win, the money comes, you lose, it dries up. And, it wasn't just one quarter, Obama has been competitive all year. Another point, Clinton outspent Obama in Iowa, where organization is supposed to be more of a key element.

Just to add, you can't put a pricetag on the free media Obama will enjoy in the coming days, it's priceless. If the Clinton campaign is banking on money to salvage this race, good luck with that, Obama is right there to nullify.

Tomm said...

Steve,

Up to now the Republican's had been thinking they were likely running against Clinton. What do you think the Republican Party thinks about running against Obama?

Tomm

Steve V said...

"What do you think the Republican Party thinks about running against Obama?"

Nothing rallies the Republican base like a Clinton. I bet they would be pretty worried about Obama, especially because he could put some red states into play.

Steve V said...

Thought this was relevant to the discussion about independents:


Take independents. They constituted 20 percent of the caucus electorate in Iowa on Thursday, but four years ago in New Hampshire they constituted nearly half (48 percent) of the Democratic electorate.

Some seasonal adjustment may be necessary because there was no competitive Republican primary in 2004 to siphon off some of those independent voters. But even in 2000, when John McCain was swept to victory on the strength of big support from independents, the electorate in the Democratic primary between Al Gore and Bill Bradley was 40 percent independents.

Older voters were Clinton's friends in Iowa, not Obama's, and in the caucuses they accounted for 22 percent of the participants. In New Hampshire four years ago, voters over age 65 represented just 11 percent of thee Democratic electorate.

Anonymous said...

No one knows anything about money after September 30th. The new money figures will come out at the end of January, but they will not include anything past Dec 31st. I am most sure that Clinton has raised the most money and you can find that info on the major networks web sites. I am also sure that Obama outspent her by 4 million and that he cant sustain that. I am also sure that NH loves John McCain and that independents can only vote once. If they split 50/50 Obama will be lucky. I am also sure that a survey of 1000 NH residents which is a very large number, done by NH residents and a NH university shows one third independents.

The fact that you won't concede that NH is an entirely different situation with entirely different rules and different forces at play is telling of your bias. Fine have your bias, but Clinton is very strong in the N.E.

Also, to assume that Clinton would pack up and go home even if she comes second is to be frank, just plain childish and simplistic of someone who is supposed to know more about politics.

We shall see Next Tuesday. Then go to Real Clear Politics and check out the polling in other states and their delegate count.

The person who wins gets more than 50% of the delegates. That's all. Current delegate count Clinton 192, Obama 84, Edwards 54 Clintons delegate % as of today 50.3%. That's without the big guns of Florida, NY, California etc.

No doubt Mr Obama is doing beter than expected, but winning he is not, and "won" only in a childish fantasy.

btw Clinton has raised $90,935,788
Obama has raised $80,256,427

He has raised the second most but it still doesnt allow him to spend 4 million more per state when Clinton competitor has raised 10 million more.

Anonymous said...

btw Since 1972 only 4 democratic primary winners have gone on to win the nomination and none have become President. None. That's zero. Now what were you saying about Iowa?

Steve V said...

"I am also sure that Obama outspent her by 4 million and that he cant sustain that."

Anon, if you think that, then you don't know squat about the American primary system. I will guarantee you that Obama is now raising more money than Clinton, in fact I bet the amount is staggering. If you want to cling to some notion that Clinton will out resource Obama, so be it, but I'm telling you right now that isn't the case. If you were talking about Edwards, you might have a point.

BTW, NH is entirely different, independents have a MUCH bigger voice. 20% of caucus goers were independent, I've already given you the math in NH. It would seem you have a bias, or a horse in this race, that won't let you concede what I've presented.

"Also, to assume that Clinton would pack up and go home even if she comes second is to be frank, just plain childish and simplistic of someone who is supposed to know more about politics."

Who said anything about packing it in, she won't. That doesn't mean she isn't FINISHED, because she will be. I haven't read one column that suggests she can win after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire. You don't think Obama will be a out of control freight train, heading into South Carolina, with a huge African American population? Go to your beloved Real Politics, go take a look at the SC polls, Obama is already tied, before we factor in last night.

Super Tuesday will be a super bore if Clinton loses NH, of that I am certain. If she wins, then its a long, protracted dogfight. I'm inclined to believe Obama wins NH. Time will tell.

Steve V said...

"btw Since 1972 only 4 democratic primary winners have gone on to win the nomination and none have become President. None. That's zero. Now what were you saying about Iowa?"

Good grief, how many Republican Presidents have their been in that span? Look, nobody is saying Iowa is the only indicator, I've been following these things for quite some time. That said, you are ignoring what is going on here, Obama broke through the "inevitability" barrier, beat Clinton head to head (Edwards too I might add). You want to fluff that off, fine. Get back to me tomorrow when the polls start rolling in. Bouncity, bounce....

Joseph said...

I don't want to get into an argument, though this all makes for an interesting read. But the headline does sort of make it sound like everyone except Obama is just going to fold after Iowa, which does invite a certain degree of "I don't think so" reaction - even if it is a point to ponder or if a person might believe that it is.

I think Obama will see a bounce in NH from Iowa, but I don't think it will be the kind of stratospheric rise that you expect.

He may win there, but I don't think it is a given. Since the Iowa and NH votes are so close on the calendar this year, there has been a lot more campaigning in both. So, it's not like a lot of people in NH woke up this morning and realized there was a primary on Tuesday - at least not the ones who will show up.

And in recent days, it did appear that Clinton had regained her footing a bit there. I was beginning to see polls showing a 5, 6, or even 8 point lead. So the bounce may just even things out.

It may be enough to put Obama in front, but I don't know if it will be enough.

Plus, as a point of clarification. Hillary won the Iowa over-45 vote - not just the over 65 vote which was mentioned somewhere in earlier comments. She and Obama were about tied with the 30 - 45 age group, but Obama won the under 30 vote handily. Not sure you'll see that much of a dynamic in NH. Might, but not so sure. And Hillary has already adapted her message directly at youth. It might not win over a whole crowd, but it might shield her a bit.

I'd personally rather just wait and see what happens then try to "prove" anything one way or the other beforehand.

I understand they'll be some type of official poll on Tuesday . . . that's joke ; ).

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

"This time, the poll found 60 percent of New Hampshire's independents planned to vote in the Democratic primary, with 40 percent looking to the Republican contest."

That's from the Zoby poll and I can see how you were confused. It's not 60% independents who will vote in the Democratic primary it's 60% of independents, but with 7-8% undecided and margins of error, they pretty much split down the middle.

Steve V said...

joseph

Points taken, the title is provocative. I'm not saying anything with certainty, just instincts. I stick with the thesis that if Obama wins NH the race is effectively over. That said, NH is certainly not a given and as we all know anything can happen. I'm just arguing why I think it could happen, others disagree, which makes for fun banter. I've watched enough of these things to know nothing is a given, so if I'm wrong I won't be shocked.

Steve V said...

On the poll front, the two rolling average polls show a closing gap.

Suffolk had a 12% gap for Clinton yesterday, down to 7% today, which means a very big day yesterday for Obama. That should close further, as the older days are cycled out.

Zogby had a 6% gap yesterday on a four day average, today it down to 4% (Tuesday to Friday).

Anonymous said...

When John Zogby was asked yesterday if Clinton could still win if she lost NH,his answer was, "In politics there are two kinds of people, Clintons and us mortals."

Joseph said...

I had just checked out the Zogby running poll as well. I do think things may even out. Very curious about tomorrow's numbers to see if the shift to Obama continues at same rate or if he got a shift.

I think it will be a tossup for Tuesday. Do tend to agree that if Obama pulls it out, we're in for a much longer race. Large states like California might prove decisive, and with a broad range and super-duper "half a continent" Tuesday, Hillary would still be competitive. But with a NH win, the "phenomenon" of Obama (as opposed to a mere candidate) would really take flight so he'd have the wind to his back everywhere he campaigns for a few weeks.

Now beyond that more subjective analysis, I think I have figured out my personal resistance to Obama. It's not Obama. It's my fear of what happens to Obama in a general election.

Having followed US politics very closely for several years, I have a great fear that some of what HIllary supporters - and Hillary herself - says IS true. She is so vetted at this point to the point of basically being pounded steak. That means she has entrenched opposition, but it's nearly impossible to paint her with any new "caricature" as well. She is what she is - and that means people have to recognize her strengths as well, which she does have.

I still fear the ads come summer against Obama - long after the "glow of promise" has faded from the national view when Republicans (and their nefarious back-room marketing groups) start broiling Obama on his past drug use (which he has admitted), early political supporters (some who aren't the rosiest characters), and start creating that anti-mythology. If you sweep to ascendency on being a nation's saviour, you are that much easier to drag down for just being human.

Don't get me wrong - I think Obama is the real deal and I think he has a worth vision. But Gore and Kerry were both reduced to caricatures by the steamroller election process in the US. By the end of the year, Obama could be the evasive drug-user who once cavorted with questionable characters in Chicago politics and now claims to be a saint. At least that may be how he appears to the Republican base.

Will people in Tennessee really consider voting for the former cocaine user? Will the people of Ohio?

MAKE NO MISTAKE - this is not me personally condemning. Frankly, I find it refreshing to have him shaking up the US political scene and I sincerely hope he can be the "change that we can believe in," but I think people are being blinded by the light if they think that he will be impervious to the attack politics that have driven US political thought in the past several decades. That machine, unfortunately, has been perfected in recent races. I fear a freshly discovered "saint" going up against it much more than a known, defined, and thoroughly vetted human being who faces it.

I fear Obama is the saint while Hillary is the human. And I do genuinely fear how that plays out.

But I would genuinely LOVE to be proven mistaken in that fear.

Steve V said...

joseph

You're right about Clinton, she is already vetted, there is nothing new the Repub machine can throw at her. Obama is far more of an unknown quantity, but you can look at two ways. A fresh face provides opportunity, Obama can appeal to voters that have already made up their minds about Clinton. If there is one thing that motivates the Republican base, it's a hatred for the Clintons. Obama doesn't have that baggage, and as more and more people identify themselves as independent, he may be able to gridge the partisan gap. Clinton's negatives are quite high, and she is seen as divisive, while Obama is unknown, I'm not sure he is automatically more of a victim for Conservatives to prey on.

Joseph said...

I agree with you on that, Steve. Sorry that was such a long comment - a lot of me thinking things out in writing ; ).

My only last thought is I think Obama could handle it. He's already done himself good by being in front of it himself - in his own book about his life and lessons from his life.

I think he could handle whatever they throw at him, and they could look foolish. Machines are not perpetual motion machines. I don't think the old tricks will work this time.

One think Iowa showed this year is interest is high, and the electorate is highly engaged. US citizens seem to realize they've been a bit asleep at the wheel recently. I do think this is the year they wake up and demand substance and vision from any candidate and not just instinctively respond to plays upon their emotions, fears, and prejudices. I hope so anyway.

Have a good day.