Obama’s win

The Democratic primary contest is effectively over, even though it is not officially decided until the Convention votes. This contest was historic in so many ways. It was close. For the first time, the white guys finished last. For the first time in some time, it featured a giant-killer narrative. It was epic, compelling. The world watched, enthralled.

And of course, its significance and meaning are hotly contested, not least because it was also a contest of the aspirations of two previously excluded groups. What happened?

The Washington Post provides a detailed analysis of Obama’s campaign, as does Time (hat-tip to The Standard). The basic story is that Obama’s team sat down at the beginning of the race, looked at the rules, and figured out what it takes to win according to the rules and in the light of the major opponent’s strengths. As the Post headlined it, strategy was based on winning delegates, not battlegrounds. The campaign organised early and hard in states that had barely seen campaigners in previous contests.

[As an aside, I was astonished to find that a friend in Colorado, who has never been actively political and who was raised in a Republican home, had been recruited as a precinct captain for the Obama campaign. His lack of political experience didn’t matter, because the guidance he received was slick and professional. His energy did. His precinct went for Obama by a wide margin.]

The other major factor was an inspirational message delivered by an exceptionally inspirational speaker. I watched Obama’s Minnesota ‘victory speech’ on Wednesday, and was almost choking with emotion by the end. No-one can deny the power of this oratory (except prehaps the Faux News people who thought that the fainting members of Obama’s audiences must be fakes).

With the popularity of the candidate/message came money, unprecedented mountains of the stuff. Which underwrote the TV ads and the grassroots organising. Combined with a superior strategy, it was enough to grind out a narrow win in the primaries.

This is the Democrats’ year. They will make further advances in congressional and state elections across the US in November. But Obama will require a new strategy to win the Presidency, and it may be close-run thing. However, he’s won against the odds once, so there’s no reason to believe that he won’t do it again.


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4 Responses to “Obama’s win”

  1. Inventory2 Says:

    Interesting post JP – at face value, everything seems to be in Obama’s favour at the moment – and certainly the early finish to the Republicans’ selection process has given Obama a lot more time in the limelight. Can he maintain the momentum, and will the McCain campaign be refreshed and energised after some “downtime” – on the public campaign trail, at least? It promises to be a fascinating campaign and contest, and I’m sure that those of us in the Antipodes with even a passing interest in things politic will follow it closely.

  2. Ghost who walks Says:

    Hi JP,

    God forbid that I should enter the blogosphere, but here we go. I’ve done enough on the Web 2.0 theory, now for the practical. Who knows how the final election will turn out? There are those who have said the American Presidency is the best political office that money can buy. There are also those who have said that becoming president is proof that one is unfit to hold the office. But could I possibly agree with such cynical comments? Perhaps it will depend on how bad Obama really is?

    But if the advertisers have anything to do with it, perhaps the Auusies will win after all, “Ah McCain, you’ve done it again” 🙂

    Sort of makes sense I suppose, a special offer with the president – “do you want fries with that?”

    McCain would have to be the wrinkly ones, but Obama could go with the straight up and crunchy sound bites?

  3. jafapete Says:

    Ghost, you’re going to have to think of another nom de plume, as there is already a GWW3 haunting the kiwi blogosphere. (Don’t ask me what happened to GWW and GWW2. Suspect that they got banned.) Anyway, glad you made your debut here.

    Inventory, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that everything is going in Obama’s favour.

    For a start, the Republicans have chosen their strongest candidate for 2008 — someone who can claim not to be cravenly Republican, a bit of his own person. Even if he has followed the party line closely these past couple of years. Given the Republicans fast shrinking base, any Republican is going to have to attract a lot of independents and cross-overs to win, and McCain’s best for that.

    Then Obama’s got a problem with (a) being perceived as elitist and (b) his race. The Dems can probably write off states like West Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas, even if the got Hillary on the ticket. As I posted earlier, Obama has good chances of picking up states like NM, Colorado and other mountain states, but that’s not going to be easy.

    Then there’s Karl Rove and the “independent” attack vehicle that the right is putting together as we speak. Seems that, much as they profess to hate attack ads, Americans can’t resist them.

    Nope, I’d say that Obama has his work cut out. This is going to be ano interesting election. Unlike our own.

  4. Inventory2 Says:

    I agree – Obama has it all ahead of him. The point I was making though is that he has had an immense amount of media coverage over the last couple of months. With McCain securing victory so early, the media spotlight has been almost exclusively on the Democrats. Anyway, it’s all on now, and it will be fascinating to watch!

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