On One Hand

February 12, 2008

Barack Obama Wins Big in DC Area

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:10 pm
Tags: , ,

In just under a year of campaigning, Barack Obama has come a long way.

A few of us may remember his very first campaign slogan, or even pre-campaign slogan developed when Clinton was spoken of of as the obvious Democratic nominee and opposing her was thought of as defiance of the party establishment. “Don’t tell mama, I’m for Obama,” came out on t-shirts and bumper stickers on websites like draftobama.com.

You could say that the Barack Obama campain rhetoric has improved quite a bit, since then.

Now Obama is poised to win the Democratic nomination; Hillary would need 55 percent of all future delegates to break even, so even a narrow win in upcoming states would not be enough for her. Until now her ceiling has been 51-52 percent in most states (she won by a wider margin in Oklahoma and Arkansas) which she is not likely to exceed anywhere except Texas. Though Texas is a huge state that does slightly favor Clinton, a 55 percent win there with a loss in other states won’t cut it; Clinton has to score consistenly high from now until April if she wants to be the nominee.

Obama has begun to gain support where he was previously lacking, among demographics that are extremely important in a general election. They are Hispanics, Roman Catholics, and – here’s the kicker – white men – who tipped for him by a narrow margin in Maryland and Virginia, a first for Southern or border states. White men have historically been the least likely to go for any candidate that represents diversity – be that a black man, a hispanic man, or a woman – and lately have been the least likely to vote for any Democrat in a presidential election. For some reason states that have a lot of black people tend to have a polarized Democratic electorate, with whites going for Clinton and blacks going for Obama – so in that case, being female didn’t cost Clinton quite as much as Obama was hurt by being black. Virginia and Maryland are the first Southern states to see the white male gap significantly narrow, and are demographically similar to the nation as a whole.

This electoral growth represents the farthest reach for any Democrat. Women and Hispanics are likely Democratic voters in any situation, but white men, especially those who are independent or moderate, are most likely to flock to John McCain and most necessary constituents for anyone who will go on to fight in the general election. The nominee needs to stop a landslide of white men towards McCain to stand any chance of winning in November.

If Obama is goign to be the nominee, he’s going to have to pick a vice presidential candidate that improves his credentials in one of two areas; military policy, and the economy. A perfect choice for the appeal on economic issues would be Hillary Clinton, who voters connect to the unbroken economic marathon of the Bill Clinton presidency in the 1990s. But Obama might be able to win with those concerned with economic issues through rhetoric as well as he would through a vice presidential candidate; all he needs to do is talk about basic Democratic Party platforms like building the middle class, re-negotiating free trade, building American infrastructure and raising the minimum wage. Nobody will doubt his willingness or his ability to fight hard for those issues.

Instead, Obama is best to pick someone with strong military credentials, like Wesley Clark or even Joe Biden, because that’s where he is weakest. Wesley Clark would be especially an especially meaningful vice presidential pick since his military credentials surpass even those of John McCain, and the ticket would also be seen as a gracious outreach to the Clinton camp from Barack Obama. If General Clark were to accept the offer, the Democratic ticket would be nearly unstopable this fall.

That strategy would be to hit Republicans on where they are strong rather than where they are weak. John McCain is strong with independends – just as Obama is – and strong on military credentials just like Wesley Clark.

The choice would have to be explained graciously to Clinton’s supporters, who expect either nominee to select the other as the vice presidential choice. Obama’s team would have to argue that electability is a concern, and the convention in Denver would have to be anchored with a speech from Obama that showers Clinton with praise for breaking the glass ceiling for all women.

Nobody will do as well as Hillary did in gathering surging support among women. But it may be that with Clinton, the huge rally among women wouldn’t cancel out the negatives she faces against white men. Be they for sexist reasons or not (I say that to some extent they are), white men just don’t like what they see in Hillary Clinton.

I try not to be too overt in taking sides here, but I can’t deny that Obama seems to be the most winnable candidate by no small margin, and his presidency could be an incredible thing for American interests politics. If he picks the right veep for a balanced ticket, Democrats could breathe as easy as they would if Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee had been the Republican nominee.



  1. this is probably a little inappropriate for this but ive found a fun limerick.

    Regarding the coming election,
    I have carefully weighed my selection,
    Mrs. Clinton’s too old
    And McCain leaves me cold,
    But Obama gives me an erection.

    Comment by fb_shs — February 13, 2008 @ 8:53 am | Reply

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