This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Why did Obama win?


Why has Barack Obama defeated one of the strongest political machines and dynasties in American politics? Why did he win the Democratic nomination? Here, I think are the most important reasons:

1. He is the change candidate. People are tired of the Bush legacy of cynicism and despair. They are tired of politicians that triangulate and tell us what they think we want to hear. They want change - and Obama represents that. He is authentic. He speaks from the soul. He is talented and he is young. His Presidency would help erase the legacy of racism that has pervaded American politics for decades. In 2008, people wanted change over experience.

2. His campaign. Led by David Axelrod and David Plouffe, Obama's campaign for the nomination has been revolutionary. Not only was it able to organise effectively at a state level in the traditional way but it also harnessed on-line networking sites, new media and the Internet to build up a powerful grass-roots organisation that was unbeatable. It was an antidote to the traditional and distant party machine that left people alienated from the political process. His speeches have been electric too - eloquent, powerful and full of passion. They enthused crowds and kept the campaign alive.

3) New coalition of voters. Obama's campaign succeeded where few did by stimulating unprecedented levels of turnout. He attracted young people, educated professionals and African Americans. His passionate appeals for hope and idealism in politics got the vote out and created a coalition of loyal, active participants. These people will be crucial come November.

4) Judgement. Barack Obama does not have the decades of Washington experience John McCain or Hillary Clinton have. He is an outsider to the Washington establishment - a good thing in my book. But what he does lack in experience, he makes up for in judgement. On every issue that has been important from the war in Iraq, to campaign financing, to the role of lobbyists in the political process, Barack Obama has time and time again demonstrated his superior judgement and his conviction. Americans recognised this and voted for him.

Now, America has the first African American candidate who has a real chance at the Presidency. I hope people get behind him. But this is only the first battle, now the real hard work starts.

6 comments:

Tom Hitchings said...

I agree entirely that Hillary should seek Senate Majority Leader, it's a role I've always thought she is perfectly suited for. Obama would be mad to pick her as a VP. But where I disagree with your 'Where Obama won/Clinton lost' is that I think she could easily have won if she had been better prepared for the caucuses. That's where the election turned. Did you notice that Obama even took more delegates than Clinton in Texas? She put all that effort into winning the primary but then lost the state overall after a poor caucus operation. This shows how she failed to translate a real lead in the popular vote to the nominating process. I think this is the reason she narrowly lost, and Obama won, rather than any popular triumph of one vision over another (not that their's weren't significantly different).

...

I'll be amazed if Obama doesn't win the general. But it should be an exciting campaign nonetheless. I hope Obama accepts McCain's invitations to a series of townhall meetings, that would be terrific to follow.

I heard Larry King say today that Barry Goldwater told him that he and JFK had agreed to do that in the '68 election...

Alex Finnegan said...

I accept this. The caucus forum was just not suited to Hillary's campaign style whereas Obama was ideal for it. If she had recognised the importance of the early caucuses in Iowa or Nevada, as I said, she would have won delegates - so yes, it was a matter of bad organisation and style for Hillary when it came to them.

But I still think that what motivates people to attend caucuses or vote in primaries is the vision thing and Obama's message was just more powerful.

I too really hope that McCain and Obama have town hall debates. It would be like the Lincoln/Douglas debates and help stimulate voters across the country. Wonderful idea.

Doug O said...

Town Hall meetings etc sound a great means of promoting debate and 'communicating' with people in principle.

More significant in the 1850s with a smaller electorate and a more restricted media.

21st Century it would be completely controlled both in terms of security and also politically. Both campaign teams would be very averse to gaffes and would want to keep debating time to a premium. It also wouldn't be a cross-country thing covering small town America: they would be focused on the usual 5-6 swing states.

Incidentally I recently saw Cameron's attempt at a Town Hall gig in Harlow or somewhere. A pure gimmick: only have a look at it on webcameron if you have a sick bag within a 1 metre radius.

Doug O said...

Town Hall meetings etc sound a great means of promoting debate and 'communicating' with people in principle.

More significant in the 1850s with a smaller electorate and a more restricted media.

21st Century it would be completely controlled both in terms of security and also politically. Both campaign teams would be very averse to gaffes and would want to keep debating time to a premium. It also wouldn't be a cross-country thing covering small town America: they would be focused on the usual 5-6 swing states.

Incidentally I recently saw Cameron's attempt at a Town Hall gig in Harlow or somewhere. A pure gimmick: only have a look at it on webcameron if you have a sick bag within a 1 metre radius.

Doug said...

I don't know about all the logisitical details of the Primary Campaigns, but I'm sure Hillary suffered in organisation at certain points and could have one more delegates as a result. However, I've heard (perhaps wrongly) that she was better organised in California for example; I went to the Dems Abroad Primary in London. Despite being more organised, it was the political climate in those cauc/primaries thast meant she didn't make a decisive break in the former and lost the latter (and surely others like it)

The election was realistically decided early on.Obama meant change and Hillary went on too much about her experience.

Hillary picked up toward the end of the campaign once she had re-invented herself as a champion of white working classes-but by the time of Penn. etc it was realistically too late.

Obama ran a superior campaign overall, but ultimately it was the message of change which allowed him to win a decisive lead through much of the early Primary period

Doug said...

(Finally)... I certainly wouldn't be "amazed" if Obama loses. If he can quickly frame the campaign on his kind of issues over which the G.O.P. has been hit since '06 whilst the evangelical nutters aren't mobilised, then he should get it.

However, on a personal level, I think America is not ready for him. Not only because he is black and the (politically) stupid "bitter" comments and the Jeremiah Wright thing etc, but also because he's not a great candidate. He's escaped much proper media scrutiny during at least the early part of the primaries, but could soon end up being raped by Republican ad machine. In the end, his campaign limped home during the latter primaries.

Who knows what other dirt might be picked up on him now? At least with Hillary, everyone knew about her shady past and people knew what things she would be hit on by the GOP.