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.