Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama: Creating a Base for Himself

One of the best things to come out of the South Carolina primary was that both political candidates and the media payed close attention to black voters.

Barack Obama was no exception.

It was clear from the early going that Barack Obama was not running as the candidate of the black community in the same way as Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. Instead, Obama is running as a black candidate on his own account in the same manner as Al Sharpton.

As a result, Obama had to earn the black vote in South Carolina.

And he did.

According to MSNBC, Obama had the most extensive field operation in the history of the South Carolina Democratic Party:

Thus Obama vindicated Sen. Hillary Clinton’s own New Hampshire campaign slogan
when she said, “Some believe you can get change by hoping for it. I believe you get change by working hard.” Democratic activists here in South Carolina said that the Obama campaign had perhaps the most extensive field operation ever seen in this state. The reach of the Obama field operation extended even to such often forgotten places as Allendale County, which has the second smallest population of any of the state’s 46 counties. To cite another locale, Obama had had about 20 supporters working out of his Greenville, S.C. office since mid-summer; Clinton had only five or six starting in the fall, according to one Greenville Democratic activist. The Obama high command showed a skill for picking talent: Craig Schirmer, a veteran South Carolina get-out-the-vote expert, was in charge of Obama’s mobilization effort in the state.

By working effectively for the black vote, Obama was able to cash in on his "racial affinity" with black voters as a black candidate and get 80% of the votes from African-Americans. He was also able to accomplish that in the fierce opposition from the Clinton campaign and that's also to the credit of his campaign.

It should also be added that Hillary Clinton deserves credit for contesting the black vote although she didn't do nearly as effectively as she should have.

My suspicion is that Obama's willingness to really work for the black vote in South Carolina is going to have the further effect of creating a base for him among black Democratic voters nationwide.

That's crucial for his campaign because his "white constituency" of younger voters, moderates, and independents is notoriously unreliable and finicky.

The South Carolina primary was not only a big win for Barack Obama but it strengthened his overall candidacy by pretty much locking in an African-American voting base.

Good for him.


Anonymous said...

Assuming that McCain wins the nomination (and I am not sure Romney's day is finished yet)...who do you think McCain wants to run against ? I can't forsee who'd give him the tougher race.

I doubt if he'd want to be contrasted with Obama. He would definitely look like the old man that he is. Might remind us of Kennedy/Nixon's famous TV debate...

But I don't think he'd want to debate Hillary. I think she could out-debate him in terms of the war, healthcare, and the economy. He couldn't sell his experience in this race like he could against Obama.

I think it is an odd primary all around.

Ric Caric said...

Either Hillary or Obama would beat McCain handily.

But I'm not sure that Obama would do so by debating. Obama's not that great of a debater.

The main problem for a McCain candidacy would be that a lot of Republicans wouldn't support him. That would be the case whether the Democrat was Hillary or Obama.