Monday, February 25, 2008

Some Perspective On The Obama Vote

It's easy to get excited. The very likely Democratic nominee for President has vanquished several opponents, including two experienced and accomplished United States Senators; one candidate who ran, with some success, for the nomination only four years earlier (and ran a national campaign as a V.P. nominee); and, of course, the formidable, money-generating, Clinton machine. And Obama stil is surging in the polls, drawing crowds of incomparable size, raising money in unparalleled amounts, and winning every primary/caucus (what is it now, 11 in a row?), most of them in blowouts- especially when the candidates have had time to campaign in the state.

Still, we need some perspective, including consideration of the nature of the Democratic nominating electorate. Thus far, from what I can tell, Obama has won 25 contests, including the District of Columbia, Americans Abroad, and the "beauty contest" in Washington State. Clinton has won 11 contests, including New Mexico, so tight the race wasn't decided until several days after the vote. Ten of Obama's victories have come in caucus states, none by a narrow margin. Only two of Clinton's victories have come in caucuses, narrowly in Nevada and more narrowly in New Mexico. And both of these have a disproportionately large number of Hispanic voters in the Democratic electorate- and Clinton has done better in the Hispanic vote than in the non-Hispanic white cohort.

There are several possible explanations for Obama's extraordinary strength in caucuses. These include: 1) a highly effective organization in caucus states; 2) a preponderance of highly motivated voters, a defining characteristic of the Obama campaign; 3) a preference of liberal, Democratic non-Hispanic Caucasian individuals to be seen voting in a public (though not all of them are) caucus for a black and/or a tendency for such persons not to vote for a black in a secret ballot.

In either case, voting in the general election is not public, but private; not amongst primarily Democrats, but including independents and Republicans. A major factor determining the outcome of the election will be whether the broad swath of voters will be as anxious to transcend American history as have the highly motivated, educated, tolerant, and progressive voters who dominate Democratic primaries and caucuses.

No comments:

This Is Missouri, and Andy Reid is Part of the Problem

Andy Reid was once a bad football coach. Then he lucked into his Kansas City Chiefs drafting the greatest quarterback God ever created and ...