01 February 2008

Obama's Immediate Problem

I don't know what is going to happen this Tuesday. My general prediction (if anyone cares) is that if Barack Obama survives--if Hillary Clinton does not pile up overwhelming delegate majorities in the big states--then Obama continues, and his campaign will find itself in a very good position. The whole early primary, front-loading strategy offered an advantage to the most organized, well-know, and wealthiest candidate, which was Senator Clinton. If she doesn't wrap the nomination up on Tuesday, or at least come very close, Obama gains a considerable advantage. I believe the chances are high (70-75%) that Obama will survive and he could be the actual front-runner in a few weeks.

But Obama has an immediate problem that could derail this entire scenario. If you have read anything about this campaign, you have viewed the exit polls and know how Democrats and Independents are voting. Obama appears to be getting the support of young voters, new voters, independents, African-Americans, and the wine-and-cheese liberal set (those Chardonnay drinkers that the Conservatives so despise). Senator Clinton, on the other hand, is polling better with women (especially those over 40), elderly voters, Hispanics, union voters, the traditional low and middle-income Democratic constituencies, and party regulars.

So what's my point? It's very simple--at this stage of the race, Clinton's constituencies are much more dependable. Her supporters are going to cast their ballots. Obama can depend on African Americans as well as those wine-drinking liberals. But his campaign needs to be extremely wary of these new, young voters and those so-called independents.

The media loves to tout the potential electoral power of young voters (the mainstream press actually want it to be 1968 again, things were fun). But that youth vote never materializes--they simply don't go to the polls. They disappoint time and time again. And I suppose an old coot like me can easily be called a cynic for even writing this, but it's true whether we like it or not. I hope I am proven wrong this time, but this is a recurring problem.

Barack Obama is placing a lot of faith in a group of voters who are consistently unreliable. I would be concerned. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton's supporters will turn out in huge numbers, and she can count on that. Her committed and dedicated base might be the critical ingredient on Super Tuesday.

3 comments:

ratzorizzo said...

I like your analysis re:
HRC's voters may be more reliable
then Obama's...especially since
historically, many primary voters don't show up for the big show
in Nov. Question: Why does HRC get
more of the working poor voters than Obama...is that because of
Bill's 2 terms?

CSP2003 said...

You may be underestimating this new crop of young voters. I point to their large turnout in South Carolina as an example. Though they may no longer take to the streets as they did in 1968, they are very active online. Their generation’s version of the town square is Face-book, MySpace, and U-Tube. This is also the first crop of new voters who literally grew up watching Jon Stewart's Daily Show; they are a lot more politically savvy then they are given credit for. I witnessed at our local school bond vote last fall an incredibly large turnout among young voters. This was unprecedented in our community and the bond, which had failed in a previous attempt, passed as a direct result.

dew said...

I hope I am underestimating the power of the youth vote. I will be extremely happy if they can make a difference. There have been so many times in the past 2-3 decades when it just hasn't panned out. This might be the year.