Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tsunami Tuesday ends first wave of campaigns

An estimated 2,218 Democratic caucus participants flood the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds in 2008. Barack Obama won more than 70 percent of the votes in Kansas caucuses.

An estimated 2,218 Democratic caucus participants flood the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds in 2008. Barack Obama won more than 70 percent of the votes in Kansas caucuses.

February 6, 2008

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— As a former president might put it, maybe it depends on what the definition of "win" is.

Was it winning states or winning delegates? Was it coming closer than expected and winning delegates all the same? Was it losing where a candidate was expected to win or winning where a candidate was expected to lose?

One clear verdict: the near-national primary of Super Tuesday provided candidates in both parties with enough ammunition to make plausible claims they had done well enough to move on to the next round of primaries. And make claims they did.

The contenders

The breadth of the race that stretched from Alaska to Massachusetts, and the limited time to campaign in any one place, favored the better known candidates in both parties, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, with McCain gaining significantly more advantage over his rivals than Clinton did over hers, Sen. Barack Obama.

McCain continued his march toward the nomination, which, if not inevitable, now appears more likely than not. Mike Huckabee had a strong run in the South, winning several states and possibly burnishing his credentials as a running mate. Mitt Romney added wins where expected, but also was battling McCain to win California. He vowed to go forward.

Democrats

On the Democratic side, the race between Clinton and Obama has become in many ways a contest between obligation and enthusiasm.

A long fight would not seem to be helpful to the Democrats if the Republican race ends earlier, but this is an unusual year with an unusual level of interest.

Clinton's crowds seem to come out of duty to support her barrier-breaking candidacy, and loyalty to the family that is near royalty in the Democratic Party.

Obama's supporters come out with energy, by the tens of thousands, even in unlikely places for a Democrat to be a draw, like the 15,000 who surged to his rally in Boise, Idaho. Obama has lit a prairie fire.

Those two powerful, emotional pulls are framing the Democratic race, but without any durable trend. Sometimes obligation wins, sometimes enthusiasm.

Republicans

The race for the Republican nomination for president is long on obligation. It is a central conceit of the campaign of McCain, who had gone into Super Tuesday hoping to all but close out the GOP contest. Now, instead of working to shore up his party, he has to think about upcoming contests.

Even some Republicans concede that they are more interested in watching the Democratic race play out.

"I use expectation vs. aspiration," said Don Sipple, a California-based GOP consultant. "Obama, beyond the obvious attraction of him as a person, his campaign is packed with symbols that appeal to aspirational voters. He's the ultimate opportunity candidate, whereas you have an expectation of Hillary as a workmanlike, less than romantic figure.

"Somebody soars, and somebody walks," he said.

Issues

There is very little distance between Clinton and Obama on the major issues such as the war and health care. The campaign is much more personal, and that shows.

Phenomenon candidates rarely last as long as Obama. Gary Hart in 1984 and Howard Dean in 2004 both lost out to the candidates who appealed more to obligation, the party stalwart Walter Mondale, and then the long-serving Sen. John Kerry.

Obama has proven there is something larger at work. It shows in his standing, the fact that he is broadening his appeal and the fact that he continues to raise record-setting amounts of money. The Clinton campaign can't quite seem to figure out how it wants to campaign against him. Clinton seems to try to kill him off with kindness one day, then shred his record the next.

For its part, Obama's campaign is speaking in an easily decipherable code when it talks about his generational appeal, his motivation of young voters and his ability to appeal to a much broader range of voters, accenting fairly fixed opinions that Clinton is polarizing.

But Obama's challenges are clear. He needs to appeal to lower-income white voters and to Latinos, with very little time to develop a new message that would resonate with them.

Republicans face a situation where they need to close the enthusiasm gap. It will be difficult given how vocal and disgruntled some of the leaders of the conservative movement have been about McCain. They find themselves in the rather odd position of having Huckabee and Romney splitting the votes of the more conservative base in ways that are propelling McCain.

The next major test for Democrats will be next Tuesday when Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia vote. All present more opportunity for enthusiasm than obligation. But obligation is a stubborn thing.

Comments

Ragingbear 7 years, 7 months ago

While the rest of the world was calling it "Super Tuesday" LJW decided to break the mold and become rebels by naming it ~Shakes magic 8 ball~ Tsunami Tuesday!

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 7 months ago

Clinton's crowds seem to come out of duty to support her barrier-breaking candidacy, and loyalty to the family that is near royalty in the Democratic Party.

Royalty! I think I will be sick.

antney 7 years, 7 months ago

What a great race!

Thanks to reality TV and 24 hr news, we now have an election where voters actually care, are getting involved and generating lots of dialog.

Go Obama! Win Kansas in November.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 7 months ago

I was SOOOOO glad to se Senator McCain win. Anyone who attracts such vitrol and viciousness from Puss Bimbo is a candidate of mine!!!!!!

twelvepackterry 7 years, 7 months ago

I am not at all sure that the real count would have been putting Douglas County for Obama. There might well have been some monkey business going on last night.

I drove in line for 30 minutes, then parked. I stood in the registered line for an hour. During that hour, someone came around and asked me if I wanted an little PAPER Obama button. I didn't want one. When I went up to the table with the list to check my name, it wasn't on the registery. So I was encouraged to stand in another line, to go to the back of another line. I wasn't going to do that. I left. There were several people walking out when I did.

I have been Democrat and registered here since 1984. I vote in every single election, national, state and local. They have no trouble at all finding my name at the polling place.

This morning, I called the Co. Clerk to confirm what I already knew. I am indeed registered in Douglas County as a Democrat. He says he has been calls all morning on that particular issue, lots of people who were Democrat were said to be "not on the list". Were they also without their little paper Obama buttons? Did those people leave like I did? Or were they dedicated enough to go to the back of the other line, where they might not have gotten their presence known until it was too late? Were we profiled as being prime Hillary voters and thus our name was not on that list?

I think there monkey business going on last night. So far, there is nothing, no thing, to convince me otherwise, even after a call to our local ljworld-employed Dem leader.

twelvepackterry 7 years, 7 months ago

And I celebrate that Hillary took California by over 10%. I heard last night that one in four voters reside in California. I was also told by the Dem Leader that Dems outweigh GOP votes 2 to 1.

You can have Obama's church-and-congregation style. I don't like anyone yelling at me like he does, particularly a male and a politician. If Hillary yells, it isn't at me. It is with me.

twelvepackterry 7 years, 7 months ago

Pogo, Obama also has Zbigniew Brezinski as his foreign policy advisor. Since Zbigniew Brezinsk has worked for Carter, Reagan and Bush Sr. (not Clinton) and somewhat for Bush Jr (tho I doubt seriously if Dub-ya even heard what he had to say), I would say that Obama is not really all that interested in getting the old guard out, not interested in change.

I want the old DC guard crushed. I want world peace.

Confrontation 7 years, 7 months ago

I was stuck in the National Guard Armory nightmare last night. Those pictures attached to this article must have been taken after the first round of people left. It was way more crowded than those pictures show. I was counted and was happy to be part of the process. However, there was an incredibly annoying Hillary supporter who would start the "Hillary" chant in a high-pitched squealing voice. I don't care who she was chanting for, it was just painful to everyone else's ears. I don't know how she thought she'd convince anyone to switch to Hillary. Everyone seemed to back further away from her noise.

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