Monday, September 8, 2008

Words been passed, this is our last chance

Things don't look good for the Obama campaign lately. This will be one of many posts on the internet today addressing the state of the race, and if you lean left you probably have the same sense of dread that I do. Its obvious that the polls are moving towards McCain. This may be a convention bounce but it may be something else, we don't know now, we may not know until its too late. All of us who thought Palin was a horrible pick are wrong - dead wrong in terms of the political ramifications. She has united and enthused a dying brand. Although I do think she'll have her share of mis-steps, maybe even a ton, maybe even enough to dissuade independent voters the Christian right won't care because they don't care whos right, they care about who shares their values.

Although I hoped Joe Biden would be at the top of the ticket this year I've invested a lot of emotional energy into Obama. His win in Iowa inspired me, his win in what was termed the "Potomac" primary (MD, DC and VA) moved me to tears his selection of Joe Biden thrilled me. I worked hard as a canvasser for his Oregon campaign. If he loses, I will feel a certain degree of responsibility.

Today I've been thinking about how other candidates might be doing had they prevailed. If Clinton had won we'd be hearing reporters question whether or not Black voters would desert the democratic party. The Clintons would probably be hitting McCain (and Pawlenty? who knows) hard, and more effectively. But Hilary would have a ton of work to do getting independents. How might Biden have played on the top of the ticket? I like him, but many surveys show that when he was picked as Obamas running mate he had low favorables. Richardson would have been interesting - Edwards would have been a disaster.

Is there any point to this? Probably not. But I'm definitely concerned about the Obama camp. Our best hope of winning was for Obama to stay ahead and simply nurse that lead through November. Now that hes down, I feel that only two options remain.

1. Win the debates. I don't mean to underestimate Palin, but I really do think that Biden will defeat her handily. My concern lies with Obama. Hes a great speaker, but was consistently criticized for underperformed in primary debates (I admit it, Hilary would have really shined here). Americans seem to mistake thoughtful answers for insincere ones. Obama will try to show both sides of every issue and McCain will be unequivocal and decisive. Obama needs to learn how to appear decisive.

2. Win the ad war. Americans say they hate negative ads, but they believe them anyway. The Obama campaign needs to form two narratives: a. McCain = Bush and b. Palin = Crook. They need to hit hard.

This is a good start:

There are some things keeping me optimistic. The Obama campaign's voter registration is one thing. The fact that the electoral college still looks decent is another. There is still a large block of undecided voters. I have a feeling most of them will go in the same direction down one of two paths. Obviously these voters are undecided for a reason - intrinsically they aren't enthused by either candidate. Do they go with the McCain = Bush narrative and vote against McCain as a referendum on Bush regardless of their concerns/lack of enthusiasm about Obama? Do they go with the Obama = dangerous meme and vote for McCain in the interest of safety regardless of their opinion about the Bush years? Do they stay home? Do they vote Nader/Barr/Write-in? We'll find out less than two months from now.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Blake, thanks for putting all this into words. It's true, thoughtful answers are mistaken for insincere ones... and defensiveness is easily passed off as steadfastness, ignorance as courage. It's pretty scary. I don't know how either set of debates can be "won" (though decisiveness is part of it, like you said), but here's hoping the media, ads, grassroots, speaking power, or SOMETHING can turn the polls around.