Obama Mania, David Broder Edition
David Broder argues that a win in New Hampshire would render the Democratic nomination Barack Obama’s to lose. I wouldn’t go quite that far. It would probably give him the momentum to take South Carolina, where Hillary Clinton holds a statistically insignificant lead. Still, she’s absolutely mopping the floor with him in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other major early states right now. (Although, as Dave Schuler noted on OTB Radio Wednesday, the fact that the DNC is penalizing Florida for holding its primary this early could hurt Clinton.) Certainly, she’s not hurting for money to run ad spots.
Moreover, while I acknowledge Obama’s crossover appeal, Broder overstates it geometrically.
Running in two of the “whitest” states in the country, Obama has shown crossover appeal that defies conventional wisdom about the limits an African-American candidate will face.
It is a pattern of his brief political life. When he ran for the Senate in Illinois in 2004, Obama scored well both in small towns and rural areas far from Chicago, and in the Republican-oriented suburbs.
Let’s not forget that he ran against Alan Keyes, a man who’s not only several shades darker than him and a resident of Maryland but a certifiable loon. I wouldn’t extrapolate a whole lot from that victory.
It might be useful to recall that George W. Bush ran in 2000 as “a uniter, not a divider” and cited his ability to work with Democrats as governor. It turned out that Texas Democrats didn’t have much in common with their Washington counterparts.
Race would certainly be a factor in for Obama in a general election campaign, although it’s effects would likely be a wash. Blacks already vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate, so he’s got little margin for improvement there. Presumably, he’d appeal to other “persons of color” and get some bump from that demographic and lose some number of anti-black whites otherwise predisposed to vote Democrat.
Fortunately, Obama will likely rise or fall on his own merits. His chief asset is his youth, vitality, and passion. His chief liability is the flip side of that: whether people will risk turning the country over to someone with so little experience during perilous times.
Photo credit: The Swamp.