Obama Mania, David Broder Edition

Obama Mania Continues 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.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Race and Politics, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    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.

    Add that the Illinois Republican Party has gone completely off the rails. That they couldn’t get the competent but dull Judy Barr Topinka elected over our half-wit governor Rod Blagojevich is, as much as anything else, an indication of how supine the party is here.

    There are a few signs that the national party is similarly, shall we say, far from hinged. I thought so back in 2000 when George W. Bush became the establishment candidate. If Mike Huckabee becomes the Republican candidate for the presidency, it will be proof positive that’s the case.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    If Senator Obama wins with a large margin in New Hampshire, the Democratic primary season is effectively over. The media will got even wilder than they are know and Clinton will not get one good media story after it. Look at how much the Iowa win for Obama has moved the poll numbers in New Hampshire. A second win will bury Clinton and effectively end the race not only for the Democratic nominee but for the President more than a year before the inaugural.

  3. Triumph says:

    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.

    For what it’s worth, his State Senate District was probably 60% white.

    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.

    Of course, this will also be a great asset to Hussein. His argument that the wise old men Cheney & Rumsfeld were among the most “experienced” public servants in Washington resonates with the idea that judgment and intelligence should count for something.

  4. M1EK says:

    The uniter/divider claim vs. reality mismatch has nothing to do with the Texas Democrats – it has to do with the governance structure of Texas itself, which provides the governor relatively little in the way of actual power.

  5. FireWolf says:

    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.

    I would only add that if “experience during perilous times” is your litmus test for electing a president, you need only look to our last two presidents to realize that it didn’t help them any. Clinton and Bush are failures in that department and to think/believe that age comes with wisdom is to admit your a dumbass yourself.

  6. Dantheman says:

    Pennsylvania holds the only early primary in mid-April this campaign season has. Did you mena some other state?

  7. Beth says:

    Shorter David Broder:
    Look how progressive and enlightened we white Democrats are! We elected one of those black people!

    (Meanwhile, Michael Steele is still the defeated candidate from Maryland–a state with a politically active black population–and had to settle for a GOPAC chairmanship. So much for progressive “enlightenment.”)

  8. Tano says:

    Beth,

    You should try a little harder at not refuting your own moronic point while in the midst of making it.

    The fact that Obama is supported and Steele loses should tell you pretty clearly that it isnt some racism / guilt dynamic going on, but merely the rather obvious – that people just happen to agree more with Obama than with Steele.

  9. Paul says:

    I would only add that if “experience during perilous times” is your litmus test for electing a president, you need only look to our last two presidents to realize that it didn’t help them any.

    Uh, Clinton and W didn’t have any either. Neither did Reagan, and FDR’s only real claim to foreign policy experience was some meddling in tiny Latin American politics while Asst Sec of the Navy, which is hardly preparation for Yalta. No one is claiming Reagan and FDR had failed foreign policies. Bill Richardson has a nice resume, but that doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    Bottom line, I think this line of argument against Obama is pretty lame. But unless the Republicans nominate McCain, they won’t really be able to make an issue of it anyway since the others don’t really have much fp experience either.