Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Barack Spin on Missouri Win

Beginning in Iowa, followed by South Carolina and again in Missouri and Kansas, Barack Obama has demonstrated an incredible ability to appeal to and win the support of a broad spectrum of voters. People from every walk of life, every background, Red states and Blue states have enthusiastically endorsed his message for change in Washington.

With a message that has resonated in all parts of the country it is surprising to hear from a few who are concerned about Barack Obama’s ability to win a state like Missouri in the general election given the geography of Obama’s February 5 win here.

Here’s a take on the conclusions we can draw from this primary election and what those results tell us about the upcoming general election and Missouri’s bellwether status:

In Missouri, as in the nation, it is certain that a general election victory will go to the party that is most successful in dealing with two important factors: 1. The persuasion of “independents” that vote in general elections (not party primaries). 2. The turnout rate of the party base.

The primary election results in Missouri and other states, as well as poll after poll of general election voters, speak for themselves as an indicator of the first factor: Barack Obama has persuaded more Indpendents than ever before to -participate and support him in Democratic primaries, and has greater appeal to Independents who will vote in the general election.

Secondly, the Super Tuesday election results prove that the Democratic base in Missouri is excited and likely to turn out in record numbers for the November contest. With competitive races in both parties, 58.3% of Missourians took a Democratic ballot. More than 234,000 Democratic ballots were taken than Republican ballots, which is remarkable and unprecedented.

Even with this information, some have argued that because Obama did not win the majority of Missouri’s rural counties in the primary he will be less likely to win the state in the general election.

There is no absolutely no evidence that the Missouri Democrats who voted for Clinton in a primary would not vote for Obama in a general (or vice versa). In fact, the only evidence of true negative feelings for a potential nominee among primary voters is on the other side – for McCain among conservatives.

In fact, every indication is that both Democratic candidates will be able to enthusiastically engage the growing and energized Democratic base in Missouri. The question for the general is who can win over the Independents residing in suburban and rural parts of the state, thereby cutting Republican margins in rural areas and building Democratic margins in suburban areas. Clearly, Independents in Missouri and elsewhere are displaying an openness and an affinity to Obama and his message of change that we haven’t seen in some time.

Missouri’s bellwether status and preference in the primary election should be, without a doubt, a strong message to the rest of the country about the kind of candidate needed to lead our party to victory in November.


Phil Cardarella said...

Favorite post-primary quote:

"It is now clear that this once small devoted band has become a great surging multitude all across this country -- and it will not be denied!"

Barack Obama last Tuesday?

No. George McGovern the night he won the NY primary in 1972. Many forget how eloquent McGovern was -- after all, he had JFK's speechwriters. Many forget his large and enthusiastic crowds, filled with the newly-enfranchised young. Many forget how he attracted new voters to the primary process, and was able to sweep aside the candidates of the establishment. Most remember only his brave stand against an unpopular war -- and that he carried only Massachusetts in November.

Movement candidates -- Bryan, Wilkie, Goldwater, McGovern -- can be carried by enthusiasm to a nomination, but historically peak there and do not win general elections. If Sen. Obama is our nominee, we must all hope that he will be the exception to that dismal record. But hope, alas, is a virtue, not a plan.

Of course, the last tall, skinny lawyer from Illinois to get to the White House had even less experience than Obama -- only one term in Congress. And Abe Lincoln didn't do so badly.

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