June 2, 2008


Can New Voters Deliver November Victory for Obama? (Peter A. Brown, 6/02/08, Wall Street Journal)

Let’s be clear: Sen. Barack Obama may indeed be different from most politicians. Not only will he be the first African-American nominee of a major U.S. political party, but also he is truly gifted with rare communications skills and charisma.

At the same time, he is betting the White House on the same Democratic demographic strategy that has given us a variety of Republican presidents over the past generations.

Ever since reformers seized control of the Democratic Party in the 1970s, most of their presidential candidates - that is, the losing ones - have based their game plan not on winning more of the existing electorate but on increasing the pool with new voters who lean their way.

This led to frequent internal warfare about whether the millions of Democrats and independents who voted for Ronald Reagan were worth chasing if that meant trimming the party’s ideological sails.

Sen. Obama brought out millions of new voters — most black, white liberals and young — attracted by his persona, his calls for change and a voting record the nonpartisan National Journal rated as the most liberal in the U.S. Senate for 2007.

But he did relatively poorly among the white working-class, a more politically moderate group among whom the only two Democrats to win the White House since 1964, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, did well. Paul Begala, who helped manage Mr. Clinton’s 1992 campaign and is supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton this time, warned that the Obama victory was based on “eggheads and African-Americans” but not the much more numerous Joe-and-Jill six-pack voters.

To be candid, many Obama supporters agree. As Donna Brazile, an African-American Democratic strategist put it in a televised sparing match with Mr. Begala on CNN, “we don’t have to just rely on blue-collar voters and Hispanics.”

...lies in the danger that you start believing it yourself and that the normal laws and forces don't govern you. With John McCain poised to carry white women, Northern Catholics, Latinos, older Jews, etc., exactly who are these new voters that Senator Obama is creating in such number that he can offset the losses? Are they being bused in from Kamino?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 2, 2008 7:12 AM

No, Vermont.

Posted by: Bartman at June 2, 2008 7:44 AM


These issues are not necessarily measured in blocks, but at the margins. To accurately predict any of this one need not look at blocks of voters, but at the margins.

While 2004 was a banner year for increasing voter rolls (Kerry won more than any democrat in history), Obama could win simply by adding his increased numbers (new voters) while supressing McCain's numbers.

The fact remains that if Obama can keep McCains margins low enough in those blocks you mention, and combine that with enough new voters, he can pull it off, particularly with his cash and media assists.

If McCain is smart, he'll engage in a two prong campaign to register his own pack of new voters, as well as make a pitch for the one's registered by Democrats in the last year.

If he is willing to use some creativity, share voter lists via the phone and the web, and invest in a little training, Illinois has 3,000,000 million republican voters with absolutely NOTHING to do.

Posted by: Bruno at June 2, 2008 7:50 AM

How exactly can one speculate that Obama can "keep McCains margins low enough" given the last month of results? He's clinched the nomination, and still is seeing results where he has been winning only single-digit percentages in counties in KY and WV. Among Democrat voters. Looking at the electoral college, he has no realistic chance of winning.

All of his money is going to end up being counterproductive. On both of his core messages (personal bio + message of change) he actually has less appeal among the electorate at large than does his opponent. The outrageous thing is that the Democrats and MSM are already laying the groundwork for claiming that his loss is due to racism, rather than his horrific shortcomings as a candidate.

Posted by: b at June 2, 2008 11:31 AM

No, he can't. You can't suppress voters. You supress non-voters, like the folks he got to show up just this once. Voters vote.

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2008 11:33 AM

Nor are the margins significant. Win those three blocks--white men, white women, and Latinos--and it's all over but the cryin'.

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2008 12:36 PM

That's a Clone Wars reference, right

Posted by: narciso at June 2, 2008 4:18 PM