I was sitting in the Qantas/American Airlines Lounge in Honolulu listening to the continual drone of CNN and the discussion of the diminishing lead in superdelegates she has (as of this post, she is down to a +2 lead). I watched Senator Obama as he stumped in Oregon, I watched Senator Clinton as she painted the end of the race and how the party will “come together and put a Democrat in the White House”.
All the pundits put their own spin on the race, and I have my own. I have been a supporter of whomever I think can bring about positive change in America’s Future, and my own naval gazing brought about my decision of Senator Obama from a number of paths. But, has the continuing primary battles negatively impacted the potential for the Democrats to take back the White House? I think not, and here is why:
- First time in a long time – almost all of America participated in this primary election.
More than anything else, the need for the campaigns to go into each state, position themselves with the local Democrats and build a relationship is the first time in my memory that Democrats were fighting for your votes, rather than expecting them.
- Helped the 50-State Strategy
In running almost all of the state primaries in a real race, both candidates have built up expertise in the Districts, gotten a good sense of the voter turnout, and gotten a read for the upcoming General Election. They got to build up the infrastructure and dry-test the machine with the primary contest – which is an overall good IMHO. Last time around, we had to build this infrastructure from the parts already in place and shake off the national-to-state connectivity back then. I remember watching the Broward and Florida State offices being built, deploying and redeploying talent and infrastructure at a time when it was a rush to make it to November. I was not as impressed as I have been with both the Clinton and the Obama Campaign efforts to date in various stages. Obama has truly fine-tuned their volunteer/online connectivity efforts, and it is something that I think the Repubs will have their hands full this time around.
- Hardened Obama from Repub attacks
With the grace and aplomb he has shown during the primary, I truly think he will be a much better candidate this time after the attacks and pressure by the strong Clinton machine. Sorry, but when you are attacked by the Repubs for eight years and loathed for the next eight years, you tend to pick up skills in defence and offense. I think the Repubs will see a different candidate this time around.
Is this a good thing?
I think so – tho I worry now about two factors:
- McCain’s time for building an infrastructure and funding
Reading the WSJ this morning (which I know is only a mouthpiece of the Faux News Corp), there was definitely the discussion of the past three months giving McCain the ability to build his organization in the past three months. This could be a concern, but my earlier point should hopefully demonstrate the difference between a battle-tested organization and an organization “in-wait”.
- The JesusLand Coalition / 72 Hour Plan
Last time out, we as Democrats did not find the natural connection to the standing infrastructure that is found in the church-going, Republican leaning communities. While Obama has a coalition that has been formed online and with the Black community, I worry about what is the infrastructure that we support that people in the community feel an allegiance to. When church and state combine, our needs are often met in the social realm as well. When politics is the major connection, I wonder – how will we get the supporters to dedicate themselves above and beyond? How will the social reinforcement occur?
This is a question I have been asking myself for a while – and continue to puzzle. There is a stratification of supporters and a need for connection and community. If Obama is able to play his opportunities right with the American people, then we have a winner. More to follow in the coming days.