Thursday, February 05, 2009

Some Quick Hits

Just a couple of quick notes on some stories I've come across:

Today's Politico has two stories on the increasingly irascible Blue Dog Coalition. As I hinted at the other day, the Pelosi vs. Blue Dog relationship is turning out to be an interesting early storyline this year. See stories here and here.

Politico also has a story on the race to succeed newly appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. NY's 20th District is historically Republican so this should prove to be a barn burner.

In Esquire's profile of Obama campaign manager David Plouffe we get a little more elaboration on what "Organizing for America" will look like (see originial post on this topic here).

Finally, the January/February issue of the Atlantic has a number of stories revolving around the issue of race and "the end of white America." While I'd recommend all the stories, one snippet in Marc Ambinder's piece "Race Over?" jumped out at me. He points out that one advantage Obama had over previous Democratic nominees like Kerry and Gore was that he didn't need to worry, by election day, about rounding up black votes. While the African American vote, we know, is overwhelmingly Democratic, turnout can be tricky. Obama's primary victories had mobilized black voters and given them the sense that Obama could win. Thus:

Exactly four years earlier, John Kerry was flying from urban center to urban center, enlisting the support of Bill Clinton to pump up minority turnout. In some states, internal Kerry polling in mid-October showed Bush overperforming among black voters. Democrats were obsessed with what they called the "African American piece": the quadrennial party efforts to get out the black vote, usually with visits from black leaders and robocalls from Bill Clinton...But on October 22, 2008 Obama was in largely white exurban Virginia.

By the end of any campaign, resources and time become extremely thin. Thus, Obama was fortunate to be able to spend his last days reaching out to those voters that had eluded Gore and especially Kerry (moderate, suburban whites), and do so using a message that was directly aimed at them. Whereas Gore and Kerry had to talk to both black and white audiences, as Ambinder writes, Obama

did not have to pander to black leaders; he did not have to target specific messages at the black community with the attendant risk of exacerbating economic tension between blacks and whites. He did not have to bring up race...Obama was able to credential himself as an African American without engaging in overt racial politics. Or, rather, the black community credentialed Obama without his resorting to racial politicking, something that white candidates had to do.

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