Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Axelrod, summarized last night’s South Carolina results in classic Chicago style,
“This was a good, old fashioned butt kicking — as we say in this business.”
He credited turnout, which he said approached half a million people and Obama’s broad support, including getting 24% of the white vote, according to exit polls. “He’s bring new people into the party,” Axelrod said, adding, “It’s just a harbinger of things to come.”
As we have maintained, the key to Obama’s Post Partisan appeal is to increase turnout and “grow the party”. Bill and Hillary think you have to fight like a pit bull over the existing voter pool. Barack says bring in the young, the dispossessed and the alienated. That’s what he did in Iowa and South Carolina. The Shaheen Machine in New Hampshire plus the fact that out of state New Hampshire college kids are very conservative (Dartmouth is a base of the college right wing) made that state an outlier. Barack’s remarks to George Stephanopolous on ABC this morning are key:
Savoring his landslide in the South Carolina primary, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday that Bill Clinton is clinging to an outmoded “frame of reference” for racial politics that voters rejected this weekend.
“I don’t think [Bill and Hillary Clinton] were trying to demonize me,” Obama told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”
“But I do think that there is a certain brand of politics that we’ve become accustomed to, and that the Republican Party had perfected and was often directed against the Clintons, but that all of us have become complicit in — where we basically think anything is fair game.”
Looking at the blue & purple states (Red represents Republican only Primary) on the Tsunami Tuesday map above, a couple of themes resonate from last night’s coalition. First, Barack can take the South (Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama), ceding only Arkansas to the Clinton Machine. In the urban northeast, Obama should be able to fight Clinton to a draw, maybe pulling Massachusetts to his column, especially if Ted Kennedy joins John Kerry and his niece Caroline Kennedy in endorsing Barack. He wins the biggest prize in the Midwest, Illinois and ekes out a victory in the Minnesota Caucus because he gets the Iowa type college student participation.
That leaves the Far West as the battleground. The key will be to build upon the coalition of boomers, their children, black voters and most importantly to make a strong message that the Clinton’s cannot set Hispanics against a Black candidate the way they tried (and maybe succeeded in Nevada). In his victory speech last night Barack set the right tone that he must continue,
When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.
When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who’s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don’t tell me we can’t change.
Yes we can change.
Obviously if Bill Richardson would get off the fence and support Barack, that would help. As I said last night, it is also time for John Edwards to stop his self serving game of playing Kingmaker in a brokered convention. He should remove himself this week from the race. One more thing, If Bill Clinton insists on keeping himself in the game, Michelle Obama should just get back on the campaign trail and “take him to school.”
UPDATE: As we hoped, Ted Kennedy will endorse Obama. On This Week George Will has made the point that Obama’s pitch is that he could attract enough Republicans and Independants to produce a “Landslide Election” like 1932 or 1964 after which transformative legislation (Social Security, Civil Rights, Medicare) gets passed. Will makes the point that Hillary Clinton has a ceiling of 51% of the vote.