Barack Hussein Obama, the Democratic Nominee? by Alejandro Penafiel

The following piece was written by guest contributor Alejandro Penafiel, a friend and former student. Mr. Penafiel is a 2006 graduate of Houston Christian High School and a current student at American University in Washington D.C. He is majoring in three areas: Economics, Political Science, and History. Click here to read his previous piece. 

Right now his chances are looking pretty good as his poll numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire have been steadily improving since September. He is currently in a statistical tie with Clinton and Edwards in Iowa and in a two way statistical tie in New Hampshire with Clinton. The three have taken turns leading in the polls. (A statistical tie is when the race is close enough to be within the margin of error given in the polling data) However, in national polls Obama is still trailing by double digits. This only signifies that Clinton has more name recognition nationwide, courtesy of her presidential spouse. Like her leads in Iowa and New Hampshire I doubt the lead will hold after heavy campaigning in an individual state basis by Obama. Okay, now that we have gone through all the boring facts, we can enter the fun world of political predictions.  Obama has used a standard early state strategy and his campaign has been meticulous in carrying it out. This has put Obama in a strong position going into the Iowa Caucus next week. His path to the nomination is simple if not exactly easy. He needs to win in Iowa, no matter how his campaign tries to downplay it. A win there is essential to kick-start the momentum he needs to defeat Clinton.

Using that win and the media coverage it gives will propel him to win in New Hampshire five days later. Five days does not give Clinton enough time to stop his momentum in such a close race. Obama also does well among independents who are allowed to vote in either primary in N.H. and make up about 40% of the electorate. With this win he will have a great deal of momentum and will benefit from what is sure to be a flurry of news stories about how the Clinton Political Machine is unable to stop his campaign. This advantage will allow him to close with a South Carolina win. The all important black demographic in South Carolina will turn to him there which sets him up nicely to win a majority of the delegates or at least close to on Super Tuesday Feb 5. If he does all this he can even afford to lose Florida leading up to Feb. 5 and be okay, although I think that if he does all that he will have a large influx of contributions to make himself competitive there as well.  

All this being said a win in Iowa is essential because a win for Clinton there will throw all the close races the other way with her being the comeback kid mark 2. She can afford a lose in Iowa as long as it is to Edwards and not Obama. Then she can really tire us all with that slogan in Mark Penn´s press releases. But I have a feeling Iowa will break for Obama because he is widely credited to have the most extensive ground game on the Democratic side there. He also has had his in place longer with Hillary having to play catch-up early this year. In a race this close it all comes down to a campaigns turnout operation. I am not 100% sure that he will take Iowa and anyone who tells you they are is lying, but I feel pretty confident that if Obama wins Iowa he becomes the odds on favorite to win the nomination. And in politics perception is everything.

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15 thoughts on “Barack Hussein Obama, the Democratic Nominee? by Alejandro Penafiel

  1. Carson… your last two post weren’t even written by you. Slacking off much?

    And in response to this post, why are we still trying to get the votes of demographics? What ever happened to the individual?

  2. That is it, I have been doing a lot or writing. I like having different people post their views (esp. about politics here). I have a few post coming. Alejandro makes an excellent point; I was on the phone talking to him about this point when he reminded me that Hillary taking the Democratic Primary is not a done deal. I, in many ways, thought she was a lock. In the end, this election will be a win win for me. No Rep

    It is all about demographics. Stats say that people vote in particular ways.

  3. Finally, a person who sees it my way. I am excited seeing that momentum has shifted in his favor. Still, keep an eye on Edwards.

  4. It’s how the game of politics is played. The issue is that the strategy is a viable option for Obama. The other candidates don’t have as strong an ifluence on young adults; to move them to action. It’s a move for which they have no countermove.

  5. Osipov:

    I think most politically astute people will say that the ticket of desire in terms of “really” being able to win is an Edwards/Obama or Obama/Edwards ticket.

    I would like to see a Clinton/Obama one.

  6. I think this piece is right about how important it is for Obama to chalk up an early win to prove that Clinton is beatable, and how such a win will provide the momentum (and funding) to bring the nomination within his reach.

    Edwards has been campaigning in Iowa for about two years. That’s an exaggeration… but only a slight one. He has been there WAY before the others, hoping to manufacture a first-inning victory. Anything but a win would be cracked shells and yolk after putting the bulk of their eggs in Iowa. It looks like Obama has a better chance of taking that coveted momentum boost from the Iowa caucus, but we’ll see.

    After Howard Dean was upset in Iowa four years ago (and the subsequent “Dean Scream”), I would have to say Iowa flirts with certain candidates but goes home with the one they think can win it all. Pragmatism wins out. This hurts Edwards, I think, as he is somewhat tainted (fairly or unfairly) by losing the last election via Kerry. Edwards has also been the most strident and leftist of the top three candidates, which may not bode well for a general election. Clinton’s high unfavorable numbers might give Iowans pause, as does the idea of continuing a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton rotation. Does Obama fare any better? I think he does, though caucus-goers will have to decide if his relatively fresh face counters some of the unknowns about him.

  7. Matt S:

    I think most Americans have forgotten about the failed attempt of Kerry/Edwards. I think you have an excellent point that Americans might be looking for a chamge and do not desire to see again: Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. That is why Obama must continue to advertise CHANGE for AMERICA as his slogan.

    However, here is why I do not fully agree with Alejandro’s blog piece:The momentum picks up in the remaining days before the Democratic primary reaches its pinnacle on January 8th.

    In 1987 the Black Democratic primary candidate the Rev. Jessie Jackson Sr., although a frontrunner, faired far less in a statistical tie with Gary Hart.

    Gary Hart 21%

    Jesse Jackson17%

    Michael S. Dukakis 9%

    Albert Gore Jr. 5%

    Senator Obama is however the golden child surging in the polls like no one dreamed took Washington by storm on February 10, 2007 declaring his bid for the White House Candidacy.

    Now in South Carolina, where Clinton’s following seemed loyal and solid behind the New York Senator, it seems sentimentality and a longing for the ‘old days’ of a Bill Clinton White House have only taken Hillary’s coat tail ride so far with a marked shift of allegiance to the Obama ticket putting him ahead among Black voters by double digits. Speaking for many black Americans including myself, there is a lot of Bill loyalty. And seeing that she stated that Bill will be a major part of her administration only helps to pull blacks on her side.

    Nevertheless white southerners who were far less enthusiastic may be the southern cross that effectively stimies the presidential hopeful in a national race.

  8. I would add that, a lot of white women who don’t like hillary, will vote for her for feminist reason.

    I know 3 white women who have told me personally they DO NOT LIKE Hillary Clinton but will vote for her because they believe it is important to start a precedent of a non-white male in the White House.

    I think the ticket will be Hillary/Edwards.

    Nice blog Alejandro!

  9. This is a bit long but very good. I found this on a web page discussing B.T. Washington, Race, and Politics. Do not give up on reading it.

    Michael Datcher, a liberal journalist based in Los Angeles, argues that black women should have a little more faith in black men: “A recent CNN poll found that black women who are registered Democrats favor Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama 68 percent to 25 percent (several other polls reported similar results). Extraordinary figures when you consider Obama’s fundraising prowess, Harvard Law pedigree, community organizer history, personal charisma, African-American wife—and his own black skin. He’s certainly the most ‘electable’ black person to ever run for the nation’s highest office. These are all elements that would seem to make him a shoe-in for capturing the majority of black women votes yet, sisters are throwing him shade and overwhelmingly supporting the wife of the first wannabe-black president. It’s hard out here for a wannabe-black president—who actually has some melanin.”

    He continues his commentary: “The reason behind these numbers may be more numbers. According to a 2005 Census Bureau survey, African-American women with bachelor’s degrees typically earned $41,100 while similarly educated white women earned $37,800. In 2006, with the help of upwardly mobile black women, the gender wage gap narrowed another 0.4 percent to 12.6 (down from 29.5 percent in 1975 when the Equal Pay Act came into effect). So maybe the alignment of black women-white women pocketbooks is also helping to create an alignment of voting approaches (among Democrats) as well: Vote for the candidate who has the best chance of winning in the general election. The Harold Ford, Jr. debacle in Tennessee reminded America how uncomfortable it is with a black man holding major political power—even when he’s by far the best candidate. Many black women simply don’t trust that enough white folk will do the right thing. So a vote for Obama is a wasted vote. Especially when a vote for Hillary could also make history. Some have a[r]gued that Obama’s lack of black female support is connected to the challenging state of black male-black female relationships. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, 81 percent of white women and 77 percent of Hispanics and Asians will marry by the age of 30, but only 52 percent of African-American women will marry by that age. Skinny wallets and healthy discrimination play roles. During the 2006 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Meeting on Race and Color Discrimination, Georgetown University economist Harry Holzer reported, ‘The evidence that discrimination in hiring persists is clearest in the many ‘audit’ or ‘tester’ studies of the past 10-15 years, in which matched pairs of white and minority job applicants with identical credentials on paper are sent to apply for jobs. Virtually all of these studies show statistically significant differences in the rates at which white and minority candidates receive ‘call backs’ or are offered jobs…evidence confirms that employers have negative stereotypes about blacks relative to other employees, and are more fearful of black men than women.’ Yet, many black women say that these are age old problems that most black men should have found a way to work around by now (as many black women have been successful at doing). Black men’s failure to do so has led to a basic lack of respect that more black women are more inclined to reveal, and more black men are inclined to feel.”

    And more from Mr. Datcher: “Is this general lack of respect hurting Obama’s standing with significant numbers of black women? I doubt it. However, could more earned general respect for black men help Obama bring more black women into his camp (especially if he’s forced to run again in 2012)? Probably. Seeing black men, in general, showing an ability to make a way out of no way, bricks without straw, will certainly engender more belief, more faith, from black women, in black men. And faith is what black men want from black women. And secretly, what they need.”

  10. Thanks Jaylon. Despite the feminist factor I think her high negatives will hurt her if not in the primary than in the general election. Also if the poll cited in the article is a national poll than a considerable amount of the disparity can probably be attributted to a difference in name recognition. I think the article draws a bit too general of a conclusion from the evidence it gives. You have to remember that Ford ran in Tennessee which is very conservative and I doubt will go blue no matter if its Clinton or Obama as the nominee. From the slant of the article I would check to see if Mr. Datcher is a Hillary supporter.

  11. I am saddened by the lack of imagination involved in “identity” politics. I have a minor in Women’s Studies from undergraduate days. Since when is it not within a feminist’s right to vote for a black man? I don’t know if Obama is ready to assume such a heavy mantle, but there are plenty running who have shown they don’t have enough vision to make it out of the parking lot.

    It’s either Obama or Socialist Party in ’08 and I think Obama sounds like a guy with better ideas. Still, I want more from all of them on health care.

  12. The agent of change seems to be the person that all current United States Citizens are looking for. And who can blame them? If you were born in the mid 80’s then you will probably only be able to remember there being a Bush and Clinton in the white house. After 8 very long years of W one can understand the young voters reluctance to put another Clinton in the whitehouse. Something else of note that happened in Iowa that no one on this blog piece has commented on yet is that Obama one in Iowa with 50% of his voters being under the age of 29. That is unheard of since that demagraphic usually stays home grumbling that there are no good candidates and the world is heading towards the apocolapse quickly. I think that if we continue to see this trend when Obama wins New Hampshire (and I say when and not if at this point) we could be looking at a revolution of the young voter and while historically unreliable and fickle the movement of young people has always been the most powerful and difficult to stop, and it is what could insure Obama´s candidacy and finally the presidency. Just a thought. Never underestimate youth, and Hillary has no sex appeal with a youthful movement, she doesn´t even look like a fun grandmother.

  13. Pingback: Students of Color and Advanced Courses « The Proletarian

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