How the Base was Won

I'll first start off by overtly saying that this is not a base election, the Religious Right will not carry McCain to glory; just as they did not carry Huckabee to the nomination. This example may make it appear as though I'm picking on the Republican base, but it could also be said that the blue-collar base of the Democratic party didn't get their candidate, Hillary Clinton, the nomination either. As primary season concluded, each party's base was left out in the rain; this void opened the door for summertime scheming. Heading into the general election each nominee likely devised a plan to win over disenfranchised base voters; the extent to which this targeting varied greatly between the candidates and probably shaped the outcome of the election.

While I stated earlier that this is not a base election, the base will no doubt still play a role, just not the whole role. At the beginning of August each candidate was less than liked by their base; Obama was enduring the whole Hillary supporter thing and McCain was struggling with deep-in-the-red conservatives. The VP selection gave each candidate an opportunity to shore up their base, but it also presented perhaps greater opportunities. Obama largely ignored the pleas from the Democratic base and selected Joe Biden for his breadth of knowledge on all things political. McCain chose an entirely different route; his selection of Sarah Palin exclusively appealed to the Republican base.

After the conventions in mid-September, the right wing the of the Republican Party was clearly behind McCain, while the Democratic contingency was left largely in the shadows. Instead of targeting blue-collar Democrats as Hillary Clinton and John Edwards did through their primary campaign, Obama focused on his base; the youth demographic. Obama left the traditional base behind and set about building another foundation. It was a risk, but it appears to have paid off.

The Obama campaign used their excitement gap advantage among the youth demographic to mobilize the stereotypical Democratic base. Obama used his base to win over the party's base. The ingenuity of this entire strategy allowed for a fail safe scenario in the event that the kids don't show up on election day. If however these kids do vote, Obama wins; if not the mainstream Democratic base is still on Obama's side and the two candidates enter the final month in nearly identical positions.

Judging by last month's polls, that didn't happen. Obama was able to capitalize on another aspect of the youth movement; while the kids were out volunteering and winning over the real Democratic base, Obama was able to hold onto his message of hope through McCain's period of negativity. As a result Obama was able to target swing voters before McCain was dialed in on the independent crowd. Obama began delivering his message to the country while McCain was still delivering his message to Oklahoma.

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10 Response(s) to How the Base was Won

1
Anonymous
10/21/2008 5:15:50 AM CT

If you really look at McCain's message, he is still preaching to Oklahoma.
2
Steward B. Clinton
10/21/2008 5:47:56 AM CT

When I see people condemning each other as if their own religions and belief systems did not promote violence, it tells me they are either ignorant to the facts, or so blinded by their commitment to their belief that they ignore the facts. Christianity includes the whole Bible and that part of it which came before Christ is Judaism. It's filled with violence declared by "God" against people outside of it's faith. Jews call them Gentiles (Philistines, Moabites etc.). The Crusades, Slavery, and Genocide of Native American and African people were all done most often in the name of Christianity. The same violent dynamic that we condemn, we also are notorious for practicing. But the masses always prefer peace - regardless of faith! That includes Muslims. The problem is that power is also a belief system, and whether it feels rightly threatened (9/11) 'OR' is influenced by corruption and greed (US support of Apartheid), regardless of culture, it uses belief systems under its influence to attack and kill others.

That highlights Senator McCain's problem. His behavior throughout his campaign (and much of his life) indicates that his belief system (conditioning) is based on power. Anyone who disagrees with his way of thinking he attacks instead of trying to reason, and the most basic military attack strategy is to "Divide and Conquer" your opponent. Unfortunately, that approach is dividing McCain's supporters against themselves. It has been proven that our greatest power (creativity) derives from the education and unification of cultural diversity.

In contrast, Senator Obama's approach is based on empathy first, and righteous indignation as a last resort. Why? Because historically, it not only saves lives, money and time that could be applied to building infrastructures (social, economic and physical) - It not only provides the spiritual motivation to defeat the enemy, but it also unifies the nation, rallies enthusiastic support from allies and can even gain respect from enemies (see Solomon). Obama's approach seeks first to understand/ define opposing points of view and then use mutual interests to create resolution thereby minimizing conflict and war. McCain sees that as cowardice. The methods being used in their campaigns reveal the approaches they will use as President.
3
blueinredstate
10/21/2008 9:48:53 AM CT

I'm very proud to cast my early vote today for Obama. He is smart, mature, and the kind of man we want as president. How he has conducted himself in this campaign is indicative of how he will treat other nations, world leaders etc. He is who we need, not someone who throws temper tantrums and rolls their eyes when they don't agree. Can you imagine this kind of behavior in talks with our enemies? We'll be nothing more than a puff of smoke before the first term is over! I'm amazed that so many of the "sheep" in my state are not getting the clue here. McCain and his Caribou Barbie are over. They are NOT what our country needs. Go Obama/Biden!!!!
4
ender21
10/21/2008 9:49:47 AM CT

Well-said, Steward.
5
JByrd
10/21/2008 11:59:17 AM CT

America's strength has always come from its center, so I hope good Republicans will consider rebuilding their party after Nov. 4 around their GOP -- good, old principles. Those include fiscal responsibility, support of small government and smart, rational foreign policy. They need to dump the hate wing, or they'll never compete again in the 21st century.
6
jdp
10/22/2008 2:29:09 PM CT

Excellent analysis, TJHalva. This is certainly one of the best I've seen so far. Thanks.
7
Ajita
10/22/2008 3:06:57 PM CT

Nice Post!
8
Aaron
10/23/2008 6:37:11 PM CT

Palin played a large part in securing the DEMOCRATIC base for Obama. She has also helped Obama pull over some moderate Republicans.
9
JFactor
10/24/2008 5:20:53 AM CT

Yeah, I would also say that while Palin secured the Republican base for McCain it also solified the Democratic base's support for Obama. Sure, those enthusiastic kids played a role but Palin really turned them off also. Everybody said the Palin pick was a gamble at the time it was announced but then they forgot that when the Palin bounce was at its height. They didn't realize that it was purely just all hype and part of Republican convention bounce.

It was more or less Palin who sealed McCain's faith. If she had been a generic competent woman this election could be much, much closer. I suspect Obama would still lead but who knows how the dynamics of the race would've changed. Palin just simply didn't delivered.
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10
Dnalor
10/24/2008 8:47:12 PM CT

I look at each VP candidate selection in two ways; Obama selected someone who's experience best augmented his lack of experience, McCain selection seemed to best satisfy his party.
While many democrats were upset with the non-Clinton selection, I wonder how many just longed for the days of Bill Clinton in the White House. But, I think her negative ratings would of had a net-loss voter polarization affect against Obama.

Palins selection gave McCain a boost, however that appears to be short-lived as soon as she started to talk. I wonder how a selection of pro-business Mitt Romney would of altered the race in the current realm of economic issues. Assuming most would look past his religion (which could be a big assumption given the GOP's religious base), I would suspect his business background could be providing McCain with an advantage in the race.

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