| Comments 
| Category: VFA Original
| 10/21/2008 2:57:58 AM CT
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.
How the Base was Won
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