Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Barack's surge on Super Tuesday?

Huh... I thought Barack was supposed to "surge" in Massachusetts and California and even New York, but the results do not show that. Sure, he did okay in all three of those states, but he neither won nor blew Hillary away. So, what happened to the "surge"? Why did it peter out?

One answer may be that the economy, or rather weakness in the economy, has "surged" as a dominant issue for voters and even more so for those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder. And, it just so happens that Hillary has a lot of strength among those "less fortunate." Meanwhile, as The Washington Post quotes former-Edwards adviser Joe Trippi as putting it, Barack's "appeal has always been to upscale, better educated Democrats." That sounds about right and does explain the failure of the Barack "surge" to carry the day. Barack may have accumulated a lot of "star power" with Hollywood and the Kennedys lavishing him with praise and "young people" oozing a passion for "hope" and radical "change", but all those working-class and poor and otherwise down and out "stiffs" entering the polling booths are simply not motivated by all of the hype and are simply looking for someone committed to offering them a helping hand.

This also explains why Hillary probably picked up a a good number of former Edwards supporters: John Edwards was the champion of the poor and downtrodden.

Here is an open question: Is Iraq (and Iran) and foreign policy in general now a non-issue as far as choosing the Democratic nominee? In other words, is it finally true that Hillary's fate is no longer tied to her now-infamous "Iraq" vote? It seems as if that might be the case. If so, Barack will increasingly lose traction with a campaign strategy that The Post describes as:

In his remarks last night in Chicago, Obama signaled he would try even more aggressively to draw a contrast with Clinton over who is the true agent for change.

"If I am your nominee," he said, "my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq, because I didn't. Or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, because I haven't. Or that I support the Bush-Cheney doctrine of not talking to leaders we don't like, because I profoundly disagree with that approach."

Sure, all Democrats want "change", but trying to cast Hillary as a villian opposed to change is a non-starter. Most Democrats are not advocating radical change, but change that helps them in their lives and communities. Last night a lot of voters indicated that they are not completely buying Barack's "true agent for change" argument and reaffirmed that Hillary offers them enough of the kind of change they are seeking.

It will be truely interesting to see how the rest of the campaign unfolds. The voters have their own minds. They are not necessarily up for a "change" of their core beliefs that they had before Barack "surged" onto the scene.

-- Jack Krupansky

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