Obama Wins! Looking into the Future at an Article from November 5th 2008

November 5, 2008 – Washington, D.C.:

Barack Obama awoke this morning as President-Elect, after an evening that was less dramatic than one would have predicted two months ago.  With the returns in from California, Obama was declared the winner by all networks at midnight.  He swept through the Country with wins in states that have gone to the GOP the last two elections, including Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada.

The Turning Point

President-elect Obama’s win was less than assured after McCain had introduced Governor Palin as his running mate and a strong GOP convention in St. Paul back in September.  Governor Palin had taken a candidacy that was uninspired and wallowing well behind Obama and energized it.  The excitement, charisma and energy she brought to the campaign gave Senator McCain a much needed boost.  Coming out of the convention, Democrats were scrambling and pointing fingers at Obama, party faithful were heard muttering, ‘not again’, as the polls started to show McCain take a lead.

During most of September, McCain’s ‘maverick’ choice seemed to have hit the Hail Mary the candidate was hoping.  The Country and the media couldn’t get enough of her and she seemed to give McCain the boost he needed and a turning point that seemed to difficult for Obama to return.

As her star was rising, as was McCain’s fortunes, Obama didn’t take a knee-jerk reaction to events.  Similar to his approach during the primaries, he assessed and then re-engaged.  “We had watched the mistakes of Kerry and Gore and were determined to take the time prior to responding to her presence and Senator McCain’s attacks.” Obama said early this morning.  The response?  Stay strong to the message, let the McCain/Palin ticket shoot themselves, and respond vigorously to ‘propaganda’ – but do not get in the mud with them.

As unpredictable as Sarah Palin’s rise was during the Convention and shortly thereafter, her fall was as much unexpected by pundits and media.  Looking back, she strengthened the base and did get evangelicals to the polls.  That, it now seems, was what provided the boost to the polling in September.  As the independents began to formalize their selection, Obama’s message began to resonate.

Except for one critical gaff when she stated that North Korea did not have the technology to enrich plutonium, she remained relatively steady and did hurt the campaign as many Democrats were hoping.  She did, however, continue to overshadow McCain and a,t times, it appeared she was running for President.

Obama’s tactic to stay on message worked.  “We knew it was about the economy, stupid.  Too many Americans suffered too long and while they may have been tempted by Palin, when they looked into her record they realized she brought nothing more to the table than what John McCain had been preaching.” said Obama.  And in fact, that will be a big criticism of the McCain campaign – too long and too strong on attacks.  “They forgot that while those tactics have worked in the past for Bush, he at least had policies to put in front of the American people.  McCain never gave the American people a plan and you can’t do that coming off of eight years of the same party and make the claim you are the agent of change.  Eventually people figured out it didn’t add up.” according to Paul Begala, Democratic Strategist.

It appears now that the best thing that could have happened to Obama, was Sarah Palin.  Not in as much as it forced the Democrats to not take the election for granted, but it blinded the media and particularly the McCain campaign.  Like a drug, it worked well early on to give the campaign a boost, but the more she was relied on to fixes the campaign’s problems; the more it hid the real issues facing the ticket.

McCain started realizing there was a problem late in September and started to develop a message.  During the debates, particularly the Town Hall, McCain began to articulate his message.  He won that debate after both him and Obama muddled through a draw in the first debate.  In the vice-presidential debate, Palin was able to hold her own with Senator Biden which was considered a win for her.  However, it had very little real impact in the polls.  Pundits believed this was a result of Obama and McCain taking control again during the debates and the voters recognizing they needed to watch the top of the ticket.

A Time for Change

President-elect Obama has a tough road ahead.  The latest unemployment numbers are highest they have been since 1980 and the economy has grown at an anemic .1% over the last quarter.  The time for change has come and the new President needs to get off to a quick start.  Already there is talk about cabinet positions – including Hillary Clinton as Secretary of Health and Human Services and discussions about bringing Collin Powell back to the State Department.

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