Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet Another Tuesday Wrap-Up

A few things out of last nights contests:

First, Obama's wins in Wisconsin and Hawaii. This is more bad news for the Clinton campaign. Obama continues to out work her on the ground. There was an analyst on CNN last night who said that Obama's loss in New Hampshire was the best thing to ever happen to him. I tend to agree. He has outworked Hillary in every primary and caucus since Super Tuesday. The polls were showing a single digit Obama lead in Wisconsin. He won by 17. Turnout has become Obama's main weapon against Hillary. He's getting all the people who pollsters don't poll because they tend not to vote. Students are particularly relevant in Wisconsin. Students often rely on just a cell phone. Cell phones are rarely called by pollsters. Even if they didn't rely on cell phones pollsters wouldn't want a lot of students in their sample because they don't tend to vote. However, students were one of the groups that propelled Obama over the top in Wisconsin.

The speeches last night were interesting. Obama gave a pretty good preview of a convention speech. Long on both rhetoric and detail, it was, in fact, too long. However, it did serve to answer a lot of his critics. I love some of his policies, hate others. I'll start with the negative. His position on NAFTA and other trade deals is narrow and naive. Narrow because he doesn't understand the full economic consequences of withdrawing from NAFTA and naive because he doesn't seem to understand just how difficult such a withdrawal would be. I love his education policies. He came out against standardized testing which is huge. He also has a great proposal for funding post-secondary education. He wants to tie $4,000 in funding for every student to community involvement. It is a great idea. I would love to see it implemented in Canada. I was amazed at the number of young black men at his rally in Houston. Young black male Americans are notorious for being politically uninvolved. If young blacks come out and vote on March 4th, Obama will win Texas and Ohio.

Clinton's speech was perhaps the best indication of how far she has fallen. The speech was a direct appeal to the core of the traditional Democratic base. I was surprised she didn't break out into rousing rendition of 'Solidarity Forever' or some other union hymn at the end. Clinton is no longer even thinking about the general election. If she was, she wouldn't be wrapping herself in the rhetoric of big labour. Big labour is about as popular as big business in the United States. The only people who still have time for it are the members of the Democratic party.

McCain delivered the speech he's going to be giving until November assuming Obama wins the nomination. It is all about experience versus change. He's calling Obama naive and inexperienced (okay, not directly but through strong implications). I'm not sure that this strategy will be successful. There is an old article by a Canadian political scientist named Gad Horowitz. He is describing the differences in the political culture in the United States and Canada. He argues that America is a nation of one ideology, liberalism. Canada has both liberalism and conservatism which then allowed for the infiltration of socialism. However, Canada is not at issue here. McCain's speech is classic 19th century conservatism in a lot of ways. Campaigning against hope and the future in the United States is kind of like campaigning against hockey in Canada. You are going to be in for a rough ride. I would not be surprised if McCain ditches the conservative rhetoric and goes more to the issues in the future. Because, that dog won't hunt.

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