Thursday, August 7, 2008

Are Georgia Voters Sending Obama A Message?

Original Link:

By Daniel Halper

Originally published in Commentary magazine on August 6, 2008. Reprinted here with the express permission of the editor.

Politicians grabbing Barack Obama’s coattails should take note: In the Georgia democratic Senatorial primary runoff held yesterday, Jim Martin defeated Vernon Jones by a 60% to 40%. Martin will now face the Republican senior Senator from Georgia, Saxby Chambliss, in November’s election. This doesn’t seem to bode well for Obama’s presidential quest. Jones’s campaign hoped to emulate Obama’s impressive primary victory in Georgia (he defeated Senator Hillary Clinton in Georgia, 66.4% to 31.1%), but now he’s failed to even make it to November’s ballot.

In fact, Jones distributed campaign paraphernalia consisting of a picture of himself and Obama, with the words “Yes We Can!” prominently scrawled underneath the photographs. Also, Jones sent a mass email meant to smear his opponent Martin:

My campaign has uncovered evidence that my opponent, Jim Martin, did not want Senator Barack Obama to be President of the United States and that Jim Martin voted against Barack Obama in the February 2008 Presidential Primary election in Georgia. [Emphasis not my own.]

He also used this line of attack in a debate, “You say you support Barack Obama, but you voted against him.” In the first round of the primary election, Jones’s strategy of cozying up to the presumptive democratic presidential candidate paid off. Although he wasn’t able to win the race outright, he came out with the most votes (over 40%) and looked poised for victory

What explains Jones’s sudden decline? Again, it’s difficult to tell, but it makes sense to look at the most recent developments in the campaign of Jones’s political inspiration. It might have been Obama’s grand tour, or it could have been Obama’s (former) opposition to drilling off-shore, or maybe it was Obama’s adoption of whatever-policy-is-popular strategy, or it might have been any one of his many policy changes. These are, after all, issues important to Georgians.

With Obama’s humongous primary victory in Georgia, and with former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr in the presidential race (likely to take many more votes from McCain than Obama), the Obama campaign likes its chances in the Peach state. But I imagine Obama will take a hard look at this race to see what went wrong. Politics has changed even since the primary. A different Obama than the one that faced Clinton has emerged, and his campaign will now have to readjust its strategy.

No comments: