Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 20th Election rundown

I want to touch briefly on the Kentucky election, and on one other interesting news item.

In the attempt to lessen Obama's losses in Kentucky, I knocked on a couple hundred doors and made hundreds of phone calls. Though I was mostly directed towards undecideds and other sway-able people, most people were willing to hear what I had to say and give me fifteen seconds of their time. This differs from the campaigns in Michigan I volunteered for, and even the 2004 election. I"m convinced that a large portion of the blowout Obama suffered was in part due to his lack of campaigning in the state and people being tepid about both candidates and therefore voting for the established brand. I never encountered any strong, fervent Hillary supporters, but I did find lots of people who would have crawled to the polls to vote for Obama if they had to. The other big reason Obama lost? It might have to do with phone conversation snippets I wrote down that went along these lines: "You can take Barack O. and send him back to Egypt," "Barack Obama? He's that colored candidate, isn't he?" and "I'm not going to vote for a muslim." In the last two quotes, I actually managed to get those two people's votes by reassuring them that Barack was a Christian and Keith Ellison was the muslim in question. But assume for a minute that I was a pollster. I just called 300 phone calls to kentucky undecideds in Lexington plus a few nearby semi-urban, semi-rural towns, and came up with at least 5 or 6 folks who wouldn't vote for Barack because they thought he was a Muslim. Extrapolate that. It's not pretty.

However, I would like to say that my experiences in Kentucky were much more positive than anywhere else. I actually sat down and had conversations with four or five people, and I"m extremely happy that I found such people. None of them were pro-Obama - I had a cycnical democrat, two libertarians, an undecided, an elderly Clinton supporter, and an old lady - but that's the point of this Obama campaign, to reach out to everyone and get a national conversation going. For all of the 15 people who shut their doors or slammed the phone on me, so many more were ever so gracious.

And now for the news item.
A lot of analysis has been floating around about Hillary's failures to secure an early lead in the primary, and I think that this article really cinches it for me that they had no idea and no plan for the contingency that the folks in Iowa might not like Hillary. Now, the article in itself is about Bill Clinton rejecting and denouncing the idea that he was playing the race card. But the key paragraph in the article was this:

"[Bill] Clinton told People that after her mother lost the Iowa caucuses, daughter Chelsea “was upset, bawled, went to her employer and said, ‘Look, you got to let me go or give me an indefinite leave of absence. I’m not letting my mother go down like this.’”

They really had no idea that this wasn't an entitlement game, did they?

Clinton folks, you all gave a good fight, but it's time to turn around and focus on McInsane rather than trying to win 90% of every remaining contest or whatever the metric is.

(posted by Matt S.)

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