Sunday, January 20, 2008

Can Obama Win?

If someone had walked up to me a few months ago and told me that Barack Obama was going to receive the Democratic nomination, I would have laughed. Not at Senator Obama. I assumed that with her name, money, and IOUs within the party, Hillary Clinton was almost assured the party's nomination for the November general election. I still feel that way now, but I cannot deny the appeal or even the possibility that Obama could eek out a victory, something I would not have considered possible until now. Why?

First, Obama is ahead in this short race, thus far, in total delegate count. He won in Iowa, came close to winning in New Hampshire, and is ahead in South Carolina. Second, and this dovetails as one of the reasons why he has surged ahead in South Carolina, Senator Obama is finally beginning to receive mass support from the African American community, which was until recently seemingly tied unshakably to the Clinton campaign. Remember those news stories about Hillary was winning greater support from the black community, and even claims from the likes of Jesse Jackson that Barack was not "black enough"? As of now, Obama is the choice candidate of 60% of African American voters. Granted, this is not the general election, but if you are running for the White House in the Democratic Party, in states where African Americans are over 40% of the voting electorate, support from the black community is a must.

Third, the issue of electability. It is still an open issue if this country is more prepared to vote for a female over an African American, but both candidates are more than their gender and ethnic identities. Are people willing to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama over the Republican nominee?
If one looks at the numbers, Barack Obama fares quite well.

Obama v. Giuliani

Obama v. McCain

Obama v. Huckabee

Obama v. Romney

Avg. Margin

Victory

52.3% - 38%

44.5% - 45.8%

52.3% - 38.8%

54.7 - 33.3%

+12%


Clinton v. Giuliani

Clinton v. McCain

Clinton v. Huckabee

Clinton v. Romney

Avg. Margin

Victory

50% - 41.3%

44.5% - 48.5%

49.3% - 42.8%

51.3% 39.3%

+5.8%

Source: Real Clear Politics (head-to-head averaged 1/09-1/13 polls from USA Today/Gallup, Hotline/FD, CNN, Rasmussen).

If one just looks at the head-to-head competition, Barack Obama is a much better candidate. This is not just on account of Obama's increasing support from voters in his own party. It is because Obama has an appeal that goes outside of his party, particularly with younger and even independent voters. The only candidate that Obama is losing to in the head-to-head is McCain, and even that is within the margin of error (at 1.3%).

So, based on these numbers, it is becoming clear that Barack Obama is the more electable candidate, at least more electable than Hillary Clinton. For those who always wanted to find out if this country was ready to vote for an African American nominee for one of the major parties in a Presidential election, we may get our wish, especially if Barack remains ahead in the delegate count following Super Tuesday.

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