Although Hillary Clinton has been the perceived favorite to win the Democratic nomination since the 2008 presidential race began, Barack Obama has been picking up momentum continuously for the last week and a half, starting with his unexpectedly large win in South Carolina and leading up to today's Super Tuesday vote. Twenty-two states will hold Democratic primary elections today (to decide the fate of about half of the Democrats' delegates), and the largest of these is California. Here, although Clinton was once favored, Obama has taken the lead in the polls. And, as of today, he leads Clinton by 13 points (49% to 36%).
People who vote with their money also appear to believe that the tide is turning. In the political futures (where people "bet" on political outcomes by investing money in them), Obama's stock price has climbed so that it is almost equal with Clinton's for the first time since just after his Iowa Caucus win. A probably more significant money-related fact is that Obama out-fund-raised Clinton by $30 million to $13 million in January. Clearly an increasing number of people believe that Obama will be next Democratic nominee, and they're willing to give their own money to help make it happen.
I've made it pretty clear here on the blog that I support Barack Obama. I haven't gone too much in depth on this issue, though, (and you're not going to find a long manifesto in support of Obama on my blog during the primary season) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, although I personally believe that Obama is the best candidate on a variety of fronts, I see plenty of merit in a Clinton candidacy. Secondly, there aren't a whole lot of substantial policy differences between the Democratic frontrunners (in contrast to the wide gulf between them and the Republicans). Instead, I support Obama in particular for a variety of more subtle reasons. Specifically, I find him an inspirational figure, who could be a transformative president, who has demonstrated the substantiative nature of his character by the path he's taken to be where he is now, and who has more potential to bring various sides together to move the US forward than anyone else in the race. Much press coverage has already been given to the string of Kennedy family endorsements (including Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, and Maria Shriver) that Obama has received in recent weeks. Although politcal endorsements are a dime a dozen, it's hard to overstate the significance of these, since John F. Kennedy's own immediate relatives in this case are so willing to explicitly compare Obama to the late president, more so than I can recall in recent history.
Like many others, I'm very excited by the prospect of an Obama presidency, so he's who I'll be supporting today on Super Tuesday.
I'm Canadian, so I can't vote, but I do feel I have a dog in this race. My big worry with Obama is just what you said: who has more potential to bring various sides together ... .
I'm worried he'll be so eager to "reach over to the other side" that he'll forget what being a Democrat is all about, and just continue compromising with the R's on principle and practicalities.
I don't think that's what you want, but I fear that's what you'll get.
As an Obama admirer from afar (I also am not American), I hope he wins, but the Kennedy links can be overstated.
If Obama wins, he will be one of the least experienced of all Presidents in senior executive, military or political office. His supporters may as well face that fact now, because if he wins the nomination, what the Republicans will throw at him will make Hilary's and Bill's attacks look pretty tame, bad and all as they were.
Kennedy was elected Senator three times, Obama once. Kennedy had a solid track record in the Senate, expecially on foreign affairs. Obama is showing promise, even exceptional promise, but still has not clocked up the experience to match Kennedy.
Kennedy also had a war record as a hero, but as the British historian Max Hastings said: "Great Generations are the generations great things happen to". Obama was not part of a great generation in that sense so it would be unfair to make that comparison. But if he is running against McCain, that may count against him.
On top of that is his rumoured Islamic faith, and something to do with drugs. McCain may be squeamish (remember the "black child" smear in 2000?) but some of his followers won't be.
My advice is - stand by to repel Swift Boaters - now!