Posts Tagged ‘US Elections#8217;


Measuring Obama’s Coattails

Written on February 3, 2008 by Rolf Strom-Olsen in International Relations

Rolf Strom-Olsen

The big day 02cndobama190for the US presidential candidates is coming up this week, when the Super-Tuesday primaries will produce over half the total delegates for both parties’ conventions.  On the Republican side, Arizona Senator John McCain seems to be running away with the race. But on the Democratic side, the gates are still wide open for either candidate to prevail. The fact that no candidate has yet been anointed has made an already interesting election year even more so. That the stakes are as high as they are – and at this point who’s even counting anymore what with an impending economic downturn, the upheavals of climate change, the crisis in housing, not to mention an urgent need to fix US policies be they fiscal, taxation, foreign, environmental, transportation, and … well, you get the point. That the stakes are so high adds urgency to interest.

I have noted earlier, following the US commentator Roger Cohen, that Obama is a "post-modern" politician, even though it could be argued that this label is largely meaningless.  In part, however, the "post-modern" aspect to Obama is not in his policies (largely indistinguishable from those held by other Democrats) but in his capacity to surmount the strong divisions that plague the US electorate. This, I think, more than anything explains why Obama has been picking up endorsements from all sides of the Democratic party. Last week, the lustre and aura of Camelot (what remains of it at least) came Obama’s way when Ted Kennedy and family backed him, representing the political left of the party. Shortly thereafter, Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius endorsed him. She comes from Kansas, and hence the middle/right of the party. This coalition of different political views that is enthusiastically supporting Obama’s bid for the White House stems, I think, from what I might term his coattail factor.

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