Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama's Appeal to Iowa (and Other) Independents

The proof is finally in: independents prefer Obama over Clinton. We already knew that, didn't we? But Iowa proved it, with those independents participating in the Democratic caucus choosing Obama 2 to 1 over Clinton.

One reason for Obama's appeal to independents is, of course, his transpartisan perspective. He's not just willing to cross major-party lines to get things done; he's also willing to bring third parties and independents into the mix. But there's an even stronger reason for independents' support of Obama: instead of just reaching out to us for our votes, he listens to us and seeks our input. By contrast, Clinton treats us as if we're an annoying but necessary evil. She doesn't understand us at all.

Anyway, our good friend E.J. Dionne Jr., in an op-ed piece ("A Whiff of Revolution from Iowa") in today's Washington Post, offers his always spot-on analysis of the Iowa caucus. For independents or anyone who wants to understand their impact on yesterday's vote, it's a must read.

But let's move on to his take on the upcoming New Hampshire primary, from the same article:
Tuesday's New Hampshire primary will have a much larger turnout, and independents -- roughly 40 percent of the potential electorate -- will play a far greater role than they did in Iowa. Until recently, it appeared that independents, who are on the whole alienated from President Bush and his party, would vote in large numbers in this state's Democratic primary, as they did in the Iowa caucuses. This would benefit Obama...[who in NH]was drawing 46 percent of his support from independents, while Clinton drew 33 percent of her backing from voters who did not declare a party affiliation. By coming into New Hampshire strong, Obama may keep independents on the Democratic side. This could hurt McCain, who leans far more heavily on independents than Romney does.

...Democrats, particularly Obama, are fighting for the middle ground and the independents, while Republicans are largely talking to each other.
The Iowa results, especialling Clinton's third-place showing, Giuliani's barely-there outcome, Huckabee's win, and Ron Paul's strong-for-him placement, may help energize us a bit and help us overcome the election fatigue that started to set in, oh, at least six months ago.

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