Regular Standard readers will know I like to keep an eye out on what’s happening in the States (where the arte of politic$s is bigger, brighter and harsher). While there’s been comment on Obama’s choice of running mate, it was this piece in the Observer that caught my eye, where Paul Harris asks “why has Obama stalled?“:
“The Democrats are starting to struggle in a presidential race which they should be dominating. America is beset by economic troubles, mired in an unpopular foreign war and facing an unpopular Republican party. A stunning 80 per cent of Americans think that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Yet Obama and McCain are virtually tied in the polls. The possible explanations are multiple. The Democratic campaign is being daily assaulted by withering Republican attack ads. At the same time, there are still deep scars in the party left by the ferocious battle between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton….
Is is a question of race he asks:
By the end of this week, America will finally be facing up to the question that might truly define the 2008 presidential race: is America ready to elect a black President to the White House?…
It had seemed to many outside observers that Obama was the front-leader by a country mile. However,
The Denver convention has gone from a coronation to a challenge. ‘This is tricky. He wants to leave the convention with the party as united as possible,’ said Larry Haas, a political commentator and former aide in the Clinton White House. Polls last week showed Obama’s lead over McCain narrowing to just a few points. One, a Reuters-Zogby survey, even had McCain with a lead of five per cent. McCain, with his new aggressive strategy, is now settled into the ‘happy warrior’ mode. He is the insurgent underdog taking chunks out of a more favoured opponent. Yet such an analysis is unfair to Obama. A study of the electoral coalition shows just how narrow Obama’s margins of victory are. His levels of support among blacks, Hispanics and young voters are already squeezed close to their likely maximum.
In order to win in November he undoubtedly needs to persuade white, working class and elderly Americans to back him in much greater numbers. McCain needs to keep them away. That alone will ensure that the issue of race cannot remain underground. For, in the heat of the fight ahead, it could actually become the main battlefield itself.
So it comes back to who can capture soft voters in the centre ground. That’s a situation not unlike that here in New Zealand. Guess that’s where Bill English’s “Labour-Plus” comes in!