February 12, 2008
Obama: Campaigning to the Choir
The line outside Boston's World Trade Center was three-quarters of a mile long and at least three to four people across. It was full of young and enthusiastic supporters, many with homemade signs, waiting for over three hours in thirty degree weather for Obama to speak. Next to me, there were several people from Ireland, which, while inspiring, was probably not that helpful to the Obama campaign. However, in my exclusive poll of Irish people who are not eligible to vote in our election, Obama won handedly with a solid 100% of the vote.
In related news, in my exclusive poll of people willing to wait over three hours in the cold to see Obama speak, Obama was also winning with 100% of the respondents. Obama was doing similarly well among people wearing Obama stickers, among people carrying Obama signs, and among those driving by the line, tooting their horns, and chanting "Obama! Obama!" through their car windows. Based on my polling data, I'm shocked that anyone at all voted for Clinton.
I think that's part of the problem with Obama's events. He's not really reaching the right people. Here he had this big event, and I can't imagine that a single undecided voter was there. Think about it. The weather is hovering around freezing, and you've decided to stand in line for over three hours to see Barack Obama. Chances are, you're likely already voting for the man.
I've heard some pundits speculate that the majority of people who see Obama speak in person end up voting for him. But, if all the spots are taken up by supporters, then how can he win over new voters? Here's my suggestion for Obama fans. The next time, he speaks, don't go to see him. Instead, wait in line all night and then at the last minute call an undecided voter to take your spot. He needs to be filling arenas with people who might vote for him rather than people who definitely will.
As for the event, I confess it was a bit of a letdown after the long wait, though that might be because I was so far away that I couldn't see any of the people on stage. For most of the time, I wasn't sure where the stage was, or even if there was a stage.
The first thing I heard as I entered the building were the words, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mayor of Fitchburg." As someone who was born in Fitchburg, this was a particularly odd beginning to the event. Still, she's a 28-year-old mayor who gave an impressive speech introducing Governor Deval Patrick, who in turn gave a powerful speech introducing John Kerry, who would be introducing Ted Kennedy, who finally would be introducing Barack Obama. It was already getting close to eleven, and I could tell it was going to be a long night.
John Kerry was apparently there to suck as much enthusiasm out of the crowd as possible, but he failed completely at this. The crowd was so excited to see Obama that even Kerry's powerful anti-charisma had no effect. "I have the weather report for tomorrow," Kerry announced. "And the forecast is for 100% change in the air!" Unfortunately, he wasn't able to tell me that it was going to rain, or I might have taken an umbrella to work the next day.
Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy seems to have discovered Google Maps. "Barack and I were in New Jersey this afternoon, and he asked me what I was going to do next, and I told him I was going to fly north for an hour and fifteen minutes, get off the plane at Logan, take the Ted Williams tunnel to South Boston, get off at B Street, take a right on Seaport Boulevard, and go to the Seaport World Trade Center, and he said to me, 'I'm gonna come with you!'" And even that seemed to energize the crowd. I wonder if Ted can look up the directions to Camelot too.
Then, Obama took the stage, wherever that happened to be, and I have never in my life seen the backs of people's heads so excited by a political candidate. Obama gave a rousing speech, although unfortunately hope is not quite as audacious when you're listening to it through a loudspeaker and can't see the candidate. Still, he was good enough that I'm convinced he would have completely won over the house if the house hadn't already been won over before he even started speaking.
And yet, after all this, he still didnít win Massachusetts. As has often happened, Obama did much better in the polls than in the final election, and nobody is quite sure why. Personally, I think it has nothing to do with race or gender. I think it's about coolness. Let's face it. It's just cool to say you're voting for Obama. I would guess that a lot of young people are actually voting for Hillary Clinton but just don't want to admit it.
And besides, according to my latest polling data, dramatically more people these days are lying in opinion polls. No matter what your political persuasion is, it's fun to see Wolf Blitzer look confused on TV.
©2008 Joe Lavin
5 Ways YOU Can Make a Difference This Election Season
1. Call up a rival campaign for a ride to the polls. While you're chauffeured to the polls, that's one less person who can vote for the other side, giving you a net gain of two votes. As a bonus, see if they'll swing by the supermarket for you too.
2. Now that the Republican race is almost decided, convince a Republican to vote "strategically" in the Democratic Primary. I know one Republican who voted for Obama simply because he couldn't stand Hillary Clinton. I'm sure there are other people who can't stand Obama. With enough hard work, you can make this strategy work for your candidate.
3. Call up the Huckabee campaign and say that you're Jean-Claude Van Damme, and that you would just like to help out the campaign in any way you can.
4. When signing up for campaign events, always put down the phone number of a rival campaign. Later, when they try to call you for money, they will instead reach their competitor's office, thus promoting party unity.
5. Tell everyone that you're a super delegate, just to see if you can get any free swag.