Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has surged to a double digit lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and seems sure to best the New York senator in this latest contest for the Democratic nominee for the White House. A Gallup-USA today poll shows Obama leading by 13 points with CNN estimating 10 point spread. Think blowout or landslide. Think stunning unrecoverable upset. Think tsunami.
Rising on the tidal wave of the Iowa caucuses, a tidal wave created by mainly white working class and youth voters, the African American Illinois senator appears to have even further broadened his coalition with independents favoring him 2 to 1 over Clinton. Polls results now indicate that New Hampshire voters by a margin of 12 or 13 percentage points now see Obama as more electable than his main rival. The man has met the moment and created a new movement.
Obama has emerged as an all-peoples candidate at an all-peoples moment. The combination of his personal charisma and leadership qualities, along with the broad themes of hope, change and unity is capturing the imagination of the U.S. electorate at a time when it is fed up with decades of fear mongering, divisiveness and hate. This desire for a new day of inspired forward looking leadership has created a new social movement that may well change the very direction of the country.
The Obama movement has emerged as the main form that the struggle against the extreme right is taking today. Here lies the great power of hope, unity and change. Neither the brave and historic bid by Hillary Clinton to become the first woman president nor the bold anti-corporate thrust of John Edwards, important as they are were able to capture the moment in quite the same way. Indeed it might even be said that with Edwards, notwithstanding the important ideological thrust of his pro-labor anti-big business message, this was not where the people are at the moment. However, that said, the three central currents of the democratic message taken as whole if united, would be a mighty front that would be difficult to breach in the November election.
If Obama wins on Tuesday, and this seems likely, South Carolina, Nevada and other contests seem much more certain. It is doubtless that as political scientist Ron Walters predicted weeks ago, the African American vote, always favorable, will rise mightily to the occasion. Doubtless the same will occur among Mexican Americans. Women already are moving solidly in Obama’s direction. Obama with already strong labor support in Illinois will gain new adherents. Big Business already on board will direct more of its money where it sees a winner. And then there is the overwhelming support of the youth and students who by all accounts have made the difference in the campaign. All this taken as a whole is the making of an all people’s electoral movement.
Clearly for the Clinton’s the politics of the vital center could not hold as independents, small town residents, rural voters, small business persons etc, have grown tired of triangulating comprises and negative attacks. Senator Clinton’s charge that Obama is not experienced enough sounds too much like “he is not qualified enough,” a subtle appeal that white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have rejected.
Politics as usual have bit the dust in this presidential season. The category of “likely voters” has been exploded as virtually meaningless as newly registered and energized citizens claim a stake in the future in such numbers that the pundits and politicians have been left scratching their heads. The Chicago school of grass roots electoral organizing, so brilliantly executed by Harold Washington almost 30 years ago combined with other organizing models including the wide use of Internet activism, has turned the campaign upside down. A new day is dawning in the snowy fields of Iowa and streets of New Hampshire, a day born of the hope in our hearts.
Joe Sims is the editor of Political Affairs and a member of the People’s Weekly World editorial board.