Let me play pundit for the moment and cite some keys to the results as I see them:
- Barack Obama never waivered from who he is. From the beginning in the primary pundits were calling for him to be more antagonistic, more of an overt fighter. To get into the gutter with Hillary. I remember there was one debate when he did try to match her low blow line with one of his own and it seemed to me watching his body language as if it was very forced and like he regretted it immediately. After that he shut out those nagging voices and stayed true to himself. Strong, confident, steady. His campaign really was the no drama Obama group. So well run with so many organized offices across the country. Happy people too. I spoke with my friend when he was out here who was running a precint in Missouri and he spoke of optimism and being provided with all sorts of cutting edge tools and just overall support from the national offices. Not a ship lost at sea, but an integral cog in the campaign machine. Obama created and led a TEAM. He spoke constantly of unity and he created it in his own “workplace” with his employees. For 22 months they toiled together and worked as one.
- Conversely John McCain didn’t find his voice until last night. Ok, maybe he found it about a week ago. But his campaign was a mess. I swear it made Gore and Kerry’s look *good*. How many messages and twists and stunts were there? How much turnover? How many defections? This truly heroic man who has served his country so proudly for decades was pushed and pulled in just too many directions. He came across as impulsive, out of touch and often downright confused.
- Sarah Palin. Oh boy. Without going off on to the personal reasons that she makes my skin crawl – what a conflicting pick she was! First it showed his impulsiveness. Pick a VP after one phone conversation, one face to face meeting and that’s it? Oh my. For the GOP who have soured on Bush and HIS impulsive-take no prisoners-why bother doing any research-never admit you are wrong ways, this was scary. But she did turn out the religious base. Shoot – she is probably why he got over 45% nationally! Republicans were so blase before that. They didn’t trust his conservative credentials since he really *had* been mavericky in the past (say, pre 2002). And she is a star. A very polarizing star, but a star nontheless. However, her shine wore off once she showed just how naive she is. She too never found a consistent message that would stick and be convincing. Which is not her fault – again, the whole campaign was scattered and messy. And for many many not religiously motivated conservatives, she was the deciding factor to turn their backs on McCain. Not just amongst the famous (such as Colin Powell), but even among everyday GOP supporters who I knew – that pick was a huge mistake for McCain with independents and moderates who might otherwise have stuck with him. He basically rolled the dice that the religiously motivated would outnumber those and well, he was wrong.
- “The Fundamentals of the Economy are Strong” – probably the 7 most critical words spoken in the campaign. I think that cut right through to the average voter. It didn’t matter how he tried to spin it – the polls after McCain uttered those words as financial institutions were failing and foreclosures were mounting, reflected just how out of touch that statement was with reality. It took the wind out of the Palin bounce and plunged McCain into the low 40% range for rest of the way. And even though it looks as if the ‘undecideds’ broke more for him, there was just too much of a gap to bridge.
- The internet media. Fact check sites. Obamas Fight the Smears site. I think that a major blow was dealt to the ‘politics of smears and fears’ way of campaigning. Sure, there was still a percentage a voters who believe Obama is a muslim – shoot, there was a voter in Texas who said she was vtoing for him even though she did believe that! But overall, those types of ads did not work. The attempt at the end by the McCain campaign to label their supporters as more patriotic or more American did not work. Divisiveness did not work. We are tired of it and it was reflected at the ballot this time. The media finally started calling people out for it rather than simply spreading smears with no comment.
Those are just my own humble observations. Now the real work begins: catching up on all my books! Hiking! taking pictures! And, yeah, cleaning that damn shower :-)