Friday, November 09, 2007

Barack Obama's black wake up call

I meant to blog on this for weeks, but only now have the time. Roland S. Martin posted a commentary on CNN back in late October that took Barack Obama to task for failing to define himself and for failing to attract the African-American support that it was assumed he'd get.

Of course, Obama's campaign has been drifting for a while. There was much excitement around him and his ability to use his rhetorical ability to turn excellent phrases. However, even with all his money, he's really done a poor job of defining who he is and exactly what he stands for - other than "hope".

It seems that a move of the Iowa caucuses to January 3rd hurts him the most. He has focused on college students and "non-traditional voters" to fill caucus rooms around Iowa. Unfortunately, the Jan 3rd date is before all universities in Iowa return from Christmas break. And how many non-traditional voters will be turn out to stand in a cold and dark firehouse or school gymnasium, a mere 2 days after New Years Day?

Obama is having an equally hard time attracting a natural constituency in New Hampshire. He has flatlined at 20% support since he declared his candidacy. It was expected he'd take South Carolina because 50% of the Democratic primary voters are African-American. However, Hillary Clinton is running away in the polls there.

Considering the expectations, if Obama isn't able to win Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, he won't make it to Super Duper Tuesday on February 5th.

Is it all doom and gloom for Obama? Neither Martin or I think so. Martin suggests this:
First, the campaign must stop being afraid to put Michelle Obama on the road and let her rip. She has to be his major weapon in appealing to black women.

Second, having Oprah Winfrey's endorsement is one thing, but they must get her on the road. It will also help if Obama touts other black women who are backing him. Recently, former "Young and the Restless" star Victoria Rowell was stumping for Clinton in South Carolina, and other high-profile black women have been out front supporting her.

Obama did just pick up the endorsement of Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts, and only the second elected black governor in history. Yes, he's a former top Clinton administration official. But his state has a small black population, so that really doesn't help Obama with black voters.

Lastly, Obama must forget the national polls and focus solely on South Carolina. Nearly 50 percent of the Democratic Party primary voters there are black, and research shows that 40 percent of black women haven't made up their minds in the state. Even though research conducted by the Clinton campaign reveals that Obama's message isn't resonating with blacks, research done by the Obama camp shows that when black women have met and been engaged by Obama, he's been able to convert them into supporters.

What do you think? Is Obama's campaign stagnant? Will he be the nominee?