Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Defying the Expectations Game

I was wrong - Obama defied the polling numbers and withstood the Wright fiasco.

I think this is why, despite a result which would have basically been considered a victory for Hillary three weeks ago, the punditocracy is now calling the race for Obama. He was able to show that he could withstand and come back from even the biggest bombshell and the worst three weeks of gaffes and character assassination politics; and he gave a speech that laid out to the party and to superdelegates how he would do it. By saying, basically, he would run a campaign focused on issues.

For the entire season, both Obama and Hillary have been trying to lay out an expectations game. I think this was the first time Obama actually did it. The Wright incident actually gave him the opportunity, by drastically lowering the expectations for his performance; but through hard work and financial warewithall, Obama was able to take advantage of the past week to turn around the tide and for the first time, actually have a night that beat the conventional expectations. The fact that he was able to turn things around in just a week gives the supers evidence that, given enough time and support, Obama can make the necessary in-roads in the fall.

The supers have been waiting for some indication in the tea leaves that would tell them it was safe to jump into the pool and finally decide whether Obama had the chops to pull this off for them, or whether they should turn to option number 2 and unleash the Clinton fighting dogs. I think last night gave them the hope they needed to lay down their claim. They know that they need to give whoever is the nominee the time to build the party unity they would to need to win in the fall, and they have all the evidence they need now to make up their minds.

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