Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Importance of the Powell's Obama Endorsement

Here is a typical conservative wish-away of the Powell endorsement. Rather than making a race-based accusation, Lowry attempts to downplay Powell's endorsement of Obama by painting Powell as "conventional" and "inside-the-beltway." Apparently, endorsements only matter if they're made by flamboyant figures.

But I think it is precisely Powell's conventionality and boringness that makes his cross-over endorsement powerful. This isn't Lieberman, who left his party long ago. And it isn't Lugar, who might be a little too unknown to make an impact. This is a Republican that many ordinary voters know, and whose opinion they respect. After all, he was able to sell the public on Bush's war. He should be able to have even more success selling them Obama.

Need more evidence? This is anecdotal, but here's an email from my Aunt in Florida, who was undeceded until the Powell endorsement.

"In the end I think that Colin Powell's endorsement might be the one thing that cinches it for me...."

I think that basically says it. For many undecided voters, lost in a sea of the now unabashedly partisan media and who have heard much ballyhoo from both campaigns, they needed a signal from a trusted, objective conventional source as to which narrative to believe. As Bush knew when he sent Powell to the UN, if you need someone in this day-and-age who can speak past the media filter and still has credibility with the broad public, it's hard to find anyone better. That's the power of the Powell brand.

If today's polls - which would be the first to start to show the Powell endorsement effect - are any indication, I think the Powell endorsement was HUGE.

Powell spent a little bit of the credibility on Sunday. It will help Obama enourmously. No doubt now he's being attacked for it. But what good is saving up crediblity if you aren't going to spend a little of it when it counts?

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