This is a new day. This is a new time.

Barack Obama is an amazing politician - and I say that as a 37-year old man who normally reaches new heights of cynicism during this stage of an election cycle. It may seem obvious that a site that is self-described as politics from the Black American perspective would endorse Obama, but it is not for the obvious reason. No, after seeing the Vice-President go down in a bitterly contested election to a one-term governor with absolutely no knowledge of the world outside our borders in 2000; and after seeing a Vietnam war veteran - decorated at that - go down to a draft dodging son of a senator (and a future President too), APAB believes that the only candidate in the race who can take back the White House in 2008 is Obama.

What caused the Democratic Party to lose the office after an eight-year run that included the longest bull market of the 20th century? There are many reasons that have been listed: a poor campaign strategy by Gore that did not even deliver to him his home state of Tennesee; outright voter suppression in the key state of Florida (then governed by the Republican candidates brother); and even the denial of a basic tenet of democracy - counting votes - by a Supreme Court that was packed with judges from the Republican party, including some who were appointed by that same benevolent Dad who once got his son into the National Guard and out of duty to his country in war. So these are all good reasons, but in my old firm, we used to describe conditions like these as "necessary - but not sufficient". No, what was required to make that loss possible was apathy on the part of voters who could reasonably be expected to vote for the Democratic candidate. Sure, they had excuses: Gore was not that inspirational; it seemed obvious that he would win; the difference between him and Bush did not seem that far - but excuses is all they were. When it came right down to election day, people stayed home.

People stayed home.

Ever so slightly more than half of the electorate - 50.5% - voted in 2000. Doctoral thesis are written on the why behind this, but surely the rationale must include a belief on the part of voters that their concerns are not being heard. That their elected representatives are not acting in their interests - and what about our current political processes would cause anyone to believe that?

As poor as this turnout was, it was better than the previous two election cycles that featured Clinton on the ticket and even though Kerry had the fortune to receive more votes for President as a Democratic candidate than anyone in the history of the country, a turnout of just over 60% was not enough to put him in office, as much of the electoral energizing was done that year by Republicans, what with their combining of presidential politics with key state initiatives that spurred their base onward.

So if every election is determined by the turnout, which candidate can best drive the turnout required to win?

Obama is the answer. His candidacy has already shown - in each of the four states that have held primary or caucus votes so far - that he can turn out the traditionally disaffected voters under the age of 30. Also, his candidacy has already shown an ability to attract independent voters - which are key in this age of declining party affiliation. Furthermore, his candidacy has already shown an ability to attract Republican voters - which other Democratic candidate can make these claims?


The article that this post links to from the New York Times states: "Turnout on Saturday (in South Carolina) was estimated at a record 530,000 people, nearly 100,000 more than in the Republican primary a week ago." What they do not include is another key fact of this election, that Obama alone captured more votes in 2008 than were cast for the entire Democratic primary field in 2004. Think about what this means: when the Democratic candidate has been selected, each candidate will implore those voters who gave their support to coalesce around the nominee. That being said, none of the candidates will be able to lay claim to the entirety of the base from their competitors. This highlights the importance of the ability Obama has shown to attract new voters and crossover voters, as he not only expands the base of those who vote for Democrats, but he makes the Democratic Party competitive with Republicans in states that other Democrats have sworn off as Republican strongholds.

In every election, voting matters. In 2008, voting for Obama matters.

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