There is definitely an enthusiasm gap in the 2008 presidential election. Obama has moved supporters to tears. John McCain has too, but for different reasons. Hillary moved herself to tears – just when it was needed most.
With a string of eight consecutive state primary victories, Barack Obama has strong momentum. The excitement surrounding the candidacy of Obama goes beyond mere momentum though. It is fueled by raw emotion and is going to be a powerful thing to beat. Hope and change, like puppy dogs and sunshine, are hard to oppose. So what are a former First Lady and Vietnam POW to do? How do they capture some of that excitement, or at the very least find a way to dampen that Obamania?
Hillary has no shortage of excitement in her campaign, but as we saw in South Carolina and elsewhere, the kind of excitement her hubby Bubba created in the campaign was not the kind you want. I guess the same could be said for the excitement he brought to the Oval Office.
Unfortunately for John McCain, the enthusiasm these days is on the Democrat’s race, particularly in the Obama camp. That is the downside of capturing the nomination early. Not only is voter enthusiasm with the Democrats, but so is the media coverage. As soon as it was clear Mike Huckabee did not have a chance to capture the nomination, there was not much of a story left to follow in the Republican race.
John McCain can’t bring excitement to his campaign through the remaining primary votes, but he does have another opportunity to create some suspense and excitement – with his choice of running mate. Vice Presidential choices are not generally known for generating a lot of excitement, except of the very short term variety. An exception was Geraldine Ferraro’s candidacy in 1984, since she was the first woman to be part of a Presidential ticket. She later created some problems for the ticket, as well, with questions about financial connections, but she did make history and generate some energy for the Walter Mondale candidacy. Problems surrounding Vice Presidential choices typically draw more attention than any positives the candidate adds, but there are a couple of reasons this election might be a bit different.