Earning the Barfight and Bar Scene Demographics

Mary Katharine Ham
|
Posted: Jan 08, 2008 10:08 AM
Lileks on the candidates:

I like John McCain. He seems like the sort of guy you could have a beer with, right up to the moment where he smashes the bottle on the table and jams it in your face over something you said six years ago. I like Rudy Guiliani, partly because his second-term sex scandal would involve someone closer to Teri Hatcher’s age than Jamie Lynn Spears. But mostly because he is smart, agrees with me on enough things, and does not appear to have a heart ruled by sentiment. I do not want a National Dad or even a Cool Brother (double-meaning unintended) for the President; I want someone with JFK’s optimism, Roosevelt’s steel, Truman’s irascibility, and so forth.

But it’s all for naught if the Obamaboom continues, because he has the zeitgeist at his back and a sail the size of an IMAX screen.  People will vote for him because they want to be part of something larger, and that’s a rare and potent thing these days. Whether that’s a wise thing to do in perilous times depends on whether people think we’re living in perilous times, I suppose. We’ll see.

Yes, that's my sense about Obama, too. Some people in this thread took me to task for thinking he won't get blown apart as the general starts, but here's the deal. He already got young people to turn out in Iowa. I've watched his organization on Facebook and MySpace and wondered if this might be the time reaching out to the young might actually translate into votes.

In the past, Republicans have relied on young people, who naturally lean liberal, not turning out. Obama has the potential to change the turnout dynamic, for real, not just as an empty promise. And, at that rally last night, with an understanding of how people my age and slightly younger work, I had a vision of a pretty powerful swell for Obama.

Think about it. Obama is becoming the candidate that it's "cool" to back in the same way that it's "cool" to attend anti-war rallies and protests against Bush. One doesn't need to be interested in politics or informed to gain the socially-conscious cred one gleans from mere appearance at an Obama rally. One must only be default lefty and have some time on one's hands, as most college kids do. Those people aren't often swayed by more cerebral discussions of Obama's weaknesses, either.

As supporting Obama becomes the cool thing to do, plenty of college students with time on their hands start turning out to rallies and volunteer events, thereby making the rallies and volunteer events more fun and exciting. The rally last night was the best time I had here because the atmosphere was fun. The excitement was not manufactured. As they become fun and "talked about," future rallies and events draw more young people. It's a cycle, and to think that a good chunk of those new voters won't turn out, since he's attracting more young people than anyone ever has, is a bad bet.

And finally, when the rallies are attracting all these young people-- and, judging by the crowd last night, many of them are attractive co-eds-- backing Obama eventually becomes a way to get the ladies. His rallies become a place to hook up, as they already have to some extent:

One ardent Obama supporter (who declined to give his name because he works in politics) says he'll attend both the rally and the after-party, and he doesn't expect to be going home alone.

He's confident for a reason.

"Let's face it: Leftie girls are easy," he says.

It's the Babe Theory of Political Movements in action again. And, it matters.

Update:
That being said, the second day in a row of gush, gush, gushing over Obama on MSNBC is utterly ridiculous. The excitement is notable, but they're laying it on really thick. I think Chris Matthews almost had his own crying jag over it.

Update:Ha. Last night, when Obama was defending himself against charges of "being vague," he specifically said, "You can go to my website and read all day about the specific ways I would change things." Or, not.