Saturday, May 10, 2008

Where Do Dems Stand Now?

With most Democrats now presuming that Sen. Barack Obama will be the party's nominee, where do things stand?

First off, Democrats are now virtually assured of avoiding a bloody and divisive floor fight at the Denver convention in late August. That is certainly good news.

Second, a side benefit of the prolonged nomination fight is that millions of new Democratic voters have registered across the country.

Third, an Obama candidacy is likely to bring new voters to the polls in November and energize at least some segments of the party as never before.

But at the end of the day, is Obama the best candidate? That's a difficult question.

There's no doubt that Obama's image suffered in the long, drawn-out contest with Hillary Clinton. The Reverend Wright issue will linger on to be exploited by Republicans in the fall. Still, better that Wright's views came up during the Democratic battle, rather than later. Obama will have to continue to distance himself from Wright and prepare for the inevitable attacks.

Obama certainly needs to do extensive work with three groups of voters where Democrats should have an advantage: white women, blue collar workers and senior citizens. These are groups that, in the Democratic primaries, showed a distinct preference for Hillary Clinton over Sen. Obama.

But will those voters opt for John McCain over Barack Obama? That's the battle ahead, and we bet Obama and his strategists are well aware of the work they need to do.

We think Obama is the better candidate, but concede it's a close call. Too bad we can't combine the best qualities of both Obama and Clinton into one awesome candidate, but that's not possible.

It's also extremely unlikely that Hillary would agree to run as Obama's VP, so he needs to start looking for someone from a battleground state that appeals to Hillary's constituency.

Meanwhile, we're content to let Hillary continue on with her quest through the last contest in June. It's not that far off and she's already showing signs that she'll lay off Obama as this thing winds down. We're going to miss Hillary. We hope she'll be able to play a contructive role in trying to capture the White House in November.

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