Dust continues to settle

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, December 10, 2008

By Staff
As we approach the end of the year, we have had a month to let the dust settle on the historic 2008 election and can now analyze the results that have crystallized.
On the national level the election of Barack Obama is indeed an historical event. African Americans have rejoiced and reveled in this landmark election. Bill Clinton referred to himself as the first “Black President,” but Obama is the real thing.
In a strange twist of fate, if only a few Iowa caucus goers had selected Hillary Clinton, she would have been President. More than likely, Hillary, Obama or, for that matter, any Democrat would have won the White House in 2008 because 85 percent of Americans believed the country was on the wrong path and 75 percent disapproved of George W. Bush. In addition, the biggest economic collapse in American history since the Great Depression occurred during the height of the campaign. Any one of these crosses would have been too much for a Republican candidate to bear, but with all three strikes against him it was almost impossible to win.
John McCain's odyssey could be compared to running a 100 yard dash against a younger, faster, more agile competitor with a 100 pound rock strapped to his back. Surprisingly, McCain only lost the national popular vote by seven points, 53 to 46.
What can be gleaned from this year's voting? The presidential race really boiled down to the economy. The situation and results are amazingly similar to 1992 when Bill Clinton wrestled the White House from George Bush, Sr. That year the issue also was the economy. In fact, Clinton's political guru James Carville coined the famous mantra, “It's the economy stupid.”
Other revelations also became obvious upon closer scrutiny. America is more progressive on social issues and is becoming more diverse. Obama's candidacy brought out an unprecedented, once in a lifetime African American turnout. An amazing 80% of black voters voted in this year's election and 98% voted for Obama. However, future elections will revolve around the fastest growing segment of our population, the Hispanic vote. This vote tilted the states of Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida to Obama and will be vital in years to come.
Surprising to many is the unbelievable accuracy of polling in this year's presidential contest. The pollsters nailed the race right on the head both nationally and state by state and did so despite the fact that 15 percent of all voters, especially young voters, have only a cell phone which disallows pollsters from reaching these individuals.
Steve Flowers is a political columnist who served 16 years in the Legislature. He may be contacted at www.steveflowers.us.