The events of the past couple of weeks have helped Obama to take a narrow lead in the latest polls and we can suspect that in upcoming polls that his lead will grow larger. Americans are a bit freaked out by what they see on the nightly news or what they are reading in the daily paper. Everyday, ordinary, middle class people are holding their collective breaths hoping that we can avoid a complete breakdown of the economy that will lead to deflated currency values, high unemployment and increased costs of living. There is a general feeling of uneasiness across the land.
Right now, the most important issue for all Americans is undoubtedly the economy and the financial crisis that is occurring. While this is not something to be excited or happy about, it is definitely helping the Obama campaign as the majority of people are blaming the Republicans and the climate of deregulation for this nosedive. And how can you not? We have had a Republican president for the past 7 ½ years as well as a Republican Congress for 6 of those years (not to mention the 6 previous years before he took office.) McCain is not helping his cause by having to answer for his support of deregulation as well as changing positions daily (or sometimes hourly) on the state of the economy and what needs to be done, or what he supports.
With that being said, should this election really be in doubt? The answer for any normal person would be ‘No!’ However, this election is unlike any other and may tell a lot more about us as a country than we may like to know. Basically, what do we truly hold important and how much do personal feelings and prejudices really play into what we will vote for? Obama, more than any other Presidential candidate in history, may be the victim of the fringe voter this November. The first, and most obvious reason, is because of his race. No matter how much we want to believe that America (especially certain regions) has come since the days of Jim Crow, there are still some people out there that are going to vote against Obama simply because of the color of his skin, despite it being against their self-interests.
The sad part here is that under any other circumstance these people would have voted Democrat this year, and were perhaps life-long Democrats. Racial bigotry and prejudice can go a long way, even if that person doesn’t identify themselves as a ‘racist.’ So let us go ahead and realize that Obama will lose many votes just based on personal prejudice and not all of those votes would have gone McCain’s way regardless of the Democratic candidate.
Next we also have people that will vote just based on merely one social issue. The two main issues are abortion and gay marriage, but there are also issues such as 2nd amendment rights (don’t take my fucking guns away from me!) or teaching ‘intelligent design’ in school curriculum next to evolution (the Earth is 6,000 years old!). Basically, these are all issues that can be used to deflect the larger issues at hand. Once again, someone would vote against their better self-interests because they feel passionately about one of these issues. Therefore, Obama will lose votes because he is pro-choice, for gay marriage, in favor of gun control and not willing to have Christian mythology disguised as science taught in schools.
Now, Jason Easley covered this in an earlier post to some degree, based on an informal poll conducted by Yahoo. He correctly pointed out that this could all be moot if the majority of this kind of voting takes place in the states that Obama had no chance in winning anyway. However, what if a lot of this also happens in so called ‘Blue’ states? Remember, Kerry didn’t win the election in ’04. Obama needs to turn a few states his way (my home state, Missouri, among them.) Will these fringe issues, along with deep-seated prejudices, prevent him from reaching the White House, despite all signs pointing that we would be MUCH better off with him in there? We may not know until November 4th…