1.10.2008

John Kerry breaks his silence, endorses Obama (and a new SC poll!)

John Kerry has jumped on the Obama bandwagon, confirming a bit more the campaign's transition away from its insurgent tones, very much like Howard Dean's wave of late fall endorsements in 2004. This is not to say that Obama is now about to collapse, but that this is evident of a change in the race: Democrats like Al Gore and John Kerry have been said to want to endorse Obama for a long time but to be holding back because they did not want to stand in the way of Hillary Clinton the inevitable nominee. (Update: Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota also endorsed Obama today, confirming reports that Democratic Senators have been looking to get involved with Barack since his Iowa win.)

It is doubtful Kerry will bring too many votes to Obama, but his support still has significant benefits. Clinton has been working to portray herself as the natural heir to the Democratic leadership, the inevitable candidate who is marching towards a coronation with the support of her party. Obama is trying to create a movement that will carry him to the nomination, but to do that he needs to appear viable and get Democrats to rally behind him because they are afraid to miss their chance to "make history."

Figures like Kerry are not the kind of Democrats who typically trumpet themselves as out-of-the-beltway insurgents, and at this time Obama has to reassure voters and donors that he can go all the way, that he has the experience and the respect of establishment types who will help him rather than stand on his way and promote Hillary Clinton. Does this now mean that we can expect similar moves from Al Gore and possibly from Ted Kennedy (Kennedy's relationship with Clinton is stronger than Kerry's, so there is still some doubt as to what might happen there)?

The endorsement also has a very practical benefit: Kerry is going to put his e-mail list at Obama's disposal, and that list, inherited from 2004 and which contains millions of names, was the pride of the Kerry camp and one of the reasons he was optimistic about a possible 2008 run.

One final thought on the Kerry endorsement: Some of the press is likely to cover this as a blow to Edwards at a time Obama would love to get some of Edwards's votes; obviously that would be unfair given that Kerry and Edwards were never friends or close and that their joint campaign in 2004 ended up being very tense until its last moments, but the symbol is obviously powerful.

Meanwhile, back on the trail, Rasmussen released a new poll from South Carolina, taken entirely post-New Hampshire. Obama maintains his lead from a few days ago, so no bounce or movement at all for Clinton who still trails her rival:

  • Obama gets 42% to Clinton's 30% and Edwards's 15%.
I believe Rasmussen did not supply the breakdown of the African-American vote which is truly the test going forward into this election. The black vote has massively moved towards Obama over the past three-four weeks and that will make it very hard for Clinton to even move close here unless she finds a way to start reversing that trend.

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4 Comments:

  • Two observations:

    --I don't know about Kerry, but what's been reported is that some senators who wanted to endorse Obama held back not entirely because of Clinton's 'inevitability' but out of respect for Biden and Dodd, who have been there much longer than Clinton or Obama, even though these senators knew that neither Biden nor Dodd had much of a chance.

    --A lot of commentators have missed the fact that Massachusetts is a Super Tuesday state (it is hard to keep track); the Kerry endorsement should help there if not so much nationwide.

    By OpenID sjberke, At 10 January, 2008 13:47  

  • Good points, sjberke, I've read that too from Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

    And you make a good point too, Taniel, about Kerry and Edwards never really being friends.

    Kerry doesn't bring votes necessary, but he does bring institutional symbolism and a nice donor list.

    By Anonymous Andy, At 10 January, 2008 14:08  

  • I don't see how Clinton reverses the trend of blacks moving to Obama, particularly since over the past few days she has personally trivialized MLKs achievements, and in NH a surrogate made an assasination remark about MLK and JFK, directing the comment to Obama (i.e. what could happen to him). That's getting lots of play in the black community. If Clinton is going to cry to get the female vote, I don't fault Obama for doing what he can to get the black vote. I'm a woman, and I think the way that she always pulls out the gender card when things get tough is pathetic. She trying to weep her way to the white house. Who wants this sort of bull sh*t from a potential president?

    By Anonymous Sue, At 10 January, 2008 15:40  

  • What a load of horse manure Sue. Hillary never disparaged MLK. She simply pointed the fact that Obama has compared himself to JFK and MLK, without an iota of the achievement that these men accomplished. This entire messianic aura that the MSM has wrapped around Obama is starting to get to his head. And nobody of substance in the Clinton campaign has made any assassination remarks. You folks have to stop taking all the baloney the blogs post as a matter of fact. None of that idiocy is vetted or corroborated. And if I was Rassmusen I would lay off the polling business for a while. LOL!!!

    By Anonymous Robert, At 10 January, 2008 21:17  

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