Posted Jan. 7, 2007 – When Sen. Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic Convention in 2004, he erased all doubts about whether he was “articulate” enough or charismatic enough to represent his party in a future run for the White House. Four years after that special evening in late July, there’s a new question with which many Americans – both Black and White – have been grappling: Is Obama “electable.” Translation: Is the nation ready to put a Black man in the White House?
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But Obama’s improbable victory last week in Iowa – a state with no Black folks to speak of – over a well-heeled, politically adroit opponent like Sen. Hillary Clinton has not only helped diffuse that question, but it has placed the politically precocious senator from Illinois in a unique position. If he were to best Clinton and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards in New Hampshire, another lily-White state, before heading to states with large populations of Black voters, such as Michigan, South Carolina and Florida, his momentum would be almost insurmountable.
BET senior political producer Pamela Gentry, who is on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire , said that many people are genuinely astonished at just how serious that momentum is already. “At virtually every event where Obama spoke, he is drawing twice the crowds of Clinton ,” Gentry said in an interview. “Many people showed up mainly because they were curious about this Obama guy, but by the time he finished speaking, they really liked what they saw.”
And, she added, “his crowds looked like the United Nations. They were made up of old, young, Black, White and Brown people – every age and every color – and they seemed entranced as he spoke.”
This isn’t good news for Clinton, who spent the most time of the Big Three cultivating votes in New Hampshire . Just three months ago, she held a solid 20-point margin over Obama and Edwards.
With only a day before the New Hampshire primary, a USA Today/Gallup poll shows that Obama has opened up a 13-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, 41 percent to 28 percent, to 19 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.a newly released CNN/WMUR poll shows A WMUR/CNN tracking poll, taken over the weekend, showed Obama leading Clinton, 39 to 29 percent. Just a couple days ago, that the race was too close, with Clinton and Obama both snatching 33 percent of likely Democratic voters.
"Both Obama and Edwards appear to have benefited from the Iowa caucuses. Each picked up three points in New Hampshire . Clinton lost one point, since our last poll taken before the caucuses," says CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
Referring to the earlier poll, Schneider said the major tide change was on the issue of electability. While 45 percent of likely voters felt like Clinton had the best chance of beating the eventual Republican nominee a week ago, 36 percent think now, according to Saturday’s survey. And, if Obama’s burgeoning crowds weren’t enough to evoke the fear factor in the Clinton camp, the senator’s electability numbers were at 35 percent, 13 points higher in the previous week, which means that he was in a statistical dead heat with the woman who was supposed to be a shoe-in for the White House gig. That was before his latest surge.
"Obama got something else out of winning Iowa : a big boost in his perceived electability. A week ago, Clinton led Obama by better than two to one when New Hampshire Democrats were asked which candidate has the best chance of beating the Republican in November. Obama's victory in an overwhelmingly White state may have resolved some doubts about an African-American candidate's electability," Schneider said.
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