Cross-posted from The Progressive Pulse
What did we learn from the week of Super Tuesday? Mostly this…if turnout matters, the Democrats kicked some Republican ass.
Just how bad was the Dems smackdown? The numbers are truly staggering. In the 19 states where both Republican and Democratic primaries were held, Democratic turnout was 73% greater. Or, in raw numbers:
14.5 million Democratic voters.
8.4 million Republican voters.
On the Democratic side, it was a virtual tie. Clinton received 50.2%, Obama 49.8%. It seems likely that what happens in the next few months in the Democratic primaries will determine the next president. North Carolina may yet have something to say about that.
These are historic numbers. If this enthusiasm translates into general election votes, than a far-reaching opportunity to build a progressive movement may be at hand. The question for Democratic voters, then, is which candidate can inspire a movement, not simply win the election. Which candidate attracts the most new voters? Which candidate attracts the most diverse coalition of young voters, Hispanic voters, Independent voters and disaffected Republicans? Who has the longer coat-tails?
From a policy standpoint, the two candidates are so similar that one is left making distinctions without a difference. Both candidates are equally likely to improve the lives of the majority of North Carolinians with progress on healthcare, economic policy, immigration, and veterans issues.
So for me, it comes down to this: while both candidates are reliably progressive, which candidate can energize a generation of Progressive voters? Who can inspire and lead a Progressive revolution?
*unlike the New York Times, to my knowledge Progressive Pulse contributors are not prohibited from making endorsements. However, my unofficial scorecard for the Times is: Obama 2 (Frank Rich, Bob Herbert); Clinton 1 (Paul Krugman…he really, really, likes health insurance mandates); McCain 1 (William Kristol…he really, really likes wars); Green Party Candidate 1 (Thomas Friedman…sorry Tom, going Green will not make us forget your role in promoting the Iraq War); Undecided (Maureen Dowd…too maliciously catty to matter; David Brooks…too obsessed with divining nation's Zeitgeist to matter).
Addendum: As luck would have it, the day after this was posted I sat down to read last week's The Nation. The cover story by Christopher Hayes is titled "The Choice: Why Obama's the best candidate to build a Progressive Majority." You can read it here. I particularly liked this quote:
In addition to persuading those who already vote, Obama has also delivered on one of the hoariest promises in politics: to bring in new voters (especially the young). It's a phenomenon that, if it were to continue with him as nominee, could completely alter the electoral math. Young people are by far the most progressive voters of any age cohort, and they overwhelmingly favor Barack Obama by stunning margins. Their enthusiasm has translated into massive increases in youth turnout in the early contests.