How Obama Won

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(Danville, California)

Sometimes you win an election. Other times your opponent loses the election. What happened this time? Barack Obama clearly won the election. He did it in three key areas:

*Hispanic vote: Obama won the Hispanic votes by a wide margin over McCain, 66 to 34 percent. Republicans usually do better with George W. Bush having received 45 percent. The wide split in the Latino vote may be the reason Obama won Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. He did extremely well with Cuban-Americans in Florida, usually a Republican block.

*Youth vote: People from 18 to 29 voted 72 to 28 percent for Obama. That’s a huge margin, basically a 3 to 1 ratio. This group was particularly dialed in to Obama’s internet-based campaign. From Facebook to YouTube, the majority of these voters get their news online. Obama spoke their language.

*White Voters: Fears of “white flight” and the “Bradley effect” never materialized. Obama held the Democrats' base of white voters. He had 43 percent. Compare that to Jon Kerry’s 41 percent four years ago and to Al Gore’s 42 percent in 2000; and it’s clear Obama’s appeal was wide and deep. The debates probably calmed a lot of fears about Obama. He came across as calm, clear, knowledgeable and Presidential. That probably solidified this base of voters. Ronald Reagan made a similar debate performance in 1980, calming fears that people should be afraid of having him in the White House

Now I know people are going to say, "What about black voters?" Well, Obama took 96 percent of that demographic. That’s slightly higher than won by previous Democrats. What about women? Yes, there was a gender gap, with Obama taking 57 percent of female voters to 43 percent for McCain; but that’s in line with previous elections. The threatened great flight of Hillary voters to McCain never really gelled.

The most significant thing Obama did tactically was to run an aggressive campaign in many traditionally Republican states. This worked so well that Obama won nine states which President Bush won in 2004: Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Obama’s goal was not just to win; he wanted to win convincingly to claim a mandate.

In all my years of covering politics, it was one of the best run and most disciplined campaigns I have ever seen.

A word of caution, though. Success on the campaign trail does not translate to success in the White House. Jimmy Carter ran a very inspiring and upstart campaign in 1976 and won. But he could not work the same magic in the White House and was sent packing four years later.

I am on KGO 810 with Brian Copeland today at 9am PST. “Live” on the internet worldwide at Many more blogs to come at

Random Thoughts from the Campaign Trail

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(Danville, California)

Wow! What a year! I spent much of the last ten months on the campaign trail. Here are some random thoughts on the latest developments:

The “What Was He Thinking Award” goes to President-elect Barack Obama. The joke about Nancy Reagan and “séances” bombed at his first post-election press conference. He called Mrs. Reagan to apologize, as well he should have. Besides, it was Hillary Clinton who had the “mock” séances. Nancy Reagan was the one who consulted an astrologer about her husband’s schedule. Sen. Obama needs to get his facts straight first, before making insensitive jokes.

The “Media Bias” Award goes to a local radio commentator who made excuses for Obama by suggesting it was a case of “making some comments when he thought the microphones were off.” Baloney! It was right during the news conference when he was “belly up” to the microphones. Our job is to report the news, not to make excuses and cover up for our favorite candidates.

The “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” Award goes to former California Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones. “Robo Calls,” those annoying pre-recorded candidate calls are illegal in California. So, when my phone rang the other day and I heard, “Hi! This is former Secretary of State Bill Jones, urging you to vote Republican on Election Day,” I nearly fell over. Jones ought to know better, since the Secretary of State’s office is the one that runs California elections, including ensuring that campaigns abide by all election laws. Politicians most often lose their jobs in this country when they sidestep the rule of law. “Do as I say, not as I do,” is not a formula for leadership.

I keep seeing emails, Facebook posts and other missives blaming Republicans, religious groups and the like for the loss on Proposition 8, the Gay Marriage Ban in California. The reality is that a significant number of Barack Obama supporters, both Democrats and Independents, voted "Yes" on Prop 8. The numbers bear this out. Obama beat McCain by 24 percentage points; but, at last glance, Prop 8 was winning by just 5 percentage points. If you blame only the McCain voters, there weren’t nearly enough to pass Prop 8. Democrats and the “No on Prop 8” advocates need to do a lot of soul searching on this, instead of blaming the other side. It is quite plausible that 1.6 million Obama supporters voted "Yes" on Prop 8.

Speaking of Prop 8, I wonder how many people skipped voting in California on Tuesday, when it became clear that Obama would win in a landslide. The East Coast voting projections can suppress West Coast voting. By 6 p.m. Pacific Time, Obama supporters had little incentive to wait in line to vote. A study I saw said 70 percent of Obama supporters were against Prop 8. Were those who stayed home the margin of defeat? I would really like to see a national uniform polling time, not so much for this issue, but to mitigate the effect of media projections from other time zones.

My media consulting firm scored its first political victory. Believe it or not, I had never helped manage a campaign before, mostly because - as a working journalist - that would have been unethical. But these days I am a political analyst and consultant. I helped with the media planning and strategy for Stewart Gary, a candidate for the Livermore School Board in California. Gary, who is a retired Fire Chief, was a great candidate to promote. He took first place, defeating two incumbents.

Sunday morning I will be on “live” with Brian Copeland on KGO-Radio 810 AM in San Francisco. You can listen nationwide at You can even phone in your questions at 1-800-808-0810, no matter where you live.

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