It is called tarmac campagne. Barack Obama has litterally been living between two planes since last week, in a race to beat time in the finals of the primaries on Tuesday, 5th February. For the very first time in the history of the country, almost half od the fifty American States will line up to vote simultaneously for the primaries.
By Germain Bagassy, Washington
With 22 States dotted all over the country, from the east to west coast, north to south, the democratic candidates will miss the opportunity to run intensive campaigns as they did in January, despite their heavy financial backing. Until now, the campaign had taken place one after the other in the states of, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, small states in comparison to California (west coast) and New York (east coast) both part of the 22 states participating. From this perspective, Hillary Clinton, the ex first lady and a household name in politics is a favourite. A week ago, she was ahead in the polls in 21 out of 22 states with the exception of Ilinois, Senator Obama’s State.
Despite all the noise about his candidature, Barack Obama, 46 years, is not as well known as his rival. He got into the limelight in 2004 when he made a speech during the convention to nominate John Kerry. It was also in the same year that he got nominated as Senator of the State of Illinois. Hillary, on the contrary, enjoys a popularity as a former first lady.
A favourable week
Since his historic victory in Iowa on the 3rd of January, Barack Obama seems to have gained some wind beneath his wings. As per his campaign chief, he received a $32 million dollar donation from supporters only in the month of January, an amount equivalent to John McCain’s entire 2007 annual budget. He finished off his super Tuesday campagn in beauty with encouraging results, i.e. his 26th January landslide victory in South (55% against 27% votes for Hillary Clinton).
In 2007, very few personalities dared support Barack Obama publicly in his bid for the presidential race. But things really changed this year. Backing from governors, political representatives and other big names in politics have shot up. Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s daughter, who thinks the black senator reminds her of her father, has publicly endorsed Obama. She appeared on stage with Mrs Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Maria Shiver (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife), who made a surprise announcement of her support for Obama.
As for Caroline’s uncle, Ted Kennedy, 74 years, senator and brother of John F. Kennedy, has made this election a personal affair by putting his private jet at Obama’s disposal. Senator John Kerry, has also joined Obama’s campaign.
All these efforts and supports seem to be paying off. Lots of polls published last Sunday revealed a tightening gap between Obama and Clinton. Both of them have almost the same percentage of supporters with a slight advantage in favour of Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton’s 12 point advantage has since undergone a severe evaporation act in the coveted state of California. A poll published on Sunday by CBS indicated a tie (41% for each), on the National level, a big change from the previous 15% advantage held by Clinton, begining January.
Fight for delegates
Finally, what some have termed “Tsunami Tuesday”, expected to settle the situation and determine the fate of the candidates may just not happen. The nomination battle may continue beyond the primaries without any of the two making a real break. Strategists are forced to review their plans. It is no more a question of winning the popular votes but also to gather the most democratic representatives.
In fact, to win the democratic nominations, a candidate needs at least 2025 delegates, that is a bit more than half of the total of 4049 delegates. 1681 delegates are represented this Tuesday, (the highest number of delegates ever to be representated in a single day in the history of democratic primaries). Only California has a number of 370 delegates. In general terms, the scale of delegate distribution vary from one state to another, district level votes are, however, proportionately distributed. A candidate could win in a given State but lose out in terms of delegate distribution which constitute the core element in Tuesday’s vote. A few weeks ago, Barack Obama lost to Mrs Clinton in the State of Nevada but got away with more delegates (13 against 12).