Lynne d Johnson



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01.04.08 04:33 AM

Obama's Iowa Win and the Power of Oprah

barack_obama_08.gif There were many doubters (Mark Halperin at Time for one) who felt that Oprah's last-minute celebrity-style endorsement of Barack Obama wasn't going to mean much for voter's confidence in being ready "to see him as ready to be commander in chief by January 2009."

Ever since I started blogging for techPresident earlier this year, I started thinking about the branding of a President (you know with the Internet and Mobile playing such a big marketing role leading up to the '08 race). You know how the Nixon/Kennedy debates helped give Kennedy that little imaging edge. It was campaigning as campaigning had never been done before. TV changed the way that campaigning was done. And perhaps, it, along with the Internet, will again.

So having Oprah, middle America's black mammy princess media darling, go on an all-out celebrity tour with you and give out free tickets to events, should be a great boost to a brand and offer an imaging edge as well. Now I'm not likening presidential campaigns to marketing a movie or music artist or celebrity for that matter, but the truth is, in many ways, at the end of the day -- who has the most visible brand. And yes, Mr. Halperin, it also matters whether that person can get America to trust them and believe in them? But maybe not so much as it used to matter, especially for an America up to its ears in diarrhea that's in need of a good swig of kaopectate (or good old fashioned water for that matter).

In case you haven't figured out what I'm gabbing about yet, here's some help:

"Barack Obama's stirring victory in Iowa -- down home, folksy, farm-fed, Midwestern, and 92 percent white Iowa -- says a lot about America, and also about the current mindset of the American voter. [Alternet]

And let's do a little bit more play with the mathematics:

"One Democratic precinct on the west side of Des Moines near Drake University had 444 participants, compared to 279 four years ago. A suburban Republican precinct in Ankeny had 220 people show up, compared to the roughly 100 that had been expected.

Yet another Democratic precinct on the west side saw 389 people attend, well above the 300 four years ago. [AP]

"It was among young caucus-goers, however, where Obama truly carried the evening. Attendees under 30 voted 57 percent for Obama, compared to only 14 percent for Edwards and 11 percent for Clinton. Among Gen X-ers - 30 to 44 year-olds - Obama received 42 percent to Edwards' 21 percent and Clinton's 23 percent. [CBS News]
"The Des Moines Register says Iowa has 40,000 Oprah viewers daily. [ABC News This Week]

Of course the race isn't yet over, so I'm not running up to the rooftop and shouting (besides I still haven't said who I supported in this race). There's still a little fact that remains to be seen, which is that the Iowa Effect' May Not Determine Nominee. Right now a lot of GOP heads are squawking about how: "In 1980, George H.W. Bush beat out Ronald Reagan in Iowa Republican caucuses, but ended up as Reagan's vice president at inaugural time a year later." [MarketWatch] But who's to say that Iowa, and then New Hampshire after it (if media darling Oprah can work her charm once again) won't end up effecting this entire election?

Hillary Clinton may have previously thought that Obama would be her VP if she were elected, but she might want to start thinking about how to get him to select her as his VP.

Meanwhile, there's a part of me that argues that Obama isn't quite ready for this job, though he's got a good gift of gab that makes you want to believe he is. And that's probably just the point, people can connect with him. Clinton, on the other hand, has been in the public purview much longer, but her personable skills really just aren't all that tight. Proof is in the Edward's second place running in Iowa, isn't it?

So what'll it be in the battle of the democratic presidential brands: The biggest Web 2.0 played-Top Talk Show Host supported win, or will it be good-old fashioned politics, wherein the elder statesman gets her or his due?

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