Lessons from a really super Tuesday
Wow. Was anyone expecting something that big? Some early sketches of thoughts:
1) Advertising works. No really, it does. It simply has to be part of the explanation as to why someone who lost their first statewide election in 2000 has a mere eight years later become President. Allied to a simply phenomenal on the ground effort, and demographic changes, selling a brand like Obama to states that wouldn't have considered it before - Colorado, New Mexico - shows that clever, well-targeted spend can have a decisive impact.
2)Rhetoric works. The inspiration it provides, the goosebumps that register and make you believe that anything is possible. It helps that one of the best public speakers ever has been campaigning, but even had he lost Obama's speech on race would have gone down in history. More importantly, powerful and passionate words helped to convince people that a chance was worth taking - indeed, had to be taken. Rarely can a prosaic trope like 'experience' have been so defeated by cadences and spoken poetry. Hopefully, that's now the end of the sludge that passes for most political discourse, not withstanding Nico's concerns about empty content. I can't wait for Garry Wills' book on Obama's rhetoric.
3) Social networking came of age last night, and in the process went mainstream. Like many people, the experience for me was mediated by the BBC, and then online sources (Guardian, New York Times) and then the real time, personal experiences of people on Facebook, and the various Twitter tools - Election, Twitter Vote Report - which performed remarkably well considering the pressure they were under. Swimming in data we might have been, but it provided a visceral immediacy generally absent from the experience of politics. Amelia has some far more cogent insights into what this means.
My favourite tool of the night was the NYT's State of mind monitor - god, people were nervous.
4) Elections work. I know. Democracy is still the least bad option we have. All elections should be national holidays. Once people have voted, they can then participate in other civic activities. It'll help to bring to people together.
And if you haven't already, the victory speech is here:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.