Obama avoids the ‘angry black man’ label


by Sunny
16th October, 2008 at 7:55 am    

(cross-posted over from Liberal Conspiracy)

Watching the final presidential debate between McCain and Barack Obama was a frustrating one for a strong supporter of Obama like me. Obama didn’t attack back enough; he didn’t point out that Sarah Palin was clearly unfit to be president; he didn’t hit back on the smears on Ayer and Acorn.

But I think it makes sense in a counter-intuitive way. Obama doesn’t need people like me, or similarly inclined American voters on his side. He needs to make himself comfortable to Middle America and the biggest danger to him has always been to come across as an Angry Black Man. Obama was unbelievably calm, collected and straight to the point. In fact he went out of his way to be nice while McCain was constantly attacking and putting on that fake, scary smile. Damn that smile is scary, and McCain looked almost wierd by flashing it so constantly.

How will the polls play out? I have no idea, but I have a feeling that Obama has seen detailed polls of the difficult demographics and realised the biggest advantage would be to come across as a nice guy to ‘ordinary Joe six-pack’. There was no reason to be nasty about Sarah Palin – her ratings have been tanking like a lead balloon without him saying one nasty word. It’s worked. Tonight, I hope it works again.

Update: It has worked. The polls are overwhelmingly in his favour, both by CBS News and CNN.


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Filed in: Current affairs,Election News,United States






9 Comments below   |  

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  1. Sid — on 16th October, 2008 at 9:17 am  

    We’re all Joe Six-pack now.

  2. El Cid — on 16th October, 2008 at 10:14 am  

    That’s right Sid, we ARE all Joe Six-Pack.

    One point Sunny, re McCain. He may be the other side. But I respect him enormously. Not only is he a warrior, a man’s man, it was nice to see him rebuke one of his more racist supporters when he referred to Obama as “a decent family man”.
    It was only a TV snippet. I’m not a US presidential election geek. But that, perhaps, was the single most encouraging moment in the campaign.
    Because that’s, ultimately, where we want to get to.

  3. Sid — on 16th October, 2008 at 1:03 pm  

    I thought you were Joe Chinky Eater.

    Joe the Plumber on the other hand is an inveterate McCain supporter.

  4. El Cid — on 16th October, 2008 at 1:12 pm  

    **bites tongue** :)

  5. Ravi Naik — on 16th October, 2008 at 1:39 pm  

    Joe the Plumber on the other hand is an inveterate McCain supporter.

    Unfortunately for McCain, Joe the Plumber is not registered to vote.

  6. Ravi Naik — on 16th October, 2008 at 1:51 pm  

    How will the polls play out? I have no idea, but I have a feeling that Obama has seen detailed polls of the difficult demographics and realised the biggest advantage would be to come across as a nice guy

    I think this shows one of Obama’s strengths: discipline and he is a damn good strategist. He made several mistakes along the way, but he learns from them and quickly defuses it. It takes an enormous amount of discipline to be accused of palling with terrorists or being accused of hiding something, when McCain and Sarah “Alaskan Independence Party” Palin are in a completely different league in that aspect.

    Yet, he didn’t fall for that trap, because he knows that (a) that’s what McCain wants: to make the election about the candidates and not about issues, (b) it makes McCain look small and angry, (c) and voters do not like angry people.

  7. El Cid — on 16th October, 2008 at 3:50 pm  

    i hope i don’t look this bad when i trip:
    http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/searchpopup?picId=6401374

  8. Leon — on 16th October, 2008 at 3:50 pm  

    Seeing as this is a cross post, I’ll cross comment…

    The genius of the Obama campaign hasn’t been the way they’ve raised money, or innovative use of new technology to inform and mobilise. It’s been the ’steady as she goes’ strategy. No wild highs when things are going great and no deep depressions when hitting tough times. Cool heads prevail…

    They used it to great effect against the Clinton’s (whose campaign resembles McCain’s in the level of indecision and inability to stick to one strategy) and now McCain is being subjected to it.

    Obama has a great deal more work to do to convince those likely to be afflicted by the Bradley effect so his chosen path is certainly a shrewd one. When you’re a little different to win you have to do all you can to not ‘frighten the horses’ so to speak…

  9. Ravi Naik — on 16th October, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

    It’s been the ’steady as she goes’ strategy. No wild highs when things are going great and no deep depressions when hitting tough times. Cool heads prevail…

    Very well said, Leon.

    Obama has a great deal more work to do to convince those likely to be afflicted by the Bradley effect so his chosen path is certainly a shrewd one. When you’re a little different to win you have to do all you can to not ‘frighten the horses’ so to speak…

    There is a new study that concluded that there is no evidence of the Bradley effect this year. The Bradley effect happens when a black candidate gets far less votes than what the polls suggested. The reason of this, some say, is that whites are afraid to tell pollsters that they are not voting for the black candidate. In fact, Obama did overperform polls in some states during the primaries.

    What might happen this year though, is the “reverse Bradley effect” in many Southern states – where many whites might not admit that they are voting for the black guy. Also, a lot of African-Americans are voting in the South at unprecedented levels and polls do not totally reflect that.

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