Now that the dust has settled on the 2008 presidential election, it might be helpful to analyze why Barack Obama was elected America’s 44th American president. As stated in a previous column, though I did not vote for Mr. Obama, I believe it is very important to pray for him, support his efforts when we agree, and wish him well in his new responsibilities. He deserves credit for winning a highly contested election and making history by becoming the first African American president of the United States.
How did he do it? Let’s look first at the positive things President-elect Obama did in defeating John McCain and the Republicans:
1. Big Vision – Barack Obama won the battle of Grand Ideas with his vision of hope and message of change. He began that journey with his book The Audacity of Hope and grew the message into the over-arching theme of “Changing the Status Quo in Washington D.C.” and leading the nation in a new direction. His big picture view resonated with the people of America and drew them to his side.
2. Communication Skills – Barack Obama is a gifted orator who drew massive crowds and support with his speaking abilities. His words were articulate, his style was personal, and he had all the good mannerisms of an African American preacher. Though Ronald Reagan is called the Great Communicator, Barack Obama certainly inherits that title with the new generation. His golden tongue was a major factor in building an army that would carry him to victory.
3. Disciplined Message– Barack Obama was also very careful to stay on message during the campaign. It was hope and change, hope and change, and more hope and change. He rarely got side-tracked from his political mantra or lost in petty details and arguments. His advisers should be given kudos for keeping him on message through the ups and downs of the long haul. He was the consistent candidate.
4. Strong Organization– He also formed a powerful political machine that brought him millions of donors and thousands of volunteers who turned out the vote. It was Obama’s organizational strategy of focusing on the caucus states with paid volunteers that led to his upset of Hillary Clinton in Iowa and eventually derailed the Clinton juggernaut. In the general election, he mobilized the strongest grassroots effort to share his message and get people to the polls. In many states, 40-50% of the population were personally contacted by Obama volunteers. The McCain campaign could only muster 30% in the best of states. And his use of the new media including texting, Facebook, and MySpace proved decisive. The young still didn’t vote in larger numbers in this election–but a sizable majority of those who voted cast their votes for Obama.
These positive qualities of vision, communication, discipline and organization must be re-learned by the Republicans and other candidates if they seek to win elections. Barack Obama has set a new standard in critical areas that bring victory.
But there were also a number of negative factors that contributed to the 53% to 46% Obama victory. Based on Obama’s positives and circumstantial factors we we will mention later, this race should have been the biggest blow-out in history. It wasn’t. It didn’t come close to Reagan’s 1984 electoral landslide nor LBJ’s 1964 popular vote victory. That’s because quite a few people were concerned with the negative aspects of Barack Obama the person and the candidate. These include:
1. Deceptive Imaging – The Obama election was a victory of style over substance. For all his quirks, John McCain had the greater substance–he was a war hero who stood for a strong military, tax cuts for all, judicial restraint, and pro-family-pro-life issues. But Barack Obama had the better style–with the soaring rhetoric, special effects, and glitzy advertising. In terms of historic American positions, he was all bun and no beef. He even pretended to be center-right on numerous issues, when his record had been nothing short of 100% liberal. He also posed as bi-partisan and inclusive while his actions showed that he rarely crossed the aisle to listen to the other side. If a lie is defined as “an intended deception,” then the Obama campaign was littered with them. It was very reminiscent of the nation’s last Democrat in office, Bill “it depends on the meaning of the word IS” Clinton. Liberals call it nuanced and thoughtful. Most of us call it lying.
2. Covering up the past – Barack Obama was also very clever about covering up his suspect and radical past. His birth and education records are all sealed. What’s he trying to hide? He spent twenty years in a liberation theology church, then cast his spiritual father off the boat when he threatened his campaign. His formative years were filled with radical friendships that he mostly denied or shrugged off as meaningless and distant associations. In 1984, an affair derailed Gary Hart’s path to the presidential nomination. Barack Obama’s ties to an unrepentant terrorist didn’t cause a blink of an eye to 53% of Americans. If a person is “hot,” do we no longer care who they really are or who they work with?
3. Racism – There’s no doubt that Barack Obama received 95% of the black vote in America because racism still exists–just in reverse. Blacks voted for him because he is black. If whites vote for people because they’re white, then it’s racism. But not the other way around. Obama also exploited the issue by playing up the race card on a number of occasions while John McCain chose to take the high moral ground. Dr. Martin Luther King wanted people to vote for individuals on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That lesson remains to be learned in 21st century America.
4. Media Bias – Sean Hannity called it “the year that journalism died” and I tend to agree. From the moment Barak Obama announced his candidacy, the main stream press backed him without shame all the way through election day. They didn’t vet him. They rarely reported negative stories. They actively campaigned for him. His smiling face was everywhere. This was a huge reason he defeated Hillary Clinton and it certainly propelled him in the general election. He was the “media’s candidate.” And just who is the mainstream media? They’re the Big Three broadcast stations (ABC, NBC, and CBS), cable network’s CNN, the three leading national newspapers and their affiliates (New York and LA Times and the Washington Post), and the AP wire service. These news organizations, though in decline, still control the majority of news reporting in America. By everyone’s count, they were about 70% pro-Obama and 30% pro-McCain. This alone was probably a $200 million advertising gift to Obama-Biden. Why did they support him? Because these news outlets lean leftward. For example: Only 8% of them weekly attend church, as opposed to 40% of Americans. So their view is limited–and the only person in their sights was Barack Hussein Obama.
There were also a number of large circumstantial factors in Barack Obama’s election victory. The unpopularity of the Iraq War was big, though the issue was on the backburner. The hatred of George Bush and incompetence of the Republican Party was a big part. Another factor was the lack of a strong conservative alternative to run against Obama. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee canceled each other out in the primaries and the mantel fell to John McCain. Sarah Palin brought back the conservative enthusiasm with huge crowds and All-American appeal, but she was in the number two slot. And then there was the biggest circumstantial factor–the economic meltdown which was blamed on the current administration. John McCain was ahead
by ten points in September, but after the disastrous bank bailout, Barack Obama surged to a lead he never lost. People blamed the Republicans for the mess though many of us would argue that liberal politicians over the past sixty years are primarily to blame. (Click here to see my October 7 article on this subject.)
But the greatest single factor in Barack Obama’s election as the 44th president of the United States is something you probably won’t hear on CBS. Here are some sobering statistics:
- In 2004 22% of Christian evangelicals voted for John Kerry. In 2008 32% of them voted for Barack Obama–a ten point increase.
- Protestants as a whole cast 45% of their votes for Obama.
- Catholics gave him 54%.
That was the ball-game–the margin of victory. It was professing Christians–especially evangelical Christians, voting for a far left, anti-Christian president that determined the 2008 election. God gave us who we wanted–with Christians casting the deciding votes.
Now you know why “judgment begins with the house of God” in the coming years (1 Peter 4:17) and why the greatest need in America is the spiritual revival of the church. It’s also our greatest hope–not the election of a man–but the hope of nationwide revival of the people of God through the power of Jesus Christ.