Is Obama the New Reagan . . . ?

Well not exactly, but The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article commenting on the recent polls that say the current Presidential election is much closer than is was a couple months ago.

The reference to Reagan comes when explaining the similarities between the 1980 and 2008 election.

In 1980, President Carter was standing for re-election himself, while in 2008 President George W. Bush, is attempting to pass the baton to Sen. McCain. But the questions about the opposing party’s candidate, Mr. Reagan, were similar to those now posed about Sen. Obama. Mr. Reagan, a former California governor who had spent no time serving in Washington, was seen as light on experience and lacking in foreign-policy gravitas. Some in the political establishment considered his strong conservative philosophy and anti-Soviet rhetoric to be too extreme for mainstream America

Besides the reference to Reagan – a minor point- , the article sets up a great juxtaposition between Obama and McCain’s favorability among U.S. citizens. Although one might not immediately think so, when you look at how the polls are breaking down, U.S. citizens are divided. Although Obama is a “rock star” that status is pushing some voters away. Conversely, although McCain is an Old-school politician – who happens to be a republican maverick – that status gives him familiarity and trust among some voters.

The article also picked up on the important issue of how comfortable citizens with the candidates backgrounds.

Riki Frank, 44, a graphic artist and stay-at-home dad from Auburn, Wash., leans toward Sen. Obama, but hesitates because of his personal background.

“I’m a white-bread American. I was raised in Iowa. I got the Midwestern work ethic,” says Mr. Frank. “He’s a black man. His name — is unique. It’s definitely not a Catholic name. He’s kind of way off the pattern of the norm of what I grew up with. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just because I can’t relate to the person doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.”

That is somewhat anecdotal evidence, but among White voters surveyed, 8% said race is the most important factor in the election (Among African-Americans, who support Sen. Obama, 20% said race is the top factor.)

The immediate thought that comes to many people’s minds is about the prejudice of the White folks worried about Obama’s race and background. However the fact that 20% of African-Americans are considering race as the “most important factor” is equally disturbing -though understandable given the absence of much minority representation in politics especially the position of President (my concern is that people are placing it as the most important factor, not solely that they are making it a factor).

It will be interesting to see if Obama was really correct in assessing that he would lose some points in the polls because he was overseas and how much race and background will play in this election.  By the time November roles around who knows what is going to happen.

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