This year’s presidential race has been called one of the most significant in United States history. For the third straight election, following in the steps of Bush v. Gore and Bush v. Kerry, the popular vote once again left even the most apathetic voter waiting with baited breath on election night.
According to the Associated Press, a record number 71.5 million tuned in on Nov. 4, which proved to be as historic for cable TV, CNN and ABC getting the top spots, As it was for Sen. Obama.
However, prior to election night, most argued that a close election would not be the case. Due to the economic crisis, the war, and the poor approval ratings for the incumbent party in office, in conjunction with the campaign that raised almost double of McCain, most assumed that this would be a blow out election for the Democrats. However, as the popular vote showed, it was not.
Daniel Cleary, Financial Consult for Barclays Bank, said “Yes, it is true that the Obama Campaign spent a lot of money, but really, all it did was get everyone interested in politics, rather than sway the influence towards one political party.”
As Cleary described, although the turnout in this election was greater, Cleary attributed to the closeness in the popular vote in that the voters relied heavily on their ideological influences, and relied less upon the campaign strategies of the opposing party, or the performance of the current incumbent party in office.
“People need to understand that spending large sums of money does not necessarily guarantee victory,” said James Marconi, a member of the Young Republicans club on Marist College’s campus. “Granted, McCain did not have as large a war chest, but he was not blown out of the water, either, and spending usually makes a difference only when a politician outstrips his opponent by a very large margin.”
This election was not so much about the issues as it was about the candidates, Marconi explained. He attributed the close margins in the popular vote to the disaffected Clinton supporters which could potentially swing the election. Though Obama was mostly able to overcome this difficulty through his campaign efforts, Marconi said this very well could have been a factor.
Christina Tello, President of the Students for Obama Group at Marist College, said “I think that Obama’s accepting public funding was the best thing he could have done for his campaign. He was able to pay staff to organize volunteers at the grassroots level, and that’s what made his campaign so successful. His campaign was fueled by passionate, excited supporters who made it their responsibility to speak to as many people about Obama as possible.”
Efforts to explain Obama’s failure to break this race open, Tello said, could be attributed to latent racism, the choice of Biden over Clinton as his running mate, or his failure to hit back at McCain.
“I the decisions that Obama made along the campaign trail enabled him to manage his image better than McCain. I believe that it was solely due to better campaign strategy that gave Obama a win that was clear but not a landslide,” Marconi said. “There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, and Obama was no exception to this rule.”