The election of Barack Obama in 2008 looked to be the most amazing upset. As a young and vibrant black senator with negligible experience who would not only have to go in and carry all the states won by John Kerry back in the 2004 election but make inroads into traditionally red states Obama did not seem to have an obvious path to victory. This book shows how the impossible was achieved, not just defeating McCain but triumphing over the other must beat candidate, Hilary Clinton.
Beating Clinton was quite an achievement and nearly the first half of the book is dedicated to the first year spent almost entirely in Iowa building up a phenomenal grass roots base and putting Obama on the map. Winning Iowa would mean building up the momentum that, a long way down the line, finally brought him the nomination. His path to victory was built upon expanding the electorate, registering new voters, appealing to moderate republicans and campaigning in the counties and areas of the states which would maximise his delegate count and thus secure him the nomination.
The book shows Obama to be better organised, better prepared, better disciplined, better financed and running to a better strategy than either Clinton or McCain. There is a lot to admire in the way they fought these campaigns, the grass roots organisations they built up rather than relying on in-state old party king-makers, the use of new media to communicate with members and supporters and often to break news directly to the party first is all commendable. One cannot help but feel that they these are people who know the system and played to the system. Against Clinton the focus of the campaigning was winning the delegates and against McCain it was about playing the board making the best electoral college arithmetic and arrive at the magical number 270. At no point do you feel that winning the popular vote was a real concern and I guess that just means that they were smart but one cannot help but consider the efficacy of an electoral system that would allow the popular vote to be a secondary concern.
A very interesting dose of insight!