July 09, 2004

Obama as Second Choice 

posted by Scott @ 11:41 AM
Ever since the Ryan downfall, commentators and pundits have felt in necessary to mention the similar divorce file fiasco of Blair Hull. It's usually stated that Hull was the front runner in the Democratic field up until the story of his messy divorce surfaced. Now that's of course technically true, but close observers of the primary know that Hull's lead at that point was a bit misleading.

What's not mentioned is that Obama had not yet begun his incredibly successful ad assault (whether you liked him or not, it's hard to argue that his ads weren't masterfully done) when Hull had that big lead. Obama's strategy was to finish up strong and even though Hull would have been a formidable rival if the divorce issue hadn't surfaced, I think it's fair to say that Obama would have been a good bet on winning the nomination without Hull's stumble.

Remember Obama won by an absolute landslide in March, and while certainly a lot of that support came from the Hull fallout, his win can't be simply attributed to Hull's implosion. Obama had built up a lot of momentum on his own through his strong stump speech and the word of mouth buzz that surrounded him. The ads run just weeks before the election simply harvested that latent support. Hull had a big lead because he saturated the airwaves for months before the primary and gained great name recognition. But once people started really paying attention to the race in the weeks leading up to the primary, it became clear that Obama was the candidate to choose. He certainly wouldn't have won so commandingly had Hull not lost his footing, but it's hard to imagine him not being the nominee even if Hull had run unscathed.

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