Obamamania

As Paul notes below, Obamamania is in full swing in New Hampshire. At the margin, that might help Mitt Romney, as independents join the stampede to vote for Obama in the Democratic primary.
Obama is getting the kind of fawning press coverage that John McCain received in 2000, the difference being that in Obama’s case, the positive coverage will continue if he gets the nomination. One aspect of Obama’s rise that the press avoids mentioning is the extent to which it is a fad. It is odd to think of political candidates in those terms, but we here in Minnesota know it can happen. The closest thing I’ve seen to the Obama phenomenon was in Minnesota in 1998, when Jesse Ventura was elected Governor on a third-party ticket. In the closing days of the campaign, it literally became a fad to support Ventura. Thousands of Minnesotans who had never voted before, mostly young people, turned out for him. Some voted for Ventura as a joke, thinking it would be funny to elect as Governor a former pro wrestler. Most, however, saw Ventura as “refreshing,” an agent of “change” and an antidote to partisan politics in St. Paul.
The Ventura experiment did not end happily. His support peaked on election day and eroded quickly as the novelty wore off. In Obama’s case, fortunately, there is plenty of time for the fad to wear thin and for hard questions to be asked and answered before ballots are cast in November.
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