“Weakness”? I don’t think so

Barack Obama, in losing, got nearly twice as many votes in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary as anyone had ever gotten before.

In Pennsylvania, the Clinton campaign and the Rendell machine produced a massive turnout. That’s to their credit.

But Barack Obama got almost twice as many votes as any other candidate in the history of the Pennsylvania Presidential primary. So &#8212 unless you think that Clinton voters came out specifically to vote against Obama, for which I haven’t seen any evidence &#8212 the notion that he displayed “weakness among key demographics” in a way that threatens his electability in the general election really doesn’t pass the giggle test, does it?

Two Democratic candidates excited the Democratic primary electorate as it’s never been excited before. One did somewhat better than the other. But either one, at the head of a unified Democratic Party, ought to stomp John McCain in Pennsylvania in November.

The same analysis applies to various voter segments. The African-American share of the turnout was somewhat smaller than might have been expected, and despite Obama’s appeal to the young the proportion of the youth vote to the total vote did not markedly increase. But in absolute terms, both young people and African-Americans turned out in astounding numbers; it’s just that older people and whites kept pace. How is that A Bad Thing?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com