Senator Barack Obama is projected to win the Wisconsin primary. And he is expected to take Hawaii later tonight. This will give him 10 straight victories over Senator Clinton – an unmistakeable momentum that will be hard to beat.
In the primaries season, we have already seen one clear case of momentum beating strategy – John McCain’s triumph in Florida, that ended Rudy Giuliani’s bid even before it began. Of course, the split nature of the Republican race back then did help Senator McCain a lot. But he carried a momentum into Florida, and that kind of dynamism defeated the static nature of a planned this-state-only strategy of the former New York Mayor.
And this is the kind of momentum, the dynamic aspect of which is delivering results for Obama. Senator Clinton had given up on Wisconsin, but then realizing the almost insurmountable quest of overturning a 10-state run, she decided to go back to the Badger State and resume her negative campaign there. Alas, it hasn’t worked for her yet again.
Thinking about this race brought back memories from a talk show hosted by Dindigul I. Leoni some years ago, where he talks about what issues are important to voters in Tamil Nadu politics. Issues? He says, it is all about momentum. When people in one district or city talk to their friends elsewhere, and they ask who looks like the winner, the response generally is “avinga dhaan” (“It’s them!”) No one really know who the “them” is, but everyone assumes that they are talking about the same “them”.
Trends emerge in opinion polls, and whatever little gap there is between the parties, this gap widens as the idea of “them” gains some kind of a backing. And that is why elections in Tamil Nadu produce results that are clear in their outcome – whatever the vote is, it is for “them” and the “them” change every five years.
Momentum, and not issues, make this possible. Potent as they are, issues are mere static forces. They can be withered by momentum, if it is dynamic enough.
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