Barack Obama (photo) won’t spend Tuesday night in Kentucky or Oregon, the two states which will be holding their primaries that day, or even at his home of Chicago. Illinois senator’s staff announced on Saturday that he will be returning to Iowa, where he won the Democratic caucuses in January and has at least two good reasons to revisit now.
His decision seems to have been motivated by a lot more than nostalgia. This month, things have been going well for Barack Obama, with a romp in North Carolina, a strong showing in Indiana and daily growth support among superdelegates. If things stay on that way this week, he could actually end up with enough pledged delegates to proclaim himself as the Democratic nominee for president, without fear of contradiction.
But his ability to declare victory for the nomination will in large part depend on his results in the Kentucky and Oregon votes. He is favored in Oregon, where he is making a strong effort, but he is spending little time in Kentucky, where his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, was the clear favorite last year, when the race began.
As there would be a certain symmetry if Oregon put Barack Obama over the top, the senator could actually celebrate that victory in Iowa.
It is his triumph in Iowa, a state whose population is virtually all white, that first established Barack Obama as a viable contender for the nomination. And Oregaon is also a state whose population is overwhelmingly white. Sometimes called, even by its residents, “the whitest major city in the United States”, Portland, Oregon’s biggest urban area, is a place where the Illinois senator is expected to do very well.
Senator Hillary Clinton (photo) has recently argued that one of the reasons she should be the Democratic nominee, despite Obama’s lead in delegates and the popular vote, is that she will perform better among white voters, who will be crucial to Democratic hopes in November.
A moment of transition
To be in Iowa to celebrate a victory in Oregon would allow Barack Obama, without being forced to say a single word, to prove that argument wrong.
On Saturday, Jen Psaki, Barack Obama’s traveling press secretary, suggested that his campaign was also in a moment of transition.
“We have our eye on upcoming primary competitions” she said after the meeting in Roseburg, mentioning not only Oregon but also Montana and South Dakota. Those states will vote in June 3, concluding the primary season.
“But we are also beginning to lay the groundwork” added Jen Psaki, talking about swing states that will be battlegrounds in November.
This past week, Barack Obama visited two of the states that Mrs Psaki mentioned : Michigan and Missouri. Two more are on the candidate’s radar for the week coming : Florida, where he plans to spend three days, and Iowa, the state where everything started.
Barack Obama seems so eager to return to Iowa that, on Friday, during an appearance in Sioux Falls, in South Dakota, he mistakenly greeted the crowd as being from Sioux City, which is farther south, in Iowa. Some in the crowd groaned and Mr Obama quickly realized his mistake and apologized by reminding his South Dakota supporters that “I spent eight months in Iowa”.