I'm looking over the 2008 and 2004 Iowa entrance polls right now. Four years ago, 79% of the Iowa electorate were Democrats. This year, 76% self-identified as Democrats. The huge turnout was just about as Democratic as the 2004 turnout. The new voters were Democrats, not independents.
No real surprise in the core of Obama's support. The younger a voter was, the more well-educated a voter was, the higher income a voter was, the more self-identified liberal a voter was, the more likely that voter was to support Obama. It is the same coalition for Obama that people have identified for months. Obama won on the back of the creative class vote.
Also, while I loathed the vacuous nature of the "change vs. experience" narrative during the run-up to Iowa, I can certainly see how it helped Obama. Right now, how can an argument that you have "experience" in Washington possibly be superior, or even equal, to an argument that "change" is needed in Washington? Not only is Bush still in the White House, but Democrats don't even like the way their own party is operating in Washington. Obviously, if that is the decision forced upon a group of Democrats, then change easily wins out.
As I wrote in my positive post tonight, Obama is clearly change in some regards (cultural, generational, etc). However, as I said in my more negative post, I thought that about Clinton back in 1993 as well, and yet the change I really wanted--progressive policy and political culture--didn't materialize. In many ways, as Sirota wrote earlier tonight, it is unrealistic to expect broad cultural change in American politics to be swept in by one person, even if that person is the President.
My point as follows. Unquestionably, I want to see change in Washington, D.C., too. Who doesn't? While every President will result in some change, and while on some ideological (compared to Bush) and identity (new class, new generation first African-American President) levels an Obama Presidency would bring sweeping change, the kind of change we all seek is never going to come from one man or one election. As Matt wrote four days ago:
In other words, we are not electing a dictator, we are electing a President. And that means that we have a responsibility to pay attention, to speak softly or yell, to get involved, to stay involved, and to vote, again and again. America can drift into an extremely dark period, or we can build our dreams, it really is up to us and our choices. While we debate the big ideas in the Presidential contest, we make the choice of defining who we are every day, even when our favorite candidate doesn't win, or even when George Bush is in office.
It isn't about just being optimistic for progressive change, or cynically expecting that little progressive change will come. In the end, it is just one election, and our fight goes well beyond the Presidency. Assuming he wins the nomination for a moment, we need to keep fighting both to help Obama because of the change he represents, and to help improve Obama, because of the change he does not yet represent. And even beyond that, we have political fights in many other realms, too. This isn't just about one or one election. It is a long-term fight, and the 2008 Democratic nomination is just one small step in the process.