Whether Sen. Obama wins Iowa may well determine whether he becomes President Obama.
Few candidates in recent memory – any candidate in recent memory? – have excited younger Americans more than Barack Obama. He is, in many ways, Robert Kennedy’s heir in that sense.
Has any major candidate since Kennedy spent more time talking about a healing vision for America?
In 1968 though, younger Americans turned out for RFK. They propelled him forward. Will the same thing be true for Obama?
We will find out in Iowa where he is likely to be either first or third. Why? Because if younger voters turn out it may be a rout. If they don’t it may be a rout as well. So much time was spent trying to mobilize younger voters in 2004 but for all the celebrity effort they just stayed home. Will things be different this time?
Obama is certainly no John Kerry and that is one major positive. Voters don’t doubt the sincerity of all of his beliefs. Younger voters who seem to have an especially acute BS meter resonate with that. And perhaps that fact alone will turn them out to the polls.
But will it be enough to overcome bad weather and the tedious task of the caucus and the challenge of defying habit and getting involved on election day?
That is the test. Because if they turn out for the Iowa caucuses in January, they are certainly going to turn out in California on February 5th.