Obama launches national registration drive

The campaign's timing suggests that this is aimed not at the remaining primaries but at the general election.

By Alex Koppelman

Published April 25, 2008 9:14PM (EDT)

On Friday, Barack Obama's campaign announced the launch of a new nationwide voter registration drive, Vote for Change. So far, the campaign has had significant successes in registering voters for primaries, but the timing of the announcement -- and of the initial events for the new effort -- suggests that this new initiative is about the general election in November.

The program itself kicks off with launch events scheduled for May 10, the Saturday following the next two big primaries, which are in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6. So it would appear that this is really about beginning to organize for the general election. But there's a primary-related reason for the timing as well, some observers believe. The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray, for instance, reports that "the program's other aim is to signal to Democratic leaders, and in particular uncommitted superdelegates, that Obama is the stronger general-election candidate. His 50-state strategy may have cost him votes in big states like California, [deputy campaign manager Steve] Hildebrand and others have long argued, but the result of having campaigned everywhere is a nationwide grassroots organization, unlike any ever created by a presidential candidate."

Beyond the electability argument, though, there's the question of what Obama can do for the electability of superdelegates and other down-ticket candidates. Murray writes that Hildebrand cited one example of a congressional candidate whose campaign could theoretically benefit from the organization Obama has already created in that state, and surely this new program will be used to make further arguments about the senator's potential coattails.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2008 Elections Barack Obama War Room