Obama on Election Day: We Can Win Indiana
Sen. Barack Obama hit one swing state on Election Day, skipping across the Illinois-Indiana border to a union hall in Indianapolis. Indiana was a George W. Bush state that Republicans never expected to be competitive in October.
Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/11/picture-8-300x261.pngObama backstage with David Axelrod at a Florida election rally on election eve. (Credit: Obama Flickr.)
“Think you can win Indiana?,” a Wall Street Journal reporter asked Obama at the event.
“I think we can win Indiana, otherwise I wouldn’t be in Indiana,” he replied. That sounds fair, though the state had the makings of a good Election Day trip even if Obama was not competitive.
The Illinois senator chatted with supporters and voters at the hall, according to the pool report: “Barack Obama stopped in at the UAW Local 550 Union Hall in Indianapolis. The room was set up with Obama posters and calling stations. About a dozen volunteers were making calls from their cellphones. Obama talked to at least 10 voters.”
Then the report details some of those conversations:
“Michael, this is Barack. How are you?” “I’d like to get your vote. Don’t be discouraged if there are some long lines.”
The same dialogue continued with a voter named Cindy. “Hi Cindy … I’m in Indiana trying to gear up and make sure everyone is going to vote.” “OK,” he said. “Grab some of those folks who haven’t voted yet.”
One of the volunteers asked Obama to call his wife, and he said he would call wives if there were any “mixed marriages.” “I’ll call your wife if she needs persuasion,” Obama said.
Volunteers were vying for Obama’s attention. “I’ve got one!” someone yelled out, meaning he had a live voter on the phone. “OK, I’ll be over there in a second,” Obama said working the room.
“Hello, Richard, are you going to vote? … OK, you’ve got to make sure to get everyone out.” He told a voter named Pam, “We just think right now what this country needs is some change, especially on the economy.”
He talked to another voter about his plan to make college more affordable. A volunteer said he had a voter named Michelle on the phone. “Michelle? I’m used to talking to girls named Michelle.” “Michelle, I hope I can count on your vote,” he said.
This is all symbolic campaigning, of course. The candidate is not actually trying to persuade individual voters by talking about changing the economy.
Instead, the conversation is a simulacra created and presented to reach other voters — a symbolic representation of voter interaction designed to affect TV audiences elsewhere.
It’s probably bad luck to quote Baudrillard on Election Day, but these “b-roll” photo ops are one of those times when the simluation of reality trumps the actual reality. ”The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth — it is the truth which conceals that there is none.” It’s true, even if you won’t find that in a pool report.