Feature

Beer, or wine?

Sen. John Kerry endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Joe Klein in Time.com, but the backing of another "wine-track" politician is the "kiss-of-death." Obama's appeal to elite, wine-swilling Democrats c

What happened
Sen. John Kerry endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, giving him a boost after being upset by Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. (The Boston Globe, free registration)

What the commetators said
Endorsements from “wine-track” politicians like Kerry and Bill Bradley are the “kiss-of-death” for Obama, said Joe Klein in his Time.com blog. “The endorsement Obama really needs is John Edwards, whose continued presence in the race is preventing a true referendum between the likely nominees.”

Obama already appeals to “the white wine crowd,” said Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal. He’s the darling of “college towns and gentrified neighborhoods.” But Hillary Clinton appeals to the blue-collar beer drinkers, and that’s why she won in New Hampshire. “there are more beer drinkers than wine swillers in the Democratic Party.”

Democratic wine-trackers never win, said Jonathan Stein in a Mother Jones blog. If anyone can defy history and win South Carolina with a glass of Chardonnay in his hand, it’s Obama—with his unprecedented support from young voters, independents, and African Americans. But wine-sipping Democrats from Adlai Stevenson to Gary Hart to Bradley, and Kerry have “all lost in either the primary or the general.”

The trouble with that logic is that Kerry, whatever his personal tastes, is not a wine-tracker, said Josh Patashnik in The New Republic Online. Sure, he windsurfs, and his endorsement may well prove “worthless.” But a wine-tracker isn’t a rich Democrat who loses elections. It’s someone who appeals to upscale voters. The beer-track candidate is the one who does “disproportionately well among blue-collar, high-school educated Democrats,” and in 2004 that was Kerry.

The whole beer vs. wine question is beside the point, said The Nation, via Yahoo, in an editorial. “In crude political terms, Obama won the "wine track" and lost the "beer track." That didn't happen in Iowa.” If Obama wants to win the nomination, “he needs both the wine-sippers and the beer-drinkers in the party on his side.”

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