From Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray at The Washington Post:
Former vice president Al Gore's pronouncement that he is likely to endorse one of the Democratic candidates for president before the primary season is over has set off a slew of speculation about who his choice might be.But there's one candidate that almost certainly won't be invited to this dance:
Truth is, the courting of the "Goreacle" began many months ago. Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Gore huddled in Nashville in December, and Gore has also met with former senator John Edwards (N.C.). Gore and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) conferred as recently as last week.
It seems safe to predict that Gore will not be endorsing the bid of the senator from New York. A more open question might be whether he would throw his support to Obama -- the only candidate in the top-tier who, like Gore, opposed the war in Iraq from the start -- or another surging contender at a critical moment to try to derail Hillary Clinton's quest for the nomination.Al Gore is no political neophyte: he knows that for an endorsement to have any effect and for it to obtain any influence for the endorser, it must go to a candidate that needs it and can win with it. All of the Democratic hopefuls need Gore's endorsement to beat Hillary Clinton, but realistically only two candidates have the ability to take Gore's endorsement and win with it: Barack Obama and John Edwards. John Edwards is a good man, I supported him in 2004 and if he gets the nomination next year I will happily campaign for him, but the man of the moment is Barack Obama.
Obama has shown himself to be an exceptionally talented fund raiser, even without federal lobbyist money. Yesterday's event with Obama and Oprah Winfrey is estimated to have brought in more than $3,000,000. Obama has the financial resources to make his run and take the fight to Hillary Clinton and, later, to the Republican nominee in November 2008.
There is another factor in Obama's favor, something that I think is key, an X-factor that I haven't seen many commentators talking about: new primary voters. Anyone who has been to an Obama event in the last couple of years, and I've been to two, knows what I am talking about. People, thousands of ordinary people, will go far out of their way to see and hear Barack Obama speak. Obama gets ordinary Americans excited, and he does it by the tens of thousands.
Right now, news agencies are polling likely Democratic voters and they are seeing a great deal of support for Hillary Clinton. But the voters they are polling are likely established Democrats who voted in the 2000 and 2004 primaries. I think that next year will see a significant influx of new Democratic primary voters and most of these new voters will be coming out to support Barack Obama.
Those of us who were in Virginia last year and worked on Jim Webb's primary against Harris Miller understand how this works. Remember, Harris Miller had more or less locked up every Democratic committee in Virginia: it didn't matter because the change voters, many of whom had never voted in a Democratic primary before, came out to push Webb over the top. I believe that the current presidential primary will play out according to a similar script.
I predict that Barack Obama will receive the endorsement of Al Gore and many other prominent Democrats, including many of the current candidates as they drop out, and when the various primary days arrive early next year, the change voters will come out strongly for Obama, putting him over the top.