Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama and NASCAR

First there was talk of presidential candidate Barack Obama possibly attending, even campaigning at, a NASCAR race. Twitter was buzzing about it for a while. Some Twitter folks said it would be pandering to the guns and Bibles guys, others said it would be a smart tactic and Obama should invade McCain's turf.

"Barack Obama may campaign at a NASCAR event" (Scott Martelle, LA Times "Top of the Ticket" Blog)


Bill Clinton tried that tack in September 1992, campaigning at the Southern 500 Stock Car race in Darlington, S.C., but drew jeers and catcalls and insults about his lack of Vietnam War service. That was the year Richard Petty was retiring, and the staunch Republican and racing icon told track officials he wouldn't drive the pace car -- part of his retirement-year sendoff -- if Clinton was in the parade.

Clinton lost South Carolina by 8 points. And more recently George W. Bush actively courted NASCAR fans -- getting a much better reception.


Now the Huffington Post states that the Obama campaign may sponsor a car in NASCAR.

"Obama to Sponsor Car at NASCAR Race"

[QUOTE] has learned that for the first time in history, a major presidential candidate may sponsor a race car in NASCAR's premier series. According to sources, Barack Obama's campaign is in talks to become the primary sponsor of BAM Racing's No. 49 Sprint Cup car for the Pocono race on August 3. Details of the agreement are expected to be worked out over the coming days.


Here's the source of the story that Huffington Post links to, from Sports Illustrated:

"Presidential candidate Obama to sponsor Cup car at Pocono race"

Yahoo News "Obama in talks to sponsor car in NASCAR race"

Michelle Malkin: "Obama tries to buy the NASCAR vote"

Here's what Auto Racing Daily had to say in their article "Will Barack Obama attend a NASCAR race?":


"It is no secret the majority of working-class voters in the south are dissatisfied with the current course of the Republican-led country. As of this week, gas prices are officially $3.98 a gallon. The percentage of home foreclosures is at a 20-year high.

The reason we went into Iraq was because of weapons of mass destruction, there were none, and we still have no plan to leave. The few billion dollars in reconstruction loans for New Orleans have been caught up in red tape, while $9 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq was given to American contractors without conditions, never spent, and now can’t be found.

George W. Bush can’t go near a NASCAR race ever since the 2004 4th of July Daytona Pepsi 400 race with his drive in the pace car and then dramatic exit in Air Force One from the runway behind the track.

At that time, his approval ratings due to bungling the Iraq war had not yet tanked and the financial crisis and high gas prices were still on the horizon. If he were to attend a NASCAR race now, he would undoubtedly be booed on national TV and anti-war protesters would line his entrance route. His approval ratings are at an all-time low and currently at the lowest point ever measured for a U.S. president. Over 80% of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction."


So we have opinions flying all over the place. Once again, NASCAR is having an impact in American society, including presidential politics. Many timely and provocative questions have arisen.

Has the NASCAR fan base shifted more to the center? Does the political orientation of NASCAR fans depend on what part of the country the race is in?

If Obama campaigns, or makes a media-hyped appearance, at a NASCAR race, what could John McCain do in response?

This is not a political blog. We'll never express or debate any political point of view. Political beliefs are a very private matter, and we respect each person's conscience. Our clients and friends have widely varied beliefs.

Having said that, we feel this particular issue is relevant. Obama's planned attendance at a NASCAR race is in the news. People are talking about it. We just want to discuss how political issues, in general, have impact on the realm of motorsports.

Leaving aside who you plan to vote for, which is not our concern, what do you think about the political use of racing events? Is it a good idea, or is it too risky?

What's your opinion?

1 comment:

Ike said...

I don't think it's a good idea. Given the little-to-zero political advertising that exists in racing, it would be too easy to frame it as pandering.

And you do need to reconfigure your political compass when it comes to NASCAR. The crowds and the fanbase are WAY more upscale than they were when Petty was being petty in 1992.

*IF* Obama goes through with the sponsorship, and *IF* he is booed, it will be for entirely different reasons. Mostly because the crowd is no longer made of beer-swilling reactionary bible-thumping rednecks, but because a significant percentage of those in the stands (and the skyboxes) will be within income ranges that Obama has promised tax increases.

The resistance Obama will get from a NASCAR appearance will come from informed policy -- but will be portrayed by the media as reactionary racism.

(on second thought, it might just be in his best interest to let the media play their stereotypes...)