Obama Does Secure the Backing of the Culinary Workers(?)
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 07:35:47 AM EST
It's still not as strongly sourced as it could be, but this morning a couple of the largest establishment media organizations -- The New York Times and ABC News -- seem to have the powerful Culinary Workers Union in Nevada backing Barack Obama in the state's upcoming caucuses. First The Times:
After suffering a setback in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Senate Barack Obama will get some good news at 11 a.m. today, eastern time, when Unite Here, the union representing 460,000 apparel, laundry, hotel and restaurant workers, announces that it is endorsing him, a union official said.
The union will make the announcement simultaneously at its New York headquarters and in Las Vegas, where its local, Culinary Local 226, representing more than 60,000 casino, hotel and restaurant workers, is by far the largest and most politically potent union in Nevada.
With its announcement, Unite Here will become the first national union to back Mr. Obama. Its leaders hope to help put him over the top in the Nevada caucuses on Jan. 19 and give him new momentum.
Despite losing Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, Sen. Barack Obama secured the endorsement of the Culinary Workers union.
The endorsement of the 60,000-member Culinary Workers union is seen as the biggest get in Nevada, a state which votes Jan. 19.
The backing of the 60,000-member union is seen as important because the state's Democratic Party is only expecting 40,000 Democrats to participate in the caucuses.
Not much to add to these stories except that, in the case that they do pan out as expected (and it seems from the writing that the decision has been made, not that it will be made), Nevada would be in play for Barack Obama in a way that I never before thought it would be. Coupled with the SEIU endorsement from the state, the backing of the culinary workers makes Obama more competitive than he previously was; polling has indicated that although Obama is seemingly on an upward trend in Nevada, he still trails (or rather trailed as of December when the last polling on the race was in the field) Clinton by more than 20 points.
This provides Obama with a real opportunity -- but also presents a real risk. Going into a contest in which he was trailing 20 points according to polling sets a pretty low bar, but going into election day with the backing of some of the most powerful unions in the state significantly raises expectations. Obama might not need a win now in Nevada, but with the backing of SEIU and seemingly also of Unite Here/the culinary workers, it would be awfully dampening to his momentum heading into South Carolina the following week were he to get defeated by a hefty margin. At the same time, if these two unions can help propel him to a victory, a win in South Carolina seven days later could be made that much easier (unless South Carolina does to Nevada what New Hampshire did to Iowa in bucking the trend of the previous state).
Update [2008-1-9 12:37:31 by Jonathan Singer]: FWIW, the Obama campaign is trumpeting the endorsement...
Update [2008-1-9 14:27:39 by Jonathan Singer]: The Associated Press has the story now, too, so it looks like this is something that has in fact happened.