He did exactly what he’s done throughout the campaign: connected with people through speech. That habit, or skill, is part of why people drew the Obama comparison. But there’s a fine line between emulation and mimicry, and if voters pick up the wrong signals, candidates risk being viewed as inauthentic. Such was the common criticism of Buttigieg when he delivered lines on the campaign trail that mirrored those of Obama. At one point, he was even accused of plagiarizing the former president. With nearly two-thirds of voters believing that Donald Trump will win reelection, according to a CBS News poll, Democrats are still trying to find a way to viscerally connect with voters. “What Barack Obama figured out very early on in his career is that when you have people who are in despair, that have been beaten by life or circumstance or policy makers or any level of unfairness, they want hope,” Anton Gunn, Obama’s 2008 South Carolina political director, told me. “And so you have to speak to that.” Several candidates have tried…

The country has changed since 2008, and even if the Obama-esque way of talking to voters—appealing to hope and unity—connects with some Americans, will it ever be able to connect with enough for Democrats to win the sorts of electoral victories Obama did? Robert Lehrman, a former speechwriter for Al Gore, told me that he believes people tired of Obama’s speeches as early as 2012. “Just like a song doesn’t sit at the top of the charts forever, people fell out of love with hearing the same platitudes,” Lehrman said.