Saturday, May 10, 2008

Race for the White House- 5/10/08

A week ago, few would have been surprised by a Tuesday result which saw Barack Obama win the North Carolina primary while Hillary Clinton won the Indiana primary. However, the fact that Obama won the Tar Heel State by a wider than expected margin, and Hillary Clinton won the Hoosier State by a smaller than expected margin have produced the sudden and signifcant impact of just about everyone in the political world reaching the conclusion that the Democrat nomination is now all but Obama's and that Clinton will be forced from the race in pretty short order and the general election between Obama and John McCain will finally begin.

While some polls were pretty accurate in predicting the results in these two states, most did underestimate Obama's support in both states to an extent and the somewhat surprise factor of a strong night for him (considering how he has underperformed many polls in other states) set the stage as far as exceding expectations. Obama was able to benefit from a very strong level of support from African-Americans where they made up a significant portion of the electorate, althoug he once again struggled with white voters. In Indiana, African-Americans also made up a perhaps larger than expected portion of the electorate. The fact that he fell two points short, despite outspending Clinton by more than 2-1, and despite the fact that Indiana borders his home state of Illinois and that Obama had many field operatives in the state did not take away from the fact that after big losses in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania, just keeping the network anchors and everyone else up late before the state was finally called for Clinton was significant.

To be brief here, the days since the Tuesday primary have involved several superdelegates coming out in favor of Obama, to the extent where he now leads in that category for the first time. Prominent Clinton supporters, such as George McGovern have now switched to Obama and called for Hillary to exit the race in a spirit of party unity. For her part, Clinton insists she is pushing forward full steam ahead, but she trails not only in delegates, but heavily in money as well. While she is expected to easily win the West Virginia primary on Tuesday and Kentucky the week after, many expect Obama to carry Oregon on May 20, and for him to declare victory at that point. The calls for Hillary Clinton to exit the race are expected to only get louder and many think she will not want to harm the party's chances (at least not in an open manner) or her own political future by prolonging things. Others believe she will stay in at least until after the final contests in early June and then hope for some kind of resolution involving the Florida and Michigan delegations.

Still others hope, she will take the fight all the way to the convention in late August, where she would try to appeal to superdelegates as the more electable candidate against John McCain, which is what most polls currently show nationally and in several key swing states. It is clear though that Clinton now has practically no chance of surpassing Obama among pledged delegates and the amount of superdelegates expected to eventually come out in his favor would seemingly clinch the nomination. Hillary is basically left hoping for an Obama gaffe or controversy to raise questions about his electability, particularly as it relates to working-class white voters, who have made up the core of Clinton's primary support, and whom many Democrats fear could defect to the John McCain campaign in November. Already, Clinton has made some pretty bold statements in which she has portayed herself as the candidate of "white Americans", in some rhetoric that could cause further racial and class divisions in a primary contest that has seen much of it already.

So for now at least, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, along with their two outspoken and controversial spouses, both of whom could prove to be a campaign headache on any given day, continue their fight for the nomination. The odds clearly now favor Obama and if Hillary Clinton wishes to be on the ballot in November, she may be left in a position of trying to strike a deal with Obama where he would make her his runningmate. Some media outlets have reported she is interested and talks may already be underway, while other sources indicate that Obama and his supporters would never go along with such a plan.

In the meantime, the likely general election campaign between Obama and McCain has heated up over the past week rhetorically with more discussion of a Hamas endorsement of Obama, perceived barbs about McCain's age, and allegations of hypocrisy and negative campaigning. Those who believe that an Obama-McCain election would be extremely civil and high-minded are probably not going to be treated to what they expect, as the extremely high-stakes election is believed to be very close.

Every little gaffe or slip-up is likely to be receive immense attention, as happened several weeks back when McCain confused the words Sunni with Shiite. For his part, an apparently tired (or focused on Teresa Heinz and her ketchup) Obama today claimed that he has campaigned in 57 states. Most people will laugh off that mistake, but it would have been a bigger story if the 71 year old McCain had mispoke in that way. But for now, Republicans will poke a little fun about the Democrat front-runner perhaps "losing his bearings."


At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservative Democrat said:

American Idol 2008 Final 3 update:

Stick a fork in Syesha, she's DONE after tonight and the African American vote will NOT save her.

Look for David Cook to win the Idol crown over the fading Archuleta, who will have problems in the Deep South due to being a MORMON.


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