Clinton Has Edge Coming Out of Super Tuesday
Sen. Barack Obama has certain advantages. He won more contests than Clinton by taking more primaries and caucuses in the Midwest, South and even the Rocky Mountain west. And he has enough financial support to advertise heavily in oncoming primaries. But one of those is Texas, which like California has a large Latino vote, and another is Ohio, which contains many of the white working class communities which have voted for Clinton in the northeast.
Obama has been faring well in many suburban neighborhoods. He won Connecticut, and in California, he apparently won most white votes. But the pattern of Obama support indicates that beyond the black community he is polling from the same liberal groups that supported Sen. Eugene McCarthy against Sen. Hubert Humphrey back in 1968. That insurgent campaign fell short, but Humphrey ended up narrowly losing the election.
The same thing could conveivably happen to Clinton. But with the war issue and the economy working the Democrats' way, unlike 1968, it probably won't. I think right now, she has to be favored to win it all in November, despite a feeling, probably accurate, that she represents a Clinton power grab and might be unable to keep her husband at bay in the White House.
Look at the map, county-by-county in California, and Obama carried the most liberal counties--San Francisco, Alameda, the north coast, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, even Sacramento and San Joaquin, and a few scattered counties elsewhere. At this moment, he is leading in 18 of the state's 58 counties, and, as 356,000 votes cast by mail most recently are counted, his percentage is creeping up. But where there were the largest Latino populations, he lost about two to one, and among the state's Asians he lost nearly three to one. This, as the Washington Post said this morning, shows a racial divide that may impede an African-American candidate.
Could Obama cut further into these communities? I tend to doubt it in the primaries, although it might have been wiser to hold the big Winfrey-Kennedy rally in East Los Angeles than at UCLA, even if the crowd had not been so rapturous.
Obama may fare better in the next primaries in the Mid-Atlantic states. He certainly will win Washington, D.C. , Maryland and Virginia, all with large black populations. And the disclosure today that the Clintons have loaned themselves $5 million and that their staff is going unpaid, there is a faint aroma of Rudolph Giuliani about the Clinton campaign. Meanwhile, Obama is raking in money on the Internet, $3.7 million in the first 24 hours after Super Tuesday, and he may be able to far outspend her in the days ahead.
Another whiff of trouble for Clinton: She spoke before Obama did on Tuesday, although that might have been to try to take advantage of her victories in New York and New Jersey.
Now, looking forward, Ohio is going to be a battleground. Obama cannot possibly come to the convention a viable candidate without Ohio. If he has the edge in financing, he now has to invest a great deal of his money there, and campaign in the state intensively.
Does Clinton carry baggage?. Certainly her husband, and a certain indecisiveness which has shown up occasionally in the Senate and on the campaign trail. Onama may have the edge on the war issue, but she has the edge on the economy, and it now appears that between now and the convention, the economy may dominate.
There's always the chance of something unexpected happening. Maybe, Obama can make something out of the Clintons' refusal to release their White House records. But I'd think Obama may be a little reluctant to pull out all the stops against Clinton, for fear of splitting the party in the fall, and out of regard for his own future. If he doesn't burn all his bridges now, he may be able to come back in four or eight years, the way Sen. John McCain has on the Republican side.
McCain has problems. He is anathema to many on the far right in the Republican race. But due to a certain obnoxiousness on the part of former Gov. Mitt Romney, and the presence of a second conservative candidate, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who seems better disposed to McCain, McCain looks like he will prevail this time on the Republican side, despite his age.
The same thing with Obama. Even if he loses this time, he may be able to work his areas of weakness and do better in them in the future. It is always possible Clinton might lose in November, or be a horribly divisive president, if she is elected. She reminds me of something Richard Nixon once said to me about President Lyndon Johnson: "He won't wear well." The same thing could be true of Clinton.
I think my choice for dumbest statement of the day has to be the ridiculous Howard Dean's call for an "arrangement" between Hillary and Obama to avoid a "brokered" convention. No such thing is possible going in to the convention, nor would it be desirable. After the convention begins, anything in the way of brokering is certainly to be accepted.
Politico suggests today that there would be public revulsion if Obama were to go into the convention with a lead in delegates and then lose the nomination because most of the super-delegates went Clinton's way. But I think many super-del;egates would come his way, if he were to have a lead. Already, there are signs the Democratic Establishment has lost some of the confidence it once had in Clinton.
Labels: Presidential campaigning