Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chesapeake Primaries and Beyond

As we go into today's primaries, more and more is becoming apparent about the most interesting Democratic primary in a generation. Look for Obama to win handily in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as black voters make up a large percentage of voters in this region.

Hillary Clinton is banking on a comeback in March and April, in the states of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, all of which look to be much more sympathetic to her candidacy than the mid-Atlantic region.

Obama has one of the least likely coalitions imaginable, constructed of both the richest and the poorest that the Democratic Party has to offer. Clinton,on the other hand, has a much more traditional coalition based upon feminists, Hispanics, union-members and working class whites, especially Catholics.

Perhaps most diappointing of all for those of us who see American support for Obama as a sign of change is the failure of Catholics to support Obama. Catholics areas such as Boston, Pittsburgh and Chicago have historically been noted for their extreme racism, but one always hopes for attitudes to change. Unfortunately, according to the data we have, they apparently have not. What we don't know is whether this pattern will carry so far as to lead such voters to cross party lines in the fall, for the presumably Catholic, McCain.

While Clinton probably will do better in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, it is unlikely to be enough of an improvement to give her the delegates she needs for the nomination. These three states all have double the number of African-Americans per capita that California and Massachusetts had, not to mention that Texas has an open primary system likely to favor Obama. Clinton will benefit from the larger number of Catholics and union members in these states, but it probably will not be enough to give her the lead.

At that point, in spite of all the horror scenarios, it is difficult to envision seeing the Democratic Party give Clinton the nod via Super Delegates, because to do so would virtually ensure defeat in the fall general election, as it would alienate the independent and black voters that the party desperately needs to win in November.

For blacks, it could be the catalyst to finally severe their unswerving support for a party that always promises them so much, while delivering so little. I just don't think that Bill and Hillary could get away with what Walter Mondale pulled in 1984, given the open media we have now and the racial implications that were not in play in 1984.

What Hillary would do if she were smart, is to stand down and support Obama in the name of party unity. Were she to do so, she and Bill would immediately reclaim the love and admiration of blacks across the nation. Furthermore, should Obama lose, she would be well positioned to run in four years, when she would be only 64, or to receive a prominent cabinent position should he win. At this point, the Clinton's standing among many Democrats has plunged; such a pro-active out-of-the-box reversal could cement her party power for years to come.



Marshall said...

It'll be interesting that if Obama continues to win most of the remaining contests whether that momentum will continue to affect superdelegates (i.e. John Lewis), particularly those in districts that he won handily. Thus it still appears possible, albeit unlikely, that he could accrue a majority of delegates if he wins a strong majority of the remaining pledged and enough superdelegates follow.

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

Unfortunately, right now, it doesn't look good. The democrats have a penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.