Stating the ObviousEarlier this week, when the outcome in North Carolina and Indiana was still a topic of some debate, Hillary Clinton seems to have created no small stir among Democratic superdelegates because she stated the obvious. From Tim Russert:
Msnbc: Earlier this week, referring to
Barack Obama and the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, Hillary Clinton said,
“Whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me and in
independents I was running even with him and doing even better with
Democratic-leaning independents I have a much broader base to build a winning
Is she playing the race card?
Russert: It is interesting. One undeclared superdelegate from North Carolina said it was driving a wedge between the races in the party.
There are two ways to look at this. One is, obviously, Barack Obama is going to need a higher percentage of the white vote against John McCain than he’s been getting against Hillary Clinton. But if Hillary Clinton was the nominee, she would to need to win African Americans 90 to 10 in order to carry states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and
It is an unfortunate reality that the polls and all of the data are telling us that white working-class people don't support Barack Obama and they can't identify with him, but it is the hard truth. Some will say that this is merely because of Barack Obama's race. There are some people out there who are discarding Obama because of his race-I've met some of these folks and I will be the first to admit that they do exist. Further, race alone is the worst possible reason to disregard a candidate-but it inevitably will happen with, as the polls suggest, about one in ten voters.
The reason working class whites are not supporting Obama is because he cannot make the claim that he understands anything about them. He seems distant from the world of the average American blue-collar man. Barack Obama knows little, for example, of many East Tennesseans in Upper East Tennessee: Blue collar (or from a working-class background), Scots-Irish, church-going, and often from a clannish family culture that really goes back to the British Isles-a way of life Obama can't identify with even in the most remote terms.
Barack Obama is now getting 85-90% of the black vote (now that blacks realize his candidacy is "for real"), and with those kinds of numbers it is very difficult to make the case that African-American voters are not voting for Obama primarily because of his race (you can't really blame them) since he is the first black man to run a campaign with a real shot at the presidency. Hence, this part of Barack Obama's constituency is a given-it is built-in.
What all of this means is that Barack Obama's average "won" supporter is young, white, upper-middle or even upper-class, college educated, and from a moderately well-off background. If the typical Obama supporter doesn't encapsulate all of the above-mentioned categories, he or she is likely to be a part of at least two or more of those sub-groups.
General Elections are not won with that kind of constituency base. The Democrats' reluctance to deal with the issue merely because doing so means they are going to have to confront the sub-issue of race will be their undoing as a party. Some liberals and Democrats think all of Obama's troubles will be over if he just runs Hillary Clinton on the ticket with him-but it isn't likely to be that simple:
Msnbc: Harold Ford and other Democrats are saying
they’d love to see and are doing everything they can to encourage a ticket that
is Obama-Clinton. Is that realistic?
Russert: Most campaign strategists I talk to think
it would be difficult, because of the intensity of the campaign. Now,
other candidates have overcome that – John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan and former President George Bush.
But look at the Electoral College map. If Barack Obama becomes the
official nominee, he wants to win states like Colorado and Virginia and North
Carolina because states like Florida and Ohio have been elusive for the
Democrats. So the question is would Clinton’s presence on the ticket help
him in those kind of swing states? Many Democrats have told me it might
make it more difficult.
Indeed, the Clintons aren't exactly popular among voters in those States the Democrats know that they desperately need to win. Some people who are proposing a joint ticket forget that the Gerneral Election will bring voters to the polls who did not vote in the Democratic primaries, and the majority of November voters are likely not to have done so. The biggest block of voters the Democrats need to win in November do not like Barack Obama, and many others who have not yet voted are skiddish about Obama and despise the Clintons.
This election is John McCain's to lose. If Barack Obama has one consolation in all of this, it is that McCain has so far shown himself a master at screwing over his own campaign. His base dislikes him, and he has refused to use any serious political advantages which both Obama and Clinton have handed him on a silver platter. If McCain loses, it will not be because Obama defeats him, but because he will have beaten himself.