The network spin doctors are calling it for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Time of death: 1:15 a.m. EST (May 7, 2008).
But let's really think about this. Last night, Barack Obama took North Carolina, as he knew he would. The demographic there is largely African American and his victory percentile among African Americans is between 80 and 90. Hillary Clinton, however, took Indiana, as Obama had hoped HE would. Obama had predicted a 7-point win, but lost by less than two. The punditry is talking this morning about Obama's late night surge, but it wasn't enough to put him over the edge and at the end of the day, although no one is saying it, Indiana should be considered a crushing loss for Obama.
His failure to sew up Indiana should tell him AND American voters something, especially if he goes on to win the nomination. For one thing, Obama's loss in Indiana carries much more weight than his victory in North Carolina. Obama isn't doing well in states bordering his home-state -- areas where people should know him better than they do in other areas of the country. There's a reason, for example, Clinton did well in Pennsylvania: people in Pennsylvania are familiar with her and therefore identify with her. The same, it seems, cannot be said of Obama and his neighboring states.
If Obama is having trouble locking up the nomination this far into the Democratic process, what's going to happen in the fall when he's facing a much more formidable opponent? Most political observers will tell you that voter turnout is always high and optimistic in presidential primaries, but when the hibernating voters wake from their four-year slumber to cast their ballots in the general election, the true voice of the American people is heard.
Here's the rub: historically, African American voters (Obama's base) make up a much larger portion of the primary profile than they do in the general election. With a sea of independent voters, crossover voters and party-affiliated voters who didn't vote in the primary, the results in November could be vastly different than what the numbers in the primaries would lead one to predict. Perhaps as a nominee Obama could tap into that vast heretofore unspoken voting block of registered non-voting African Americans, but does the Democratic party really want to gamble all their chips on it?
Obama people have been yelling that John McCain doesn't want to face Barack Obama in the fall because he's more formidable than Clinton. I would disagree. As I see it, Clinton's people would be far less likely to support him after this bitter primary battle than Obama's people would be to support her. If the primary is decided on the floor of the Democratic National Convention and Obama is the winner, that could be enough to split the party and force a large portion of its disenfranchised voters to stay home -- and that would spell defeat for the Democratic nominee.
Either way, Democrats are facing serious unity problems, and as they work to iron them out, conservatives everywhere are quietly watching and waiting for the real fight to begin.
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