Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

The $h1t hath it the fan

Well the Wright story has hit now I think we can all agree hit the fan. Wright's comments on Monday have gone beyond what any reasonable person can defend. From insinuating that the United States' government deployed the AIDS virus to "destroy colored people" to having Louis Farrakhan's groupies be his security people, the appearance was clearly meant to hurt Obama. The reason? I don't know, but it could be as some Obama staffers have said privately that when Obama becomes president no longer can preachers preach that the government is "keeping down the black man." How much damage did Wright inflict on Obama? Before we address the issue, its necessary to realize that Obama held a quick (and clearly not very wise) press conference on Monday evening. During that conference, Obama was significantly less "outraged". Now Obama either didn't know the truth then (in which case he should have as Tom Bevan of RCP tells it), or he is playing politics now. What I do know is that what Wright said on Monday was the same angry man we saw during those taped sermons. The content was certainly different, but the tone was one in the same. I for one can separate Obama and Wright. They are two different people, and I like to take people at their word. That said, Obama needs white voters to win this nomination.

Some have suggested that this nomination fight is over. Obama is running out the clock. It is true that Obama will unless some unbelievable collapse occurs win the most pledged delegates. The problem is that the nomination is not decided on pledged delegates. Superdelegates have the ultimate say. They have three choices:go with the pledged delegate winner, go with the popular vote winner, or go with the most electable candidate. Option 1 is Obama. Option's 2 and 3 are more complicated. The answer to question 3 is impossible to answer (it maybe Obama, maybe Clinton depending on what polls you look at and which states). Option 3 is the most fascinating. Do we look at all states/commonwealths/territories (including Michigan and Florida) that have voted. Do we only look at the sanctioned primaries/caucuses (no Florida or Michigan). Do we look at only those primaries/caucuses where both candidates were on the ballot (include Florida, but not Michigan).

I don't pretend to know the answer.

What I do know is that Clinton will probably win Indiana at this point. The "more accurate" pollsters have her up in the state, and the polling average has her up. This was all before Wright stuff hit the fan. This will give her a key to continue on in the primary process. She'll get to go to more favorable territory in West Virginia the following week (a state where she is likely to break 60%). Such a victory does not in anyway greatly expand her chances at winning the nomination.

North Carolina is a state that Obama is favored to win. The state's democratic electorate is 1/3 African American. Obama will carry that constituency 9 to 1. Clinton needs to hold Obama to 30% of the white vote to win the state. There have been only a few states where that has happened (they have all be in the deep south). North Carolina is not a "deep southern" state. Its more Virginian than Mississippian. But Clinton has closed the gap in the polls (a poll out today had the race at 5 points with Obama winning only 30% of the white vote). She's got the governor who is a Hank Hill (King of the Hill) Democrat. Do you really think he would endorse someone who thought couldn't win primary (maybe)? He did make a comment today that Clinton was strong and he used the word pansy. I don't see it as a huge deal (see girle men and Arnold S Gov. of California).

If Clinton ever pulled out North Carolina, it would guarantee (unless something happens, which it can) a popular vote victory when Florida is included. More than that, I personally believe that Obama would be deemed unelectable (can't win blue collar whites). To lose a state that he would have won by 15 points two weeks ago.

Now, I believe Obama will win the state by a 6-8 point margin. But if he doesn't, Clinton's foot isn't just in the door, her entire body is.

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