Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Good News/Bad News for Obama in March 4 Primaries


The good news for Obama is that despite losing three of the four primaries last night he still maintains the lead in the overall delegate count for the nomination. The bad news is that the voters in the next big primary on April 22 in Pennsylvania are probably going to vote for Clinton largely because of the legendary and widespread racism among white voters in that state. Just two weeks ago their own Governor Ed Rendell who is a big supporter of Clinton publicly said that he didn't think that "most white voters in [his] state were ready to vote for a black man" (for which Rendell was justly and highly criticized and reprimanded by the Democratic National Committee and some of the media but of course just because what he said was blatantly racist and inappropriate doesn't make it untrue) The way it stands now (and let's assume Hillary wins in Pennsylvania on April 22) Obama and Clinton would be in an almost deadheat tie (with Obama still slightly ahead in delegates but with still not quite enough delegates overall to seal the nomination). This would then mean that both candidates would go into the summer fighting tooth and nail for the remaining unpledged "superdelegates" support and that in August the Democratic Party would be locked into their worst political nightmare--a brokered convention.

If that is the case (and let us all really hope and pray it's not) highly secretive and ruthless backroom "deals" will be made by the candidates--especially the Clintons who are not only by far the most experienced in these matters, but clearly the most ruthless and Machiavellian as well. Already the Clintons have started to use far more negative campaigning against Obama as they clearly did in Ohio and Texas over the past couple weeks and it's guaranteed this will not only continue but become even worse over the next couple months. The Clintons are a lot like the vicious Republican strategist and campaign mastermind Karl Rove in their unrestrained no-holds-barred scorched earth approach to running campaigns. It's one of many things about the Clintons ('Billary' indeed!) that makes the Clintons such an utterly repugnant and alienating political force for many (including me)...

The bottomline conclusions to be drawn from last night's primaries are the following:

1) The Latino vote continues to be by far THE MAJOR PROBLEM for Obama and it has now been the absolutely deciding factor in four major primary states so far --California, New York, Nevada, and Texas--and it's crystal clear to me as it is to many other political observers across the country that much if not most of this vote is fueled by pervasive Latino racism against a black candidate. In fact if only 40-45% of Latino voters had voted for Obama in these primary races HE WOULD HAVE EASILY ALREADY WON THE DP NOMINATION BY NOW. For example Hillary only beat Obama by a mere 3 percentage points in the Texas primary last night. Since Latino voters there make up nearly 50% of all DP primary voters in the state it's obvious why Obama lost to Clinton in Texas. It's already been reported on a great deal this primary season that the Latino vote has often been as much as 75-80% for Clinton vs. Obama which is a phenomenal and glaring stat and there has been quite a few disturbing racially-tinged remarks by leading Latino politicians in all four of these states about Obama's ethnicity. It's a recurring problem and it indicates a very serious crisis within the national Democratic Party as well as in the rest of the country. I realize that a lot of people simply don't want to hear it or want to PRETEND that it's not the case but the overwhelming evidence of this anti-Obama sentiment being fueled in a systematic way by racist attitudes is UNDENIABLE . When one considers that a larger percentage of Latino voters generally have voted against Obama than WHITE MEN in all the DP primaries (Obama has consistently lost 65-75% of the total national Latino vote thus far) clearly there is a national political vendetta against Obama that has nothing whatsoever to do with Obama's actual record vis-a-vis the national Latino community which is actually quite good in support of issues Latino voters specifically care about. I've always maintained that if Obama loses to Clinton it will ultimately be because racism trumps even sexism in any political contest involving a black male candidate and a white female. However even I didn't think that it would ultimately be largely because of LATINO RACISM instead of the historical white variety. It just reaffirms the grim perspective that I share with many black people that despite the fact that we collectively will support any and all candidates regardless of their racial background (and have so many times throughout our history--just look at the 9-1 support of all African American voters for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 for starters!) the favor is very rarely returned or extended to qualified black candidates by whites, Latinos, and Asians--especially in state and national elections. IT'S A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW AND ALL THAT BUT IT'S TRUE. That's the real ongoing power of racism and the doctrine of white supremacy in this society and I see no hard evidence that it is changing significantly--even among many people-of-color...

2) IF and I stress IF Hillary wins the DP nomination by blatant arm twisting, ruthless backdoor deals and negative campaigning tactics (as seems likely in her case) and the DP convention is brokered in August I predict that the Democratic Party will be so divided and so bitterly split along racial, class, and gender lines that John McCain and the notorious Republican Party will win their 8th out of the last 11 national elections for the Presidency since 1968 which would mean the virulently rightwing Republicans would have won a horrifying 72% of ALL the presidential elections of the past 40 years!

Even worse I further predict that IF Hillary somehow pulls off the Democratic Party nomination SHE WILL LOSE TO MCCAIN ANYWAY because of three major factors--1) WHITE MALE VOTERS -- 65% of whom voted for George Bush in 2004 across both political party and class lines!; 2) INDEPENDENT VOTERS--especially younger voters--many of whom have voted for Obama and will to a certain degree either sit out the election in disgust at Clinton and/or vote Republican, and 3) A SMALLER TURNOUT AND THUS LOWER VOTE TOTAL AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS--ESPECIALLY YOUNGER and even middle aged black voters for Obama who will be deeply angry and alienated from the process thus seriously decreasing the number of votes cast by African Americans-- a very important and absolutely necessary voting bloc that NO Democratic Party candidate can afford to lose. It's called ARITHMETIC folks and not even the "Latinos for Hillary" will be mathematically capable of making up the difference...In other words IMO it's now either "OBAMA OR NOTHING" for both the Democratic Party and this country... Stay tuned...


March 5, 2008

Big Wins for Clinton in Texas and Ohio; McCain Clinches Race as Foe Concedes


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Senator Barack Obama in the Ohio and Texas primaries on Tuesday, ending a string of defeats and giving her a chance to soldier on in the Democratic presidential race.

Mrs. Clinton also won Rhode Island, while Mr. Obama won in Vermont. The primary contest in Texas was close early Wednesday morning, but Mrs. Clinton maintained her slim lead in the late returns. Texas Democrats were also holding caucuses for some delegates and Mr. Obama had an early lead there.

By winning decisively in Ohio, Mrs. Clinton was able to deliver her party’s only victory speech of the evening. And the result there allowed her to cast Tuesday as the beginning of a comeback even though the full story of the results was not yet known and she stood a good chance of gaining no ground against Mr. Obama in the hunt for delegates.

“No candidate in recent history — Democratic or Republican — has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary,” Mrs. Clinton, of New York, said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “We all know that if we want a Democratic president. We need a Democratic nominee who can win Democratic states just like Ohio.”

On the Republican side, Senator John McCain swept to victory in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont and claimed his party’s nomination, capping a remarkable comeback in his second bid for the presidency.

Mr. McCain’s main remaining rival, Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, announced he was dropping out minutes after the polls closed and pledged his cooperation to Mr. McCain. Aides to Mr. McCain said he would head Wednesday morning to Washington to go to the White House and accept the endorsement of President Bush, his one-time foe, and begin gathering his party around him.

Mr. McCain, of Arizona, delivered his victory speech in subdued tones to a boisterous crowd of supporters in Dallas.

“Now, we begin the most important part of our campaign,” he said, “to make a respectful, determined and convincing case to the American people that our campaign and my election as president, given the alternatives presented by our friends in the other party, are in the best interests of the country we love.”

Mr. McCain proceeded to offer a preview of attacks for his Democratic rival.

“I will leave it to my opponent to propose returning to the failed, big-government mandates of the ’60s and ’70s to address problems such as the lack of health care insurance for some Americans,” he said. “I will campaign to make health care more accessible to more Americans with reforms that will bring down costs in the health care industry without ruining the quality of the world’s best medical care.”

Mrs. Clinton’s victory in Ohio gave her, at the least, a psychological boost after a tough month in which she watched Mr. Obama, of Illinois, roll up victory after victory and build a lead in delegates. There was virtually no chance that Mrs. Clinton could have survived had she lost both Ohio and Texas; her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said last month that his wife needed to win both states.

Mrs. Clinton will continue to find herself in a difficult position mathematically. Given the way the Democratic party allocates delegates, it remained possible that Mrs. Clinton could win the popular vote in as many as three states on Tuesday but end up winning fewer delegates than Mr. Obama.

Even before the polls closed, Mr. Obama’s aides said that given their lead in delegates over Mrs. Clinton, it was not possible for her to catch up in the few remaining contests.

Mr. Obama came out shortly before midnight to speak to a crowd in San Antonio, and laid out the argument his campaign would make in the days ahead.

“No matter what happens tonight,” he said, “we have nearly the same delegate lead that we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination.”

But Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, exultant over the victory, tried to cast the results in Ohio as a turning point in the race.

Mrs. Clinton took the stage before a sea of waving white-and-blue “Hillary” signs and immediately portrayed her victory in Ohio as an indication of her electability in a general election. And she reprised a line of criticism against Mr. Obama that appeared to have gained her some traction in this contest.

“Americans don’t need more promises,” she said. “They’ve heard plenty of speeches. They deserve solutions and they deserve them now.”

As she spoke, the crowd responded with chants of “Yes, she will!” — apparently an orchestrated response to Mr. Obama’s trademark “Yes, we can!”

Turning one of Mr. Obama’s themes against him, she said, “Together, we will turn promises into action, words into solutions and hope into reality.”

The results left the two parties at very different stages of the race. Mr. McCain’s nomination has been all but assured for almost a month. His campaign looked to the results on Tuesday as an opportunity to begin framing the contest ahead. In contrast to his previous victory speeches, Mr. McCain made no mention of Mr. Obama, presumably because the result when he spoke was hardly clear.

Nonetheless, Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday from his hotel room in San Antonio to congratulate him and said he looked forward to running against him, said Mr. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. Mrs. Clinton said much the same in her acceptance speech.

The voting proceeded on a day of problems at the polls in both states, in part because of a recurrence of the huge turnouts that almost every contest to date has experienced. In Ohio, the Obama campaign asked a judge on Tuesday evening to keep polls open longer in Cuyahoga County because of paper ballot shortages.

The Texas vote was actually two contests, with a primary where two-thirds of the delegates were selected followed by a caucus where the remaining one-third were selected. The Clinton campaign claimed irregularities by Mr. Obama’s supporters who, Mrs. Clinton’s aides said, sought to gain improper advantage in the caucuses.

The exchange suggested the tension between the two campaigns when Bob Bauer, an election lawyer for Mr. Obama, called into a conference call arranged by the Clinton campaign. The call had been set up to discuss the Texas caucuses, and Mr. Bauer challenged the assertions being made by Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton’s communications director. The men, referring to each other by first names, engaged in a testy seven-minute exchange.

For Democrats, and particularly for Mrs. Clinton, the contests were as consequential as any to date. After her defeats, she was looking to win at least Ohio and Texas to remain in the race.

To that end, Mrs. Clinton delivered some of the toughest attacks of her campaign over the weekend, including a television advertisement that challenged Mr. Obama’s national security credentials in Texas and attacks on Mr. Obama in Ohio over free trade and a meeting his economic adviser had with a Canadian diplomat about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

There was evidence that the attacks had some effects. Mrs. Clinton did well among the 20 percent of voters in both states who said they made their decision in the last three days. She won about 60 percent of those voters in Texas and about 55 percent of those who voted in Ohio, according to exit polls poll conducted statewide by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls showed Mrs. Clinton doing well among Hispanics in Texas, a major target for her there, as well as among lower-income voters and women in Ohio, suggesting that she was reassembling the coalition that had broken down in her losing 11 straight state contests to Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama was showing strength among black voters who made up 20 percent of the Democratic electorate in both states.

In Ohio, Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis on economic issues helped her to some extent. Three-quarters of respondents said they were concerned about their families’ financial situation, and more than half of those voted for Mrs. Clinton. She also won a majority of union households in Ohio and, in a reversal of her standing in early races, won decisively among white men.

Marjorie Connelly and Megan Thee contributed reporting from New York, and John M. Broder from Columbus, Ohio.

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