Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tunnel Vision

Perspective at this point in the campaign seems as hard to come by as momentum. All sides in the current Democratic contest seem to have lost all perspective. I'm not necessarily talking about the campaigns themselves, because I'm pretty sure that they are aware of the realities of the situation, but the supporters of the candidates and the Press seem to lack a big picture view.

Today's primary in West Virginia will have little effect on the overall race for the Democratic nomination. Senator Clinton will win by something in the 34-40% range. It will probably net her about 10 delegates and upwards of 100,000 votes. Those are the facts. Now the press will once again bring up the point about Obama and his inability to attract white working class voters (West Virginia being the whitest and working classiest of all the states in the union). I would make the point that West Virginia and next week Kentucky represent states which are openly hostile to Barack Obama and that they should not be used to project any trend toward the rest of the country. If the "trend" in West Virginia were actually a trend, then Hillary Clinton would have wrapped up the nomination a long time ago. But Barack Obama victories in Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, Minnesota, Wyoming, Kansas, etc. were certainly not built on the strength of the black vote in those states.

Hillary Clinton's supporters are quick to point out Obama's perceived weakness without admitting that the numbers look even worse for Clinton among African Americans. If the Clinton supporters are to be believe their own argument that middle class whites will not vote for Obama, then they must be equally worried because the black vote has gone to Barack Obama at a much higher percentage. Barack Obama has actually won the white vote in a number of states, while Hillary Clinton has never come within 60% points of Obama among the black vote. In the Clinton supporters argument, African Americans are just taken for granted. "Of course they'll vote for Hillary, what reason would they have not to. They are Democrats and in the end they'll come home to the party." For some reason, they never apply that logic to the "White working class voter". They will point to states like West Virginia (which Huckabee won overwhelmingly against McCain, just to give you a measure of the indicative nature of the pre-November voting) and Kentucky and say that Obama is a flawed candidate. They will not, however, apply that same analysis to their own candidate.

The Obama true believers are in their glory at this point and are quick to try and kick a Clinton when they're down. This is incredibly short sighted, however, because the Democratic party cannot win in November without strong support from Hillary Clinton supporters. The candidate himself has tried to play above the question of when Senator Clinton should exit the race and has clearly turned his attention to the battle against McCain. While I understand the need to fully engage John McCain, I think this does a disservice to Senator Clinton. While it is a mathematical certainty that Obama will end up with the most delegates at the end of the primary season, the difference is not that great that he should be able to just ignore his main challenger. This is not analogous to the McCain-Huckabee battle, because McCain had a lead of over 500 delegates as he moved to toward securing the nomination. Obama is not in the same situation and while I find no problem with engaging the Republican challenger to a certain extent, I feel that it is somewhat disrespectful to Senator Clinton and her supporters to ignore her all together.

A broader view of what lies ahead and behind in this race for the nomination would probably be to every ones benefit. Unfortunately, I know the Press isn't about to change their micro-analyzing ways, and I don't think that the most fervent of Clinton or Obama supporters are going to be able to be reasoned with until this race is finally settled.

1 comment:

Sandy Jimenez said...

I agree totally. I don't see for example the gas tax suspension that Sen. Clinton raised for consumers as a dead issue, Obabma saying that "he's tried it and it didn't work" is really a sidestep. Especially when she's talking about making the Oil companies eat the difference. Maybe it's just a silly campaign tactic, but any proposals that shift attention back on to the corporations whose profiteering make bad times worse for Americans deserves to be vetted and talked about by the candidaes and the voters. I think I know why Obama is treating the rest of the road ahead like a general election strategically, but I don't think it's the best posture. If you'd asked me two months ago whether one of them should have bowed out I'd have said yes. Now that it's gone on this long, I think whatever damage that could have been done, has been done.
We may as well see it through until the last democrat casts his vote... Ugh.