Obama surges past floundering Clinton
Democrat super-delegates must recognise Obama’s ascendancy now, says Alexander Cockburn
Hillary Clinton's White House bid is floundering after devastating results in the so-called 'Potomac primaries' yesterday, in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. Voters savaged the Clinton campaign's assertions that Barack Obama could only win in small caucuses with support from blacks and liberal yuppies.
In Virginia, Obama led among women, men, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, Latinos, union households and independents. He only lost white 45-60 year olds and white women aged between 45 and 55.
In Maryland he captured Latino voters, thought to be a reliable part of Hillary's base, by 53-47. He won among all age groups, in every part of the state, among high school drop-outs as well as PhDs. He took the women's vote away from Hillary by 21 points. In Washington DC, the former First Lady suffered another rout.
Six stinging reversals in four days have made Obama into the acknowledged front-runner. Politicians previously sitting on the fence are now edging towards endorsement, among them Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House majority leader. Obama's treasury is overflowing, while Hillary's is drained.
For the first time, Obama now has a lead in delegates committed to voting for him at the party convention in August. To stay in the game until the final count in Denver, Hillary will have to win every single remaining contest by a margin of 60-40. It's still thought she has a majority of the 'super-delegates' – 798 of them – who won't have to commit to a candidate until they meet in Denver, but if Obama continues to make a strong showing, many super-delegates will tell the Clintons that all bets are off.
The race has see-sawed since Iowa, and big victories for Hillary in Ohio and Texas on March 4 could still put her back on her feet, but there are ominous signs. The Wisconsin primary next Tuesday was to have been Mrs Clinton's chance to recover from mid-February's disasters.
It's a state with a big white working-class vote, one which - probably because of prejudice against a black candidate - inflicted terminal damage on Jesse Jackson's triumphant drive back in 1988. But current polls show Obama with a substantial lead in Wisconsin, and the Clinton campaign seems to be giving up on the state.
Mrs Clinton's campaign manager, Patty Solis Doyle, has quit, as has the campaign's number two, Mike Henry, and these changes have enhanced the overall impression of a reeling campaign.
The Clintons were supposed to be the supreme professionals in the art of winning elections, and they've certainly won significant comeback victories in big states like California, New York, and New Jersey. But the Obama campaign has been far more nimble in regrouping after defeats and building on victories.
Perhaps Hillary's biggest strategic mistake was in not divorcing Bill Clinton in 2001 and pressing forward into the presidential campaign as Senator Hillary Rodham.
The campaign thus far has exploded the claim that Bill Clinton is still magic as a vote winner. Many Democrats have very hard feelings about him. Bill Clinton was not good for the Democratic Party when he was in the White House. As Barack Obama pointed out in a speech in Virginia Beach, "Keep in mind, we had Bill Clinton as president when, in '94, we lost the House, we lost the Senate, we lost governorships, we lost state houses."
On top of that Bill Clinton infuriated blacks in South Carolina by seemingly - albeit very mildly - race-baiting Obama. His slaps produced huge black majorities for Obama and angered many white liberals too.
Obama is now acting as the nominee, directly addressing the man who seems certain to be the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain. Mrs Clinton faces a hard time getting back into contention. Her only hope is that she can demonstrate many whites will never bring themselves to vote for a black man as president. ·
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