Drunkblogging West Virginia: Hillary's Big Win
4:35 pm PDT
Here it is: Hillary's big, big win. The Obama camp will point out that West Virginia doesn't really matter, because he already has the nomination all but sewn up, that it's just a "distraction" from bigger contests, and that WV is filled with crackers, anyway. Although the language they'll use will be a bit more discreet.
The Clinton campaign will say West Virginia matters, precisely because it's filled with white people just like all the other white people who won't vote for Obama in the fall. And that's pretty much exactly the language they'll use.
Meanwhile, race continues to be the determining factor in the formerly colorblind Democratic party:
Racially motivated voting appeared to be running higher than usual: Two in 10 whites said the race of the candidate was a factor in their vote, second only to Mississippi. And only a third of those voters said they'd support Obama as the nominee against John McCain, fewer than in other primaries where the question has been asked.
It looks like the chickens of multiculturalism have come home to roost. Boston.com's Foon Rhee notes the same problem and says:
Among those supporting Hillary Clinton, just 36 percent said they would vote for Barack Obama in November, while 35 percent would defect to Republican John McCain, according to the exit polls conducted for the TV networks and the Associated Press.
Among Obama voters, barely a majority, 51 percent, said they would vote for Clinton in November.
If this is the case, then the "unity ticket" some dream of simply can't happen -- mostly because Clinton has dragged this thing on for so long, while playing the race card at every (equal) opportunity.
And in any case, why would Obama want Clinton as his vice president? I'm sure she'd do well in the debates, but almost nobody votes for vice president. Besides, would you want Hil and Bill scheming just down the street from you in the Old Executive Office Building? The dream ticket becomes the nightmare scenario.
Would Clinton even want the Veep spot? Playing third fiddle to President Obama and Second Gentleman Bill Clinton? She'd be better off spending the next four years in the Senate, getting back on Ted Kennedy's good side. She could start by bringing him a scotch.
And if that fails, I could use a fresh martini, Senator.
12:02 pm PDT
Let the whining commence:
Terry McAuliffe, campaign chairman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), said Tuesday that the former first lady is hamstrung by a biased media.
“Clearly it has been a biased media, no question about it,” McAuliffe said on Fox News. When asked how much of the mainstream media is “in the tank” for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who leads Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, McAuliffe estimated that about 90 percent of the media favor Obama.
“It is what it is. We’re not complaining,” he stated. “We have to deal with the hand we’re dealt with.”
Well, maybe now Camp Clinton knows what it's like for Republicans in every election.
And this item should come as no surprise to habitual poll-watchers:
In the Democratic race, Obama has effectively ceded West Virginia. He told a crowd Monday in Charleston - in his only visit to the state - that he expected Clinton to draw "many more" votes than he would get. West Virginia is one of the poorest, oldest, most white-dominated states, mirroring the composition of counties in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania that Clinton carried handily.
So what we're looking for tonight isn't who wins, but by how much. Can Clinton stay relevant with a giant win? Or will Democratic voters abandon her, telling her in effect, "drop out already and endorse Barack." At least one poll makes that seem unlikely, with 64% of Democrats urging Clinton to stay in the race. As TalkLeft notes:
It turns out that the only people against a Unity Ticket are Ted Kennedy, Mark Cohen and Creative Class bloggers. Obama's strong African American base want unity as do Clinton supporters. The divisive ones are people like Kennedy, Cohen and the Creative Class bloggers.
That kind of sentiment, if it holds, will make November even more difficult for McCain -- no matter how ugly the Democratic primary has been, or gets.
08:56 am PDT
The last Democrat to win the White House without winning West Virginia was Woodrow Wilson back in 1916. The time before that, was James Buchanan in 1856, and back then we had just the One Big Virginia in the antebellum South. The last Democrat to win without Kentucky was John Kennedy in 1960. I don't know JFK, and JFK was no friend of mine, but I'm pretty sure Barack Obama is no JFK.
This is the case Hillary Clinton needs to make -- forcefully, indisputably -- this week and next as Democratic voters in West Virginia and Kentucky make their presidential picks. She doesn't have many more chances. Of course, if it turns out Obama really can't win whites (like he did in Iowa but not since), it will be at least in part because the Clintons keep saying, "I've heard that Obama is black, you know."
And according to some, that's generating some racist attacks in the rainbow party. Check out this report from the Washington Post:
"The first person I encountered was like, 'I'll never vote for a black person,' " recalled Ross, who is white and just turned 20. "People just weren't receptive."
For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely unnoticed -- and unreported -- this election season. Doors have been slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names (including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator from Illinois could become the first African American president.
The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.
Ignore, if you can, the loaded language of the story, tilting it nicely towards Obama. Also pay no attention to the fact that all reporter Kevin Merida has is a couple of anecdotes from a couple of Obama volunteers. And that even the Obama campaign calls such incidents "isolated." Please forget that the one real attack on a campaign HQ in a small town had to do with "God and guns" and Rev. Wright, and not race. Or that Obama picked up two more superdelegates just this morning. Or that Obama is kicking Clinton's butt from one end of the country to the other. OK, so that's an awful lot to ignore and maybe there's no real story here.
Sandy Grady writes for USA Today that West Virginia is an "epic" battle like we haven't seen there since the Kennedy/Humphrey contest of 1960:
But if they stopped to look back at the Kennedy vs. Humphrey duel, both candidates could discover lessons about their roads ahead:
* Clinton might learn from Humphrey how to gracefully, quickly dismantle a losing campaign. And how deeply it hurts.
* Obama, haunted by race and resistance of white, low-income voters, might study how Kennedy overcame anti-Catholic bias.
We should also note that Joe Kennedy pretty much purchased West Virginia for his son in 1960, securing him the nomination. If (when) Hilary wins? No such luck. And maybe Clinton really has seen the dark at the end of the tunnel, as Charles Hurt argues in the New York Post:
"Thank you for caring so much about our country," Clinton said in a video sent yesterday to supporters. "And now it's on to West Virginia and Kentucky and Oregon, and we'll stay in touch."
Not mentioned in her apparent video swan song are the final three primaries, in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota, to be held after next week - leading to speculation that she might pull the plug on her campaign after what are expected to be strong wins in West Virginia and Kentucky.
Before a losing battle of my own as a teen, my grandfather told me not to "go out in a blaze of s**t." Maybe Clinton is taking similar advice: to go out in a blaze of glory, rather than as a loser. We'll find out in just a few weeks.
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