Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Are The Democrats Asking The Wrong Question?

The more I think about the current campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the more I become convinced that Democrats may be asking the wrong question when it comes to weighing which candidate is more electable in the fall.

The main storyline, despite Obama's large delegate and popular vote lead, is can he win blue collar white males? Will white women vote for John McCain or not vote if Hillary is denied the nomination? These are the questions everybody has been looking at. And with the exit polling from the various states, especially in the South, showing Obama having a very hard time with these voters, it's a legitmate quesiton.

But, at what point does the question change to, if Hillary Clinton somehow gets the nomination, can she win the votes of African Americans? While white males almost always vote for the Republicans in the Presidential election anyway (so how useful it is a measure in the primary is dubious at best) Democrats absolutely cannot win without a large turnout from African Americans, who vote some 90% (or higher) for Democratic presidential candidates. And while there is a lot of hand wringing about how Obama can't seem to break 40% with white voters, what about the fact that Barack Obama continues to pound Hillary Clinton among black voters with some 90% of the vote? Early exits tonight in Pennsylvania show that Obama is winning 92% of the black vote.

And it's too easy to say "well, he's black, of course he's going to get 90% of the black vote." After all, Obama started behind, some 20-points among black voters at the start of the campaign. He worked hard for their votes (as he has for all votes) and the Clintons did themselves no favors with their numerous racially-tinted statements.

And so the question needs to be asked, will these voters come back to Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee? Especially when taking the nomination away from Obama will be so controversial. And if the answer is no, then the Democrats are doomed if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.

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