If Hillary Clinton winds up losing Indiana tonight (or this morning) -- which could very well happen with much of Gary, Indiana still to come in and a margin of around 20,000 -- the irony for her and her husband will be that the deciding margin will be black voters in that city, and in Lake County. Bill Clinton made his national reputation by making black voters fall in love with him. As his wife's chief surrogate during this campaign, he led her in a renunciation of the black vote that was so thorough, so definitive, and so grotesque, it was stunning, not least of which to black America. Now, as their campaign draws to a close, it appears that it will be the black vote that ultimately did Hillary in. Payback really is a bitch.
Did Hillary Clinton and I watch the same returns tonight? Probably not, given that her camp has probably banned MSNBC (except for HRC-friendly "Scarborough Country,") in favor of her newfound friends at Fox News. Fox (and CBS) have definitively called Indiana for Hillary, though her lead is down to less than 40,000 votes with 200,000 or so outstanding. NBC/MSNBC remains the loan holdout, but if their instincts turn out to be right, Hillary might regret opening her surreal speech tonight with "we broke the tie," and "now it's full steam ahead, on to the White House!"
Not the speech I was expecting. Not that I thought she'd concede. Never that. But tonight was perhaps Hillary's last best chance to leave Democratic voters not already in her camp with a positive impression of her. She should have reached for inspiration, not politics. She should have gone for grace notes, not excuse-making ("we were out-spent five to one") and snidery (referring to Barack as "my opponent" instead of using his name.) Even her supporters' borrowed chant of "yes she will" sounds stilted (as does the chant "Hillary! Hillary!" next to the higher plane rhetoric of Obama's "yes WE can!" I don't think the speeches even come close to comparing. And while I'm biased, I used to be a Clintonista, and I know a good -- and a bad -- speech when I hear one.
Hil, this was a sucky speech.
Update: the pundits on MSNBC are focusing on the second half of HRC's speech, which they're describing as conciliatory. I suppose so, but I think the first part was such a misfire, it probably negated it. Her followers remain as angry as ever. I'm struck by just how angry they are, judging by their comments on posts like this one...
I think one big loser tonight is Evan Bayh, who may yet deliver Indiana, but Russert is hearing that it could be by 1,800 votes.
One of the reasons I love politics is that it is one of the few things in this modern life that has the genuine possibility to surprise. Tonight, that happened. Barack Obama appears to be headed for a blowout (15 points or so) in North Carolina; not unexpected given the fact that he has led by as many as 20 points in recent weeks. But Hillary Clinton's forecast parallel victory (10 points or so) in Indiana not only has not materialized, that race is now too close to call. It's down to 39,000 votes, with some 300,000 votes or more still outstanding, many of them in Obama territory in the northern part of the state, according to Chuck Todd at MSNBC.
Barack's victory speech tonight was a back to his core strength barn burner. (Note to my friend, Newton: you called it. Barack has gone back on message.) It was as inspiring a speech as I can imagine, hitting all the themes he needed: magnanimity for Hillary and her supporters, unity within the party and the country, a campaign, not about him, ("an imperfect messenger,") but about "you." He took a needed swipe at the media and the politics of distraction, and he said he "trusts the American people" to rise above it all, focusing instead on bettering the "country he loves." This was Barack's most substantive speech, even if it lacked detail, because it improved upon his previous loftiness by making him a man who cares about real people, in Indiana, in Iowa, in Pennsylvania, and in North Carolina. Even the gas tax issue, one on which I was critical of Barack's campaign for not hitting Hillary harder, Barack (and the much maligned "economists,")appear http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifto have won the day. Even in Indiana.
Hillary Clinton may wake up tomorrow having lost Indiana. Even if she squeaks through, she will have one hell of a time explaining what she's still doing in the race, other than mounting a vain attempt to take down the certain Democratic nominee.
This primary is effectively over, folks. (Sorry, Rush. I guess your listeners aren't as dumb as them seem...) Welcome to the general election.
No surprises in North Cahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifrolina, which MSNBC (and the other nets) have just called for Barack. At this point, Barack is guaranteed at least a split, and because NC has more delegates on offer, the results in Indy just became less important. That said, exit polls suggest that HRC is pulling 60 percent of white women, 72 percent of voters 65 and older, and just 8 percent of the black vote. Barack is winning every age group under 65, according to Russert and Company. The nets have been reporting all day that turnout in both states is shattering records.
On the "old politics" front, Barack was reduced to downing Pabst at a NC bar today. Can the beat-up jeanhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifs jacket be far behind? Maybe he should start smoking again! And basketball ... lots and lots of basketball...
Update: Exit polls suggest Obama will get at least 36% of the white vote. Take that, Pat Buchanan. Essentially, the race is down to age and to a slightly lesser extent: gender. Barack, however, is getting more women, percentage-wise, than white voters. Bottom line: old-line Democrats who haven't caught up with the multiculturalism thing: Clinton. Modern Americans who don't commonly use the word "coloreds": Obama.
View the NC exit polls here, and the Indiana exits here.
In NC, it appears Barack has won a majority of men, women, churchgoers, voters with and without college degrees, high school graduates, all income levels except $50-75K, and voters who cared most about the economy. He carried conservatives, got 35% of the white vote and 56% of voters who said the candidate "caring about people" was most important (take that, Chris Matthews.) Hillary won gun owners, Republicans, white Democrats and Independents, by one point (46%-45%) because she carried white Independents. (BTW Rush, GOPers represented just 5% of the turnout in NC, and don't fool yourself into thinking most of them were your "Operation Chaos" lemmings.) Worse, 50 percent in NC said she is not trustworthy. Only 40 percent said she is, while 72% called Obama trustworthy.
In Indiana, Hillary barely edged Barack among men and even women (he got 47% according to exit polls.) The candidates split church attendees, though Hillary carried both Catholics and Protestants by about two-thirds margins. The Rev. Wright issue was very important to just 28% of Indiana voters, it turns out (sorry, MSNBC) and Hillary got 73% of those voters. Hillary's downscale voters returned to the fold in Indiana, but not overwhelmingly. She scored in the high 50s with these folks. Obama got the college educated crowd, which is significant for him, because turnout on the numerous campuses in Indiana is said to have been heavy.
We're waiting for the call, which I would expect to be for Hillary, thought not by double digits.
Most important of all, I think, just 15% and 17% of voters in the two primaries said they would prefer John McCain in the fall if their candidate didn't win. |
I admire Barack Obama's desire to run a "different kind of campaign." Unfortunately, he and Hillary Clinton are playing by two sets of rules. (By the way, it's official: Bill Clinton has traded in his magic with Black voters for a new magic, with white, rural voters. He's THEIR Big Bill, now...)
Back to HRC and Barack. With her latest hypocrisies on trade, decrying the loss of jobs at an Indiana company called Magnaquench that her husband's trade policies helped to turn into yet another outsourcing wonder, you'd think the Obama campaign would fire off an ad or two. Well if they have, I haven't heard about it. And so far, there are no pro-Obama 527s in the water. Well what if there was? Or what if Hillary Clinton became the nominee, and the inevitable Republican 527s had a go at her on the trade issue. The result might be something like this:
The big day in Indiana and NC is tomorrow, and as usual, the polls tell us nothing.