Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 13, 2008

Barack Obama's coalition broadened in Tuesday's voting. In Virginia he narrowly carried whites, according to exit polls, carried white men by fourteen points. He carried all age groups; it was only close among voters over 65. He carried liberals and those who called themselves moderate/conservatives.

Maryland was pretty much the same. Of the various demographic and ethnic groups, Hillary Clinton carried only white women. And she was close only among voters over 65. Another top campaign official resigned.

Well, the Wisconsin primary is next Tuesday and then the Democrats are pretty much on hold until March 4th, when Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont vote. Clinton backers say she'll do well in the two big states, Ohio and Texas, but when the other candidate has momentum, a lead can evaporate between now and then. Easily.

It might be good for the Democrats if Obama just keeps rolling. If the primaries don't pick the nominee, the party faces a bunch of nasty choices. Will the 796 "superdelegates"--unelected party officials and the like--choose the nominee? And if they do, how will the voters feel about that? Grumpy, quite possibly. And what about delegates from Michigan and Florida? The party said they couldn't have any delegates because they held their primaries too early. But Democrats voted anyway--Clinton was on the ballot--and could she try to get those delegates seated?

Or--this one would be fun--could we actually have a convention that was contested, where it took more than one ballot to elect the nominee? That would probably be the wheelingest, dealingest show in a very long time.

Lots of hard choices loom for the Dems. As George H.W. Bush once said while losing presidential primaries to Ronald Reagan back in 1980, "Nobody said it was going to be easy. Nobody was right."

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