Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14th 2008

Once upon a far off time, Barack Obama won Iowa's caucuses. The state is 94% white. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton thumped Obama hard in West Virginia's primary. That state is also 94% white.

Clinton won everybody. 59% of the men, 71% of the women. 69% of the whites, and they were 95% of the vote. Obama usually wins young people, but Clinton in West Virginia carried every age group, winning 57% of those under thirty. Obama often carries better educated voters, but Clinton won 54% of the college graduates. She won every income group; she won whether you thought the most important issue was the economy, or Iraq, or health care. She won...well, you get the idea.

Maureen Dowd reports in the New York Times that more than half of West Virginia voters said they would be dissatisfied if Obama were the nominee. Obama is ahead in delegates and all that, but these results must worry Democrats because West Virginia is usually thought of as a swing state. These numbers, like earlier numbers from swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania, suggest that Obama, if he's the nominee, may have real trouble convincing working-class whites that he ought to be president.

The remaining primaries--Kentucky is next week--aren't likely to change that impression. John McCain has reason to smile this morning.

Obama isn't the nominee yet, of course, and you have to remember that the superdelegates, unlike those chosen in primaries and caucuses, aren't bound to either candidate. Sure, lots of them have announced support for him or her, but they can change their minds four times a day if they feel like it. If the West Virginia numbers make them uneasy, some of them may feel like it.

We'll probably know once the primaries end (yes, they really will end) in early June. But for now, the fat lady is still waiting for her cue.

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