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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

CW Interrupted Again

Going into yesterday’s SC Democratic primary, the CW had firmed up to a remarkable degree: Obama would win on the foundation of a solid African-American vote, but would lose white voters so overwhelmingly that the victory would be not only narrow, but pyhrric, setting up a decisive loss for the “black candidate” to Hillary Clinton on Super Tuesday. There was also talk that the racial dynamics of the contest might depress turnout.
Well, once gain, voters interrupted the CW, just as they did to Clinton’s benefit in NH. Obama won by a two-to-one margin, far above anything predicted in the polls, and while much of this performance was indeed attributable to a huge margin among African-Americans, he picked up one-fourth of the white vote as well. In an echo of his Iowa win, Obama actually won white voters under 30. As for turnout: SC Democrats not only smashed every past record, but exceeded the turnout among Republicans last week, which is pretty remarkable given SC’s status as perhaps the reddest of southern red states.
As the headline of an Alec MacGillis analysis of SC in the Washington Post aptly put it, Obama won by “A Margin That Will Be Hard To Marginalize.”
That’s not to say that SC eliminated the talk that Obama’s candidacy has become engulfed by a racial, ethnic and gender arithmetic that cuts against him down the road. Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics has done the best (so far) analysis of these factors in the early contests, and other than an unmistakable and massive swing towards Obama among African-American voters, the evidence is mixed. It’s hard to say that Obama can’t win white votes after finishing first and a close second in IA and NH, two places whose state songs could be “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” And it’s also worth noting that in SC, the kind of upscale, highly educated white voter demographics (other than young voters, whom we won) he carried in IA are in short supply, at least in the Democratic ranks. That won’t be the case in a lot of Super Tuesday states.
But it’s also unmistakably true that up until now, Clinton has had significant and in many cases overwhelming leads in the polls in a large majority of the Super Tuesday states, not to mention Florida on Tuesday. And she still leads in super-delegates by a two-to-one margin, despite some recent Obama gains.
The latest buzz is that Obama’s going to get some especially dramatic endorsements in the next few days. One is from yet another red-state moderate Democrat, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, one of the most widely praised young Democratic electeds in the country. Another is from the ultimate Old Lion of Liberalism, Ted Kennedy, whose niece, Caroline Kennedy, created some buzz of her own with a New York Times op-ed piece endorsing Obama as someone who could become “A President Like My Father.”
All in all, it’s as though voters are determined to make this election year as exciting and unpredictable as the college football season that just ended.

2 comments on “CW Interrupted Again

  1. edkilgore on

    Not unless it’s an amazing national landslide. I do think some southern states are becoming less red–most notably VA and KY–and there are other states inside and outside the region where the simultaneous ability to motivate a large African-American and youth turnout while appealing to independents would be helpful.
    Ed Kilgore

    Reply

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