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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

More of the Same

HRC’s landslide win in KY today was almost exactly what one might have expected based on last week’s results in WV. In other words, two weeks of media talk about Obama’s inevitability aren’t moving any votes in states where both demography (a predominance of relatively less educated and less affluent white voters, many of them Appalachians, along with the familiarly huge HRC margins among white women) and ideology (relatively large numbers of self-identified Democratic moderates and conservatives) are cutting against him. This latter factor is somewhat new; in most of the early primaries, there was virtually no ideological factor dividing Clinton and Obama voters. Obama did post one of his better performances in KY among the 11% of voters who were self-identified indies, losing them only by 7 points. But Clinton crushed him among moderates (67-30) and conservatives (73-18). These two categories reresented 63% of primary voters. And the stated willingness of Clinton voters to support Obama in the general election, while a bit better than in WV, remained low, with about a third saying they’d vote for McCain, and only a half saying they’d stick with the Democrat.
Oregon, of course, will be a different story; early media hints about the exit polls (or more accurately, phone polls of mail-in-ballot voters) indicate a very comfortable Obama win that will, according to his campaign’s math, and that of most media observers, clinch a majority of pledged delegates (excluding MI and FL). But going forward, the Obama campaign definitely needs to come to grips with the potential threat of an odd combination of progressive women, older voters of various ideological hues, and self-identified Democratic moderates and conservatives, who are at least open to the idea of defecting or taking a dive in November. There’s plenty of time to deal with this challenge; potential Democratic defections will undoubtedly decline as McCain’s views become more apparent; and Lord knows Barack Obama will have the rhetorical and financial resources to change the dynamics of a general election in which he’s already running ahead of or even with McCain in early polls. And moreover, the putative-nominee-loses-late-primaries phenomenon is hardly new or unique. But Obama’s team would be well advised not to completely dismiss the implications of HRC’s recent wins.

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