Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama made race matter

It's a shame it takes the Weekly Standard to tell the truth about Obama's South Carolina campaign:

Columbia, South CarolinaIn many ways, the South Carolina primary was a free play for Hillary Clinton. She had been down here by double digits since the New Year. South Carolina's demography was against her, too. In Nevada, the only state so far with a significant black vote, Clinton lost African-American voters to Barack Obama by a margin of 83 percent to 14 percent. Blacks make up 29 percent of the population in South Carolina, and exit polls show that 53 percent of the Democratic electorate today was black, up from 47 percent in 2004.
When both Clintons swooped into the state mid-week, and the polls tightened slightly, it appeared that Hillary Clinton might have thought she could make it a race. But on Friday night, the campaign announced that the Clintons would leave South Carolina today and start campaigning this evening in Tennessee (Hillary) and Missouri (Bill). They knew South Carolina was lost. And was it ever. The final numbers are not yet in, but it appears Obama will win by about 25 points.
It's important not to discount Obama's victory--winning always beats losing. But one of two things may have happened as a result of Bill Clinton injecting himself into the campaign. The biggest news this week was the former president's
mild suggestion that race and gender could play into the primary here. It turned out he was half right. Hillary Clinton lost women for the first time since Iowa. But Obama carried the black vote
by nearly the same giant margin he did in Nevada--80 percent to 18 percent. He got only 25 percent of the white vote, which was split evenly between Clinton and John Edwards.
So here's the question: Going forward will it turn out that President Clinton maneuvered the Obama campaign into becoming, quite unwittingly, a campaign about racial solidarity? Earlier today Bill Clinton
dismissed South Carolina by observing that Jesse Jackson won the state in both 1984 and 1988.
Or did Clinton's foray into his wife's campaign help remind Democrats why they were glad to be rid of the pair at the end of the '90s?

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