As both the Clinton and Obama campaigns were placing their spin on the voting results of Super Tuesday, unusually strong EF-4 tornadoes were churning violently through southern states leaving over fifty people dead and hundreds of homes torn to shreds. Let’s hope that the destructive and extremely rare February storms were not an omen of turbulent times to come.
McCain appears to have clinched the Republican nomination, although many argue that his support is “soft.” Yet, for the first time in years, it appears that the American conservative movement will not pick the Republican candidate. McCain is a moderate conservative, not part of the “values crowd.” It is still unlikely that Huckabee or Romney will catch him, in spite of the lamentations from the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh that McCain is a “liberal” and needs to be “stopped.”
The support for Huckabee and Romney reflects some fragmentation in sectors of the Republican Party, splits that may be very deep. It is questionable whether McCain can unite them. However, Republican pundits claim that a Clinton candidacy would unite all elements of the party because her husband was so hated. She earned their ire by talking about the right wing conspiracy that was trying to take down her husband. A kind of sexism blaming the wife for the husband’s perceived faults and reducing her to his shadow, will likely spew from the well oiled Republican propaganda machine at Fox News.
With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama essentially tied after Super Tuesday, it appears that the Democrats have a neck to neck race that may go down to the wire. Clinton won 8 states, including New York and California, while Obama was victorious in 13. At the end of the day the delegate count was almost even, with representatives from each camp claiming a small advantage.
There were surprises that stirred up the political winds. It appears many voters made up their minds at the last minute. Clinton won Massachusetts in spite of Kerry and Kennedy’s strong endorsements of Obama. Race and gender played a role. Clinton got support from women, Latinos, and the elderly.
Obama lost California, but made it significantly closer than pre-election polls had predicted. Obama excelled in states where caucuses determined the outcome. Obama got more support from blacks, the young, white males, and from voters with a higher income, or what some commentators referred to as “the Starbucks crowd.” The momentum seen in Obama’s campaign has been called an “insurgent campaign,” and some are predicting that he will pull ahead in the next two weeks. Supporters believe his superior oratory skills will trump the Republican’s power in the media.
There is a danger here for Democrats. Without a historic compromise at the end, the Democratic contest, the contest could implode into a bitter fight and split the Democratic party, especially if the contest is decided at the last minute by the “super delegates,” which represent 20 % of the total delegates. This means that the nomination could be decided by party insiders. Some Democrats still hope that Al Gore will step in at the last minute, but this is also highly unlikely and would create a different set of troubles.
Many have commented on the rarity of this race - a woman and a black man of mixed descent competing to the end for the top political office in the nation, and being legitimate contenders at the same time. A victory for either would be historic in its own right, a story for the history books. A joint ticket, however, is highly unlikely given the wounds that have already been opened, even though such a ticket would be a sure winner. It is hard to see either candidate accepting a subordinate VP position.
The momentum seems to be with Obama who more than doubled Clinton’s fundraising totals in January. Clinton is now loaning campaign money (5 million) from her own pocket, and this is not a good sign. Some are predicting Obama will soon receive the endorsements of Gore and Edwards to boost his chances of creating some separation..
Obama supporters claim that the Democrats have a better chance of winning because he opposed the unpopular Iraq War from the beginning, whereas Clinton showed poor judgment when she voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq. John Mc Cain supported it outright . Clinton eventually changed her tune when she became aware of the strong anti-war position of rank and file Democrats and most Americans. John McCain, who has never seen a war he didn’t like, has spoken of winning, even if takes a hundred year U.S. occupation of Iraq.
What happens in Iraq and the economy could very well determine who wins the Presidential contest. A Democratic victory is not assured, even though at this stage it appears likely. One certainty of Campaign 2008 is that the Democratic nominee can expect a full-scale barrage of vicious Republican attacks. You can tune in to Fox News to watch them. And don’t be surprised if the name Karl Rove pops up once again!
Whatever happens, it remains to be seen whether the Presidential victor will stop the horrid war in Iraq. We all have a responsibility to protest if they don’t.