Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Morning After Indiana and North Carolina

Yesterday morning I opined that yesterday's primary would only be decisive if Obama won both states. This morning I'm not so sure: Obama has won North Carolina by 15 points, 56% to 41%, while Clinton squeaked by in Indiana at the low end of a 2 point difference. I had expected the hockey game to continue, and as someone who's been for Clinton since last summer, I even had my clever post headline (if nothing else) for today: "Don't Tell Obama, I'm Still With Mama." Pretty good, eh? But that's not how I feel. What I'm thinking about are three things: 1) Now I can finally, really feel the inspiration of a charismatic young black Democrat who has a solid chance to win the presidency. That feels really good, my caution as a party loyalist prevented me from letting myself go with those feelings up until now. 2) I'm starting to worry about the general election, and specifically about whether Obama will be able to draw enough white votes to win. The news from the primaries is good on that: Indiana is an overwhelmingly white state and about half of the Democratic primary voters pulled the lever for Obama yesterday, and his unexpectedly large margin of victory in North Carolina means that he managed to draw significant white support there as well (I know that Southern whites are sensitive about the stereotype that they're more racist than everybody else, and I think that some white Democrats in North Carolina didn't like the part that they'd been assigned in the script that they were handed). But the fact that he has not, in fact, managed to win white majorities in big states, and this among Democratic primary voters, looks like the biggest political issue going forward. 3) I am convinced that he needs to put Clinton on the ticket, both out of respect for the Democratic Party ethos of consensual democracy and for more pragmatic political reasons (actually those reasons are the same, come to think of it). Probably the best thing for Clinton to do (assuming that she wants the VP spot, I think that she does want it) is to withdraw, go home, and wait for the Obama campaign to do the math. The best thing for Obama to do is to contact her privately and offer her the job, and start working on getting the Democrats into the White House in 2008.

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