Each primary night this year we thought that the results would somehow move the Democratic nominating process to a point where the eventual nominee would be known. Once again, for better or worse, depending on your point of view, we will not know where the nomination will fall on Tuesday night after the North Carolina and Indiana Democratic primaries are held. If you are a political junkie such as myself, this election cycle is like eating chocolate brownies covered with raspberry sauce every day! As a Democrat who understands the needs of the nation, I know the necessity of wrapping the process up, and having a party nominee that can win in November. But we will not know the nominee on Tuesday night. But since I am enjoying this campaign I thought I would add a few thoughts and early predictions for the May 6th contests.
In the nearly two weeks since the Pennsylvania primary if has been a series of tumultuous blows and counter-blows as the Barack Obama campaign was forced to deal with the remarks of Reverend Wright. At a time when Hillary Clinton was capitalizing on a new found populist message regarding gas prices and a cozy relationship with the “bubba vote’, Obama was scrambling to tamp down the daily news stories over his former pastor. He will have a full-blown interview on “Meet The Press” with Tim Russert Sunday morning, and will have a chance to round the rough edges off a hard week. But the only way to blunt the hard news these past weeks is with convincing wins for Obama on Tuesday. I do not see that in the cards.
It is imperative that Barack Obama score above the expectations in order to stop the hemorrhaging in the minds of the superdelegates about his nomination. While North Carolina has long looked favorable for him, and still does, he must show that he has not lost ground by allowing Clinton to close the gap and come in with a close second. Sadly I do not think that will happen. Where Obama had enjoyed a double-digit lead over Clinton, he now has been reduced to the single numbers in some polls.
The real prize however is in Indiana where the once tight race has opened in Clinton’s favor. The key will be the blue-collar voters that seem more than willing to give the nod to Hillary “where is my gun and shot of whiskey” Clinton. I may disagree with her on issues, but I do not discount her ability to morph into whatever the campaign requires. That will prove handy to some extent if she is eventually the Democratic nominee. However, that concession in no way speaks to the more principled stand and demeanor that I think most want, and need, from a president. Clinton is seen in poll after poll to lack the integrity and truthfulness test. In the end, should she become the nominee, after the war and economy are debated endlessly, this character issue will weigh on the mind of the voters and pose as her biggest problem. McCain will use this flaw over and over again to his advantage, if Clinton were to be the nominee.
In Indiana I will be watching the number of Republicans who switch over to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton, knowing that she is the weakest candidate to face John McCain. Meanwhile independents are more likely to line up for Obama. It seems that voters who are not Democrats could select the winner in Indiana.
I do not predict a sweep of the contests for either candidate. If Clinton were to win both North Carolina and Indiana her rival Barack Obama would still have more delegates, and the struggle would continue as he fights to be the nominee. I have long argued the eventual nominee will be the person leading with the most elected delegates. The problem with Clinton doing well at the end of the nominating process is that the superdelegates are getting mighty nervous. I do not discount the major news event that a sweep for Clinton would create, but I do not think superdelegates can overturn the will of the powerful forces that have made Obama all but the nominee, without a fissure so deep and wide in the party that the only outcome would be a GOP victory in November. A Clinton sweep would be a blow to the Obama campaign, but not one that would necessarily prove to be the end for him. (By this time some readers may think I never give Clinton a break….I actually like her but think her campaign style and tactics are slimy.)
However, if Obama were somehow to sweep the two states on Tuesday it would then be the end for Clinton’s White House dream. If Obama could sweep after the two weeks he has endured, then a clear message so loud will have been sent that even the Clinton household would understand it.
So with all these thoughts and views what are my predictions?
I think that Obama wins by 6 % in North Carolina.
Clinton wins with 8 % in Indiana. A more conservative and blue-collar crowd that has no ability to process the Obama phenomenon will prove to be Clinton’s gift.