There are nine presidential nominating contests left in the Democratic race: Guam, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota.
Can the once presumptive nominee, first major woman candidate, former First Lady, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton still win the Democratic nomination? Yes!
Many political pundits are calling this race in Senator Barack Obama’s favor; and they can’t be wrong, or could they be? Senator Obama is the frontrunner with the most pledged delegates, most states won, and a growing number of superdelegate support. He has the insurmountable momentum and a huge financial advantage.
In actuality, even Hillary supporters admit she cannot capture a lead in pledged delegates.
Hillary Clinton was in trouble as soon when she placed a disappointing third in the Iowa caucuses, but then she surprised America, and the polls, by making a comeback in New Hampshire. Post-Super Tuesday, she lost eleven (twelve, if you count Vermont on March 4) straight contests to Senator Obama. The analysts called the race over! Once again, she came back and won Ohio and Texas, two states she needed to win in order to remain in the race.
Last week, Pennsylvania became the must-win state for Hillary Clinton; despite losing the double-digit advantage over to Senator Obama after six weeks of tough campaigning, she beat the Democratic frontrunner by ten points. Within twenty-four hours, she raised $10 million!
What Hillary must do in order to keep her candidacy viable is to continue pushing the electability argument: can Senator Obama beat John McCain? This is her underlining and most important task besides fundraising and winning the remaining state contests.
And the electability argument is one she can make! In Pennsylvania, Senator Barack Obama broke historic spending records, outspending Hillary 3-1 (Morrill and Mellnik). Despite the massive infusion of cash to fund his media advertisements, Obama lost in a tightening contest. The question many will ask is: why can’t he beat Hillary and end the race?
Throughout the campaign season, Hillary’s strongest supporters have been women, senior citizens, blue collar workers, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Meanwhile, Barack Obama supporters include African Americans, affluent, higher educated voters, and youth.
In late March, a Gallup poll released showed 19% of Obama supporters would defect to McCain should Clinton be the eventual nominee; whereas, 28% of Clinton supporters would defect (Mooney). After the Pennsylvania primary, MSNBC released exit polls showing 47% of Clinton supporters in Pennsylvania would either vote for McCain in November or sit out; while, 31% of Obama supporters would do the same (Sargent).
Historically speaking, the most reliable Democratic voting groups include African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and senior citizens. In an increasingly, bitterly divided race, should either candidate lose, a strong percentage of their supporters will be expected to back out, and not choose to support the eventual Democratic nominee.
Assuming Hillary does win the nomination, the youth will probably choose to sit out of the election rather than support John McCain. African Americans, no matter how disappointed they will be, will probably support Hillary’s candidacy. Of course, she and Bill will have to mend relations among the reliable Democratic voting demographic.
On the contrary, if Barack Obama wins the nomination, as many expect he will, Obama must work arduously to win back the support of heavily committed Hillary supporters. Obama will have to court Latinos and Asian Americans, groups of which some older individuals may be reluctant to support an African American running for President. Besides mending racial divisions, Obama will have to convince the older generational voters they can trust him and the change he will bring to the office of the Presidency.
Whether or not Obama will be successful in achieving this monumental goal will depend on whether he has enough time. If the contest continues to drag on, time may not be on his side.
The argument Hillary must make to the uncommitted and even to the committed superdelegates is who will be able to align the most support needed to counter the Arizona Senator and Republican presidential nominee, John McCain?
Mooney, Alexander. “Poll: Democrats ready to defect to McCain” CNN Political Ticker 26 March 2008
Morrill, Jim and Ted Mellnik. “Obama out raises Clinton 3-1 in N.C.” Charlotte Observer 25 April 2008
Sargent, Greg. “Exit Polls: More Hillary Voters Would Desert Obama And Back McCain”
Talking Points Memo: Election Center 22 April 2008
This opinion piece was written by Matthew Wong. It was displayed in the Temple City Voice on April 30, 2008. The views of this author does not reflect the views of the Temple City Voice.