Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama, McCain cross Potomac

Big wins for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as they further consolidate their positions; both ran the board in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. In fact, not only did Obama take the overall lead in delegates over Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), after taking the lead in the popular vote over the weekend; he also got more votes in Virginia than all of the Republican candidates combined.

Noteworthy is that in DC voting for Democratic candidates outpaced Republicans nearly 19-1; but that's to be expected when the Dems support statehood for the nation's capital and the GOP does not. Also, the primaries in DC and Maryland are "closed" -- meaning only open to party members -- but Obama clobbered Clinton there as well. Clinton is supposed to have the advantage in closed primaries according to the conventional wisdom.

What is more significant, in my opinion, is that for the first time Obama also took the advantage among two of Clinton's natural constituencies -- women and unskilled workers. Clinton has an edge with Hispanic voters still but my sense is that is slowly starting to trend away from her as well.

My concern is that she's pretty much given up on Wisconsin and Hawai'i and instead putting all her eggs in Texas and Ohio on March 4th (Vermont and Rhode Island also have polls that day). That would be a terrible mistake on her part. Rudy Giuliani tried that one or two state strategy and it failed miserably. In a general election as well as in the primaries, every precinct -- not just every state -- is a battleground. The one who gets it in the end is not always the one with the most money but the one who believes he or she has to earn the position, not the one who believes he or she is entitled to it.

To be blunt, Obama's "Yes We Can" is a more inspiring message than "Solutions for America" or the "I'm Your Girl" which appears on one of her campaign buttons (really). Also, last night Obama emphasized collective responsibility in his speech; all I heard from Clinton was "me, me, me." Obama has now clearly taken the Bill Cosby approach to civil rights (pulling up one's bootstraps and doing something)as opposed to the Hillary Clinton / Jesse Jackson one (whine, whine, whine). America has paid the price for narcissism in the past, it can't afford it in the future.

I still get the impression, unfortunately, that Mrs. Clinton believes she's entitled to her entitlements and she sees this new kid on the block as the party pooper. After two more of her campaign staff quit last night (or were fired, depending on your point of view) she really needs to regroup and fast.

On the GOP side, McCain is starting to pick up conservative voters who have tended towards Huckabee, but still not quite at 50% of them. For that reason, Mike Huckabee refuses to bow out. There are ways to lose gracefully but increasingly the latter seems to go out like a crybaby as well. At that rate, he can forget the vice-presidency. I don't think McCain would want him as Secretary of Education.

UPDATE (12 noon EST, 1700 GMT): Some minor corrections.

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