UPDATE at the end–As I anticipated writing this piece, I asked my friend Neal Zaslavasky, an Obama supporter, if he would write a response. He has done so and I have posted that unaltered at the end. Please address his remarks with the same civility with which he addressed this post. And bear in mind, his politics notwithstanding, he’s a very cool guy.
Yesterday, I blogged that exit polls in Pennsylvania could tell us a lot about Obama’s chances in the fall. And after reviewing them, they don’t look all that good for the Illinois Senator. And even though Mrs. Clinton won, the exit polls point to some problems the former First Lady will face in the unlikely (yet still possible) event that she wins the Democratic nomination.
That’s not to say John McCain is out of the woods for he will be laboring under the baggage of being the Republican nominee in a year which doesn’t look good for the GOP.
Still, if he were matched up against either of his Democratic opponents and party affiliation were not an issue, he would win this fall in a cakewalk.
As expected, late deciders broke for Mrs. Clinton by a margin of 59-41. This suggests (as all too many have said ad nausem) that Obama has yet to “close the deal.” It should be an especially troubling trend (following similar numbers in Texas and Ohio) that he can’t swing a majority of undecideds even though the media (and some Democrats) have been touting him as the all-but-certain nominee. (55% of Democrats said “they expected him, not Clinton, to be the party’s eventual nominee.“)
How can he expect to win undecideds in the fall (and hold on to his share of Independents) if he can’t convince Democrats even at a time when a vote for him seemed to be a vote for party unity–and the good for the party.
Given Hillary’s negative campaign, it seems not so much that Hillary won, but that Obama lost last night. Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff speculated that the results showed that “Obama must be fairly unpopular in Pennsylvania.”
As a sign of how Mrs. Clinton’s repeated misrepresentations have tarnished her already blemished image, polls shows that only “Fifty-eight percent saw Clinton as honest and trustworthy; in a hold-their-nose result, 23 percent of those who didn’t see her as honest voted for her anyway.” It seems many Democrats were voting for her as the lesser of two evils.
The exit polls show that Democratic voters have doubts about both candidates. Just as Republicans seem to be having problems in congressional districts which favor them demographically by picking weak candidates, the Democrats may well have a similar problem this fall in a year which favors them poliitcally.
Hillary has been unable to use this campaign to bring down her negatives. And the continued campaign allows has driven down Obama’s favorables as voters become aware of his ties to some unsavory characters with anti-American attitudes and learn of his own elitist opinions.
If this fall’s were an election on character and fitness to lead rather than on partisan differences, John McCain would beat either Democratic candidate in a walk. But, party politics does matter, so it could well be a close race this fall.
COMMENTARY FROM NEAL (OBAMA SUPPORTER):
I like John McCain. I first met him back in 1986 when I was a teenage volunteer on his very first Senate campaign in Arizona. I followed his career closely, and in 2000, I coordinated all of Los Angeles County for his Presidential bid. But when McCain was defeated in the primary season by the triumvirate of evilâ€”George W Bush, Karen Hughes and Karl Roveâ€”I left the GOP and became an independent.
If the John McCain of 2000 were running today, I would likely be supporting him. But McCain has moved closer to George W Bush in an election cycle when the smart money is running from him faster than our Olympic athletes in Beijing. The foreign policy of the current administration has damaged American credibility on the foreign stage worse than a visit from Jimmy Carter. The dollar, which was at parity with the Euro just a few short years ago, currently hovers at closer to $1.60 per â‚¬1. It now takes about two dollars to exchange for one British pound, and the Canadian dollar is stronger than the US Dollar for the first time since 1976. The Australian dollar, which was worth less than fifty cents in 2001, is now almost at parity with our currency.
On George W. Bush’s watch, we have seen many of our jobs disappear or head overseas to China and India, gasoline prices nearly triple to $4.00 per gallon, and we are now headed into the worst recession in recent memory. Due to lax federal oversight of predatory lending practices, many Americans are losing their homes. And with the omnipresent threat of global warming and rising ocean levels, we may be looking for beachfront property in San Bernardino.
This is probably not going to be a good year for the Republicans.
But is it going to be a good year for the Democrats?
As an independent, I crossed over and voted for Senator Obama in February’s California Primary. At the time, I not only strongly supported his campaign, but I despised the dragon-lady so much that I probably would have voted for Dennis Kucinich over her. My hatred of Hillary has only grown over time; unfortunately, for me, some of the shine has come off of Mr. Obama’s well polished appearance as well.
Can Senator Obama close the deal? Mathematically, he certainly has the best shot at it. Given his current delegate count, the likely bent of the Superdelegates, and the remainder of the electoral map, he has a very good chance of being the Democrat nominee. But the path to Denver will not be easy for Mr. Obama.
Mrs. Clinton will not simply hop on her broomstick and fly away. She will continue to aggressively pursue Mr. Obama at every possible opportunity, regardless of the effect it could potentially have on the Democrats come November. As we all know, when it comes to the Clintons, it is only about the Clintons, and everyone else be damned. Bill has certainly demonstrated this during his tenure in Washington and again during this campaign, and Hillary’s dream scenario is to weaken Mr. Obama so much that although he gets the nomination, he ultimately loses to Senator McCain so that she can run again as the party’s â€œsaviorâ€ in 2012!
Before the revelations about the racist reprobate Reverend, I would have ordered my plane reservations for Mr. Obama’s inaugural ball. Before his ill advised and elitist comments in advance of the Pennsylvania primary, I would have posited that Mr. Obama would certainly close the deal. Now, I am not so sure. And many of the once zealous Obama supporters I know have quietly moved back into the undecided camp.
The Democrats are known for eating their young. If they are smart and want their best chance against Senator McCain, they’ll drop both Obama and Clinton in Denver, and nominate Al Gore from the floor. That would make for a far more interesting race. But since when are the Democrats smart?