This was the worst night yet for the packs of obsessive charter members of the hate Hillary Clinton club. Their first bad night came back in January when despite the gleeful, hopeful but totally false and overblown anticipation of the wrong headed pollsters that predicted a smash Obama victory, Clinton bagged New Hampshire. Tuesday's outcome was much worse for them. The same gleeful, hopeful, but just as wrongheaded pollsters and even more wrongheaded pundits deliriously wrote the epitaph for Clinton ("the end is in sight," "her Waterloo," "will Clinton stand down," and on and on the blarney headlines screamed.
They didn't matter. This writer flatly predicted a Clinton win in Ohio and Texas. It wasn't hard to do. Despite the "Clinton is finished" doom-and-gloom predictions, what the Clinton haters missed, or rather deliberately omitted was that she was never out of the hunt for the nomination. Clinton ran no ads, had only a token campaign staff, and spent virtually no time in the string of primary election states that she lost. The reason was simple. She smartly concentrated on winning the two states that she had to win, Texas and Ohio. The losses in the smaller primary states meant little since she still had an ample number of delegates and super delegates in the bank. In fact despite the loss in these eleven primary states she was still about five percentage points behind her rival in the delegate count. Losses in the Democratic primary meant even less still in states such as Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and Montana. They are safe Red States and the eventual Democratic nominee doesn't have a prayer of winning them anyway in the general election.
The victories in Texas and Ohio, coupled with the wins in California, and New York prove one thing and that's that Clinton can win the big states. This is the absolute minimum requirement for a Democratic nominee to have any shot at beating John McCain. Clinton's wins in Texas and Ohio does even more. They demonstrated that she can be competitive with one powerful constituency and maintain a solid grip on the other that a Democratic nominee must either win the majority vote from or a sizable percentage of their vote. The two constituencies are Latinos and blue collar whites. Bush got more than forty percent of the Latino vote in 2004. As other GOP presidents and candidates dating back to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bush got the vote of the overwhelming majority of blue collar whites, especially white males. Ohio is the bluest of blue collar states and Clinton got a smash win there. That's a hint that Ohio could be competitive for the Democrats, that is if she's the nominee. The Democrat's lock on the Latino vote is solid, again, only if she's the nominee.
The charter hate Hillary club members also delight in constantly harping on the supposed mounds of Clinton negatives. The point supposedly is that this alone is enough to set the Democrats on a train wreck course with her as the nominee. But the polls also have consistently shown that voters like her for her strength and experience. When they assess her positions on health care, jobs and the economy, and in dealing with the sub prime crisis, without the filter of distortions and twisting, her positions are sound, reasonable and workable, and much better than anything offered by any of the other candidates.
The polls show something else and that's that in a head to head race with McCain, Clinton loses by a few percentage points or is statistically even with him. This too is supposedly proof that Clinton will sink the party. But these are the same polls that showed Clinton losing virtually every contest in every primary. These are the same polls that did not factor in that Clinton tactically and strategically picked the primaries that she chose to make a major effort to win and then proceeded to do just that.
There are more primaries ahead, but despite all the fervent hopes and delicious dreams of the hate Clinton club members; she will win more primaries, Pennsylvania, being the most likely. That will further strengthen the case that she can and should boldly make and that's that she can win the big states and make the White House race a real contest. In other words, there are more bad nights in store for the hate Clinton club members.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008). Ethnicpresidency.com