Byron’s analysis of the Clinton/Obama numbers is very sound, but I wonder if in dividing primary season into quarters he doesn’t miss a cruder point: For the last three months, Mrs Clinton has been deemed to be in trouble and been urged ever more frantically to pack it in and get the hell out. Yet the more Senator Obama has been the nominee presumptive, the more Democrat voters have refused to warm up to him. In Kentucky, he lost not just the usual groups by the usual margins – white working-class men by a gazillion per cent, etc – but Mrs Clinton also won college graduates and “the young”: two groups allegedly especially star-struck by the Obamessiah.
There’s no precedent in modern primary history for a candidate growing weaker* the more his nomination becomes inevitable. His boast of finally getting a majority of pledged delegates – or whatever cockamie Democrat arithmetical milestone he reached last night – felt like a steam train running out of coal. He’s still moving uphill, just about, but ever slower …and slower …and slo..w…er.
If I were a party bigwig, I’d be unnerved by some of these numbers. The media have fallen for Senator Obama, but the louder they trill “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love with a wonderful guy!”, the more Democratic voters refuse to singalong.
By the way, if Hillary had been campaigning the way she’s doing now this time last year instead of doing the queenlier-than-thou Barbra Streisand routine, she’d have won.
[UPDATE: *Poorly phrased: I should have said there’s no precedent for a candidate getting “so weak”. Obviously, presumptive nominees from Mondale to Dole managed to frost up the base as primary season wore on – but not to this degree, and not to the point where 50% of Democrat primary voters in Kentucky tell pollsters they wouldn’t vote for Obama in November.]