The Campaign Spot

Could Hillary Gain From Losing South Carolina?

Michael Graham zags when everybody else zigs, and suggests that winning South Carolina could be trouble for Barack Obama. He concurs with Dick Morris in contending:

If Hillary loses South Carolina and the defeat serves to demonstrate Obama’s ability to attract a bloc vote among black Democrats, the message will go out loud and clear to white voters that this is a racial fight. It’s one thing for polls to show, as they now do, that Obama beats Hillary among African-Americans by better than 4-to-1 and Hillary carries whites by almost 2-to-1. But most people don’t read the fine print on the polls. But if blacks deliver South Carolina to Obama, everybody will know that they are bloc-voting. That will trigger a massive white backlash against Obama and will drive white voters to Hillary Clinton.

I’m not quite convinced. Winning a vast majority of the black vote is enough to turn Obama into Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton in the eyes of white voters? Is the dynamic in the Democratic primary that racially diametrically opposed? Or is it that white Democrats will conclude, “oh, I could vote for an African-American, because I’m an open-minded progressive, but we can’t nominate him because the general electorate is so full of racists”?
I note that Obama’s getting 18 percent of the white Democrat vote in South Carolina, and Hillary’s actually losing to Edwards in this demographic.
And I really don’t follow this thinking offered by Morris:

Of course, this begs the question of how she will be able to attract blacks after beating Obama. Here the South Carolina strategy also serves its purpose. If she loses blacks and wins whites by attacking Obama, it will look dirty and underhanded to blacks. She’ll develop a real problem in the minority community. But if she is seen as being rejected by minority voters in favor of Obama after going hat in hand to them and trying to out-civil rights Obama, blacks will even likely feel guilty about rejecting Hillary and will be more than willing to support her in the general election.

First, the Washington Post runs a front-page story essentially calling “BS” on a Hillary radio ad that mischaracterizes his words about Reagan, and the editors chime in too: “In fact, on policy grounds, the two candidates are extremely close, which makes the nomination fight in part about character and judgment. This episode does not speak well for Ms. Clinton’s.”
(Oh, really, the Post editors just notice this now? To quote John McClane, ”Welcome to the party, pal!”)
I wouldn’t count on African-Americans switching to the GOP if Hillary is the Democratic nominee. But she and her campaign are managing to appall a lot of traditional allies with a shamelessly dishonest attack machine.
Then again, Graham and Morris have run a lot more campaigns than I have…

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