I spoke to a Republican strategist/consultant this morning, asking what he made of Obama’s impressive results from last night. After the rough couple of weeks Obama had (Wright, tough debate, losing Pennsylvania, Wright, Wright) I wondered if the Illinois senator really was coated in Teflon…
This strategist pointed out a few things to keep in mind. First, Hillary began the primary as the most divisive figure in American politics, with higher negative ratings, and more Americans saying they were certain to not vote for her her, than any other candidate before her.
Then her husband went negative on Obama, and alienated African-Americans.
While everyone recognizes Obama’s had a tough couple of weeks, Hillary’s been going through a rough patch of her own, as well. Her “honest and trustworthy” ratings went into the toilet, in the wake of the tale of the Tuzla Dash: “Clinton is viewed as “honest and trustworthy” by just 39 percent of Americans, according to a new poll, compared with 52 percent in May 2006. Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy.” Yesterday, in North Carolina, Democrats split on whether she was “honest and trustworthy,” 49 percent to 49 percent. In Indiana, Democrats split 54 percent yes, 44 percent no.
The press tired of covering the Clinton marriage psychodrama a long time ago and anointed her rival the secular messiah. She can’t buy good coverage lately. In campaign advertising, Obama outspent her by a large margin. Her gas tax holiday proposal was a bridge too far for even Paul Krugman.
Finally, her bet in the Kentucky Derby died, after coming in second to “Big Brown,” thus creating the most heavy-handed political metaphor of the cycle.
And yet almost 40 percent of Clinton voters in Indiana yesterday told exit pollsters they would vote for McCain over Obama. White independents in North Carolina split in her favor, 58 percent to 38 percent.
This process has driven a wedge between Obama and a certain segment of the Democratic base. He’s damaged goods among many of these folks. And while Obama has time, these voters may or may not warm up to him by November.