Monday, February 04, 2008

Clinton lead dwindles ahead of Super Tuesday

As Super Tuesday draws inexorably nearer, all the signs are that Obama is closing the gap, and both Clinton and Obama are moving the argument on to which of them could actually beat whoever the Republicans put forward for the Presidency.

In an interview on ABC, he (Obama) suggested Clinton's history made her a polarising figure and that he was more electable. "I think I can get votes that Senator Clinton can't get," he said.
Meanwhile, Clinton was hitting back:

She stressed that as a battle-scarred veteran she could better withstand Republican attacks. "General elections are much more contested. The other side has no compunction about raising any issue against anyone they are running against," she said.

This was something that I thought Bill Clinton was hinting at before South Carolina , the notion that Obama is simply too nice to face down the Republican attack dog machine.

It's certainly an effective charge, the danger that - by electing Obama - the Democrats are once again electing a nice guy who will ultimately lose. However, Obama is countering this well with his argument that Hillary is someone who produces a very strong reaction in people and carries a lot of baggage. That's true as, even here in Britain, I have seen people react with instant revulsion when her name is mentioned. And this was amongst people with only a peripheral interest in politics.

What's undeniable is that Obama is giving Clinton a run for her money and, as Super Tuesday approaches, he's narrowing her lead in the polls to the point where her victory is not guaranteed.

Weekend polls confirmed the trend that Obama is closing the gap. A Washington Post-ABC news poll yesterday showed Clinton on 47% to Obama's 43%.

MSNBC-McClatchy, polling in key battleground states, also had Obama gaining on Clinton. He was ahead in Georgia, which has a large African-American population, by 47% to 41%. The poll even showed him catching up with Clinton in her own backyard, with a gap of only 7% in New Jersey. In Arizona, which had been thought to be for Clinton because of its large Latino population, she was on 43% and Obama on 41%.

The Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press said in its poll that Obama had made important inroads among white male voters, especially middle-aged and middle-income voters who had previously been solidly behind Clinton. It said he had picked up a significant share of John Edwards's support following his exit from the race last week. The poll put Clinton on 46% of the vote nationally, against 38%.

It now looks as if the Republican field, which has been impossible to read for so many weeks, has cleared to show McCain as the clear favourite - much to the chagrin of many on the right of the Republican movement - and the question for many Democrats is whether Hillary or Barack is the best candidate to take him on.

A question that appears to be splitting families:

Loretta and Linda Sanchez, the only sisters in the House of Representatives, have endorsed Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, respectively. And Penny Pritzker, a Chicago philanthropist, serves as Mr. Obama’s national finance chairman even as her brother, Jay Robert, holds fund-raisers across town for Mrs. Clinton.

“Within the family, for the first time you have different opinions,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California and Ms. Shriver’s husband, told The San Francisco Chronicle last week, around the same time Mr. Obama was calling his wife and coaxing her to his side. Three of Robert F. Kennedy’s children have endorsed Mrs. Clinton, while their mother, Ethel Kennedy, supports Mr. Obama, along with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and Representative Patrick J. Kennedy. “I’ve been in the family 30 years, and I’ve never seen that,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who has endorsed Senator John McCain.

As Super Tuesday approaches, Hillary's stroll to the Democratic nomination is far from guaranteed.

Click title for full article.


Shade Tail said...

This American is glad that other countries are paying attention. America ought to be under the microscope from time to time. Turn about is fair play, after all.

Anyway, on to the issue...

I, for one, am not worried about Obama being able to deal with the Republican noise machine. Not that it isn't a legitimate issue, I just think he is able to deal with it. He was able to deal with Faux "News" easily enough, refusing to appear on their shows or in their debates, pulling the rug out from under them when they were running with that "radical madrassa" smear, and so on. Faux sneered about how he was making a mistake by writing them off but he didn't even turn a hair at their posturing, and he was proven right. It got to the point where Bill O'Rielly was reduced to assaulting one of Obama's people just to get a word with him after the New Hampshire primary.

And more than once, Obama has been able to raise really sharp points about the Republican propeganda machine. In the most recent debate, for instance, he mentioned that he was looking forward to republicans calling him the usual epithet of "tax-and-spend liberal" so that he could throw their own fiscal irresponsibility in their faces.

I don't like some of his positions; I was going to vote for Edwards in the coming primary. But he's dropped out, so now I'm voting for Obama. He's not very different from Clinton on policy specifics, but I like his message of hope better than her message of experience (particularly since there really isn't all that much difference in the experience area).

Whichever of them wins, though, if they make it to the presidency I hope they offer the other a cabinet position. They're both head, shoulders, and waist above pretty much any republican in the field today.

Anonymous said...

I would add to Shade Tall post and say, that speaking of cabinet, I think that Obama would put together a much more diverse and open minded cabinet than Clinton. Clinton will do as her husband did and begin campaigning on her first day in office, eye toward that second term and not towards really getting anything done. They are very similar in their positions, but I believe Obama to be the one to actually bring together all sides and find an answer somewhere in the middle.

Kel said...

I, for one, am not worried about Obama being able to deal with the Republican noise machine. Not that it isn't a legitimate issue, I just think he is able to deal with it.

Shade Tail, I am delighted to hear you say that. I had forgotten about the Faux News debacle. Todays polls are saying that he has pulled neck and neck with Clinton ahead of the vote, so lets keep our fingers crossed. I have largely stayed on the fence - as I will support whichever candidate eventually prevails - but I must admit, like yourself, to find Obama and his message truly inspiring. It just feels like his moment is now.

Anonymous, I agree that Obama would represent a new kind of politics and that this would be reflected in his cabinet. I also doubt that Clinton would accept a post in an Obama government, even if he were to ask her to have another attempt at reforming healthcare.