Wednesday, May 07, 2008

North Carolina and Indiana: Winners and Losers

The Fix lays out the winners and losers from the North Carolina and Indiana primaries.


Black Voters: Time and time again, African American voters have propelled Obama in the nomination fight. From South Carolina's primary through Feb. 5 states like Georgia and Alabama and into Tuesday night's result in North Carolina, black voters turned out in record numbers and lined up solidly behind Obama. One-in-every-three voters in North Carolina were black and Obama won a whopping 91 percent of them. Make no mistake: If and when Obama formally becomes the nominee, he will owe the black community a significant debt of gratitude.

"Dream Ticket": The polite victory speeches of Clinton and Obama - full of kind words for each other and gestures of potential outreach - drove cable commentators wild about the possibility of the New York senator accepting a spot on the ticket as vice president. Harold Ford Jr., a former Democratic congressman from Tennessee, broached the possibility during an appearance on MSNBC, telling hosts Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann that a shared ticket is "something that this party is going to have to think very seriously about in the next few weeks." Somewhere House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is rolling her eyes.

Rush Limbaugh: Whether or not you believe in "Operation Chaos," the conservative talk radio host got lots and lots of credit for disrupting the Democratic race. Obama's campaign sent out several e-mails touting Limbaugh's call for Republicans to cross over and support Clinton (thereby extending the Democratic contest). And exit polling showed that Republicans made up 11 percent of the vote in Indiana, and that bloc went to Clinton by a 53 percent to 45 percent margin. The Limbaugh Effect? That probably gives the conservative talker a bit too much credit, but the publicity he got last night from cable television was priceless.

Young Voters: No age group has been more ridiculed for their lack of participation than those under 30. But in Indiana that age group comprised 16 percent of the overall vote while those 65 or older comprised 15 percent. Under 30s went for Obama 61 percent to 39 percent, a margin that all but neutralized Clinton's 44 percent margin among older Hoosiers.

Gary, Indiana: Not since the Jackson Five or perhaps "The Music Man" has this northwestern Indiana city got so much national attention. For a few hours last night, the Mayor of Gary was the biggest "get" in the world of cable television and print reporting.

The Picket Fence Play: Were we the only ones who, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, started making comparisons between Obama's Lake County comeback and the play Dennis Hopper drew up to win the championship game for Hickory High in "Hoosiers"?


Evan Bayh: The Indiana senator put his own political chops on the line in the two weeks between Pennsylvania and Tuesday night's vote - serving as an aggressive voice for Clinton (and against Obama) in the hurly burly leading up to the primary. Despite reports from both campaigns about Bayh's popularity among state voters, he simply wasn't able to deliver his candidate the sort of victory she needed to claim momentum going forward.

Mike Easley: The North Carolina governor's decision to endorse Clinton was seen as a potential turning point in the race. Or not. Obama hammered Clinton in the Tarheel State, and Easley, who will be looking for a job when his second term expires later this year, did himself no favors in positioning for a possible Obama cabinet. (On a more positive note, Easley's heir apparent - Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue - claimed a solid win in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.)

The Wright Controversy: Exit polling in Indiana and North Carolina suggests that the comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright last week weren't the anchor around Obama's ankle that many believed they would be. About a third of voters in both states said Wright was "very important" in deciding their vote, and those blocs went strongly for Clinton. About a third of voters said Wright was "not at all important" in their choice of candidate, and they opted for Obama by even wider margins. What do all those number say? That if you came into the Wright controversy favoring Clinton, you came out of it thinking the same thing. And if you were an Obama supporter before the Wright reemergence, you remained one afterwards. Put simply - much ado over not all that much.

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