Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Bit More On The West Virginia Smackdown

Last night I commented on how Hillary was proclaiming that her West Virginia victory was just more proof that she appeals to the core base that will propel her and not Obama to the White House. The New York Times takes that premise and runs with it and gives us some interesting facts, some from last night's landslide and some from Clinton herself.

First some interesting numbers from last night and probably the major reason why Obama didn't even attempt to improve his West Virginia showing.
The number of white Democratic voters who said race had influenced their choices on Tuesday was among the highest recorded in voter surveys in the nomination fight. Two in 10 white West Virginia voters said race was an important factor in their votes. More than 8 in 10 who said it factored in their votes backed Mrs. Clinton, according to exit polls.

So winning a state with a large population like the women in the video I linked to yesterday, one of whom swears despite being told otherwise that Obama is a Muslim and where 20% of the Democrats voting were willing to say that race is an important factor (how many were not willing to say but felt that way?), is a tremendous victory that should endear her to the remaining uncommitted super delegates (her one and only chance to get the nomination)?

According to Clinton, there is something else about West Virginia other than the racial component that proves that she should be the nominee.
As the Clinton campaign noted in a strategy memo on Tuesday, no Democrat has won the White House without winning West Virginia since 1916. Bill Clinton carried it in 1992 and 1996. Al Gore and John Kerry lost the state in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

So she says that because she has history on her side she should be chosen despite losing the popular vote and the overall delegate count? So what about this?
The argument is not without flaw. For one thing, Democratic candidates have lost West Virginia’s primary, gone on to win the nomination, and then won West Virginia in the general election anyway. For another, as Matt Yglesias noted in a mocking tone, “[N]o Democrat has won the White House without carrying Minnesota since 1912 (it went for Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party) so given that Obama won Minnesota and Clinton won West Virginia, McCain is guaranteed to win the general election unless the eventual nominee can somehow completely replicate the social and political conditions prevailing in pre-WWI America.”

Funny thing about spin, it can be spun many different ways, often times to the detriment of the one doing the spinning. Also, should West Virginia be used as a basis for any major trends on a national level? As with what will happen here on June 3rd when we go through the motions, I hope not.

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