Yesterday’s 8.6% win in Pennsylvania by Hillary Clinton revealed both much and little about the nature of the 2008 Democratic bid for the White House, if not American politics as a whole.
On one hand, Clinton’s victory did little to budge the math enjoyed by Barack Obama, with his lead in elected delegates and popular vote intact. Yet Obama’s recent inability to win white and blue-collar votes has become a significant Achilles Heel for his campaign. Truly, Obama cannot rely solely on young and African-American voters to drive him to victory, not only versus Hillary this spring, but in a general election match-up versus John McCain as well.
I still believe Obama will win North Carolina by a big margin on May 6, with Indiana now a toss-up courtesy of the momentum (however lasting) earned by Clinton in PA.
Neither of these calls are very earth-shattering, but this continued lack of a unified vote across the Democratic Party is troubling for its supporters. Ironically, Democrats are languishing under a perfect storm created by the notoriety of Obama and Clinton as historic election year front-runners, with each enjoying support from specific voting blocs while failing to win the soul of the overall party.
In the meantime, as Republicans relish the struggles of Democrats, a beached whale of an economy and Iraq in stasis gives them little to cheer about either. Yes, the party has its candidate in John McCain (with Mitt Romney strutting for a VP spot like a hooker on an exit ramp), but today’s GOP is hardly a gang held aloft by focused, Reagan-style optimism. Plus, in addition to liquid cash, McCain is also staggering light on details for a national vision, and God knows the outgoing administration is hardly a star he should hitch his wagon to (although McCain is certainly trying).
So judging from all of the above, it seems the U.S. electorate has few options, and little idea of what the hell it wants – a situation which I’m sure will be resolved in November, but is one that inspires little optimism in the nation’s future.