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It’s over: Wisconsin helps Obama lock up nomination

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Joel McNally
February 25, 2008

Even though it is now just one of 11 straight victories for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Wisconsin presidential primary could go down in history as the turning point that secured the Democratic presidential nomination for the nation’s first African-American president.


That is because Obama’s blowout 17-point victory here over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton finally erased any claim Clinton had to greater appeal to any significant group of voters in America.


In previous contests around the country, Obama already had been running far ahead of Clinton among young voters, college-educated voters, African-American voters, white male voters and working professionals making more than $50,000 a year.


In Wisconsin, Obama continued to dominate those groups, but he also added blue-collar voters, Latino voters and, in a stunning shift, ran even with Clinton among white women.


Although African-American and Latino voters were not a major factor in blindingly white Wisconsin, their support for Obama was among his highest within any demographic groups yet. Obama took more than 90 percent of the black vote statewide and, on Milwaukee’s south side, swept one voting district with a large Latino population by more than 90 percent, as well.


Just about the only remaining voters who prefer Clinton over Obama are white women older than 60.


That’s a pretty slim reed on which to hang presidential hopes, especially because the Republicans are poised to nominate septuagenarian John McCain, the heartthrob of any nursing home, hands down.


Since Wisconsin, Clinton herself has been totally baffled as to how to run against Obama. She showed up at the debate in Texas last week as Sybil.


Clinton’s multiple personalities swung violently back and forth from being honored to be on the same stage with Obama to attacking him as a glib fraud who had no right to share the stage with her. She foolishly persisted with the charge that Obama had plagiarized by using lines in a Milwaukee speech suggested to him by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, his national campaign co-chair. When you are in a make-or-break political debate, it’s never good to draw boos.


Since then, Clinton’s campaign has taken even stranger turns. In Ohio, she’s claimed to be absolutely outraged that Obama had sent mailings tying her to NAFTA, the unpopular trade agreement championed by her husband, and criticizing her universal health care plan.


“Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care?” Clinton demanded angrily.


Well, since Clinton began months ago attacking Obama on universal health care in nearly every speech, claiming his plan would leave out 15 million Americans.


The Clinton campaign, which in Iowa forwarded a hoax e-mail falsely accusing Obama of being a Muslim intent on destroying the United States, has begun circulating a picture in Ohio of Obama dressed in traditional Kenyan garments on a trip to Africa in 2006.


One possible interpretation in white, Midwestern Ohio is that there is something terribly African and possibly un-American about Obama. The angry, flailing Clinton campaign reflects desperation. She’s falling further and further behind in delegates.


Obama’s supporters used to worry about the so-called Superdelegates undoing the will of the voters by throwing their support behind Clinton despite Obama’s growing lead in states won, elected delegates and the popular vote.


But the Superdelegates—Democratic members of Congress, governors, mayors and party activists—have to face election themselves in their states.


Not only could going against the voters be political suicide, but it would undoubtedly create an angry split in the Democratic Party that would blow the Democrats’ perfect opportunity to recapture the White House after the disasters of the Bush presidency at home and abroad.


Superdelegates already have started to move to Obama. The movement will become a tsunami as it becomes increasingly clear Clinton cannot pick up enough delegates in Ohio or Texas next Tuesday to slow Obama.


After that, the party will not want Clinton angrily trying to inflict damage on Obama, the most exciting nominee the Democratic Party has had in decades. Clinton will drop out of the race shortly after next Tuesday.


Joel McNally is a syndicated columnist. His e-mail address is jmcnally@wi.rr.com.

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