I am saddened that our local news radio station, WTOP, has run a serious on why we shouldn't discuss politics -- particularly at work. Why? Because it's potentially divisive. Apparently, the notion that as grown ups and citizens why should talk to each other about the most vital issues (i.e., self governance) because we just can't handle it and all should be reduced to pleasantries. Feh. A recipe for breeding sheep.
Nevertheless, as this is rather long and controversial, I drop it below the fold.
Nevada has shown the ethnic breakdown and the black/brown split that folks who do not cover progressive politics frequently find surprising. Despite the attack by pro-Clinton unions on the casino caucusing sites, 7 out of 9 of these sites went for Clinton. Why? Latinos and women went heavily for Clinton. By contrast, African Americans (who constitute a substantial proportion of the leadership of the Culinary and Hotel Workers union) went heavily for Obama. White men split evenly, while white women more heavily supported Clinton.
Clinton was certainly helped by two things -- momentum coming in from New Hampshire and a strong showing in the televised Nevada debate. While none of the candidates "won" the debate, it provided ample evidence to solidify people's opinions on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates.
But Clinton has also been helped by the compressed primary schedule and the ability to engage in the sort of "covert ops" campaigning that can sway an undecided electorate for a few days, without worrying about being discovered after. This includes the continued anonymous attacks on Obama as "really" a Moslem (you can see a letter by 7 prominent Jewish Senators decrying this tactic and calling on all Jews to reject these "scurrilous attacks" here. In addition, Obama has seen
increasing attacks from Bill Clinton, circulation of attacks on his positions by various proxies for Clinton, in a manner all too similar to that employed by the Bush campaign in previous years.
This has left Obama somewhat flummoxed. Has he learned in NH, a direct attack against Clinton risks cementing her emotional connection with women. On the other hand, a failure to tag Clinton with responsibility for the ads (assuming this is in fact the case) forces Obama to shadowbox while whittling away at just enough support to put Clinton over the top.
Obama is countering with some focused criticism of Bill (rather than Hilary) and a new advertisement featuring freshman MO Senator Claire McCaskill. In the ad, McCaskill talks of Obama's skill in getting ethics legislation passed. The idea is to highlight his leadership skills, remind folks of the anti-Washington sentiment that should work against Clinton, and show that a woman other than Oprah likes him. McCaskill is a Freshman Senator elected as part of the 2006 reaction against the Rs, and is therefore likely to play well with folks opposed to the more traditional Dems/DLC wing of the party.
As some party leaders have begun to worry in the Bill Clinton v Obama fight, these tactics may win the nomination and lose the election. Many have made much at the huge jump in registration and turn outs among the Ds. Much of that comes from young voters and a new class of people inspired to go out and fight for the candidate in which they believe. That applies to both Clinton supports and Obama supporters. But there is absolutely no guarantee that this huge turn out for the Ds in primaries translates into a huge turn out for Ds on election day -- especially if these new voters come to perceive little difference between the Ds and Rs.