Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Loose Lips and Democratic Ships"

E.J. Dionne conducts a graduate seminar in political science in his column yesterday in the Washington Post, drawing on "The Real Majority," a 1970 book by Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg:
They argued that when working-class voters cast ballots on the basis of economics, they backed Democrats; when they voted on "the social issue," meaning crime, race and values, they tilted Republican.

Scammon and Wattenberg's analysis was aimed at helping Democrats, but Richard Nixon rode it to victory in 1972. Republicans have been following this script ever since.

But then there are those two Obama words that shook the campaign: "cling" and "bitter." Really dumb word choices. The second paragraph, far less empathetic than the first, makes Obama sound like the author of an undergraduate paper, not a candidate for president.

At one level, who can blame Hillary Clinton for going after Obama's mistake? Her campaign looked set to collapse, if not in Pennsylvania then shortly thereafter. Of course she capitalized on his error by accusing him of being elitist.
Dionne goes on to mock Clinton's working-class credentials by citing her own "elite" biography and he bashes Clinton for "her blessing upon the crude stereotypes (about Al Gore and John Kerry) peddled relentlessly by Republican consultants." He concludes by chiding them both for "doing all they can to make it easy for Republicans to pretend one more time that they are the salt of the earth."

Don't get me wrong, I'm still an Obama-lover. But I can't really argue with his analysis. This morning, we can read "Democrats Willing to Let Battle Continue--Poll Shows Gains in Key Areas for Obama" on the WaPo's front page (excerpt):
Sen. Barack Obama holds a 10-point lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when Democrats are asked whom they would prefer to see emerge as the party's presidential nominee, but there is little public pressure to bring the long and increasingly heated contest to an end, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The fierce battle, however, appears to have taken a toll on the image of Clinton, who was once seen as the favorite. And Obama has widened his lead since early February on several key qualities that voters are looking for in a candidate and has narrowed sizable advantages for Clinton on others.

He now has a 2-to-1 edge on who is considered more electable in a general contest -- a major reversal from the last poll -- and has dramatically reduced a large Clinton lead on which of the two is the "stronger leader."

While Clinton retains a big edge over Obama on experience, public impressions of her have taken a sharply negative turn. Today, more Americans have an unfavorable view of her than at any time since The Post and ABC began asking the question, in 1992. Impressions of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, also have grown negative by a small margin.

In the new poll, 54 percent said they have an unfavorable view of Sen. Clinton, up from 40 percent a few days after she won the New Hampshire primary in early January. Her favorability rating has dropped among both Democrats and independents over the past three months, although her overall such rating among Democrats remains high. Nearly six in 10 independents now view her unfavorably.

Obama's favorability rating also has declined over the same period but remains, on balance, more positive than negative.

The findings come as the two contenders prepare to meet tonight in Philadelphia for their first debate in more than a month and their final direct encounter before Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary. The exchange will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time and will air on ABC News.
I'll watch, but I wonder how many potential viewers won't, turned off by the seemingly endless bickering in a primary campaign that feels like a movie "30 minutes too long."


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