The primaries in Kentucky and Oregon
Article added on May 21, 2008 at 13:05 Brussels time
After the primaries in Kentucky
and Oregon, Barack Obama rightly claims that he has secured the majority of
pledged delegates to the Democratic Convention in August. There is no way
Hillary Clinton can undo the results of the caucuses and primaries of the
Democratic party base. To reverse the choice of the majority, the
superdelegates would need an extremely strong reason, one that is not in
In Kentucky, with 100% of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton won
impressive 65% of the Democratic vote, Barack Obama only 30%. In Oregon
however, with 87% of precincts reporting, Barack Obama is leading with 58%
in front of Hillary Clinton with 42% of the Democratic vote. In Kentucky, 51
pledged delegates were at stake, in Oregon 52.
Barack Obama has not faltered after reverend Jeremiah Wright's TV
appearances and the Democratic frontrunner's subsequent fall out with his
longtime pastor. Although Obama was hugely embarrassed by Wright's TV
interviews, the break up with his
pastor has neither harmed him sensitively within the African-American
community nor within the White majority in Oregon.
However, as expected by the polls, Barack Obama clearly lost Kentucky to
Hillary Clinton. Since John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Richard Nixon in
the 1960 presidential race, no Democrat has won the presidency without
carrying the state of Kentucky.
Furthermore, among Hillary Clinton's supporters in Kentucky, a staggering
80% said that they would be unhappy with Barack Obama as the Democrats'
presidential candidate. Only one-third of the Clinton supporters said that
they would vote for Obama in November, if he became the party's nominee.
The dissatisfaction both with the Clinton and the Obama supporters with
their respective party rival is growing. We can only repeat ourselves: the
quicker this race is over, the better for the Democrats. The further the
nomination fight drags on, the longer the healing process within the party
Unfortunately for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is still far from conceding
defeat. On the contrary, she hopes that the superdelegates will reverse the
fortunes and make her the party's presidential nominee. But even with
superdelegates, Barack Obama is ahead of Hillary Clinton. Counting all
delegates and superdelegates, Barack Obama is only some 70 votes away from
the majority of all delegates.
In the last primaries, there are only 85 pledged delegates left to be won.
Therefore, even Barack Obama needs to win additional superdelegates in order
to win the nomination. Before the primaries in Kentucky and Oregon, there
were still 221 undecleared superdelates left.
After his win in Oregon, Barack Obama chose Iowa to address his supporters.
This is a clear indication that he is shifting his attention away from
Hillary Clinton and towards John McCain.
On May 20th, 2008 Obama told the crowd in Iowa:
“The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope. And by the
fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out. But the people
of Iowa had a different idea.” To which I would respond: Obama remains the
most overhyped candidate in the race.
Barack Obama has a strong appeal among the more affluent, better educated
and liberal voters in Oregon, where almost 60% of the Democrats describe
“liberals” and almost 80% have a college education.
Maybe the best news for Obama from Oregon is that - according to exit polls
- he managed to almost draw even with Hillary Clinton among White voters
with no college education. It remains to be seen in November whether the
voters from West Virginia or the ones from Oregon best describe the whites
attitude towards him.
Videos showing sermons by Jeremiah Wright (with or without Barack Obama)
will surely flood the internet between August and November. The campaign
will get nastier.
John McCain's attack on Barack Obama for being soft on terrorism may well
backfire if the situation in Iraq does not improve. It remains a mistery why
George W. Bush is not sending additional troops to Iraq. If 30,000 soldiers
made a difference, another 30,000 may have an even more profound impact. If
Iraq remains a disaster zone until November, the Democrats will not only win
both chambers of the parliament, but also the White House.
The best hope for Republicans remains Hillary Clinton. After her impressive
win in Kentucky, she made clear that she had no intention to end her race to
the White House before the Democratic caucuses and primaries end on June 3:
“We are winning the popular vote, and I am more determined than ever to see
every vote is cast and every ballot is counted.” Puerto Rico, Montana and
South Dakota are the three remaining Democratic contests.