27 January 2008

A message to the Clintons to cool it?

By giving Barack Obama an overwhelming win in South Carolina yesterday, voters there sent two clear messages.

They liked what they saw from Obama as a candidate.

They also seemed to be saying they didn't care for the way the Clintons conducted themselves in the state and they'd like to see the Clintons scale back the negative campaigning that has dominated their efforts in the past few weeks.

But neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton seem to be listening.

If you doubt that Obama's two-to-one win over Clinton was, in part, the result of the blowback against the politics of race and misrepresentation practiced mostly by the former president, consider these numbers from the exit polls yesterday.

Seven in 10 of those polled felt that Hillary Clinton unfairly attacked Barack Obama during the South Carolina campaign.

Obama, who chose to respond in-kind, was seen by 53% of those polled as having attacked Clinton unfairly.

Some 54% of those who saw Clinton's criticism of Obama as unfair voted for Obama; another 21% voted for John Edwards.

But of those who saw Obama's attacks as unfair, 41% voted for the IIllinois senator anyway, perhaps suggesting that they felt it necessary for Obama to hit back - unfairly or otherwise.

Of those polled, 58% said Bill Clinton's campaigning had an important or somewhat important impact on their vote. Among those who felt that, 48% voted for Obama and another 15% voted for Edwards. The rest went for Hillary Clinton.

While it would have been nice for the pollsters to have taken it one - obvious - step further and asked voters if the Bill Clinton affect was positive or negative, they didn't. But from the numbers above I think it's safe to assume Bill Clinton's campaign conduct did not help his wife.

But, if the voters were indeed sending the Clinton's a message about poor behavior on the stump, they don't seem to be getting it.

As the results were beginning to become clear, at around dinner time last night, Hillary Clinton bolted from South Carolina and never did offer up the customary concession speech. Bill Clinton made quick mention of Obama's victory in a later appearance.

Earlier in the day Clinton tried to dismiss Obama's victory as a win for the black guy in a state dominated by black Democratic voters. He likened it to Jesse Jackson's one-shot wins in the state in 1984 and 1988.

Earlier last week, Sen. Clinton ruffled feathers among Democrats by suggesting that Michigan and Florida be permitted to seat their delegates at the party convention.

The national party had ruled long ago that delegates from the two states would not be seated at the convention because party officials in the two states moved their primaries into January against national party rules.

At the time, all the major Democratic candidates agreed not to participate in the state's primaries. None campaigned in Michigan, but Clinton was the only major candidate to keep her name on the ballot.

She won the state handily, and is well ahead in the polls for this week's tainted Florida vote.

Whatever you think about the national party's decision to disenfranchise voters in the two states, all the candidates went along with the plan. Now Clinton wants to change rules im the middle of the game.

As an indication that she is not bothered by the negative reaction to her call to count the delegates from the two non-cooperative states, Clinton announced today on CBS's Face the Nation that she intends to be in Florida on Tuesday, the day of the primary.

For two people as politically astute as the Clinton's, they don't seem to understand that the Democrats they hope to once-again lead have been burned badly in the past presidential elections by Swift-boating, push polling and all manner of dirty tricks cooked up by Karl Rove and company.

They don't seem to get that Democrats are not in the mood to watch the same kind of tactics be employed in-house on one Democrat by another.

Further reading:

Bill Clinton's L
ost Legacy; Vaughn Ververs CBSNews.com

Tonight in South Carolina; Joe Klein Time magazine

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama is a phony!!! When are these stupid people (mostly young) voting for him going to wake up and truly understand where his hidden interests (and his wife's) lie?! It isn't for the American people. He is all smoke and mirrors with great writers for his speeches. HE HAS DONE NOTHING AS A SENATOR AND TURNED HIS BACK ON PEOPLE IN HIS HOME STATE OF ILLINOIS. NOTHING!!!!