by Todd Beeton, Wed May 07, 2008 at 12:47:54 PM EDT
Today Hillary Clinton announced that in no uncertain terms she would fight on toward the nomination. Perhaps I should have expected nothing less. She added a public event in West Virginia today and said in a press conference:
"Well, I'm saying in this race until there's a nominee. And I obviously am going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee."
While, as I wrote last night, I don't think she'll ultimately be the nominee, I support her decision to continue. The rest of the states deserve to participate in this historic election and seeing as on MSNBC last night Howard Dean refused to ratify 2,025 as the magic number of delegates needed to win the nomination pending the results of the Rules Committee meeting on May 31st, it would appear Clinton has a credible case to make that the race goes on even if superdelegates put him over the 2,025 threshold in the coming days or weeks, at least until that committee decides what to do about MI & FL. So, fight on, Senator.
On a call earlier today, the Clinton campaign boasted of her success among white voters as sort of a rationale to continue in the race. Certainly, looking at North Carolina exit polls, it's clear Hillary Clinton did do very well among white voters, winning 61% of the vote. According to Insider Advantage, 60% was the magic number she needed to win the state, although this presumed that Barack would get under 80% of the African-American vote. He got over 90%. PPP was closer, saying that Clinton's winning 60% of whites would put her within 10% of Barack Obama, but this again presumed that 80% of the black vote would go for him. Clearly a good chunk of black voters told pollsters they would vote for Hillary Clinton but then voted for Barack Obama. Interesting that this phenomenon continues unabated.
But perhaps even more dramatic was how she did among independents in NC. As I've written before, since Feburary 5th Barack Obama has been gradually bleeding support among independents to Hillary Clinton in open or quasi-open primaries. Last night in North Carolina, Hillary Clinton had her best performance yet winning them 50-45. Barack Obama reversed that trend in Indiana, however, winning them 54-46, so Clinton can not credibly claim out of last night that she is eating into his base. In fact, as Jerome wrote earlier, in Indiana, he ate into hers.
What the Clinton campaign is doing, in my mind, and what is at the heart of her continuing on in the race, is to demonstrate how crucial Hillary Clinton's presence on the ticket is to Obama's victory in November. The longer she is able to continue in the race and the better she continues to do among white working class voters in states such as West Virginia and Kentucky, the more compelling the rationale for offering her the VP spot becomes.