by aiko, Sun Mar 04, 2007 at 03:57:52 AM EST
This article says it all:
EARLIER THIS week Hillary Clinton changed her schedule to include a visit to a church in Selma, Alabama this weekend. There were plenty of reasons for the last-minute adjustment. Selma is marking the 42nd anniversary of an historic civil-rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a march that was broken up by club-wielding state troopers. Leading Democrats, including Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, and Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, will be attending the event too. Still, it is hard to believe that Mrs Clinton was not influenced by the fact that Barack Obama is scheduled to make a speech at a black church in Selma. On March 4th the two senators will now give simultaneous speeches in churches that are no more than 300 yards apart.
Even though HRC supporters want you to believe otherwise, she wasn't planning to go to Selma, let alone bring Bill.
This set-piece battle for the black soul could hardly be for higher stakes. The black vote is vital in the Democratic primaries--blacks make up more than half the electorate in the key early primary state of South Carolina, and dominate among party workers there.
Does anyone believe that blacks will not support Obama in huge numbers?
Mr Obama is now leading Mrs Clinton among blacks by 44% to 33%. Fully 70% of blacks now have a favourable impression of Mr Obama. He is clearly succeeding in wooing this constituency--and Mrs Clinton is discovering that she cannot rely on her husband's memory to keep black America on her side.
And its not just blacks who like what they see.
Mr Obama is making inroads into a political base that the Clinton dynasty has spent more than a decade cultivating. And he poses a threat on other fronts: Mrs Clinton has always had problems with anti-war leftists, who are furious about her vote to authorise the Iraq war and disappointed that she has refused to renounce it. Mr Obama, by contrast, has an impeccable anti-war record.
The perception of inevitability is fading fast.
there are few more important advantages in the primary race than a sense of "inevitability". If you are the inevitable candidate, operatives clamour to be on your team, fund-raisers stuff your coffers with gold and waverers swallow their doubts. Lose that aura, and it all goes into reverse. Hard-knuckled Clinton operatives are still trying to prevent people from wavering or hedging their bets by hinting that "You are either with us or against us." But these threats are growing hollow.
Its not over by any means.
Mrs Clinton remains a formidable candidate--an experienced and intelligent politician, backed by a state-of-the-art political machine. Still Mrs Clinton's once-solid lead in the opinion polls is shrinking: the two Washington Post polls show her lead over Mr Obama halving from 24 points to 12 points in little more than a month. Her "unfavourable" ratings are worryingly high: the same poll gives her a favourability/unfavourability rating of 49/48 compared with 50/30 for Mr Obama. And some Clinton campaign people are beginning to fret that they may have backed the wrong candidate, and to talk of jumping ship. The days when Mrs Clinton could walk her way to the Democratic nomination have gone.
This is going to be quite a year.