What hurts Barack Obama with white folks is the fact that he's black in the first place. The racist vote has been tipping against him well before Mississippi; exit polls from Ohio had 20% of the voters saying that race was "important" in their decision, and they went 80% to Clinton. So, 16% of Clinton's Ohio vote either had a problem with Obama being black or liked Clinton more because she was white.
Assuming that's at least reasonably accurate, that leaves 84% of Ohio voters that don't care about race, which is more than enough to draw a winning majority to beat McCain if the war and economy continues to go badly, if you ask me. People are more concerned with the possibility of their houses being foreclosed upon or sons and daughters being shipped off to a quagmire than they are afraid that a guy whose pastor was a Civil Rights activist has a problem with rich white entitlement. Most Democrats have a problem with rich white entitlement, too.
I wouldn't call Obama's troubles a "disaster," really. He's gained delegates at a faster rate than his opponent, and the worst scandal he's faced came with six weeks before the next primary.
He was on all major networks within 24 hours to reassure people that he didn't agree with the controvercial statements. All but lunatic fringers will probably have lost interest in this "disaster" by the convention.
Whomever you support in the primary, it's a longshot to suggest that Obama's facing a "disaster" when he's still gaining delegates, popular vote, and states won. Hart being revealed to have been having an affair with Donna Rice was a "disaster" for him, I'd classify Wright as a minor house fire.
I'm not sure that Clinton really believes that her hard campaigning style is actually hurting the party. I personally think that it is, because there's some historical background that suggests that difficult and contentious primaries lead to serious trouble in November (McGovern vs. Humphrey 1968, Hart vs. Mondale, 1984).
That said, there are also tough primaries that worked out okay for Democrats, like Clinton vs. Tsongas.
I don't think, however, that the current race easily falls into any standard historical mould. Never before has a former First Lady from a popular but polarizing administration gone up against an outsider populist.
If I had to point to a historical situation that resembled this, I'd say 1984, with Obama corresponding to Gary Hart and Clinton corresponding to Mondale. Mondale started with a huge lead in superdelegates, but Hart started a pretty good momentum after New Hampshire, winning a plurality in Massachusetts by 13%.
The difference is that Hart made more mistakes than Obama and the media hasn't been as willing to write Obama off as they were for Hart. That was also a much more crowded field, with states being won by other candidates as late as June 1 for such luminaries as Earnest Hollings and Lane Kirkland.
That rough-and-tumble primary fight, of course, didn't mean all that much because Reagan absolutely annihilated Mondale. What would have happened with Hart? We'll never know, but I suspect he would have been crushed as well.
John McCain is no Ronald Reagan. He's tied his fate to one issue, and, barring (by chance or by Bush administration finagling) a major terrorist or war incident shortly before the election, is in serious risk of losing before he begins.
That doesn't necessarally mean that either Clinton or Obama should handicap him by kneecapping one another.
Survey USA (which seems like the most accurate polling outfit so far) has had Obama up against McCain by a higher margin for a longer period of time. All by itself, this is not that significant, especially when it's within the margin of error and could easily be affected by random polling noise.
What matters is trends, and Obama is trending slightly higher than Clinton in general.
There's a long way until November, however, and at this point your guess is as good as mine.
A) Clinton had the black vote until Team Clinton started making veiled race remarks. They had, to that point, significant good will from Bill Clinton's presidency. Don't you remember when Obama wasn't "black enough?" It's not that Obama HAD the black vote, it's that Clinton LOST the black vote.
B) I think Clinton only had 4 total terms as Governor, not 7. He was elected in 1978, ousted in 1980 and came back in 1982. He won again in 1984, at which point terms changed from two to four years. Just clarifying.
C) Barack Obama's religious beliefs are based on tolerance, helping the poor, and showing compassion to the disadvantaged, not racism. His pastor is understandably but somewhat embarassingly tied to the views of the Civil Rights Movement of thirty-plus years ago, but that says nothing of Obama's own views. Let's not blow Crazy Uncle Jeremiah out of proportion, shall we?
If you're not going to vote for Obama because of racism on this evidence, you'd better not vote for Clinton on the evidence that she embraces spousal cheating because she didn't sever all ties to Bill when evidence of his indescretions came out.
I'm not really for this idea as part of a back-room deal to get Clinton out of the race, but Obama supporters probably don't feel like Clinton adds enough to a ticket: they likely want to get someone who can put a previously red state into play, and/or give military or broad international experience to the table.
Team Obama itself doesn't want to get into any VP picks or backroom discussions before he becomes the nominee... that's the politics that we're fighting against.
While this compromise is something that my cohorts and I have tossed around as an excellent final result, it's pretty clear to me that it's not something that the smoke-filled room can produce at this stage in the game.
Obama is perfectly fine with running the primary all the way to the convention if necessary as long as he's the front-runner, and has been before the season even started. He's had no illusions that going against the establishment would be easy. He studied the failures of McGovern in 1968 and 1972 (the latter election involved the Clintons as McGovern supporters, so it was good homework anyway), when a populist upstart was destroyed first by his own party and then by the weakness of just having grass roots support in a pre-internet world.
Clinton is not going to bow out easily. This isn't about sex or race or policies or even the Republicans, this is about legacy for her. She is one of the most significant figures in politics today, and it's pointless to try to explain it away as "just" a family affair: Was Benazir Bhutto insignificant even though she inherited her role in Pakistan's politics from her father? No, she was at once a continuation of his legacy and a force all her own.
If Clinton loses the primary (I am certain she will, but it's not outside of the range of possibility for her to win), her actions at that point are crucial to her political future. If she just fades away and lets events take their course in hopes that Obama is defeated and she can take another crack at it in 2012 (or worse yet, drags out a negative challenge to the convention or beyond), then no, she won't deserve any higher title than "Junior Senator from New York."
However, if she concedes gracefully and immediately and without coersion goes to work campaigning her strong demographics to support Obama for President (thus shoring up the votes that many here say that Obama can't get otherwise, though I disbelieve that notion), then, yes, definitely, she will have displayed exceptional devotion to the Democratic party and deserves a role of greater visibility and responsibility.
Look at Howard Dean... he was character assassinated in 2004's primaries but got the DNC chairmanship as a consolation prize because he was still a strong and loyal Democrat.
I really doubt that Clinton will ever lose her New York Senate seat. She would make a tenacious and effective Majority Leader. But the way for her to get that spot is to earn it by being a remarkable and loyal member of the Democratic party, not being bribed into the role.
Technically, Obama is not against a mail-in re-vote in Florida; it's that it's illegal in Florida.
The quote circulating from Axelrod is that they have "concerns" about the fairness of said re-vote.
Team Obama is absolutely fine with a re-contest in any currently disenfranchised state as long as the terms are fair (i.e. everyone on the ballot, everyone gets to campaign). It's Team Clinton that has pushed for changing the rules in the middle of the game because they need to grasp at any available straws that could counter Obama's exceptional planning and grassroots support.
In December, Clinton was okay with Michigan not counting. She thought she'd wrap it up on Super Tuesday anyway.