Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Maybe Hillary was Right

Unsurprisingly, CNN is reporting that Barak Obama won the Mississippi primary by a pretty healthy margin (61% to 37%). In addition, CNN is saying that Obama won the Texas caucuses by a big margin and so won the most delegates out of the state. Both of these reports are good news, yet I find myself troubled this morning.

First, exit polls showed that race was a big factor in Mississippi. In addition to blacks voting for Obama 91% to 9%, 40% of primary voters said that race was an issue in deciding who they would vote for and 90% of those people said that they were voting for Obama. This is worrisome. Obama's appeal is his widespread appeal. He's not supposed to be appealing just to blacks any more than Hillary is appealing just to whites. Yet coming out of Mississippi, that seems to have been the case. I worry about potential backlash from whites and I worry that Hillary will use it as ammunition to say yet again what a victim of the process she is. Further, I worry that this means Obama's base is narrowing. That's not good for the primaries or for the general election.

Second, I worry about the results in Texas. As it's now being reported, Obama lost the popular vote in the state as reflected in the primary. Despite that, he was able to win the caucuses and take the most delegates. For weeks now, the Clinton campaign has been saying that the caucus process is undemocratic, that it doesn't really reflect the will of people. The Obama campaign has been ably to plausibly say it's just sour grapes from a candidate who can't get her organizational act together.

Suddenly, that isn't as plausible.

In black and white with solid numbers to back it up, we see that the caucus process didn't reflect what the majority of people in the state wanted. That's very troubling to me. It's troubling in the same way that the 2000 election where Gore won the popular vote but Bush got the presidency was troubling. We pride ourselves on being a democratic nation with democratic proccesses for determining who our leaders are. Yet when systemic issues (like the electoral college) don't reflect the will of the majority we lose some of the claim to our democracy and the winners who succeed in that system lose some of their legitimacy.

For weeks, Hillary Clinton has been saying that the caucus system is part of the problem. Sadly, Texas just showed she may be right.

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