Here's today's electronic letter from Mike Williams, the best non-blogging blogger I know.
First things first. Before we get to Campaign 2008, there’s a tragedy unfolding in Burma. Cyclone Nargis has already claimed 22,000 lives, with some 40,000 more unaccounted for. Then there’s this:
Millions of Burmese live in the disaster zone, now cut off from essential services. The wounded, displaced and vulnerable are waiting for help, but they cannot wait for long and the clock is ticking.
The tragedy is that these people do not have to die. Response to the 2004 tsunami demonstrated that rapid, targeted relief can make an enormous difference in the aftermath of a disaster. Yet such help is being denied to the people of Burma by their own government, which is accountable to no one and so has no incentive to act.
It is to be hoped that the United Nations can stir itself to take some action both to help the Burmese and to condemn the disgraceful behavior of this junta, which may well prove far more deadly to the country than Cyclone Nargis.
Speaking of the UN, did you know that we are about to kick in 22% ($440 million) of the $2 billion Turtle Bay claims it needs for renovations?
About yesterdays primaries, Drudge looks to have gotten it mostly right in NC, where Obama cruised to a 14 point win. In Indiana, Clinton eked out a 51% to 49% victory. This was Ed Morrissey’s second scenario:
Hillary narrowly wins Indiana and loses big in North Carolina - Obama can claim some recovery for his campaign, but Hillary can still show a win, making this a murky outcome for the superdelegates. This would have everyone focusing on the demographics to see where Hillary got her votes and where Obama resonates. Hillary would remind people that North Carolina always looked like a big Obama victory anyway, and that she still demonstrates better strength in middle America.
About those demographics:
[Obama’s] victory in North Carolina depended heavily on his overwhelming (91%) share of the black vote, which made up about a third of the primary electorate. Mrs. Clinton won 61% of white Democrats in North Carolina, according to the exit polls, and…also broke even among independents. Clearly Mr. Obama's early promise of a transracial, postpartisan coalition has dimmed as the campaign has progressed and voters have learned more about him.
The controversy over his 20-year association with his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, seems to have hurt in particular. About half of North Carolina Democrats said the Wright issue mattered to them, and they voted decisively for Senator Clinton. The former First Lady won easily among late deciders, which also suggests that Mr. Obama's rocky recent performance has cost him. And the Chicagoan continued his poor showing with rural voters….
Exit polls in Indiana showed about half the voters saying the [Wright] controversy was an important factor in their vote. Those who said the…situation influenced their decision were leaning heavily toward Clinton, while those who dismissed his importance were leaning nearly as strongly toward Obama.
The exit polls also showed that Clinton was continuing to win strong support from working-class white voters, a pivotal group that Obama has been struggling to win over. Two-thirds of working-class whites were backing Clinton, while blacks were overwhelmingly supporting Obama.
Obama won the population centers, including Marion, Allen and St. Joseph counties, as well as the college counties of Monroe and Tippecanoe, where Indiana University and Purdue University are located. Clinton won the rural and small-town voters, worried about a sinking economy and soaring prices. Her proposal for a federal gasoline tax this summer — which Obama had dismissed as political pandering — was aimed squarely at those folks.
In North Carolina, the demographic number-crunchers proved to be better predictors of the outcome than most of the public pollsters. The black share of the Democratic vote exceeded a third, while Clinton got a bit less than the two-thirds of the white vote she would have needed to produce a competitive result. Turnout was massive in the Triangle area [Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill], where Obama devastated Clinton among upscale voters and the young. Turnout was less impressive in the small towns and rural areas down east and through the Piedmont where the Clintons had more of a potential following. Her best counties were in the western mountains, not exactly the place that typically decides statewide Democratic primaries.
A single-digit loss in North Carolina wouldn’t have stung the Clinton campaign much. They had come to expect a loss. It was factored into their popular-vote strategy as a hurdle to overcome by winning big margins in the upcoming contests in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico. But a 14-point, 220,000-or-so-vote blowout? In a stroke, this result erased the popular-vote gain Clinton won in Pennsylvania.
Turning to Indiana, Clinton managed only a modest victory. Sure, her team immediately spun the win as a major achievement because of Obama’s media-attracting tenure as senator from a neighboring state, but there’s not a lot of cyclonic action in that spin. He is a freshman, after all. The truth of the matter is that Indiana was enough like Ohio and Pennsylvania to give Clinton a real opportunity to keep her momentum alive. It just didn’t work out for her. Team Clinton (and Operation Chaotics) may feel a crushing sense of disappointment, but that’s life. My advice is to try not to be bitter about it.
Here’s what I think happens next. The Clintons won’t be willing to go out on Tuesday’s poor showing. They’ll wait to win the West Virginia and Kentucky contests, at least. But the uncommitted super-delegates are going to stop trickling and start streaming into the Obama fold….
Please don’t forget Burma.