While polling has yet to really give us a look at what will happen in a week, Obama's upset in South Carolina will give his candidacy enough momentum to keep it viable, even if Super Tuesday is a good day for the Clintons. By keeping the contest alive and stirring up divisions within their ranks, the Democrats may find that the real winner of the South Carolina primary was the GOP.
Stuart Rothenberg questions where the Democratic race is headed:
If Clinton is nominated, some of Obama’s coalition of African-Americans, upscale voters, independents and new voters could easily resent the Clinton campaign and have trouble lining up behind the former first lady, particularly against a strong GOP nominee who reaches out to them.
Black voters aren’t likely to defect en masse to the GOP, but many might regard an Obama defeat as evidence that the Democratic establishment didn’t play fair and took whatever steps it needed to deny Obama the nomination. And you can pretty much bet that some high-profile black leader will comment that the Democratic Party is happy to get black votes but isn’t willing to nominate a black candidate.
Two Democratic operatives who don’t have a horse in the presidential contest told me this week that while Clinton almost certainly could succeed in persuading African-Americans to back her in the general election, she would be forced to spend time doing that rather than wooing independents or weak Republicans.
This, of course, opens up another whole can of worms. Would Clinton need to ask Obama to join her as her running mate, even though the two camps seem increasingly hostile? And if Clinton is the nominee and seems to pander to African-Americans to keep them energized for a ticket without an African-American on it, would that create problems for the party among swing voters?
This year may be the year that ends forever the sight of two pairs of white males leading the GOP and Democratic tickets. Clearly, the Democratic ticket won't be two white boys, and time will tell if the GOP has the guts to reach out with a running mate such as a J.C. Watts or Michael Steele.
Those who wonder how black voters would respond to an opportunity to put a black candidate into national office need only look at the hundreds of thousand black voters in South Carolina who went to the polls last Saturday to make the American Dream come true for one of their own.
If the GOP settles their nomination on Super Tuesday and the nominee picks a black preferred running mate, and then sets across the country, the sight of a white and black running team, contrasted against a growing Clinton vs. Obama feud, could reap rewards, especially in swing states with large black populations like Arkansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and put states like Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey into play in the fall.
That's something the Democrats can ill afford if they want to win the White House in the fall, while holding onto narrow Congressional majorities.