The latest numbers from the Democratic horse race to the White House are very good for Hillary Clinton. The New York senator doubles her lead over Barack Obama. CBS News conducted the poll after Thursday's Democratic debate: "Forty-eight percent of Democratic primary voters say they'd like to
see Clinton as the party's nominee, followed by 24 percent for Obama
and 11 percent for Edwards." Even better news for Clinton—and obviously an even bigger problem for Obama—focus groups and polls show more black voters gravitating toward her campaign.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell echoed our previous observations on the debate at the historically black Howard University: "While it should have been Obama's night, Clinton [offered] a boldness that frankly was missing from Obama's responses. 'If HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 24 and 34, there would be an outrage in this country,'' [Clinton] said. What black woman hasn't uttered those same words at one time or another?"
The major critique of Clintonism is its non-ideological, centrist "triangulation." That may be true on some positions—vis a vis Iraq pre-late 2006—but Bill and Hillary Clinton know better than to equivocate with black voters, their core constituency, on race relations. On the other hand, a racial balancing act has consistently been Obama's problem with black voters. Mitchell takes Obama to task for pointing out "the unfairness African Americans face in their daily lives but also [criticizing] the negative behaviors often found among the impoverished."
Philadelphia Mayor John F.Street—who has a few problems of his own lately—becomes the latest high-profile black to endorse Hillary Clinton. Expect more of these, along with voters. Barack Obama cannot take the black vote for granted. He has to show gravitas. In the hood, it's what we call street cred.
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