Unintended Consequences

The Fox News headline last night read something like, “Romney, Clinton win in Michigan primary.”  It was the kind of headline that hit me a little funny, a kind of unexpected curveball.  The was, ideally, the intended consequence of the Clinton camp’s decision to remain on the Michigan ballot.  With Edwards and Obama not on the ballot, Hillary could win in Michigan and not even show up, pick up a couple of headlines declaring a win for her in Michigan, and move on.

Michigan, having been stripped of its delegates by the DNC, never really caught that much wind for Hillary.  With no delegates, there was a low turnout of voters, and most news establishments were hardly covering the Democratic side of the race.  In fact, while I’m sure Hillary was hoping to pick up at least a couple of cheap headlines from the Michigan win, I only caught her in the Fox headline.  Others could have and probably did declare victory for both Clinton and Romney and not just Romney, but the major point was, Hillary wins in Michigan never became a story.

And as it turns out, the decision by the Clinton camp to stay on the Michigan ballot might have been a bad move.

Andrew Sullivan I think was the first to pick up on it, his headline showing up around the same time as the Fox News lede.  “Backlash?” it read, and the message was short and sweet.  While Hillary may have “won” Michigan, the black voters had overwhelming chosen to turn away from her.  CNN would later fill in some detail, pointing out that while African Americans voted “uncommitted” over Clinton by better than a two to one margin, exit polls indicate that those voters were in fact committed.

They would have voted for Barack Obama.

Let’s not make any mistakes here, this isn’t insignificant, especially considering that we’re just about to the South Carolina primary where African Americans comprise a very healthy percentage of the Democratic demographics.  And there are at least two interpretations to this.

The first began in Iowa.  It is widely known that there was quite a bit of skepticism among members of the black community towards Barack Obama; they just weren’t convinced that White America would vote for a black candidate.  The GTL snipes on this from time to time when he makes fun of the Clinton’s being the “first black presidents”.  Then Iowa came along, and the 90% white community there still handed Obama a considerable victory, and here perceptions changed.  Sure, Obama may have lost New Hampshire, but he did so by a very narrow margin and still walked out with the same number of delegates as Hillary did from the Granite state.

This, I believe, may have assuaged the apprehensions of the black community worrying about whether a vote cast for Obama would be a waste or not.  This brings us to Michigan, and the results there could prove to be an important indicator that that hurdle has been ultimately cleared away.

The darker interpretation available here I think points more to what Sullivan was talking about; that this is a direct backlash against the Clinton campaign, specifically as a result of the racial tensions that have been up in a stir for the past week.  Though the two campaigns in the middle of the melee may have called a truce, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the voters may not be so quick to forgive and forget.  Indeed, I pointed this out just the other day when I discussed the risks of dirty campaigning.

So what’s it all mean?  It sets the stage for a situation in which Hillary has largely done harm upon herself, and could be set up for a big fall.  We’ve got two states coming up in just a short period of time that will have the spotlight upon them, and in both cases, the Clinton campaign is going in under fire.  In Nevada, there is the Clinton’s questionable stance and involvement in a lawsuit that would openly disenfranchise thousands of workers in the Culinary Workers Union, and in South Carlina, despite last minute reconciliation with Rep. Clyburn, we are looking at another potential racial backlash against Clinton.

And this time, the votes will count.

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  1. White America Celebrates Hillary Clintons “Default” Win In Michigan Primaries - [...] Thanks to our good friend Kyle of Comments From Left Field for linking to this article… [...]

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