After a week of intense sparring with her quickly rising opponent, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama handily yesterday in the Florida primary.
Clinton bumped Obama from the top spot he claimed this week admidst a throng of prominent endorsements from perhaps the biggest liberal name in American political history — Kennedy. Obama was endorsed by Edward, Patrick and Caroline Kennedy earlier this week.
At 52% to Obama’s 29% in Florida, Clinton retook the lead. But Florida is not — as yet — significant, however, because the National Democrat Party stripped the state of delegates for their refusal to observe national primary timetables. After losing the South Carolina primary to Obama, Clinton decided to hold a rally in Florida to assure voters that their “voices are heard” though she had pledged not to campaign in Florida. Clinton is now sure to work hard to get the DNC to reinstate the Florida delegates she won.
Super-Duper Tuesday remains the last major contest for both Democrats and Republicans. On February 5, 21 states around the country hold their primaries, which will largely determine the party nominees.
Historically, the winner of Florida becomes the Party nominee but predictions this year take a back seat to surprises. In New Hampshire, Obama was favored to win by a significant margin but Clinton took the state.
It is the first time since 1928 that no incumbent President or Vice President running so the stakes are different and pundits face uncertainty as they analyze the fresh terrain.
Clinton, who began the race as the almost certain nominee has watched her numbers fall steadily in the face of debate faux paux’s, non-answers and a slew of mini-scandals with campaign contributors like Norman Hsu. Most recently, she’s received criticism for the angry outbursts and racial allusions by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Obama has criticized the Clintons for “ganging up” on him recently, causing the press to dub the Clintons as “Billary.” Advisors have urged Mrs. Clinton to stop this obvious co-campaigning in order to secure her place as an independent candidate.
Many political strategists still believe Clinton will win the Democrat nomination — even if only by a slight margin. Clinton and Obama agree on many issues, like universal healthcare and pulling troops out of Iraq but have come to verbal blows over previous support for the Iraq War (Clinton supported Bush).
Obama is favored as the most personable candidate, even managing comparisons to John F. Kennedy, Jr. this week. However, Clinton is more credible to the Democratic core constituencies because of her White House and Senate experience.
This win is somewhat telling for Clinton’s campaign because Florida has a large number of Hispanic voters. It also demonstrates Clinton’s ability to reach the working class, as a sea of signs for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) flashed behind her on a Florida stage.
“I could not come here in person to ask for your votes, but I come here to thank you for your votes today…,” said Clinton in a short victory speech. “I’m thrilled to have had this vote of confidence you have given me today.”
She called this an “intense election” and vowed to help “take America back.” Leaving Florida, Clinton currently holds the lead with 232 delegates to Obama’s 158. Though no delegates are counted for Florida at this time, the Democratic National Party does have the option to reinstate those delegates if they so choose. Clinton has said she will try to get those delegates reinstated.
About 400,000 people cast early or absentee ballots so Tuesday’s outcome was hard to gauge but polls expected a total of more than 800,000 voters by day’s end. CNN exit polls showed that Clinton won the female vote and the over 60 vote by a large margin but Obama grabbed the black vote all around.
For the next five days, Obama and Clinton will campaign furiously throughout Super Tuesday voting states — each hoping to snag the most delegates and stand triumphant in the end.