Though she says she’s “just warming up,” Hillary Clinton may be dead in the water after today’s primary votes in Texas and Ohio. And she is the only one who won’t admit it.
Clinton said she “intend[s] to do as well as I can” but won’t elaborate on what happens if she doesn’t. Her ever-present grin remains frozen through every speech, but the former First Lady is clearly struggling to maintain her composure despite her 11-state losing streak to Barack Obama.
Her attempts to slow Obama’s momentum have largely failed. After her campaign had little success hyping to the press Obama’s connection to shady Chicago fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko and jabbing at Obama for his support of NAFTA — going so far as to dub it “NAFTA-gate” — Clinton’s actions have appeared more and more desperate.
In the past week, Clinton and Obama have exchanged spicy television ads and amped up accusations against one another. Obama questioned Clinton’s specific foreign policy experience after her campaign produced a commercial asking “who you would want answering the [White House emergency] phone at 3 a.m.?” while Clinton continued knocking Obama for empty rhetoric and plagiarism. These petty attacks and Clinton’s complaints that she is always asked questions first in debates reveal an uncharacteristic weakness in Clinton’s public image.
Clinton depends on a strong Hispanic voter turnout in Texas today, when a large pot of 228 delegates is at stake. A Texas A&M/Latino Decisions Poll found that 62% of Latinos will vote for Clinton, giving her a large lead over Obama in many sections of the state. According to CNN’s Election Center, about 1/3 of Texans in 2000 described themselves as Hispanic.
Though Clinton’s 1267 delegates trail Obama’s 1369, she has looked to Texas and Ohio as her “firewall” states, the final defense against Obama’s consistent wins against her. If Clinton doesn’t win both states today, there will be enormous pressure on her to drop out of the race.
Even her husband has hinted that could happen. Talking to a Texas rally about two weeks ago, Bill Clinton said, “…it’s all on you.” If Hillary doesn’t win Texas today, she may not drop out but any comeback will be against very heavy odds.
CNN reports Ohio voters favor Clinton 48% to Obama’s 43% but a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released yesterday reported them at “neck and neck.” Three polls in Ohio from Quinnipiac University, the University of Cincinnati and Suffolk University show Clinton leading by at least two points. Conflicting reports publicize the slim margin of error that may make or break Clinton.
A recent Siena College poll in New York found that nearly half of voters in Clinton’s adopted home state believe she should end her presidential campaign if Obama wins. The poll finds that 28% of Clinton supporters polled say the same.
According to Reuters, only 6 percent of Democrats in Texas and Ohio are undecided but every vote counts in an election this tightly contested. Some Democrats are skeptical of Obama’s appeal in the general election because he has never faced a tough race against a Republican. Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is rumored to prefer an Obama matchup because he believes Obama’s inexperience and liberal record will be easy to beat. In a speech last month, McCain said, “there is going to be time when we have to get into specifics… and I have heard not every speech he has given obviously, but they are singularly lacking in specifics…”
If voters follow the past months’ trend, McCain will get his match up. According to reports by the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Ohio Democratic Party employs a rigorous mathematical formula to divide the delegates and Clinton would have to win “really big” to make a difference.
By the end of today, America may be well aware of both their Democrat and Republican nominees for President of the United States in 2008.