Feature

Clinton’s dwindling coalition

Barack Obama cut into Hillary Clinton’s support among women and union members to soundly beat her in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary and Hawaii’s caucuses, said the AP's Ron Fournier, and that means it's "panic time" for Clinton. Don’t forget th

What happened
Barack Obama cut into Hillary Clinton’s support among women and union members to soundly beat her in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary and Hawaii’s caucuses on Tuesday. Hawaii marked the 10th consecutive win for Obama, who also pulled away low- and middle-income voters once loyal to Clinton. (The New York Times, free registration)

What the commentators said
It’s “panic-button time” for Clinton, said the AP’s Ron Fournier in Yahoo! News. Her advisers say her latest losses are “just a bump in the road” to “the tell-all” big-state primaries on March 4, but her crumbling coalition tells a different story. Whites, moderates, and those earning less than $50,000—“all bastions of Clinton's past strength”—favored Obama on Tuesday. And Clinton even lost her “one-time advantage” among women voters, so the nomination is now “Obama’s to lose.”

The loss of blue-collar voters hurts Clinton the most, said John Dickerson in Slate. They are a “key voting bloc” for the senator and former First Lady, and her campaign was “banking on” these “bedrock Democratic voters” for her comeback in the primaries of Ohio in early March, and Pennsylvania in April. Now that Obama has shown he can win across the board, it will be harder for Clinton to claim he’s “just the boutique fascination of young people and wealthy elites.”

Maybe, but don’t forget the most powerful part of Clinton’s coalition, said Susan Estrich in Fox News via RealClearPolitics. Superdelegates—those party insiders who could tip the party’s presidential nomination if Clinton and Obama remain in a virtual tie for pledged delegates. If Clinton wins the three looming big-state battles—Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania—the nomination fight could hinge on just the kind of internal wrangling the Clintons thrive on. “This is where 35 years of favors and chicken dinners and contributions get paid off.”

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