Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Obama, Reverend Wright, and the Problem with Superdelegates

Bookmark and Share

Barack Obama's speech this morning on race and politics was favorably received by media commentators, though it may have come too late to prevent the damage done to his campaign. Obama's longtime association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright will link the Illinois Senator in the public's mind (and perhaps in political ads down the road) quite closely to the controversial comments made by Wright that have surfaced in the media during the past several days. While Obama condemned the remarks of Reverend Wright in today's speech, he did not do so forcefully in interviews during the past few days. Moreover, perhaps to his detriment, Obama today strongly defended Wright the man (a subtlety that is not necessarily going to be grasped by the American people).

The problem for Obama is that this controversy on race and politics occurs at a time in which Hillary Clinton had already gained momentum with her victories on March 4th in Texas and Ohio. And it occurs in advance of what will likely be further positive momentum for Clinton: the Senator from New York continues to lead Obama by double digits in Pennsylvania, and will likely win the vast majority of remaining contests through early June. The cold hard political fact is that Obama stands to gain nothing from being embroiled in a discussion of race and politics—those demographics who would be sympathetic to his views, the views of Reverend Wright, or the discussion of the topic generally, have been firmly entrenched in Obama's camp for several weeks (e.g. Obama is already receiving approximately 90 percent of the black vote in the Democratic primaries).

As Obama's unfavorable ratings rise, even if only by 5 or 10 points, superdelegates that were prepared to back Obama because of Clinton's high negatives now may have second thoughts. If Democratic matchup polls against Republican nominee John McCain show slippage for Obama in the remaining few months of the primary season (which was likely to happen anyway as Clinton racked up more states in her column), superdelegates will be nervous that Obama is not a 'winner' come November.

But this new problem for Obama may only be revealed at the edges in upcoming closed Democratic primaries—perhaps as many as 35 or 40 percent of Democratic primary voters largely agree with the statements made by Reverend Wright. But Wright's comments are likely to alienate independents and moderate and conservative Democrats, and Clinton will almost certainly be the beneficiary of the latter (and McCain, to a large extent, the former).

Most of the political pundits who have come to the defense of Obama during the past week have insisted white America (and the American media) "do not understand Black churches," in their attempt to deflate the importance of Obama's association with Wright and even the meaning of Wright's own words. But even if that is so, the political point that will not be missed by a growing number of superdelegates is that America is not going to understand black churches any more clearly during the next few months, and a political campaign is not the time they want to educate the American public on this issue.

Previous post: Coleman with 10-Point Lead Over Franken in New MN Senate Poll
Next post: Obama's Numbers Sinking As Pastor Controversy Continues

1 Comment


  • Poor Sen.Obama. I feel for
    you being poor when growing up.I lived in Hawaii for 5
    years and had friends that
    went to Punahou High School
    in Hawaii and I can tell you,
    you didn't attend there if
    you were poor.

    Why don't you start telling the truth about things and stop the blame-
    glame along with Rev. Wroung and accept the respo-
    nsibility for your life.
    Whity isn't the problem--
    you are.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

    Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

    Political Crumbs

    Mary Burke: English First?

    While multiculturalism and bilingualism are increasingly en vogue in some quarters as the world seemingly becomes a smaller place, one very high profile 2014 Democratic candidate does not shy away from the fact that she only speaks one language: English. In an attempt to highlight her private sector credentials working for Trek Bicycle, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke boasts on her campaign bio page how she made great strides in international business dealings...while only speaking English: "Despite not speaking a single foreign language, she established sales and distribution operations in seven countries over just three years." Note: According to 2010 Census data, nearly half a million Wisconsinites over five years old speak a language other than English at home, or 8.7 percent, while 4.6 percent of Badger State residents do not speak English at all.


    Does My Key Still Work?

    Much has been made about Charlie Crist's political transformation from Republican to independent to Democrat en route to winning the Florida GOP and Democratic gubernatorial nominations over a span of eight years. Party-switching aside, Crist is also vying to become just the second Florida governor to serve two interrupted terms. Democrat William Bloxham was the first - serving four year terms from 1881 to 1885 and then 1897 to 1901. Florida did not permit governors serving consecutive terms for most of its 123 years prior to changes made in its 1968 constitution. Since then four have done so: Democrats Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting