Senator Hillary Clinton’s firewall against the momentum of the Barack Obama campaign held on Tuesday night, as Clinton scored major victories in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island.
Most important for the Clinton campaign was a decisive win in the Ohio primary which has historically been a bellwether for how candidates perform in a general election.
No candidate in the last five or so decades, Democrat or Republican, has lost the Ohio primary and gone on to win in November, a bit of trivia that Hillary Clinton was not remiss to point out in her victory speech last night.
After enduring a brutal string of eleven straight losses, Clinton played the comeback kid in Ohio citing her wins in Democratic strongholds and continuing to play up her leadership credentials as she spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters.
Not only did a clearly renewed Clinton vow to fight on in her quest to win the Democratic nomination, she sounded a note of optimism and certainty that has not been heard from her campaign in weeks.
Senator Barack Obama, on the other hand, brushed off his losses in a speech to supporters in San Antonio, Texas where most of his comments were addressed to John McCain who last night secured the Republican nomination with wins in every major Republican contest.
Focusing more on policy than rhetoric, Obama’s words suggested that he was not shaken by the evening’s losses, while simultaneously reassuring his supporters that his campaign would prevail in the end.
As of press time, Barack Obama was leading in Texas caucuses, which could result in Senator Obama winning more delegates than Senator Clinton once the final votes have been tallied.
That will however not be enough to stop the Clinton campaign from claiming bragging rights in the days ahead.
So again, in what is becoming an increasingly common refrain during this election cycle, an evening that held the promise of crowning a Democratic nominee, ended in an upset.
With Hillary Clinton on the ropes, Barack Obama was unable to score a knockout punch, just as Clinton lived up to her campaign promise of being a fighter by battling back to within a hair of winning the Democratic nomination.
The good news for Hillary Clinton was that she recaptured her base.
Older voters, Latinos, white voters and voters who decided in the final days leading up to the primary, all favoured Hillary Clinton by significant margins.
Similarly, Barack Obama held on to his base winning among younger voters, African-Americans and more liberal voters.
The bad news for the Obama campaign was that the inroads they had been believed to be making with Senator Clinton’s core simply didn’t hold in last night’s contests, which will again raise questions about the junior Senator from Illinois’ electability in a general campaign.
The other piece of bad news for the Obama campaign is that pundits are speculating that Barack Obama may have a ‘glass jaw’ because of his campaign’s miscalculation regarging attacks from the Clinton campaign over the Senator’s involvement with indicted real estate developer Tony Rezko and the much publicised leak of a memo from an Obama staffer where a Canadian official was assured that Senator Obama’s tough talk about NAFTA was merely ‘political positioning.’
Many are now saying it is incumbent upon Senator Obama to find a way to address this new wave of attacks without going negative as he has said he would not do.
Next it’s on to Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi on March 11th, both areas where Barack Obama is favoured to win.
The next major contest thereafter will be Pennsylvania on April 22nd, another Clinton firewall where Governor Ed Rendell has thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton.
All of which suggests that five weeks from now, we may well be no closer to knowing who the Democratic nominee is than we are today.
Duane Wells © 2008 GayWired; All Rights Reserved.