This time around, Barack Obama was able to win over voters who favored Hillary Clinton: Americans over 65 and rural voters. His opponent has just one more chance to turn the race for the presidential candidacy in her favor.
Before her speech in El Paso, Texas, candidate Hillary Clinton was presented a child wearing a sombrero. The child and the candidate stood hand in hand for a while on the stage, both looking a bit bewildered. The child was finally able to get off the stage. But the candidate remained in the spotlight.
After Barack Obama’s win on Thursday evening, the parents of that child with the sombrero could be Hillary Clinton’s last hope in the battle for the Democratic presidential candidacy – just like the unemployed factory workers in Cleveland whose jobs have been outsourced to China. Texas and Ohio are the last two large U.S. states that will go to the polls on March 4. In a normal election year, no one would be interested in them anymore. This year however, they could decide everything.
Just as on the evening of the primary in South Carolina on January 26, Clinton planned her escape, putting the best face on a battle Obama had won by a mile. This time in Texas, she acted as if it were nothing – even as Republican frontrunner John McCain referred to Obama as the opponent in his congratulatory speech, pushing experience (as Clinton does) over hope.
Obama Angling Clinton Voters
But there’s something else. The Clinton campaign expected Obama’s victory in all three primaries. Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia (the administrative district around the U.S. Capitol Washington), have a large percentage of black residents and an overwhelming amount of young academic types – Obama’s typical target groups.
But Obama won these primaries with constituencies he wasn’t predicted to: women, those over 65, and rural voters. If this trend continues, there’s not much left for Clinton.
Voters from lower income groups have remained true to Clinton in previous primaries. They found the formidable speaker Obama in his elegant yuppie clothing too aloof. But lately Obama has been emphasizing his simple upbringing and addressing the economic concerns facing this group. His wife Michelle personifies these issues even better. She comes across pragmatic and dynamic – and has enormous energy. She could be a hidden weapon in the last weeks of the campaign.
Clinton Wants a Small Hat and More Cattle
Latinos are another important constituency that has favored Clinton. Immigrants from Latin America find it difficult to vote for a black candidate. Tensions exist between the two minority groups; many African Americans dislike the immigrants, who make the struggle for minimum wage jobs harder. But Obama appears to be connecting better now with Latinos, maybe because he has been able emphasize his childhood as the son of a Kenyan immigrant father, demonstrating he has more in common with them than they might have thought at first.
Now Obama has three weeks to convince Texans that he can do more than just orate well. “All hat and no cattle” is what they say in Texas when someone talks a lot but doesn’t do much. Clinton used the saying in El Paso to describe soon-to-be-former president George W. Bush and said, “We need a smaller hat and more cattle.” But she didn’t mention that Obama might be a new type of cowboy.