The wholesale migration of Democratic African-Americans voters towards Barack Obama and away from Hillary Clinton accelerated this week and began to reach epic proportions. Hillary has now gone from a 3:1 lead among blacks to an 11 point lead to a dead even 36-36 tie, all in the wake of her criticism of Obama.
The result is that the Democratic presidential race is now a decidedly two-way affair. Time Magazine’s most recent poll shows Hillary’s margin diminished to seven points (30-23) with Obama actually one point ahead in the West and only four back in the South. Virtually all of Hillary’s lead comes from a 2:1 margin in the northeast. But overall, Hillary has fallen in the Time polls from 40% in January to 30% in early March, while Obama has risen from 21 to 23 in the same period.
How did Hillary screw it up?
First, she blundered badly by sending out her rabid attack dog Howard Wolfson to criticize Hollywood mogul David Geffen for his attacks on the Clintons. Geffen described Bill as “reckless” and bemoaned the pardons the former president passed out, especially to fugitive Marc Rich.
That was way too much for the former president and syndicated columnist Bob Novack reports that he flew into a Clintonian rage – the sort we all saw when he unloaded on Chris Wallace on Fox News. Clinton’s advisors (read flunkees) huddled by conference call in the wake of his tirade and decided to please Bill and Hillary and lash back at Geffen.
That was a huge mistake. Obama had been wondering how to gain among blacks without embracing Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson – whose support would alienate white voters. Hillary’s attack solved his problem. Faced with a white candidate rapping an African-American, blacks deserted Hillary and brought Obama to within eleven points of the former First Lady.
Then the Clinton team panicked and made the second mistake: Sending Bill and Hillary to Selma, Alabama to horn in on the 42nd anniversary celebration of the voting rights march. That was Obama’s day and Hillary’s attempted one-upsmanship cost her dearly. Voters laughed at her affected preacher’s southern drawl and blacks snickered cynically when she said that Martin Luther King had cleared the way for her candidacy for president! Apparently they had all noticed that she’s not black and Obama is!
The Selma bounce – which we predicted last week – has now materialized and all but extinguished Hillary’s front runner status as Obama surged into a close second place. Of course a big part of the credit belongs to the Illinois Senator for his courageous speech in Selma where he criticized the “anti-intellectualism” of the black community where if you “know how to conjugate a verb” you are seen as acting “white.”