Michael Barone

Five elections. Five winners. Barack Obama (Iowa Democratic caucus), Mike Huckabee (Iowa Republican caucus), Mitt Romney (Wyoming Republican caucus, held Jan. 5 when no one was watching), Hillary Clinton (New Hampshire Democratic primary) and John McCain (New Hampshire Republican primary).

Still waiting for a win: Fred Thompson, on a bus tour in South Carolina; Rudy Giuliani, running around Florida; and John Edwards, hoping for a win in his native South Carolina, where he won in 2004, though he has just about zero support from black voters, who will make up about half the electorate.

The presidential selection process is supposed to enable the parties to come together, to agree on a widely acceptable nominee. But so far, the process has separated the parties into separate and hostile factions. One faction of the Democratic Party is relatively upscale, well educated, young. This faction is supporting Barack Obama. The other faction is relatively downscale, less educated, old. This faction is supporting Hillary Clinton.

This is not a new split in the Democratic Party. If you put John Edwards' votes aside, the New Hampshire primary results last week look very much like the New Hampshire primary results in 2000, when Al Gore narrowly defeated Bill Bradley by almost exactly the same percentage margin by which Clinton defeated Obama.

Clinton, like Gore, ran strongest in the northern mill town of Berlin and in the state's largest city, Manchester, and its suburbs, in the former mill towns of Dover and Rochester and in the modest-income towns between them and Manchester. Obama, like Bradley, ran best in the college town of Hanover, in the Vermont-like strip of towns along the Connecticut River and in yuppie Portsmouth and vicinity.

In the days of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, these two factions were not evenly balanced. The Democratic primary electorate was heavily downscale, ethnic and religious. But now the two factions are roughly equal in size. The downscale constituency has tended to prevail, but not always and not inevitably.

George McGovern, with upscale support, defeated Edmund Muskie in 1972, and Gary Hart, McGovern's 1972 campaign manager, came close to defeating Walter Mondale in 1984. Gore defeated Bradley by only 4 percent in New Hampshire in 2000, but prevailed because it was five more weeks to the next contest and Bradley couldn't sustain his campaign. But there are only 11 days between New Hampshire and the Nevada caucuses, where the Culinary Workers Union and the Nevada SEIU have endorsed Obama. This is a race either faction's candidate could win.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM