Racism is the reason, wail the pundits. But this is not a reason, it is an excuse. Barack, after all, ran up record totals in virtually all-white Iowa and is favored to win in virtually all-white Oregon.
Moreover, all politics are tribal. There was resistance in rural Pennsylvania to voting for an African-American, but there was also wild enthusiasm for voting for an African-American in Philly, where Hillary -- spouse of "our first black president" -- was getting about the same share of the black vote as Barry Goldwater.
On balance, as Joe Biden undiplomatically blurted out, the fact that Obama is a black man is an extraordinary asset in 2008. It is the reason a junior senator, three years out of the Illinois legislature, is running first for the nomination, and has become the favorite of a national media intoxicated with the idea of a black president.
Barack's problem is social, cultural and ideological.
Increasingly, he is seen not as a man of the middle, but as radical chic, a man of the liberal and leftist elite who confides to closed-door meetings in San Francisco that folks in Pennsylvania cling to guns, Bibles and bigotries as crutches, because they cannot cope in the Global Economy and government has failed them.
He is seen as a man comfortable with friends still proud of the radical role they played planting bombs in the 1960s, a man who feels relaxed about sending his daughters on Sunday to hear the racist rants of an anti-American berserker.
And if your wife, beneficiary of a Princeton-Harvard Law education denied to 99.9 percent of the people, says she cannot recall ever being proud of America before now, folks are naturally going to be suspicious about why you dumped the American flag pin.
On the big issues of 2008 -- amnesty, the hemorrhaging of American jobs, Iraq -- McCain is on the same side as George Bush, whose approval rating is 28 percent. McCain can be defeated on those issues.
But if, with a little help from Hillary, McCain can paint Barack indelibly as a man of the trendy and radical left, he can win. America will have nowhere else to go.
Journalists disagree on whether immigration, Iraq or the economy will be the major issue in 2008. The real issue may be -- and this is what is causing heart palpitations among Democrats -- is Barack Obama one of us, or is he one of them?