Professor: Race a factor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It was the question heard around the breakfast tables this morning: Why can’t Obama put Hillary away?

Once more Sen. Hillary Clinton seemingly pulls the political rabbit out of the hat as she takes the Pennsylvania primary. Yet a margin of 10 points isn’t what the analysts said she needed. At least 15 to 20 points was what she had to draw if she wants to get enough delegates to get the nomination.

In analyzing Tuesday’s vote Dr. Ken Heineman of Ohio University sees a parallel to the March vote in Ohio.

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“It really does seem in part, unfortunately, it is racial,” Heineman said this morning. “In the exit poll from Ohio 20 percent were motivated by race and went to Hillary. What I am seeing in the preliminary from Pennsylvania is that fact that there was no way they would vote for Obama. That is unfortunately the wrong reason.

“And there is the class issue. Obama is seen as the candidate for the university and the elite. He has not helped himself by making statements about bitter blue collar voters.”

As far as looking into a political crystal ball what does this issue over class mean in the fall for the Democrats?

“The Democrats have not won the majority of white working class voters for years and years,” Heineman said. “Bill Clinton brought some of them back. But that has been a persistent problem. And Hillary will not win the majority of white working class males, if she is the nominee, which I don’t believe she will be.”

Clinton may not have won as big as experts say she should. But a win is a win and at this stage it can help.

“She wins enough, she gets to raise money. She can stay in the next round,” Dr. Michael McTeague, also of Ohio University, said.

But money isn’t the only advantage for Clinton with her Pennsylvania win. She can also spin it to push the scenario that she can win in November because she can capture the states that count.

“She is going to start claiming she has access to places that will make her a candidate of choice,” McTeague said. “She will win big states. That means electoral college votes. She is going to shift her philosophy. According to the formula she is not a winner numerically. But it’s the philosophy that because the states (she wins) equal an electoral college victory in the fall.”

And what about the nominee apparent of the Republicans, Sen. John McCain?

McTeague sees that the Democrats’ fight means McCain can step above the fray and stop playing mere politician.

“I will become

statesman,” McTeague said. “I have plans. Here are my goals. They can’t do that. He benefits by having the race continue.”

Next on the primary schedule are races on May 6 in North Carolina and Indiana, with the $64 million question: Will one-time candidate John Edwards throw his delegates to Clinton or Obama or just sit tight?

The next week the races come back to the Tri-State with

a primary in West Virginia on May 13 and then the Kentucky contest on May 20.