Following the Democratic race through the prism of Jay Cost's "Horse Race Blog" over at Real Clear Politics, I'm struck by two things: (1) what a brilliant race that St. Barack and his handlers have run -- beating Hillary on a shoe-string, maximizing their own resources, and defending their weaknesses. However, this is counterbalanced by (2) Obama's more or less complete inability to get downscale white Democratic votes, which have remained largely Hillary's property. Obama also does not do well with Hispanics. This changed a little in Indiana, but not much.
The Obama people have really been trying to close this gap, but nothing they're doing is working. This spells real trouble for them this fall: many of these voters will undoubtedly wind up in their column, but they have to count on a significant percentage of them going to McCain.
The Obama campaign has to understand this. What are they doing about it ?
I think that the only thing that can possibly secure Obama's election is a third party candidacy. This is virtually a requirement for Democrats anyway: not even Bill Clinton could get elected without Ross Perot to siphon-off Reagan Democrats.
It looks like a Democratic year: but Obama's (so far) general unpopularity with beer-drinking Democrats (he's got the wine and cheese set locked up) is a real weakness. He must have this group or neutralize them. He needs Bob Barr or Ron Paul. Must have, in fact.
What can McCain do ? The gathering of support for a third party must be delayed till summer. Voters who can't stomach Obama must have their search for alternatives delayed for awhile. Pray that Hillary stays in awhile longer. Perhaps she can be encouraged by noises that McCain plans to be only a one-term President. She must find an interest in St. Barack's implosion.
The sticky part of McCain's situation is closer to home. McCain does not dare give his conservatives the one thing that would certainly buy him a little domestic party peace, which is the Vice Presidential spot on the ticket. This buys short run peace at the price of eventual defeat. If McCain runs a conventional campaign, he'll go down to a conventional Bob Dole defeat. The object is to WIN -- and not lose rightly. An Obama presidency's a disaster the country cannot afford. McCain must, must with his choice force St. Barack to play some defense. Job One is to convince people that divided government is good and safer, that Obama is a risk. But he also has to threaten the Democratic coalition somehow. A young Hispanic or other minority candidate. . .or an appeal to Hillary Democrats. How about Joe Lieberman ?