It appears late Tuesday that Hillary R. Clinton barely won a majority of the vote in the Democratic presidential primary in Indiana, while opponent Barack Obama took a major victory in North Carolina (dispelling the notion that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright left him as damaged goods, politically).
The figure that caught my attention about the Indiana primary was the exit poll statistic reported by WMAQ-TV that 10 percent of all those Hoosiers who took a Democratic Party ballot were actually Republicans.
Are these people just trying to cause political mischief? Or are they realistic enough to understand that the GOP candidate for president has his own electability problems and that the odds are great that the next president of the United States will be a Democrat?
For what it’s worth, 63 percent of women questioned by exit pollsters said they cast ballots for Hillary, while 92 percent of African-American voters said they voted for Barack.
That means either that the trends of primaries past in other states held true (women for Hillary, blacks for Barack), or that Indiana voters took the advice of the late newspaper columnist Mike Royko and lied to the exit pollsters. In which case, the numbers mean nothing.
But if they mean something, it could be that there is great potential for sore losers among the supporters of whichever candidate does not get the presidential nomination. Obama, during his victory speech in Raleigh, N.C., tried to downplay that possibility, saying, “many of the pundits suggest we have created a divided electorate in our (political) party,… (but) I’m here to tell you I don’t believe it.”
Now, the campaigns move on to West Virginia, where the political pontificators suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite (94.9 percent of the state’s 1.8 million people are white) in the May 13 primary, unless Obama can really pull off a Kennedy-esque miracle.
In the 1960 campaign, it was his victory in West Virginia that first gave evidence that this country might be willing to put aside its prejudices against Catholics and elect one as president.