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February 2, 2008

Ominous Portents In Identity Politics For Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton's campaign has fostered an eruption of identity politics in the primaries. Some question whether the strategy was intentional, but the immediate impact could be seen in Nevada and South Carolina. Black voters lined up overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, while Hillary gained women and Hispanics, and many saw the seeds of a Hillary victory through Obama's marginalization.

The ground may have shifted today with an endorsement from the country's most influential Spanish-language newspaper, California's La Opinion. Questioning Hillary's character over her flip-flops on drivers licenses for illegal aliens, the paper backs Barack Obama:

[W]e were disappointed with her calculated opposition to driver’s licenses for the undocumented, which contrasts markedly from the forceful argument in support made by Obama. We understand that this is an extremely controversial issue but we believe there is only one right position and it is that of the senator from Illinois. And, while both senators support comprehensive immigration reform, only Obama has committed to bringing forward new legislation during his first year in office.

It is this commitment to the immigration issue which drove Obama to condemn the malicious lies made during the immigration debate, to understand the need for driver’s licenses, and to defend the rights of undocumented students by co-authoring the DREAM Act. The senator has demonstrated character by maintaining his position despite the hostile political climate.

At the same time, there are not huge differences between the two Democractic candidates on most of the major issues. Thus, vision makes the difference! Obama offers an inclusive message of hope that addresses our country's historic moment. He has a conciliatory style that can reverse the vicious cycle of rancor which has dominated Washington over these past decades and has paralyzed its ability to come together on major decisions.

This pushes back against the divisions in the primary fostered by the Clintons. Perhaps the strongest voice in the Latino community in America, La Opinion could influence Hispanics to rethink their support of Hillary, who have given her double-digit leads in support in most states.

Rasmussen has the Hispanic voters grouped in the "Other" category, and showed Hillary leading Obama by 21 points in California, a Super Tuesday state. She only leads the state overall by three points. If Hispanics turn out in large numbers for Obama on Tuesday, she could lose the state and significantly slow her momentum to the nomination.

Obama remains a long shot for victory. However, the more people see of Hillary, the less they seem to like her. She may have to hope that she can outrace her negatives to the finish line. (via Calitics)


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