Saturday, January 19, 2008

Clinton, Obama Race: Women, Labor Key to Victory

By Joe Sims

No one seems willing to predict a sure winner in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses today. However, the Las Vegas Review Journal said Senator Hillary Clinton has a strong lead with 41 percent, compared to Obama’s 32 percent and Edwards’s 14. (That’s funny a few days ago I saw an article which had the race in a three-way tie). But not so fast, a story in the Washington Post says,

“A Reuters-Zogby poll had Clinton on 42% with Obama closing on her with 37% and Edwards trailing with 12%. The Reuters-Zogby poll was conducted between Tuesday and Thursday, a day later than the Review-Journal poll.”

Everyone seems to agree that everything will depend on voter turnout. Key here will be the factor of voter organization and mobilization, areas where union support is critical. On this score, Obama may have an edge with backing by the Culinary Workers union and the state chapter of SEIU.

As in New Hampshire, the women’s vote may prove decisive. An article in this morning’s Dallas News points to the fact with the country’s highest foreclosure rate and climbing unemployment, economic issues are uppermost in the minds of Nevada voters. A high proportion of those affected are single moms. A writer for the paper, Christy Hope comments that: “An American Research Group poll conducted this week showed 41 percent of likely women caucusgoers favored Mrs. Clinton.”

Both Obama and Edward’s support polled in the mid-twenties.

Las Vegas main newspaper, the Las Vegas Review Journal, reports that:

“Clinton's base is women and voters over 50, and she does well with Hispanic voters," said pollster Brad Coker, Mason-Dixon managing partner. "Those have been the national patterns, and Nevada, I think, is more reflective of the nation as a whole than either Iowa or New Hampshire. Obama dominates among black voters, favored by 65 percent to Clinton's 18 percent, but they make up just 10 percent of likely caucus-goers. Hispanics make up 15 percent of likely caucus-goers and favor Clinton over Obama by 50 percent to 29 percent.

Obama, who has gotten a major boost from the Culinary union, also leads among union households, but by only 7 percentage points over Clinton. Edwards, despite his focus on the labor vote, is in third place in this and almost every other group.”

However, writing in last night’s The Nation, Ari Melber, says the Clinton campaign may smell defeat. Fearing the strength of Nevada’s organized labor and the defeat of the attempt to stop workplace voting, the Clinton campaign may attempt to claim an Obama victory in Nevada as illegitimate: Melber writes:

“Clinton Campaign strategist Mark Penn has begun spinning Hillary Clinton's potential loss in this weekend's Nevada's caucus, contending that an Obama victory would be essentially illegitimate. In an unusual memo sent to reporters on Friday evening, Penn bemoans Obama's local labor support and emphasizes that two recent polls show Clinton ahead, so the "easy explanation" for an Obama victory would be his union support. This analysis of Obama's (potentially) winning coalition is presented as some sort of indictment, picking up on Bill Clinton's complaints that local party rules allow wide participation in the caucus.”
Looks like it’s going to be a long day in Nevada.

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