Sunday, February 3, 2008

Obama Ahead in LA: California Dreaming

By Joe Sims

I hope I wake up on Wednesday morning and there is a clear front runner to defeat the Republican right. However, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen: the race is too close to call. One thing is clear: Obama is gaining momentum, while Clinton seems to be holding ground. Undecided voters will determine the victor: who knows how they will break on election day. If traditional patterns hold sway, the undecideds, many of whom tend to be more conservative and moderate, will swing towards Clinton. On the other hand, there is little traditional about this election. That’s why the polls keep getting it wrong.

A movement is being born and how do you calculate or triangulate a movement? No one knows for sure, making Super Tuesday a big guessing game. There a so many variables: enthusiasm, hope, inspiration, an unparalleled striving towards equality. It made the difference with women in New Hampshire; it prompted a gentle uprising of Black, Brown and white voters in South Carolina.

It’s changed the race in California, where a Reuters, Zogby C-SPAN poll has Obama slightly ahead:

“Obama held a slight lead in California, the biggest prize of all where Clinton once led handily, and was virtually tied with Clinton in New Jersey and Missouri -- three of the states voting on "Super Tuesday" -- in a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Sunday.”

Obama overcome a double digit deficit in California. However, caution is order, other polls have Clinton slightly ahead.

Some of the polls show a national dead heat, but what counts are state races, not national opinion and a delegate apportionment based on percentages of votes in counties and Congressional districts. Some are saying both Clinton and Obama might get over 800 delegates a piece, meaning the campaign will continue on through late winter and spring.

But I long for a big upset in California, where greater Black, Brown, Asian and white unity will say no to the politics of division that have characterized the last weeks of the campaign.

One such tactic was the effort by a Clinton pollster to claim that Latinos won’t vote for a Black candidate. An important commentary in the LA Times today by Gregory Rodriguez debunked that notion. Citing a study that examined the Latino vote over two decades he wrote that:

“University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto has compiled a list of black big-city mayors who have received broad Latino support over the last several decades. In 1983, Harold Washington pulled 80% of the Latino vote in Chicago. David Dinkins won 73% in New York in 1989. And Denver's Wellington Webb garnered more than 70% in 1991, as did Ron Kirk in Dallas in 1995 and then again in 1997 and 1999. He could have also added that longtime Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley won a healthy chunk of the Latino vote in 1973 and then the clear majority in his mayoral reelection campaigns of 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1989.”

If everyone voted this way during these years, it would have long been a new day in America.

Here’s an added fact: today’s polls showing Obama ahead among Latinos in Arizona.

So I’m California dreaming today: and hope I wake up to big blow against the politics of division.

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