Get out the butter and jam. She’s toast.
Hillary Clinton, this extraordinarily smart and capable person, just got trounced in Wisconsin and in Hawaii, and her long-held hopes of becoming President now lie dashed.
The sheer magnitude of her defeat, 58-41, in Wisconsin, coming on the heels of eight losses in a row, including blowouts last week in Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia, makes it all but impossible for her campaign to recover.
In Wisconsin, she lost in almost every demographic, according to CNN’s exit polls.
The only age group that went for her was the 65 and over crowd.
Voters 18-29 went to Obama by a margin of 3-1, and the 30-44 crowd almost 2-1.
Males went to Obama 2-1.
And maybe most depressing of all for Clinton, women essentially split their votes 50-50 with Obama.
Voters who said they cared about the economy went to Obama this time.
Voters who didn’t have a college education went to Obama this time.
White voters went to Obama, except those over 60.
Wisconsin voters said by a wide margin that Obama was the candidate most likely to win in November.
They even said Obama was the one most qualified to be commander in chief.
This is the very definition of a devastating defeat.
Here’s how it happened.
First of all, the Clinton campaign was schizophrenic about whether to even campaign in Wisconsin.
After nearly drowning in the Potomac primaries, Clinton foolishly said, “I’ll meet you in Texas.” Not exactly the message that Wisconsin voters wanted to hear.
And then she changed her mind and threw herself and a lot of money into the last few days of campaigning in the Badger State, a state she hadn’t visited for about three years before that.
But her defeat in Wisconsin goes well beyond her tactics in this one state.
Her entire campaign has been flawed.
“I’m Ready at Day One” was just not a winning slogan, and she kept repeating it over and over again, including Tuesday night. (By the way, she doesn’t know the meaning of “concession speech.”) Few voters go for a candidate by measuring that person’s résumé.
And the slogan revealed a serious pronoun problem. The Clinton campaign was all about “I, I, I.” As in, “I’ve got 35 years of experience.” Or, I can take a punch from the right wing.
By contrast, Obama’s campaign has been all about “We, We, We,” and “You,” and “You and I together.” He talks about change coming from the bottom up, from the voters themselves, and he asks them to join something larger than a personal campaign, whatever you think of the substance of that campaign. He asks them to redeem the promise of America.
Outclassed on rhetoric, Clinton then made the fatal error of mocking Obama’s ability to inspire, which she did again on Tuesday night, when she said, “The best words in the world are not enough.”
But people want to be inspired. They don’t want to be told to be “realistic,” and not to have “false hopes.” Might as well ask them to open a vein.
Except for universal health care, Clinton promised only to bash away at the nasty partisans on the right, which Obama will ultimately have to do, too.
But he talked (disingenuously, in my view) about “turning the page” on these petty partisan fights, and people wanted to hear that.
“Turning the page” indicates making a stark break with the corruption and crimes of the Bush era, and we all desperately need that.
“Turning the page” means getting out of the Iraq War.
“Turning the page” also alludes to canceling the long-running Bill and Hill soap opera.
Much more fundamentally, “turning the page” suggests the possibility of getting beyond the racism that has afflicted this country for 400 years.
It beats the hell out of “Ready at Day One.”
Also in the last week or so, Obama has adopted a more populist message on economics, denouncing NAFTA and the free trade deals that devastated jobs here in the United States, hammering the corporations that get tax breaks to move jobs overseas, and calling for raising the minimum wage again and indexing it to inflation.
This is a winning message, not just in the Upper Midwest but across the country.
And Hillary Clinton can’t make it as well, since her husband brought us NAFTA, which she is on record as praising.
From here on out, Hillary is likely to keep losing. Her money will dry up. Her superdelegates will start running to Obama, as John Lewis already has. John Edwards will probably throw his weight behind Obama. And it will be all over.
The only question now is how destructive the Clintons will be on their way down. Will they take Obama with them?
There was a hint of that in Hillary’s speech Tuesday night when she said, “Only one of us is ready on day one to be commander in chief.”
You can see John McCain using that bit of tape in an attack ad against Obama in November.