Barack Obama pulled closer to clinching the nomination last night, widening his lead over Hillary Clinton in voted delegates and in the popular vote. He overwhelmingly took Indianapolis and narrowed her earlier lead to only 2%, about 20,000 votes out of the hundreds of thousands cast. Obama even got 35% of working class whites in Indiana, which suggests that while Clinton is stronger with that constituency, Obama has an appeal there as well. He is clearly raising far more money than she, so voters are voting for him with their pocketbooks.
CBC writes of the two primaries last night,
‘ Exit polls in both Indiana and North Carolina showed the economy was the most important issue to voters, followed by the Iraq war. Concerns about Obama’s controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and Clinton’s attempts to paint him as an out of touch elitist, did not seem to be important to many voters.’
In other words, our corporate media keep giving us irrelevancies like someone’s pastor or ad hominems (a Yalie who made $108 million in recent years is calling someone an ‘elitist’?).
And the voters keep voting on the issues. They were unimpressed with Clinton’s fantasies about ‘totally obliterating’ Iran. They appear to have liked Obama’s talk of a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, something the majority of the Iraqi parliament also wants. They were unimpressed with Clinton’s pandering on a gasoline ‘tax holiday’; a solid majority was unimpressed with attempts to damn Obama by association. Take out the over-65 crowd, and Obama did well with whites. He did overwhelmingly well with new voters.
A CBS/NYT poll over the weekend had showed that Obama had rebounded from the Rev. Wright controversy, was 11 points ahead of McCain, and that the general split on the gasoline tax holiday was 49 against, 45 for. The 18 cent federal gas tax pays for highway upkeep.
How tricky reading poll results is can be seen in this summary from AP. The article says 50% of voters in each state thought the Rev. Wright controversy important, and that of those who said that, 30% in Indiana voted for Obama and 40% in North Carolina. But that means 65% of voters in Indiana either didn’t care or didn’t let it affect their vote, with that proportion being 75% in North Carolina. It wasn’t a determinative issue.
AP dismisses Iraq as “the top issue” for only 20% of voters. But actually for a fifth of voters to say that is their top issue at a time of severe economic woes for most people is quite remarkable. And if we asked if it was among their top three issues we’d find it was so for 100%.