On Tuesday, voters in 22 states will go to the polls in what has become Super-Duper Tuesday...an historic day of key Democratic and Republican primaries and caucuses. By the time the polls close, I suspect the candidates left standing will be Arizona Sen. John McCain and NY Sen. Hillary Clinton. This will be largely due to several key social factors and political realities.
To begin with, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has double-digit leads in about 10 states and, overall, sizeabale leads in many of the most delegate-rich states. Additionally, she has the overwhelming support of whites and latinos; the latino vote being perhaps the most critical asset for her and the biggest liability for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, her only rival at this point (following former Senator John Edwards' suspension this week of his campaign). And while Obama picked up South Carolina's delegates last week, he was carried over the finish line by the state's large constituency of black voters. But Hillary, by a 2-to-1 margin, won the state's latinos. As the campaign now spreads out broadly across the U.S., the absence of this huge South Carolina-like black support will be pronounced, especially given Clinton's clear majority of whites and hispanics. She also is the favorite among the poor and middle class, and those less educated...and there's a whole lot more of them than the wealthier, educated Whites who, along with blacks, comprise Obama's key supporters. The Obama camp also touts large support among the nation's youth, but, unless this year is different (which it very well may be), history shows that young people just don't show up at the polls on election day.
What could slam the door shut on the hispanic vote would be for someone like New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson--historically a loyal Clintonite--to come out with a Hillary endorsement sometime tomorrow or over the weekend. I believe this is very likely. In exchange, and given his credentials, he sure would make for a helluva Secretary of State.
Lastly, and this should come as a shock to no one, America is still quite a racist nation. This is the biggest hurdle of all for Obama. Are voters ready for a black president? As a mostly liberal Democrat, nothing in my lifetime would make me happier than to see a black man or woman become president. And if that's 2008, I would be ecstatic. But I'm also a realist. I just don't think most voters, come lever-time, will vote for Obama. All we need to do, if we're looking for a reminder of the scale of our nation's ignorance and prejudice, is to go back to '04, when hatred of gays drove many to overlook their own best interests and be usued instead as political pawns by Karl Rove.
So, stack all this up and it appears very unlikely that Obama will emerge victorious on Super Duper Tuesday. It is more likely that on Wednesday, February 6th, Obama will officially leave the race.
Now for the Republican landscape. McCain is clearly the choice among conservatives. Despite what former Massachusettes Gov. Mitt Romney keeps saying, McCain's overall message is clearly resonating quite well among those right-wingers that the Stormin' Mormon covets. McCain keeps winning primaries for a reason. He's appealing to a coalition of independents, conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans...the latter of whom obviously represents the majority of GOP voters these days. Come Tuesday, I think McCain will largely win most of the states, with a few smaller ones perhaps going for Romney. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will likely win a couple of Southern states--Georgia and Tennessee perhaps--where a minority of ultra right wing evangelical types cling to the delusional notion that a majority of Republicans still care most about whether gays marry or if women get abortions. And it is precisely for this gross miscalculation that McCain has so far blown past his rivals....demonstrating that it is he, not they, who is more in touch with today's conservative. The Huckabee-worshipping fanatics no longer represent the party nor wield the kind of clout that Rove masterfully preyed upon in 2000 and 2004.
And now with the endorsements of former NYC Mayor (and once-GOP frontrunner) Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, McCain's momentum seems unstoppable. Throw in a possible veep choice of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat who is more conservative than the average Republican, and McCain could very well sail all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania next November.
On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Thank you.