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Hillary and the H factor

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POSTED: March 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

An anonymous reader writes:

"In your column (Feb. 17) you state, ‘The total Republican [presidential primary] vote was down nearly 25 percent from Gov. Sonny Perdue’s 2006 high-water mark.’ You seem to hold that as a hopeful sign that the Democrat Party is somehow making a comeback in Georgia. That’s wishful thinking on your part, but what this 25 percent difference no doubt really indicates is the magnitude of Republican voters who crossed over in the primary in order to cast a vote against Mrs. Clinton.

"I was one of those ABC Republicans (Anybody but Clinton) who happily voted for Obama with the aim of doing my part to keep the nomination from Clinton. It was the first vote I cast for a Democrat in nearly three decades (Jimmy Carter in ‘76 — fool me once …) and you can be assured I will not be voting Democrat come November. Especially not for Hillary."

I usually eschew anonymous notes. People who are ashamed of their names often have other problems as well. However, this guy raises a good question about the extraordinary turnout of "Democrats." Were many of those voters primarily interested in defeating Hillary Clinton before she ever had a chance to compete against a weaker Republican in the general election? Barack Obama just happened to be the other person on the Democratic ballot, though he certainly received mountains of votes in his own right.

Look at the breakdown of the vote in Georgia’s Feb. 5 primary. Obama crushed Clinton 61 percent to 31 percent. Alas, poor John Edwards, who aimed for the Anybody but Clinton crowd, received less than 2 percent of the vote.

One of my gifted colleagues prepared a color-coded map on the primary. We still do not have detailed results from the secretary of state, but the map showed Obama romping across north Georgia areas that until now have gone Republican since the Civil War.

When details of the primary outcome are finally posted, I suspect that Obama may owe his Georgia landslide partly to white males who normally vote Republican — and will again in November.

In our state, men voted with a vengeance against Clinton. Obama won 70 percent of the male vote against Clinton’s 27 percent. Among white men (who usually vote solidly Republican), Obama won 48 percent, topping Clinton’s 46 percent. Edwards was worth only 6 percent of the white men’s ballots. In an exit poll of Georgia Democrats, 11 percent described themselves as "somewhat conservative" or "very conservative."

Obama swept young voters (ages 18-29) with nearly 60 percent of the ballots going his way. Clinton had to depend on the geezer class for traction. She received 63 percent of the 60-plus crowd, but it barely made a dent in Obama’s triumph.

As the primary season winds down, I do not see how Clinton survives. No change of strategy will alter the outcome. Even a colossal blunder from the Obama camp will not propel Clinton to the nomination.

She will lose because she is a Clinton. White Southerners hate the Clintons with a vengeance. Only another Southerner, Jimmy Carter, comes close to matching the Clintons on Dixie’s well-worn hate gauge.

One might theorize that some Republicans are engaged in a repeat of the mythic Lester Maddox gambit of 1966. Peach State political lore has it that a multitude of Republicans voted for Lester in the Democratic primary for governor that year. They believed Lester would be the easier candidate for the GOP’s Howard "Bo" Callaway to defeat in the general election. They were foiled. Maddox became governor.

Could Republicans be trying the same move in 2008, thinking Obama would be the pushover? I doubt it. Even if some Republicans are engaged in such mischief-making, their numbers are probably so small they don’t count.

Clinton also is losing because too many voters do not like the idea of a woman president. Hardly anyone will admit such to a pollster. Try sitting around a Legion post some afternoon and listening. You soon discover that no, sir, a woman just wouldn’t work out. That’s funny, at least to me. An aging KKK sympathizer would now accept a black man as president over a 60-year-old white woman.

The H-factor may be the most important element in Hillary’s downfall — H as in hatred, not Hillary. The late and great state Rep. Joe Mack Wilson, D-Marietta, used to say, "Hatred wins lots more elections than love ever did." He was dead right. Voters are nearly always more inspired to strike out against a candidate whom they do not like than to beat the drum for a candidate they favor. That is why negative TV ads work best, and why Hillary Clinton is all but washed up in the presidential race.

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net, or Web address: billshipponline.com.

 

 

 

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