For more than a month, the grand coalitions of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama battled to a draw: women, rural Democrats and the white working class pairing almost evenly with African Americans, young voters and affluent, educated whites.So the real question is not Obama's ability to appeal to white women, but his appeal among Latinos. With three weeks to Texas and Ohio, the Clinton "base" may be done for. Obama has taken the lead in the delegate count and clearly the momentum is on his side.
Then came Virginia and Maryland.
Obama's thrashing of Clinton in the two states yesterday raised the possibility that her coalition is beginning to crack, three weeks before she reaches what will probably be more friendly territory in Ohio and Texas.
Obama won among men, among women and among union voters. He won big among the affluent, educated voters in the District's suburbs, but he also won convincingly among rural voters and small-town Democrats.
Celinda Lake, an independent Democratic pollster, noted that the class divide that once demarcated the Obama-Clinton battle lines was obliterated in Virginia and Maryland. In Virginia, Obama carried the vote of those earning less than $50,000 by 26 percentage points. In Maryland, the gap was 24 percentage points.
Clinton still pulled more votes from white women, but that advantage was neutralized by Obama's popularity among white men. Even Latinos, who helped deliver Nevada and California to the senator from New York, split about evenly between Obama and Clinton -- although the number of Hispanic voters was much smaller.
The Hawaiian caucuses next week are assumed to be for Obama (he has won every caucus) and Clinton is making a play for Wisconsin, but this weeks momentum and Obama's appeal in Milwaukee and Madison may put him out of reach for Clinton.