Primary black vote politics

Dick Morris and Eileen McCann:

WITH polls showing Barack Obama winning less than half of the African-American vote in trial matchups with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, the question is: Can the Illinois senator start pulling the kind of black support he needs in order to win?

Obama needs to carry the African-American vote overwhelmingly, while Hillary just has to hold her own to blunt the edge of Obama's challenge. As one New York black political leader put it, "Obama needs 85 percent of the black vote. But Hillary only needs 35 percent."

Early primary state South Carolina, where blacks cast more than a third of the vote, looms large. If Obama can't produce big African-American majorities there, his overall ability to win the black vote will be in doubt - leaving him without any obvious base, and in free fall.

Black political observers seem to agree that Obama won't win the automatic support of African-American voters. To get black votes, he must fight for them.

Bill Clinton's popularity among African-Americans runs far too deep - and Hillary is vigorously battling. Her blatant purchase of the support of South Carolina state Sen. Darrell Jackson for $200,000 demonstrates the lengths to which she will go to win enough of the African-American vote to embarrass and perhaps derail Obama.

The Clintons used to be able to get black votes by passing cash to ministers and others for getting the black street vote out. Now the price of purchase has escalated as the Dems like to say. What is interesting is that the dynamic for Hillary is almost exactly the same as it will be for a Republican candidate int eh general election. All the Republican has to do is marginally increase the small total of black votes that go tot he GOP to defeat a Democrat opponent. It is a demonstration of how the black vote and the Democrat party have become co-dependents.


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