Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Awaiting Pennsylvania Results

It's been three weeks since I've posted here- partly because I've been busy, but mostly because the Presidential campaigns have been full of shit- all of them, Obama's included- the past three weeks. Nothing about policy, nothing about character, everything about cheap shots and finger-pointing and evading questions. With that actively repelling me from the political scene, and nothing much appealing to me more locally to write about, and with a lot of other personal worries, I didn't feel like writing much.

Now the day has come, and as I type this the race is too close to call- that means exit polls were probably within 10% or less margin between the candidates. That's a bit surprising, all things considered. I'd have expected a blowout.

My main concern, all along, for Pennsylvania is summed up by this USA Today article, spotted by good old Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish.

The money quote:

The irony of today's Pennsylvania primary is that the historic race and gender confrontation between Obama and Clinton is being staged in one of the most reluctant states to elect a woman or African-American to major office. Until now, that has been the only way to win big in Pennsylvania — be male and pale.

I'd go farther and say that, outside of Philadelphia, being pale is much more important than being male.

The non-fannish Pennsylvanians I've met over the years have all been not merely conservative, but angrily, intolerantly conservative. I recently bemoaned the happy, smiling racism that pervades my part of east Texas, but in Pennsylvania rural areas- and in working-class white neighborhoods in the cities, too- the racism is not happy or smiling.

"But wait!" you shout. "Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love!" Yep- but it was also a city of very deep social divides almost from its founding.

"But all Pennsylvanians aren't like that!" Never said they were. Fans tend to be major exceptions- sci-fi fans, anime fans, fannish people in general tend to be more accepting people. But Pennsylvania is also the home of the Amish and of other isolationist groups. How many black Amish have you ever seen?

And look at the article I linked to above. Only four blacks elected to Congress from PA- ever. Only six women elected to Congress- ever. One woman to statewide office (the current Lt. Governor)- ever. No black statewide officers- ever. Racism and sexism alike still rule in Pennsylvania, but for Democrats sexism is weaker than racism.

"But those people are dying off!" Yes, they are. The racists and sexists are mostly older people- fifty years or older- throughout the nation. But Pennsylvania is a state with relatively few young people. Young people leave the state as soon as they can. Only Florida has an older population on average. The racists and sexists are still very much in control- as witness tonight's exit polls, which show 27% of today's voters over the age of 65.

Obama's not going to win the state. The only question is whether or not he keeps Clinton's win small- which just might happen. Obama erred in outspending Clinton 3-1 in Pennsylvania; he could have done just as well working at parity, and investing the difference in Indiana (which is a coin-flip at the moment) would have been a better shot. On the other hand, Clinton will be in debt by $10 million with only $8 million in cash-on-hand tomorrow. A simple win isn't enough for Clinton to survive. She needs the 10 percentile plus victory just to keep donors giving her money. A 20 percentile win is what she actually needed to cut into Obama's delegate lead significantly... and she did not do that.

The campaign staggers on another two weeks, while McCain continues to get a pass by the national media and the two Democratic candidates alike. Indiana becomes the true showdown state, a state where both campaigns are evenly matched... or would, if Clinton can find the money to compete.

And as I type this, the call comes in for Clinton. 1% of the vote in, with nothing out of Philadelphia, and she leads 60/40. Wait- 3% of the vote, 55/45. Must be a Philly precinct coming in there. In any case, she's held the state, despite all the money Obama threw in.

That doesn't say much about Obama.

It says everything in the world about the voters of rural Pennsylvania.

Now to sit back and see how the delegates break down.

EDIT: About half an hour after I posted the above...

I just looked at MSNBC's exit poll for PA.

By calculating the male-female breakdown of votes, I show the exit poll as predicting:

CLINTON - 51.8%
OBAMA - 47.8%

That's only a four percentile spread. That's damn close, if it holds. No wonder they held off on declaring a winner.

Even MSNBC, which has been as far in the tank for Obama as any news network, is blathering now about how disastrous a loss in Pennsylvania is for Obama. I disagree. If the 4% number holds up (actual results, with 20% of precincts in, 53-47 Clinton), Clinton will really, REALLY be hurting tomorrow morning...

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