Never before was the issue of electability so central to a party’s presidential nominating contest than in this year’s Democratic clash between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Very early on, Obama presented himself as a unifying figure who could draw in independents and even some Republicans, opening up the electoral map and creating previously unimaginable targets for Democrats. But as Obama moved ahead in the delegate count, Clinton and her campaign began loudly challenging his claim, arguing that he would repel white, working-class voters and Hispanics, lose critical swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and come apart when confronted with aggressive Republican attacks. “A roll of the dice,” is how Bill Clinton memorably derided Obama, while Hillary herself railed to Bill Richardson that “he can’t win!”
Even when Obama finally secured the nomination, the argument didn’t end, with vocal Clinton supporters – egged on by the media – questioning all summer (and even into the fall) whether the Democrats had made a fatal mistake by nominating the weaker candidate.
Now, though, we can consider the matter settled – not just because Obama won last week, but because of how he won.
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