As forecast here, Super Tuesday turned out to be anything but super for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Neither one could deliver the knockout punch.
Two colossal reasons virtually preordained this muddled, confused and frustrating outcome. First was the Democrat's winner-not-take-all proportional system and the system of super delegates. Under the proportional system, winning a state doesn't mean winning all the delegates. Instead they are divvied up according to each candidate's share of the vote. Super delegates can pretty much vote for whomever they want.
The second problem is rift developing between those backing Obama and those backing Clinton.
For Clinton, the tormenting question is, if she eventually gets the grand Democratic prize, will African-American voters who have virtually turned their tout of Obama into a messianic crusade back her with the same fervor and more importantly numbers? A lukewarm turnout by Blacks for her would spell big trouble for her and the Democrats in November.
The equally tormenting question for Obama is, if he eventually gets the Democratic grand prize, will Latino voters back him with the same fervor and numbers as they did Clinton?
Then there's the question of White male voters. They make up nearly 40 percent of the American electorate. In every election dating back to Ronald Reagan's big wins over the Democrats in the 1980s and since, they have powered GOP victories in national elections and more importantly have been the sure ticket of GOP presidents to the White House. Bush got a whopping 64 percent of the White male vote, and he did even better among White males in the South. Their sudden like of Obama then is suspect. The perplexing question is are they voting for Obama because they are truly sold on his message of hope and change, or is there a darker reason? And that is that they hate the thought of a woman bagging the highest office, especially if that woman is named Hillary.
A dirty secret little of the campaign just may be that in this age of supposed gender enlightenment when men profess profusely that they have no problem backing a woman for president, many secretly do. This is not idle speculation. Polls have consistently shown that while Whites are virtually unanimous in saying that they have no problem voting for an African-American for president, far fewer say the same about a woman.
When the dust finally settles in the fall, the GOP presidential nominee will do his internal fence mending in the party, and will placate the warring other presidential opponents and competing factions. He will have the usual king's ransom campaign chest, the spin of Fox and other major cable TV news outlets and conservative talk radio jocks, the solid backing of millions of conservatives and Christian evangelicals, the sure electoral votes of most of the South and the heartland states, the X factor of race and gender working in his favor against Hillary and Obama, and the hunger to maintain Republican dominance.
The last thing that the Democrats need is a fractured Democratic Party that's hopelessly split into two feuding, finger pointing and irreconcilable factions. That could pose an even greater peril to their bid to take back the White house than the GOP.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book is 'The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House'.