Race, Religion, Gender Didn’t Matter

By Nitya

Feb 28, 2008 7:30am

Opinion by Matthew Dowd, ABC News contributor

So, it looks like after Tuesday’s contests in Ohio and Texas Barack Obama is about to turn from likely to inevitable nominee.

Going into the March 4th primaries the best we can say about where Hillary Clinton stands is that she is 0-11-2 since Super Tuesday. She has lost eleven caucuses and primaries in a row, and at best has finished in a draw on two debates (one could logically make the argument she lost both debates because she didn’t slow Obama’s momentum, but heck, why pour salt on an open wound!)

There has been much speculation recently about why Clinton has ended up in this position, and many pundits are pointing to the difficulty of her being able to run because she is a woman.

I just don’t buy into that, and neither do the citizens of this country.

A year ago Clinton was up 30 points in the polls; six months ago she was up 25 points in the polls; a month ago she was up 15 points in the polls; two weeks ago she was slightly ahead; and now she is significantly behind.   

Did the public in the last few days just now discover she is a woman???? Hardly.

When Obama won Iowa the pundits were all shocked that an African American could carry a nearly all white electorate, and then when he didn’t meet expectations in New Hampshire, pundits started saying it was because of some latent racism.

Again, a terrible misread on where voters are.

In the Republican primary, there was constant talk that Mitt Romney’s failure to win was somehow linked to his Mormon religion. And then of course we find out he did better than John McCain among evangelicals at nearly every step of the way. Another misjudgment by the media and pundits of the country’s acceptance of diversity.

At many, many, many places along this campaign the public (and voters specifically) have been well ahead of where many analysts of this election are and ahead of how the campaign has been covered. 

The United States as a country has come to terms with itself over the years and is totally willing to support a woman as President, or an African-American, or someone who is a Mormon.

It’s time we stopped using these labels as an excuse of why certain candidates don’t succeed.

If Hillary ends up losing, it will be because she never had a vision or a message that resonated with the majority of voters and that many voters were looking for a change candidate, and not a candidate who held out their Washington experience as crucial.

If Obama, for some unknown reason stumbles, it will be because voters no longer believed that how he conducted his campaign matched his rhetoric of hope and healing or that he made some big gaffes highlighting some preparedness argument.

And Romney lost because voters believed he was not authentic in what he said along the campaign trail on a variety of issues.

So, as one of the folks who covers this race, I think it’s time we got past the old excuses and rationale based in a time gone by in the voters minds. I think we would all be better off catching up to where the voters already are in how they judge the leader they want. 

We can learn much by following the "wisdom of crowds" especially as it relates to ancient labels. 

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