The Hillary Deathwatch
The Rev. Wright resurfaces, buoying Clinton's chances.
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With every new sound bite, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright bails another bucketful of water from Hillary Clinton's campaign dinghy. Meanwhile, Barack Obama is being pegged as a liability for Democrats in congressional races. Clinton's chances float up 0.5 points to 12.4 percent.
By the time Wright took to the stage this morning at the National Press Club, he had already made two high-profile appearances, on PBS and at an NAACP dinner in Detroit. Even though his rhetoric was calmer today than in Detroit, he managed to keep his name in the news, and, combined with his earlier remarks, he's sure to dominate the cable-news cycle. The conventional wisdom says that every time Wright shows up on a television screen, it hurts Obama, which we're inclined to believe for now. There's an outside chance that by going public with new comments, Wright can drown out the older, more inflammatory ones. But that's a nuanced view, and if this primary season has taught us anything, it's that nuance doesn't win elections.
But even if Wright wasn't making appearances in the flesh, he'd still be showing up on TV screens in some markets. A Mississippi Republican is using Obama and Wright in a new ad to attack his Democratic challenger for Congress. Obama has endorsed the Democratic candidate, Travis Childers, and the ad scolds Childers for not distancing himself from Obama after Obama didn't distance himself from Wright. This plus an earlier adfrom the North Carolina GOP featuring Wright and Obama may make some superdelegates skittish about supporting the senator. Picking a nominee isn't just to ensure your party controls the White House but also to help your party pick up seats in Congress. If Obama and Wright become a liability down-ballot, then Clinton may be seen as a better alternative.
With all of this bad news for Obama, we should note that the entire country doesn't hate him quite yet. A new Newsweek poll reports that more people have an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton than favorable. Obama and McCain, meanwhile, both have favorable numbers above 50 percent and unfavorable ratings in the low 40s. Interestingly, both Democrats' favorability rankings have gone down considerably since March, but McCain's has stayed relatively level.
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.