A leading paper in South Carolina analyzes some of the flare up between the Clinton and Obama camps at the above link. If the analysis is carried farther, I think that the Democrats could be in a real pickle come November.
So much of the Democratic Party seems to be based on identity politics. Whether its John Edwards saying that a multimillionaire trial lawyer is just one of the working stiffs, or Hillary being all things to all women or Barak being all things to people of color.
It seems that a good portion of the electorate that carried Hillary to victory in New Hampshire were single and older women. Barak seems to have turned around attitudes in the African American community that a black man actually can garner votes from white Americans, thus making it realistically possible that a black man actually could become President. With both groups saying their time is near, there is just one problem - Only one could get the prize.
My earlier prediction that Hillary will get the Democratic nomination is still possible, probably due more to the Clinton machine's ability to get out the vote for their candidate. But you have to give Barak his due, that he is inspiring a whole bunch of young people to actually vote, which is something they haven't done much in the past.
So, let's look at the three potentials: 1. That Hillary wins the nomination,; and 2. that Barak wins,; and 3. That both enter the convention without the necessary lock.
If Hillary wins going away, I think that black politicians will coalesce behind her. I am not so sure that if Barak wins that the Clinton machine will reciprocate because whether or not he is elected, she could still run in 2012.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. Both candidates enter Denver with less than the necessary delegates to grab the nomination. At that point, the "Superdelegates" come into play. They comprise roughly one third of the votes necessary for the nomination, and have traditionally gone with the winner. However, with no clear cut winner, I predict that there will be a lot of arm twisting on the Clinton's behalf to put her over the top. The best argument in her favor is that African Americans are reliably Democratic and don't have any option but that party. While Hillary seems to have some pretty strong appeal with women. Just based on pure numbers, if all of the women and all of the African American vote went to Hillary, she would win in a landslide.
If that did happen, I think that the crashing of hope that America would elect a black man will cause the majority of the black vote to just stay at home come election day. Without black support, and with her high negatives, which will only go higher the more people have to listen to her, I think that Hillary would lose to any Republican other than Huckabee.
One way to counter the disappointment might be to put Obama on the ballot as the VP. I just don't think that Clinton can get past her calculating nature and do that. A black man or a white woman are probably going to have to put a safe white male on as the VP. Although I think that Hillary and Barak could run together and be effective, it would go counter to the perceived wisdom, and so is unlikely.