A couple of polls published over the last few days have suggested that the row over Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, could be hurting both the Obama and Clinton campaigns. Again, this has to be of great concern to the Democrats. Look at the following poll shifts:
McCain v Obama
McCain 48 Obama 42
McCain 45 Obama 44
McCain 46 Obama 44
McCain 44 Obama 46
McCain v Clinton
McCain 48 Clinton 42
McCain 46 Clinton 44
McCain 46 Clinton 46
McCain 45 Clinton 47
All data from pollster.com.
Let's assume that the main reason for the shift is the row over Reverend Wright (what else is it over the time-frame that we are looking at it?) Two conclusions emerge. Firstly, there is an statistically insignificant difference between the poll standings of Clinton and Obama against McCain. Secondly, their fates appear to be locked together currently.
So what is the rational strategy? Well, if Clinton was eyeing the main prize, the Presidency, she would avoid negative attacks on Obama as they hurt her also. But, unfortunately, she is currently and significantly behind Obama (read Dick Morris on this- I have the same guilty pleasure reading Dick Morris as I do watching Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.)
The bad news for the Democrats is that the rational short term strategy for the Clinton campaign is to encourage and launch attacks on Obama. In so doing she will hope: (i) To de-couple her fate from Obama's (ii) To hurt him more than she will hurt herself. At the moment she's hurting them both pretty much equally.
Surely, now is the time for a John Edwards or an Al Gore to step in- perhaps in unison? The nomination is almost certainly Obama's. Give it to him. If this is not resolved he could be severely wounded- perhaps fatally. To deny it to him could well hand the election to McCain (any nomination secured on the basis of super-delegates will be a flawed victory.) We cannot afford four more years of neo-conservatism. America can't. The world can't.
Finally, it would be one of the cruelest ironies if Obama's campaign, having been based on unity and hope, founders on racial division and cynicism. What would that say about America?