Obama At A Crossroads

The opening line of an Associated Press report posted online last night was not pretty:

Whites largely shunned Barack Obama in Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday as the Deep South showed once again its reluctance to embrace him across racial lines.

Is this the beginning of the end for Obama? As I posted earlier this week, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jonathan Last wrote that Obama's victories have come mainly in states unlikely to be won by the Democrats in November in any event: states like Idaho, Utah, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Now there are questions about Obama's ability to win over white southern Democrats. Finally other writers are agreeing with what I referred to weeks ago as the Obama "phenom": That it is starting to show cracks. Consider this online Seattle Times op-ed by one John Carlson in which he tracks the excitement over Obama's campaign as trending down from a previously high arc:

But excitement is closely tied to momentum and the Obama campaign is losing both. The affection for him is genuine, but it's less a long-term romance than a crush.

Six days ago, Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing: "In Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton has opened a fifteen percentage point lead over Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Clinton attracting 52% of the vote while Obama earns 37%."

The Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic nod has been harder to follow than a ping-pong match. It sure looks as though heading into Pennsylvania, a very long six weeks from now, Obama faces the toughest phase of his historic campaign thus far.

By Bonnie Erbe