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Dick Morris
Dick Morris
27 Jan 2016
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No Firewall for Clinton


As Hillary Clinton underwhelms in Iowa, barely eking out of a tie with Bernie Sanders — a thought that would have been ridiculous six months ago — her supporters cling to the hope that she has a firewall in the later primaries due to her preponderance of support from African-American voters. While Sanders has been getting only 20 percent of the black vote in most polls, he recently jumped to 27 percent in the Jan. 24 Fox News poll. Even so, Clinton is on track to win an overwhelming portion of African-Americans.

Sanders, who has jumped out to a big lead in New Hampshire, will likely emerge from the first two skirmishes confident and full of momentum. Then he'll hit South Carolina, a state where Clinton's African-American firewall will protect her and give her a big victory.

But, after South Carolina, will the Clinton firewall hold?

We'll know on Super Tuesday (March 1) when the Democrats will select 1,101 delegates, 46 percent of the 2,382 needed to be nominated. The Super Tuesday states fall into three categories:

1. States where there is a large enough black vote to let Clinton dominate: Alabama (60 delegates), Virginia (110) and Georgia (116), for a total of 286 delegates. In these states the African-American proportion of the Democratic vote will likely top 1/3 and could go higher.

2.States where there are enough black voters to deliver certain congressional districts to Clinton, but not enough to control the vote throughout the state: 365 delegates in Texas (252), Tennessee (76 delegates) and Arkansas (37 delegates). Texas, for example, selects about 2/3 of its delegates by district and the remainder through statewide voting.

African-Americans are only 12 percent of the Texas population and probably about 20 percent of the Democratic primary vote. That's enough to sweep certain congressional districts, but not enough to dominate the state.

3. That leaves Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming (a total of 417 delegates) where the black vote is negligible.

So the solid black support for Clinton — should it continue — would deliver to her strong wins in Virginia, Georgia and Alabama for 286 delegates and partial success in Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas which account for 365 delegates among them but would have no important impact of 417 delegates.

All this adds up to a Clinton plurality on March 1, but not the thumping sweep she would need to put the race away. Sanders will emerge from March 1, trailing but still alive, kicking and vigorous.

On March 5, 6 and 8, Kansas (37), Louisiana (58), Nebraska (30), Maine (30), Michigan (148) and Mississippi (41) select their delegates. Obviously, the Mississippi and Louisiana delegate selection will be dominated by the African-American vote giving Clinton the edge on their combined 99 delegates. In Michigan, the black population will likely deliver certain districts to her, but with a statewide black population of 14 percent, it is unlikely to control the entire process. And the remaining 97 delegates come from states with minimal black voters.

The nomination will probably be decided on March 15 when Florida (246 delegates, 17 percent black), Illinois (182 delegates, 15 percent black), Missouri (84 delegates, 12 percent black), North Carolina (121 delegates, 22 percent black) and Ohio (159 delegates, 13 percent black) all vote. The winner-take-all states of Florida and Ohio will probably decide the nomination, but, to win these states, Clinton cannot depend on ethnicity to deliver the delegates. She has to win them on her own.




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