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Hillary Clinton's ace in the hole?

January 7, 2008 |  4:34 pm

Manchester, N.H. -- If nothing else, the tears that reddened Hillary Clinton's eyes today at a New Hampshire campaign stop allowed her to dominate news coverage on the eve of the state's primary. If she pulls an upset in the Democratic presidential contest -- or comes close enough to Barack Obama to claim the comeback cloak -- the moment will be enshrined in political history.

But let's say she loses by a 5-to-10 percentage-point margin. Is she cooked?

Many will say yes. By the New Republic's John Judis, in a mid-December article that slipped under most radars, envisioned Clinton's potential plight -- and posited that Latino voters could come to her rescue.

The story was headlined "Hillary Clinton's Firewall," and it walked through the enormous advantage she has enjoyed over Obama in polls of Latino voters. Judis noted how important that could prove in states with fast-approaching caucuses and primaries where the Latino share of the Democratic vote is substantial: Nevada, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey and New York.

Perhaps, in face of an Obama bandwagon, Clinton's standing with these voters will evaporate (or at least slip significantly). But Judis is skeptical about that, asserting that her support among Latinos "may have less to do with enthusiasm for her candidacy than with a lack of enthusiasm for" Obama.

He continues: ...

"Over the last two decades, there has been evidence of growing hostility from Hispanics toward African Americans. Some of this hostility is the result of conflicts, or perceived conflicts, over politically controlled resources in cities and states. But as Tanya K. Hernandez, a professor of law at George Washington (University), has argued recently, it may also be a legacy of an older Latin American prejudice against blacks that has been transplanted to this country.

"While this conflict passes largely unnoticed in the popular press, African American and Latino sociologists have been conducting extensive surveys in Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. These surveys have generally found that Latinos display more prejudice toward African Americans than African Americans do toward Latinos or than whites display toward African Americans."

The provocative piece bears reading ... and perhaps remembering.

-- Don Frederick

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