Part of the dynamic that Sen. Hillary Clinton always had working in her favor was the ability of her husband to deliver the black vote, en masse, for her if she ran into minor bumps along the way in Iowa, New Hampshire and even Nevada.
This was always a critical element in why she was such an overwhelming favorite to capture the Democratic nomination. The Barack Obama phenomenon has made this analysis inoperable.
Against candidates like John Edwards, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, Bill Richardson, or even Al Gore, former President Bill Clinton would have been in a position to deliver Hillary the black vote. And when Sen. Obama originally threw his hat in the ring there was a question of just how much of the black vote he would be able to get against Hillary.
Six weeks ago I was of the opinion that she had a decent chance of winning the black vote, but today, in the aftermath of the David Geffen affair, which helped whack 10 points off her lead, and then this weekend's head-to-head down in Selma, Ala., on the current trajectory there is no way Hillary Clinton will beat out Barack Obama for the black vote.
And what has to have the Hillary camp scared stiff is the possibility that not only will Obama win the black vote, but that he might win it overwhelmingly. On FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Fred Barnes suggested that Obama would win 80 percent of the black vote. Today I would agree that 70 to 80 percent is a very real possibility.
If you watch Obama's speech from last weekend he sends a clear message that he is not going to let any campaign try and make the case that he is "not black enough." As the first of the second generation of black candidates to run for president -- as opposed to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who had no chance of winning the White House -- not only does Obama have a very real chance of being the next president, but at the current rate he may well be the frontrunner by summer.
He has closed Clinton's recent 20-point plus lead to only 10.2 percent in the latest RCP Average; he trails Rudy Giuliani by only 3.5 points and actually leads John McCain by 1.4 percent in today's RCP Average.
Obama's ability to take away the black vote, en masse, from the Clinton campaign may turn out to be the iceberg that sinks the H.M.S. Hillary.