Prime Time Zone
05-21-2008
If you read yesterday’s post and then only watched prime-time cable news coverage of the Oregon and Kentucky primaries, you might have been a bit confused. Heading into last night’s results, I expected (as did many others) that the evening’s narrative would focus primarily on Barack Obama crossing the pledged (elected) delegate majority threshold. But in prime time, you instead saw Democratic elites engaged in several hours of hand-wringing over how Hillary Clinton’s big margin in Kentucky underscored Obama’s continued struggle with white working-class voters and spelled trouble for his electability as the Democratic nominee. With Oregon on the West Coast not reporting its results until 11 p.m. on the East Coast, there really wasn’t any other storyline for party elites and network commentators to pursue.
 
What a difference a few hours makes. Once it became clear shortly after 11 p.m. that Obama would win comfortably in Oregon and that he had performed more strongly with working-class whites in that state, the tone of cable news coverage shifted dramatically, and the night’s political narrative returned to expected form. If Obama becomes the party’s presumptive nominee, he will still need to address his weak performance among Appalachian whites (and the uncomfortable way it raises the issue of race), but this did not appear to slow him from closing in on the nomination late last night.


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