March 5, 2008

So did you hear the one about how Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the nomination just decreased?

TPM Central passes along the spin from the Obama campaign:
Tonight was the Clinton campaign’s last best chance to make a significant dent in our lead in pledged delegates and they have failed. In our latest projections, we will win the Texas caucus with a double-digit margin and any pledged delegate shift will be absolutely minimal. In fact, Clinton’s chances of regaining the delegate lead actually decreased tonight, as the number of delegates remaining dwindles.
Sorry, but this close counting of the delegates seems obtuse. The idea of Obama as a magic man — and his candidacy as a movement — is gone. We enter a new phase, and opinion is softened. People will think about things in new ways. The Rezko trial is in the news, and reporters are starting to ask Obama tough questions. We have a long wait for the next primary, and it's a big one that Hillary is expected to win by a wide margin. If we end the primary season with Clinton strong and Obama battered, the superdelegates will respond, and they will make the final call. I'd say Clinton has hugely increased her chance of winning.

Josh Marshall's analysis:
Let's hypothesize for a moment a scenario in which March 4th broke the back of Obama's campaign. He emerges bloodied and doesn't seem to be able to stand up to Hillary's assault. His delegate margin is big enough that she can't catch up. But she runs through the next dozen or however many remaining contests there are making up steady ground on the pledged delegate front. I don't think a small margin of pledged delegates will be enough if Obama looks like a damaged candidate who seems unable to fight off a determined and ruthless opponent. Just hanging on to the margin he banked in February won't be enough because fundamentally, if neither candidate has it locked by the convention, the super delegates will want to pick the candidate who looks like the general election winner and is the favorite of Democrats at the time of the convention, two qualifiers which are in practice two sides of the same coin.

I don't think the above is a likely scenario. In fact, I think it's quite unlikely. Almost everything remains stacked against Hillary. There's no denying that. But I think this does point to what this debate -- literal and meta -- will turn on over the next couple weeks.


Joe said...

To reproduce a comment I left on another blog:

This primary season just gets better and better.

This NYT piece quotes Obama’s chief strategist as saying that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”**

Sounds like the claws are coming out, folks.
Here’s to another seven weeks.

**Doesn’t that sound sexist? You know, the way everything Clinton’s campaign says (or implies, or is said to have implied) about Obama is racist? : "This is just how women fight (dirty) while men take the high road. No more! Now she’s in for a taste of her own medicine." I wonder if anybody will pick up on this and turn it into anything like the "NIG" nonsense?

(Sorry about all the links. They're not essential to my thought, just in the interest of proper documentation.)

rhhardin said...

Hope and change no longer work.

I recommend resolve and chance.

It's obscure enough to confuse reporters.

Chris said...

She's gone from about 15% to over 25%, so I'd agree she's increased her chances pretty hugely. But she's still got plenty of way to go.

George said...

The Asian columnist Spengler is wrong when he says Obama "is in America but not of it."

He's yet another in a long line of demagogues like the anti-semitic Father Coughlin, the promise the heavens Francis Townsend, share-the-wealth Huey Long, and the pugilistic George Wallace.

Consider the fear-mongering, pseudo-religious, I-want-to-be-your-keeper appeal of this Obama applause line "If there is an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney, it threatens my civil liberties. It is that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper, it is that fundamental belief that makes this country work."

We'll see the sawdust trickle out of his stuffed shirt.

Simon said...

Ten days ago, I said that Clinton was still in it, likely to recover and win today, would go forward, and will ultimately get the nomination after a brutal convention. I'm sticking to that prediction, and it's nice to see events starting to conform to it.

Here's the question: it's obvious that Hillary's staying in to the bitter end. She's going to win, it's going to be bloody, and anyone in her way's going to be ripped a new one. Staying in only protracts the bloodshed and diminishes the ability of the party to defeat the evil rethuglican bushitler chimpymchaliburton complex in the fall. So: for the good of the Democratic party, shouldn't Obama now withdraw?

Original Mike said...

If Obama is up by one delegate at the end, I don't think the Super delegates will have the nerve to take it away from him, even if they think it's best for the party. I don't think the converse is true for Hillary.

Roger said...

I most certainly agree with Prof A's analysis and Simon's as well. There is too much time left before Denver to finish this process. I suspect, given Obama's terrible performance in the Chicago presser, that he can't take the heat. He has a slight lead in delegates but Ms. Clinton has shown she can win the big states: CA, NY, OH, TX--and the general election is decided by electors.

These things will not be lost on super-delegates who ultimately, I think, will base their support on electability. All they have to do is wait and let events unfold. Obama will not do well when the media (and events) turn on him--and I also would not be surprised to see the Obama's campagin play the race card. (it won't be him, but it will be "unnamed spokespersons." Going to be a dog fight all the way to Denver, and Senator McCain must feel pretty good right about now.

Cedarford said...

The thing I see is that people's opinions are still gelling on Obama. The media did us no favors by uncritically accepting this WONDERFUL, FRESH BLACK candidate while avoiding analysis of his background and his "SUPERIOR JUDGMENT".

Now the spotlight is finally on the guy and by the time Pennsylvania is done voting, we may have a fair picture of Obama with both his strengths and WEAKNESSES - which is to be fair to both Hillary whose baggage and credits are well-known, and the Democratic Party which faces a known, tested McCain and doesn't need another imploding Kerry disaster.

One thing that should be revisited is Obama's now-famous speech to a small rally in Chicago - which has now become his centerpiece claim to the Presidency. A speech he distanced himself from by 2004, saying if he was a standing Senator, told like them what evidence existed even if the evidence was later found to be faulty despite assurances from the UK, Russia, France, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the head of the CIA, even Iran -he wasn't sure how he would have voted. Maybe he would have voted just like half the Democrats like Clinton, Kerry, Schumer, Feinstein. He said in Senate procedings he didn't know. Then when Irag looked to be going bad by mid- 2005, he dusted his "Great Speech" off, and put it back up on his Senate, then Presidential campaign websites.

His speech was the basis of a request by a former SDS member (Marilyn Katz) that he join her, two former terrorists (Ayers & Dohrn), Jesse, some rich Hard Left Donors (Saltzman, Pitzker, Crown Family) and have a good old Vietnam-style Protest where he could join the old Lefties revisting their Halycon days of the "March on Washington". Obama delivered because he wanted those rich people to go with the hardest Left candidate interested in being the next Senator. He talked to 300 people after Jesse's harangue, mostly post-communist old hippie-Left folks, not Youth looking for a Black Messiah...

Now, despite the circumstances of his Maginificent Speech if you take Obama's claim that anyone who gave a anti-Iraq War speech in late 2002 showed superior judgment - then you have to credit others making the same case as Obama with the same superior judgment and worthiness to be President or the proper leaders of their countries on that alone, for "being right when others were wrong".

The general trait of all of them is that they mostly gave their Obama-like speeches and opposition not on facts as to why they opposed the War, but from pure ideology.
Hard Lefties, "All War is Immoral!!!" pacifists safe behind warrior-citizens that do not share their views in stable, prosperous countries, and those with "you cannot attack our fellow Muslims!!," solidarity.

That would be, for example:

1. The brilliantly astute judgement of such anti-war speechmakers of 6 years ago as Vladimir Putin, the vehemently anti-Iraw war speeches of leaders of Muslim political parties from Morocco to Indonesia. "Red" Ken Livingston of London. The oratorical brilliance of "Baghdad Bob".

2. The Euroweenie Greenies, Jacques De Villepin, the Saddam-Bribed UN officials of Kofi's, the anti-war wisdom of Saddam himself in his speeches. The warnings of Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran that it was a dumb war, despite the Ayatollah confirming Iran had WMD by his intelligence sources. The NYTImes editorial staff and it's Sulzberger family.

3. The strong pre-war speeches (2) of Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda. Warning that if the Iraq War proceeded, Al-Qaeda would either send the Ameicans running in fear
or slaughter the Crusader-Jews down to the last soldier.

4. Inside the US, the 2002 anti-War oratorical brilliance of others who Obama seems to be arguing, match his main claim to be President. Barbara Boxer, Susan Sarandon, Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakan, Noam Chomsky and other fellow-travellers of the Hard Left Jewish Intelligensia. The 9/11 Truther Crowd who argued that Bush did 9/11 so he could "seize all the oil". The stupendous speeches of Teddy Kennedy and Jane Fonda saying the war was awful and would kill 2 million innocent Iraqi children by starvation. (The NYTimes folks don't count as Americans, they are transnationalists).

Obamites all.

Once you revisit the "Great Speech of Superior Judgment" and understand the details and who Obama joined in his speechifying, the details the "mental brilliance and better judgment" of Obama, Putin, Saddam, Sarandon, Boxer?
The case for Obama on the basis of his speech becomes far less mighty club to wield to the White House.

Titan said...

Did you watch his speech last night? One of his better, a bit different in message at key point, and pretty clear on one point: He also ain't going without a fight

Finn Kristiansen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peter hoh said...

Clinton has won most of the big blue states, but that's not enough to win the presidency. Despite her wins in Texas and Ohio last night, were she to win her party's nomination, I do not expect her to carry either state in November.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Wrong analysis.

The voted delegate count actually matters. Mathematically Hillary can win every race going forward, and still not make up the delegate difference. she knows that, Obama knows that.

The difficulty then comes at the convention when she will have to argue that Obama getting more actual votes, and getting more actual voted delegates, essentially does not matter. It's an argument that subverts the democratic process.

It's also an argument that would cause a ton of independents supporting Obama to bolt to McCain if she becomes the nominee. Not even counting the inflammed black population who would in fact boycott the general election (if not worse).

So what is she really planning? Well Hillary is prepared to go dirty (or dirtier) and in the past week she learned that it works. She is hoping to find or create a scandal that Obama cannot talk his way out of.

She managed to enlist the press in that effort. While the press likes Obama better than Hillary, they like themselves better than Obama, and she challenged their since of independence and importance. She challenged their ego by suggesting that THEY are not tough. The press bit, catching Obama off guard.

So I fully expect her to get quite down and dirty, in part because only Pennsylvania is relatively certain. Expect personal attacks to be the wedge she uses.

She will argue that while she is lagging in delegates, he is lagging in ethics or is too "tainted" to be the nominee. Brilliantly cynical and if it works for her, then McCain will end up taking it all.

Because she will have walked across too many people on the way to her Queening.

Finn Kristiansen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Finn Kristiansen said...
"The voted delegate count actually matters. ... [A]t the convention[,] ... she will have to argue that Obama getting more actual votes, and getting more actual voted delegates, essentially does not matter. It's an argument that subverts the democratic process."

The Democratic Party Process isn't a democratic process (that's not a criticism), so "subverting" it isn't really applicable. In any event, the superdelegates exist to check the democratic process. If they aren't there to exercise some independent judgment, if they just have to rubber-stamp the popular choice, what function do they play? The bottom line is that she has clearly stemmed the tide of losses, the free ride Obama got in the media and popular culture outlets is clearly over, and if she has momentum going into the convention, she's going to win it regardless of the vote count.

"It's also an argument that would cause a ton of independents supporting Obama to bolt to McCain if she becomes the nominee. Not even counting the inflammed black population who would in fact boycott the general election (if not worse)."

Struggling to see why that's a bad thing, from my chair.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Simon says she will win regardless of the actual vote count.

Okay. Are you sure there are no exceptions to that statement?

Because, this isn't quite Simon says, though Simon says a lot, and the Democratic Party is not really going to want to have as the nominee someone who does not have the backing of the majority of the people. It can happen, but the likelihood is slim.

And I am not making an argument that McCain winning is bad. (Lifelong conservative voter here). I am simply stating that Hillary has no chance of actually winning via delegates unless she can prove Obama incompetent, unethical, or unfit for the job.

I guess we will see, and you may be right.

Chip Ahoy said...

↑ All the above analysis is faulted by omission.

Americans are first and foremost Nationalistic. That's coastal cynicism and internationalism notwithstanding, not to mention the numerous and loudEurophiles, Socialists and multiculturalists among them.

The above analysis leaves out an important factor, the prominent Mrs. Barack Hussein Obama, who runs counter to all of that, so far.

It also leaves out the straight-up shrillness of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Compare that to the ameliorating intonations and and obvious pride in country and apparently sincere sounding duty to service on open display by Mr. John Sidney McCain III and his, so far, demure wife.

Chip Ahoy said...

Apologies. I was late with my post.

garage mahal said...

The voted delegate count actually matters. Mathematically Hillary can win every race going forward, and still not make up the delegate difference. she knows that, Obama knows that.

And Obama can run the table and still not get to 2025 either. This is the biggest myth of this election -- that the delegate count "winner" gets to lay claim to the nomination.

Fen said...

Simon: The Democratic Party Process isn't a democratic process (that's not a criticism), so "subverting" it isn't really applicable

Technically, yes. But for Obama supporters, no.

A significant number will bolt to McCain if they [mis]perceive shenanigans at the convention.

former law student said...

some rich Hard Left Donors (Saltzman, P[r]itzker, Crown Family)

Give us a break, cf. Half of the Crowns' fortune came from military contractor General Dynamics -- producing "massacre machinery" in Kurt Vonnegut's phrase is not a characteristic of the Hard Left. And the Pritzkers made their fortune by buying up good nuts and bolts companies with shitty management, then replaced the management and watched the companies boom. Prudent business management is not a characteristic of the Hard Left either.

I suppose dedicated conspiracy theorists could ponder the Pritzker -- Rezko -- Ayham al-Samarie connection, because all attended the Illinois Institute of Technology, a school favored by strivers, and could have met at an alumni event.

Howard said...

If the Dems, no matter the results of the next 103 primaries, give it to Hillary at the convention the charges of bigotry, racism, and the threat of wide spread riots will prevail. Only logical result is Obama with Hillary possibly on the ticket.

ballyfager said...

All of you people with your facile and premature opinions. Two or three weeks ago you were rushing to bury Clinton. Now you're burying Obama.

We'll all just have to wait and watch events unfold. I live in Pennsylvania. The only thing I can do is vote against her and I damn sure will.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I'd say Clinton has hugely increased her chance of winning.

This is crazy. To increase her chances of winning, she needed to win all four states by a margin of at least 16%. The more states she does not win by at least 16%, the higher that margin grows. At a certain point, it is utterly impossible for her to even tie in pledged delegates.

(Imagine you are golfing against Tiger Woods. You are on the 10th hole. He is -20 under because he has been -2 under each hole. Assuming he gets par from here on out, you need to make up -20. That is possible on 8 holes, assuming you get -3 on each hole. But how that works when some holes are par 3 and when you hit par on hole 11 and then hole 12, is hard to see.)

The arm-twisting argument Simon and Ann are peddling doesn't work, either. You twist arms in the credentials committee. That's how you reseat FL and MI. The 186 committee members are chosen by voters (161) and Howard Dean (25), and even if Howard Dean gives all 25 of his selections to Bill Clinton, Obama still has a majority of the credentials committee because he has won so many contests thus far.

Hillary Clinton is literally praying that Martians will invade and anoint her Queen of the Protectorate of the Martian Empire.

Now, could she keep working the refs and making metaphysical "momentum" arguments in the press, but if you find those convincing, then your humunculous must be made of phlogisteron. Certainly Obama would look bad if he took 60-40 losses in all the remaining states. But that's a numbers argument. That's the math you seek to deny. How do you get 60-40 blowouts in all the remaining states if you're Hillary?

Especially now that Obama is going negative in self-defense. Your victim card is shattered.




You might as well call her Huckabee Clinton.

She's fighting to be Vice President and pay off her debt.

Mortimer Brezny said...

A significant number will bolt to McCain if they [mis]perceive shenanigans at the convention.

Bingo. And the Republicans will run on, "A nominee rejected by her own party...a Clinton who stole the election from a worthy black man...honor, dignity, and courage. John McCain and JC Watts. Real change."

Mortimer Brezny said...

If Obama is up by one delegate at the end

Getting him down to one delegate requires ridiculous blowouts in every remaining state. She'd have to consistently overperform her best performance to date. In the state of Arkansas.