Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 12, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE POTOMAC PRIMARY....There's an election today. If you live in the Potomac area, go vote.

I gather that the main topic of conversation isn't about who's going to win, it's about whether Barack Obama is merely going to win or whether he's going to smoke Hillary into a cinder. And secondarily, about what spin Hillary's team is going to put on this and whether we should believe it.

Speaking for myself, it seems as if the Democratic primary race is plainly so close that it's time to stop paying attention to all the expectations nonsense. Both candidates obviously have substantial bases of support, so why not just let everyone vote and see what happens?

But that's crazy talk, I know, so I'll add this: it really does seem as if a big Obama victory, expected or not, is going to be a considerable blow to Team Hillary. That'll be, what? Seven straight blowout victories in a row following a pretty good Super Tuesday showing? And with a full three weeks for everyone to munch on this before the next contest? I'm not counting Hillary out by any means, but it's sure starting to feel like a helluva uphill battle for her.

Kevin Drum 1:38 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Comments

Ex-Edwards, now Obama supporter here. I must say, "never count a Clinton out" is a good motto to keep in mind. Bill seemed to thrive on being knocked down. Don't know if Hilary is made of the same stuff though.

Posted by: Leila on February 12, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wisconsin is next week. Very important primary.

Posted by: john on February 12, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty impressive for a once-unknown candidate going up against an established and entrenched "brand". Democrats' are starting to catch on, and are hopefully going to vote in a manner that would benefit their party for quite a bit of time to come.

Of course, don't count Hillary out, but the fatigue is readily apparent: asked whether there would be any more scandals involving Bill if she were elected, Hillary said that there would be none. No one can tell the future, she obviously said, but she promised there wouldn't be one...promised.

This is what we are considering sending to the American public? The fatigue will hurt her, big time, as her strength is also be her biggest weakness.

Posted by: Boorring on February 12, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I gather that the main topic of conversation isn't about who's going to win, it's about whether Barack Obama is merely going to win or whether he's going to smoke Hillary into a cinder. And secondarily, about what spin Hillary's team is going to put on this and whether we should believe it.

Barack's going to blow Hillary away. Hillary's going to try to get media sympathy by crying. Chelsea's going to join in the crying too. *snicker*

Posted by: Al on February 12, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

i registered socialist because i could, so i can't vote in the closed primary today. for the first time in my life that's making me think of becoming a party man. after growing up in a red state, i've always avoided R and D and opted for I. but the last 7 years and the current primary is making me think it's time to swallow the D coolaid. i'm Probama, but i want to be part of the machine that mops the floor with the splintered right, whoever the nominee is. Go Blue!

and Go Huck!

Posted by: Trypticon on February 12, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) voted against immunity for telecoms, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), voted to keep immunity in the bill. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) did not show up for the vote.

A key difference to me ...
and "why I won't vote for Hillary Clinton"

Posted by: jackifus on February 12, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with John, she could win in Wisconsin, and that would help change the tone of the race.

It's not over til Chelsea sings.

Posted by: Justin on February 12, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! Whaddya mean three weeks until the next contest? Seven days until purple-state Wisconsin votes! Anyone can vote in either primary here, turnout is expected to be high (35% of voting-age population) and we got about 70 delegates going to the Democratic convention. You can bet that whoever wins here, especially if it is a big margin, will try top spin that into something.

Personally, I'm looking forward to my primary vote actually mattering for the first time since Reagan was president.

Posted by: wihntr on February 12, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

The press can try to convince people that it's over, but unless Obama can convince whites to vote for him in primaries (which means he's dealing with whites other than liberals), it ain't over.

Posted by: Cal on February 12, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Latest poll has Hillary down by 11 in Wisconsin.
http://www.politicalwire.com/

Posted by: RollaMO on February 12, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Obama "voted against immunity for telecoms" . . .

Can you show me where he spoke out against it, and actually tried to get it stopped?

I'm glad he at least went on record about it.

Posted by: DR on February 12, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama can win a state like Virginia by what the polls are predicting, then Hillary is toast. However, I think, if he wins VA, he will do so by a margin more like that seen in MO, and it would not surprise me to see her pull it out despite the polling data.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 12, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama gets 60% or more of the vote in Ohio, then I think Hillary may have permanently lost traction-she will be "smoked" at that point. That will be the acid test IMO. With very close demographics to the neck and neck Missouri race and doing significantly better there it definitely would be an indicator of BHO's increasing momentum. BTW, WaPo's interactive map is really nifty:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/primaries/

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 12, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon Kevin! Why don't you just come out and admit that you support Obama and hate Hillary. It's so obvious. Don't you know that Obama is a mean-spirited empty suit leading a cult of brainless chanters into the abyss? Sort of like Bush?

That's it. I'm leaving here and going to FDL or MyDD where people see Obama for what he is and see Hillary for what she is: our savior.

Posted by: skeptic on February 12, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

at TPM found this from October:
http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2007/10/obama_camp_says_it_hell_support_filibuster_of_any_bill_containing_telecom_immunity.php

The Obama campaign has just sent over the following statement from spokesman Bill Burton:

"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."

"I have consistently opposed this Administration's efforts to use debates about our national security to expand its own power, whether that was on the Iraq war, or on its power grab to curb our civil liberties through domestic surveillance programs. It is time to restore oversight and accountability in the FISA program, and this proposal -- with an unprecedented grant of retroactive immunity -- is not the place to start."

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/donaldweed/CnTc

just fyi

Posted by: jackifus on February 12, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Cal. If only Nebraska and Maine weren't so black...

Posted by: td on February 12, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

And so the Democrats go down in flames in November because coalitions of rich white liberals and African-Americans are just what it takes to convince swing voters to go Dem this year.

Posted by: Teresa on February 12, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone should take note of today's prices on the Iowa Electronic Market (IEM), a political-futures trading market that sells shares in candidates in different races. Each candidate in an individual race is priced at a fraction of a dollar, depending on what people are wiling to pay. Two days ago, Hillary was ahead about 60-40 over Obama; today the shares are selling for $.71 for Obama and $.27 for Hillary. That's the biggest swing I can remember seeing in the market (http://www.uiowa.edu/election/).

Posted by: peter A on February 12, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Minor correction: she will have been blown out in 8 contests (you forgot the Virgin Islands) if he sweeps today's primaries.

And it's important to remember, she's going to take this to the mat--Democratic Party be damned.

Posted by: Keith on February 12, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

"If only Nebraska and Maine weren't so black..."

No, they're caucus states, predominantly driven by white liberals. You should read more carefully.

Posted by: Cal on February 12, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

In a contest this close, where superdelegates (awesome band name - just saying) matter as much as they do, momentum and perception count a lot.
As opposed to our votes.

Posted by: cazart on February 12, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

You may not be ready to count Hillary out, Kevin, but it is abundantly clear that all of her key people are acutely aware that she has probably already lost it. Why? Because they've tried everything and none of it worked.

They tried driving up BO's negatives with whisper campaigns and by using Bill as an attack dog, but that only backfired. The one thing that they would like to try, if only they could, is outspending the Obama campaign down the stretch, but even that path appears to be beyond the realm of possibility. They are hanging on for dear life, hoping for a miracle.

Hillary's biggest decision will be whether to try to make a deal to become the first female Vice President while she still has some leverage (bowing out now unites the party sooner) or wait until Barack has no reason to consider taking her on as his running mate. She could decide as early as tomorrow, I think...

Posted by: James Kroeger on February 12, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth- I'm in Southeast VA.
take this with a grain of salt, etc....
I have not yet met a single Clinton supporter.
Of the like-minded friends & relatives I have, all are supporting Obama- some were Edwards supporters that have switched.
On the other hand- an overwhelming number of myco-workers are Republicans.

Posted by: kenny on February 12, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Do not, repeat NOT be shocked if she pulls it out in Virginia today.

Posted by: cazart on February 12, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be voting after work tonight.

I've long since stopped paying attention to all the people who are talking about momentum and perceptions. It's all about delegates now, and each candidate has won in enough states that few people are going to vote one way or the other anymore because Obama's on a roll or whatever.

I still say the main distinction between them to base a vote on - if we only knew their intended approaches - would be what they're planning to do when the Senate GOP blocks cloture on their entire legislative agenda.

Barring that, it comes down to: which one do you think will help elect more Dem Senators?

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 12, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Cal,

I suggest you go over to Gallup and read the piece they have on voter breakdown in all of their polling to date. Barack has no problem getting educated (i.e. some College and higher) white votes.

He has trouble with under-educated voters (high school diploma and less) who are either White or Latino

It should also be obvious that he is doing fine with white voters given that Clinton and Obama are in a statistical tie in national polling. He simply can't be doing that without a large fraction of the White vote, considering that the Latino vote favors Clinton.

You sound like you would be actually happier if we had a more racially polarized society. Some of us are betting otherwise and understand that an Obama victory will make us even less so.

Posted by: Manfred on February 12, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't primary polls generally more accurate than caucus polls? They all seem to have Obama in the lead in MD and VA. I tend to agree that Hillary's team has pretty much realized that their odds are long--frontrunners don't just give away delegates.

She won't drop out until after Texas and Ohio, in my opinion.

Posted by: Lev on February 12, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from Prince William County in Northern Virginia (just south of Fairfax County). I went to the poll this morning around 10 a.m., expecting to find it swarming with people. Unfortunately, there were about 5 people waiting to vote. The poll organizer told me the turnout had been light -- about 325 people. She feared that people had gotten complacent, perhaps they considered the winners to be done deals. There was no one outside the polls representing Democrats or Republicans, except one Obama supporter. Given, my precinct is rather conservative (although Kaine and Webb won it in their elections), but I really was disappointed. I think the Dems could've taken this opportunity for outreach, and they didn't.

Posted by: pol on February 12, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, one more comment, Kevin. In our neck of the woods, we're calling it the Chesapeake Primary.

Posted by: pol on February 12, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

If Clinton defies the polls and wins in VA, it could well be due to the apparent campaign to have Republicans vote for Hillary here since they believe that Obama will be the tougher candidate to beat. Check out the comments at NRO. I've actually heard the same advice offered on local talk radio.

Posted by: Manfred on February 12, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

low-tech cyclist:

There's a pretty convincing analysis up at dailykos which argues that the 12 states in which we have the most competitive senate races are mostly states that Obama won by hefty margins. Ergo, likely Obama is the one who would help elect more Dem senators. Of course, this may not follow because of differences between the primary/caucus electorate and the general electorate, but it's reasonable to think that a candidate who got even less support in the primary or caucus won't have better coattails in the general.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 12, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Way to raise those expectations. I with people would stop falling overthemselves to be the most bullish pundit on Obama. NOw anything less than a 30% Obama win makes Hillary the Comeback Kid again. Never underestimate them.

Posted by: John on February 12, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

That's OK.

Antoin Rezko's trial for political corruption and influence-peddling will commence in a Chicago federal courtroom on March 3, just as Sen. Obama beomes the established front-runner. The media will thereupon be appropriately shocked, shocked to find that the Democrats' white knight made a Faustian bargain with one of Chicago's now-notorious political operatives to not only funnel money to the senator's state legislative and 2004 U.S. Senate campaigns, but also help the Obama family purchase their really cool mansion in Hyde Park, which of course has a 1,000-bottle wine cellar as eminently befitting this man of the people, thereby reminding Americans of the inherent sordidness of Illinois politics of which Obama was a part.

Sen. John McCain will, of course, duly promise to clean up all this political corruption, because after all he was the author of McCain-Feingold and knows sleazy politics when he sees it. The good senator from Arizona will quickly take a commanding lead in the race to the White House and maintain it right through the November elections, even though the Obama campaign will try to remind people of Charles Keating, which of course happened a long time ago so nobody remembers him anymore. Soon, all will be right with the Beltway's self-contained world, which will breathe a sigh of relief and continue with business as usual.

Count on it. Kumbaya, everyone.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 12, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Of interest... The CNN Poll today.(Feb 12th)

Who do you like best for president?

John McCain 23% 46887
Mike Huckabee 12% 23890
Hillary Clinton 24% 49209
Barack Obama 42% 85810

Total Votes: 205796

Posted by: Buford on February 12, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, Kevin, You're so blatantly pro-Hillary. Except when you're blatantly pro-Obama. How dare you, a pundit, have an opinion?

Quit flip-flopping and tell us what your bias is so we can jump all over you for being so biased.

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Minor correction: she will have been blown out in 8 contests (you forgot the Virgin Islands) if he sweeps today's primaries.

Dems Abroad also finishes today.

Posted by: goethean on February 12, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

People should listen to Donald.

And Buford, you can't count results of a click the button intertoobs survey. All you have here is a poll of people who have logged into the CNN page, during the workday.

Posted by: optical weenie on February 12, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Quit flip-flopping and tell us what your bias is so we can jump all over you for being so biased.

I think you nailed the quintessential comment on this blog, thersites. You win this thread. Next!

Posted by: David in NY on February 12, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

All you have here is a poll of people who have logged in...during the workday.

Thank goodness there's none of that here. Who knew there were so many opinionated unemployed?

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

(a guilty silence ensues)

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon everyone: ENJOY THE SCHAUENFREUDE!!!!

:0)

Posted by: carlos on February 12, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites ... me guilty too. Just was trying to say that the data base is so skewed that only fools would try to extract meaning from an on-line poll.

Posted by: optical weenie on February 12, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

carlos:
ENJOY THE SCHAUENFREUDE!!!!

You want us to enjoy the "looking joy"?

That sounds vaguely porn-related....

Posted by: Rieux on February 12, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Some of us are betting otherwise and understand that an Obama victory will make us even less so."

Oh, please. Obama is all about race. Consumed by it, in fact. He rejected a half brother because he chose his white identity. And Obama's success is all about race. He wouldn't be running for president if he weren't black. He's all about race, and making white liberals feel good about their support for a black man.

I'm well aware of the groups that Obama is popular with. Nonetheless, he's lost the white vote almost everywhere that there weren't caucuses. Popularity with a small group of elite white voters won't cut it.

It doesn't matter whether I'm happier with a "racially polarized" society or if you've chosen, in your own delusional fashion, to live beyond those limitations. Voters have a tendency to smack liberal delusions down hard.

Posted by: Cal on February 12, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Cal,

Funny thing. A Republican President appointed two African American Secretaries of State. I guess he wasn't worried about what his base thought about that. Huh?

You on the other, a so-called progressive, demonstrate an utter spineless, gutless cowardliness in your fear of challenging stereotypes.

I can only surmise where your fears and thinking patterns would have placed you in the '60s. Black people should go to the back of the line. The country is clearly, and in your opinion, not ready for even a half-black President.

Posted by: Manfred on February 12, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

The country ... not ready for even a half-black President.

Sorry, Inkblot!

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Schadenfreude:

(German) malicious enjoyment at the misfortunes of others.

playa...

Posted by: carlos on February 12, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

But seriously. Manfred is right. Cal is wrong. I spent time worrying about Obama's electability but y'know what? When bigots tried to tell Mrs. T. where we can't live we dug in our heels and said "fuck you." So why should bigots tell me who not to vote for?

Posted by: thersites on February 12, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, I don't live anywhere near the "Potomac Area" but I got to vote anyway...

Posted by: daveadams on February 12, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Don in Hawaii: then again, if you are spreading spurious crap, I expect you to apologize to everyone here. Whisper campaigns also have bloggers, apparently.

Posted by: Sparko on February 12, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, CNN was quick in calling Virginia for Obama....must be a landslide.

Posted by: Joe on February 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, I see, in looking at the exit polls Obama won in virtually every category, and by wide margins.

Posted by: Joe on February 12, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK
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