Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 13, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE FRONTRUNNER....So what's the state of play in the Democratic race after last night? Things could still go either way, but unquestionably Hillary now has a pretty serious uphill climb. Obama has shown a very strong ability to make up ground on Hillary if he's got time and money to devote to a state (even in the big states he lost on Super Tuesday, he did about 10 points better than polls had shown a few weeks earlier), and he now has that. He gets to concentrate on Wisconsin for a few days, and then has two full weeks to work on Texas and Ohio, followed by another few weeks to concentrate on Pennsylvania. And if Josh Green is to be believed, Hillary's campaign burned through money at such a fantastic clip earlier this year that even with her current fundraising going well she's still way behind Obama.

So Obama has time and money. He's got momentum. And he's now demonstrated an ability to appeal to the demographic groups that were supposed to be Hillary's firewall in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Hillary won't make it easy — and, yes, weird stuff can happen at any time in a campaign — but is there any question that Obama is now the frontrunner?

And one other thing: as I said the other day, if the race ends up in a dead heat going into the convention, then superdelegates should be free to vote for whoever they want to. But if Obama is ahead by more than, say, 200 delegates or so, the people really have spoken. Hillary would risk fracturing the party if she then tried to pull out a victory by holding floor fights over Michigan and Florida and twisting arms to get a lopsided win among the supers. Let's all pray it doesn't come to that.

Kevin Drum 12:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (73)

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The only thing that can stop the Obama train would be a significant and legitimate scandal.

Posted by: Boorring on February 13, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Obama should ignore TX and move to OH. A win there will really be convincing. And all the campaigning there would be useful for the general (while TX a waste).

And he should totally focus on McCain, not Clinton.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 13, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's really fine for Democrats to have two really great candidates. It's just a pity they have them at the same time, so in effect the get in each others way. I just hope they will have at least one, come 2012.

Posted by: Jörgen in Germany on February 13, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

200 delegates apart? I can see a one percent difference perhaps being arguable, but something closer to 10 percent?

No friggin' way.

Posted by: blatherskite on February 13, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Amen Kevin. I just sent a note to the DNC telling them I'd cease being a Democrat (16 plus years in the party) if things go freaky at the convention (hard to believe that's a long ways away), a la Florida and Michigan or superdelegates went against what's currently being painted and hopefully holds.
Hopefully, and it does appear that way, the party is moving behind one candidate (and apparently McCain independents as well, which bodes well for a landslide general election, since the Obama campaign is playing such a great game this season). To sacrifice this over the "entitlement" of the very toddlerlike--read: tantrums--Clinton camp.
This is our election, even my conservative and moderate Republican friends and coworkers (good friends, the moderates) tell me. And to lose it because of Soviet-like tactics, I just cannot fathom. Let's allow the right-wing to bring down their party this year, we're better than this. Or so I believe at the moment. . .

Posted by: Bob on February 13, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, we have 2 outstanding candidates here. I would look to see the winner choose the other as the VP. That way me might be able to keep the WH for 16 years, depending on how they do. Plus it's going take at least that long to fix whats broken.

Posted by: Radix on February 13, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

The line on Obama is that he is the big picture candidate, the candidate of ideas and rhetoric, but he has ended up in the position he is in because of a very smart strategic plan for garnering delegates contest by contest. Of course, his charisma helps, but charisma without a ground strategy only goes so far. Clinton is supposed to be the detail oriented policy expert, but it doesn't seem as if she has managed to have an effective and adaptable campaign strategy. I make this point, because I like Obama, but I often find myself concerned with his apparent lack of depth. I am always drawn back to this thought: he clearly surrounded himself with very smart people who are capable of implementing their plans to get where he is. And that is no trivial achievement.

Posted by: lisainvan on February 13, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with most of your reasoning, but given the stalemates and the limp Democratic responses....

FRACTURE THE PARTY! PLEASE! WHERE IS THE PETITION?

And by the way Kevin, here's a netroot's project you can lead....

FIRE HARRY REID 2008!

Posted by: jerry on February 13, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

If Cazart Were Obama's Campaign Manager:

1) Candidate makes speech at Wisconsin GM plant today. Hold breath. Pray for no gaffes.

2) Get the hell out of Wisconsin. Stop in Ohio. Talk labor, health care, Iraq.

3) Go to Texas. Talk immigration, health care, Iraq.

4) Lightning strike to Hawaii - both as a reward to staff-and-family and for wildly enthusiastic home crowds. Talk health care, Iraq.

5) Meet with John Edwards wherever he wants. Accept endorsement. Talk rule-of-law, taxes, health care.

6) Back to Ohio. (My city was gone!) More labor. More healthcare. More Iraq.


7) Back to Texas. Go to the border. Immigration. Health care. Economy. Iraq.


8) Take nomination.
Thank Hillary sincerely. It's been a great race.

Posted by: cazart on February 13, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

200 delegates? Obama needs to be ahead by 200 delegates to claim victory or the super delegates should, by inference, support Hillary? What nonsense! No back room deals. If Obama or Hillary wins the popular vote by 1%, that one should be the nominee. It's the democracy, stupid ...

Posted by: Renman on February 13, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama is the frontrunner, but Senator Clinton can still come back. If Obama wins February but Clinton rallies to win March and April, then she will win.

There is a history of two person races going through ebbs of momentum. I would advise the remainder of the superdelegates to wait until the rest of the country has voted.

Posted by: PE on February 13, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Here in TX we're having a heckuva time finding out how to caucus; local NTX party network is superbly clueless. Or just doesn't want us. My husband finally called *Obama's* people, who were able to give us more info, but also warned that the pro-Clinton locals might be less than helpful if we showed our hand, so we're not. Still not sure if we're going to get to be involved, but we'll at least vote.

Ad campaigns started yesterday; Hillary's consisted of healthcare blurbs + her hugging Hispanic lady + her holding a baby. Barack had flags, "universal healthcare for every American" text, and speechifying.

Posted by: emjaybee on February 13, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton might make a decent president (at least better than McCain), but I'm liking her candidacy less and less as time goes on. The only advantage the Democrats in general have at this point is that they are not Republicans.

Posted by: AJ on February 13, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Obama's the nominee. This morning on the radio they devoted much more energy to demonizing Obama than Clinton, which is a real change.

He's a liberal, y'know. Almost as liberal as McCain, apparently.

Posted by: thersites on February 13, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

[RUbbing furiously with smile ofn my face] Pass the popcorn. ALways love to see the Democrats implode. LOL!

Posted by: egbert on February 13, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think people should forget about the notion that Clinton has some magical power over super delegates. In many respects they became super delegates because they are wise politicians. There are many people in the DNC who have no love for Bill and Hillary because in fact they did some things along the way thay hurt the party.

Over the next few weeks we are going to see a constant flow of super delegates to Obama. The final nail might be Al Gore suggesting that Hillary unite behind Obama to mover towards November.

Posted by: Stuart Shiffman on February 13, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with your assessment Kevin that the Superdelegates have just as much right if not more to have the capacity to decide the contest. While I suppose substantively that they might have an opinion which should be counted more because of their knowledge of the process, or that such a vote is perhaps their due because of time served, the issue lies in the ability for the process to be subverted. If super delegates are offered an ambassadorship or a choice appointment in a candidates winning administration, that is not a vote on the merits of the candidates. Opening up our nominating process to these types of bargaining opportunities is similar to our legislative process being opened up to lobyists and it subverts the democratic process. We already have a mechanism to determine a tie. Just allow for an odd number of delegates and the one with more wins.

If a close race is determined because an unelected state party chair wants to be the ambassador to luxembourg, that is not a good decision for the party.

Posted by: Mik on February 13, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

What the eFF is this about 200 delegates? Shit No.

If Obama wins the popular vote, even by 0.1% votes, he has to be the nominee, unless the number of pledged delegates is somehow highly skewed to Clinton. If he has more pledged delegates and the popular vote, and Clinton is selected as the nominee, expect a RIOT.

[And states that were excluded simly do not count - no one can claim that a fair contest was held in either Michigan or Florida when WE were told that they would not count by the DNC. Shame on Clinton for her spin on those states.]

Anything else would be a travesty of justice, fairness and democracy.

Posted by: Manfred on February 13, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary would risk fracturing the party if she then tried to pull out a victory by holding floor fights over Michigan and Florida... And what makes you think she wouldn't try. Her problem, though, is that if Obama has a lead in delegates he'll have a majority on the rules committee. He can offer a "compromise" that would toss Hillary a bone but still give him the nomination.

Egbert: Just what is it that you're rubbing furiously? And it puts a smile on your face? Gees, didn't you mommy tell you not to touch yourself like that? And now in public? Typical wingnut.

Posted by: Tomeck on February 13, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert says: "[RUbbing furiously with smile ofn my face] Pass the popcorn."

Don't masturbate and eat at the same time Egbert. It's very messy.

Posted by: Teresa on February 13, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

But if Obama is ahead by more than, say, 200 delegates or so, the people really have spoken.

If I'd known there was going to be a bidding war I'd have kept track of the early entries, but I saw two essentially identical statements yesterday except that both used a threshold in the double digits.

Kevin has blown those other bids out of the water by jumping all the way to 200.

I've got 200, 200, 200, can I get 300?

Posted by: bobb on February 13, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"if Obama is ahead by more than, say, 200 delegates or so, the people really have spoken. Hillary would risk fracturing the party if she then tried to pull out a victory by holding floor fights over Michigan and Florida and twisting arms to get a lopsided win among the supers."

And she would lose the general election and be (rightly) blamed for putting personal ambition ahead of the good of the country.

And Egbert, you've got a smile ofn (sic) your face?

Posted by: Needles on February 13, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin said: Hillary would risk fracturing the party if she then tried to pull out a victory by holding floor fights over Michigan and Florida and twisting arms to get a lopsided win among the supers. Let's all pray it doesn't come to that.


Come on. It's Hillary. It'll come to that - and worse.

Posted by: Susan on February 13, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

200 delegates? He has to be kidding. Kevin is baiting his readers again.

Posted by: GrinningGrouse on February 13, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Are you defining "dead heat" as something less than 200 delegates? That hardly qualifies as a dead heat in my book. Look, this is simple: if Obama is ahead in pledged delegates after the primaries, he should get the nomination (and same goes for Hillary). Anything other than that will in fact split the party wide open, plus send all the independents flocking to McCain.

Also, I agree with an earlier poster who noted that not all superdelegates are enamored of the Clintons. In fact, I think many of them are anxious to get out from under the Clinton machine that has run the party for nearly 20 years. Up to now they've been silent because they thought Evita as inevitable. Given a solid chance to break free, I would bet that any number of them will start flowing Obama's way sooner than later.

Posted by: Traven on February 13, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

In the bidding war to set a high threshold for Obama to claim a "real" victory, I missed one this morning. Howard Fineman as quoted on TPM:

On the other hand, if Obama's ahead by 100 or 200, the pressure against trying to make up the margin with non-elected delegates would just be too great.

But "100 or 200" allows that even a margin of 100 would be enough. So although Kevin wasn't the first to break the double digit bids, he his qualifier of "200 or so" is still less wishy-washy than Fineman's range. Kevin holds the high bid.

But the day is young, and I don't think Kevin's bid will hold. The only question is whether we'll see timid raises to maybe 250, or if someone with some clout will try to give it another big bump.

Exciting!

Posted by: bobb on February 13, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

And one other thing: as I said the other day, if the race ends up in a dead heat going into the convention, then superdelegates should be free to vote for whoever they want to. But if Obama is ahead by more than, say, 200 delegates or so, the people really have spoken.

Exactly right.

Posted by: Swan on February 13, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary is behind by the time of the convention and manages to wrestle the nomination by getting the super delegates, for the first time in my life I will not vote for a democrat for president. Can't believe she'd be that stupid, but you never know...

Posted by: SFMike on February 13, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Susan on February 13, 2008 at 1:02 PM:

Come on. It's Hillary. It'll come to that - and worse.

Yup, but who the hell would want to win the nomination like that?

If the Clintons call in their favors, they could potentially override a popular primary vote against them...and subsequently piss off everyone but her most hardcore supporters. It's a surefire way for Hillary to become the first woman Democratic presidential candidate, but not the first woman president...Yes, that's a prediction: If the Clintons choose to strongarm Democratic committee members into seating Michigan and Florida and use their influence with superdelegates to override the popular Dem primary vote - Hillary will lose in the general.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 13, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

A combined ticket of Obama and Hillary seems to me doomed as it would double the negatives without offsetting postives. It would be just like us, once again, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Let whoever is behind in actual (ie earned rather than super) delegates be mature enough to step aside for the sake of the party. That would be the only way to avoid the appearance of a "stolen" nomination.

Posted by: Outis on February 13, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't over yet- Clinton could still win Ohio and Texas on March 4th, but last night's results in VA suggest that Hillary's base voters are starting to fall away from her. I don't know how she stops the bleeding at this moment in time. She pretty much needs a win in WI and I don't see it happening.

However, this race has been through two different cycles of up and down, so a third one cannot be ruled out.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 13, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has enough momentum that he is now fair game for the attach dogs.
He is almost winner.

Let's see Rezko trial starts when in March?

McCain has come out criticizing Obama's empty statements.. There will be more of this.

Obama's less than stellar record supporting attempts to clean up the dirty political machine that is IL will come out sooner rather than later.

His lack of experience: When has he ever been a major change agent??... well actually he has no track record as a change agent.

It is going to be an interesting ride.

Posted by: MsComment on February 13, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Obama should ignore TX and move to OH.

Aside from Michigan and Florida, where the candidates all signed a pledge not to campaign, Obama's strategy thus far has been to contest every single state — which is why he held Hillary to a draw on Super Tuesday, despite her wins in NY, NJ and CA. Obama has also had the upper hand in fundraising, which means he can afford to open offices in every state while Hillary is forced to pick and choose.

So the Obama campaign could abandon Texas and bet the ranch on Ohio, but I'd say it's unlikely: Hillary, not Obama, is the one facing tough choices on where to put limited resources. Hillary urgently needs a win right now to reassure her supporters and blunt Obama's momentum, but her cash reserves are running low — if she makes a big bet on Wisconsin and loses, she won't have enough money left to hold off Obama on March 4th.

Posted by: Scott Forbes on February 13, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Obama is the front runner. Wisconsin's vote could be decisive. In 1988 Jackson polled well there, but Dukakis won the votes. Will twenty years and the Reagan Devolution make a difference?

Super delegates should be forced to vote, by party rule, for the candidates who won in their states' primaries, at least in the first round of voting. Super delegates seem to reinforce Michels' thesis about democratic institutions.

Posted by: Brojo on February 13, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is dead... done....kaput. It's not just that she's losing, its the margin by which she is losing. She hasn't gotten over 40% in a single contest since Super Tuesday, losing just about every single contest by 20+ points. Even if she somehow manages to win Texas, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, the margins will be too close to give her a meaningful delegate boost. All Obama has to do is break even among those three states (and I believe he'll win at least one) and his lead will be insurmountable. If he's smart, he'll forget about Texas (where the large Latino population gives Hillary an advantage) and focus on Ohio and Pennsylvania (which also have the advantage of bordering each other, allowing him to save a little on travel and advertising costs).

The big problem for Hillary is the fact that people simply don't like her....even many of her supporters. My wife was like that....a professional woman who supported Hillary despite not really liking her. However, after hearing a couple of Obama's speeches, it wasn't to hard to persuade her to caucus for Obama instead.

That's what Hillary is up against. Her support is shallow and narrow....Obama's is passionate and wide. That's not something that is going to change overnight, not unless Hillary has a personality transplant.

Remember, the first rule of politics is that regardless of positions on issues, people will usually vote for someone they like over someone they dislike. Given that Hillary and Obama have virtually identical positions on the issues, the fact that so many people dislike her is too much of a handicap for her to overcome.

Posted by: mfw13 on February 13, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I keep reading commenters like SFMike, who say that a Clinton nomination that doesn't pass some personal smell test will drive them to sit out the election or vote Republican. In the same breath, they can claim that Hillary Clinton will put/is putting her personal feelings above the good of the nation. And they're not?

Just for starters, do you want San Brownback naming the next Supreme Court justice(s)? Put *that* above your goddam smell test, if it comes to Clinton vs. McCain. Just. Grow. Up.

I voted for Obama on Super Tuesday, by the way.

Posted by: emartin on February 13, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 13, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

One thing to watch is the early voting in TX and OH. Clinton locked in large numbers of votes in a number of Super Tuesday states before Obama got started there. This could make the difference in the large states to come.

Posted by: Randy on February 13, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

At last, someone with some sense. mfw13 hit the truth dead center.

Posted by: randytried on February 13, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama is ahead by 200 delegates at the end of the primary season then I think even if MI and FL are counted then he will still have a substantial lead (assuming that the "unpledged" delegates go to him rather than Clinton). Furthermore if the Edwards delegates go to Obama, then MI and FL probably won't make much of a difference at all, no?

Posted by: reader on February 13, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The best way to accurately predict the behavior of a Dem leader is to do it on the basis of the premise that he/she will never lose an opportunity to do what is worst for the Democratic Party or its supporters.

Posted by: gregor on February 13, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of things:

First: A late January poll of Texas Dems shows Obama behind by only ten points.

I guess I'd like to see a post Potomac Primary poll of Texas, to see how Texans had moved in the past week.

Second: to piggyback on Michael Crowley's ruminations linked by Blumenthal here, Obama may have (may have) had a breakthrough on downscale white voters (the low information voters) if exit polls in Virginia are any indication.

The piece argues that in this election, high-information voters are not distinct in their ultimate voting preferences from their low-information cousins but rather only the "leading edge of the wave." The wave in this case being Obama. Low-information voters eventually catch the wave. Only they do so later, say the day they vote.

Also of interest was exit polling in MD and VA:

In both Virginia and Maryland, exit pollsters asked voters to 'rate the importance of campaign ads...in your vote in today's presidential primary.' As the table below shows, Obama did much better in both states among those who rated political ads as important.

So Obama ads in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania should help him, now that he appears to be making headway among working class white men.

In short, Obama should campaign hard everywhere, contest every state. Wherever he goes, support for him appears to burgeon.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 13, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Rove speaks on FOX News:
Texas primary/caucus mix intricacies favor Obama.

Karl Rove, appearing on FOX News last night 2/12, commented on the Democratic primary in Texas.
He stated that delegates were apportioned by district, a la CA I presume, and allocated a number of delegates per district based on number of voters in each district.
This is important why? Because Obama should win (with the outsize percentage numbers needed to really gain a delegate edge) two big city (Dallas & Houston) districts with heavy black voter concentrations.
What I think he was implying is that if Hillary generally wins Texas at a 58% to 42% clip but Obama wins the large city vote 70% to 30%, BO's likely to blunt the delegate result of such a Clinton win and he could end up with the most delegates.
Postscript: Apparently primary delegates meet to select state delegates after election, caucus style, then national delegates, caucus style, all of which processes favor OBAMA.

You know those trey stupid socialistic European countries that provide safety nets for their citizens? They're kicking our butts.

Posted by: Craig Johnson/ cognitorex on February 13, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I truncated the url in the first link.

Here it is: Texas Dems on 1/31/08

Posted by: paxr55 on February 13, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary wasn't going to win VA, but there was an ice storm last night that struck NOVA. VA closed their polls at 7 and Maryland at 9:30, staying open an extra 90 minutes due to the weather. I think that hurt her more than Obama, not a huge difference but a few percentage points. I really expected Obama to do better in MD than VA.

Obama is certainly popular with independent voters, but I dont' think as much as the exit polls show. I really question the percentage of independents that voted for Obama. How many are actually supporting him and not trying to cause mischief? I know a couple of Republican co-workers that will not vote for him in the GE voted for him yesterday, because they thought he was easer for McCain to beat in the Fall. At least that is what they said.

Posted by: mdana/harry s on February 13, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic candidate needs 2,025 delegates to win the nomination. Florida & Michigan were disqualified from counting, so if their delegates won't count, why shouldn't their state delegates be subtracted from the denominator of the number needed to win? In other words, if the national delegate total is 4049, they should subtract out FL's 210 delegates and MI's 156, leaving 3683. Then the majority would be 1842. If they resolve or change MI or FL, fine, put them back in. But now you're asking a candidate to win 2025/3683, or 55%. Is that fair?

Posted by: bruce on February 13, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Why 200? Pretty damned arbitrary and not sure the rank and file will think that Obama having to win by 200 to "win" is all that fair.

That means that if Hillary is -1, the superdelegates get to vote however they want, but if Obama wins by 199, they get to vote however they want. I have my doubts this would be an option if she was the one who was 140 pledged delegates ahead.

Don't seem fair to me.

Posted by: david in norcal on February 13, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Thank god for mfw13!

We need strong, decision-making men like him out there to tell our women how to vote, because if they're allowed to, they'll make the mistake of electing a bitchy, unlikable, weak, soft, unispiring, threatening, ball-busting woman like Hillary.

Thanks to everyone else here to for showing that misogyny is alive and well.

Posted by: A Feminist on February 13, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

A Feminist,

I appreciate your comments. They throw in high relief this difficulty for all of us who are not misogynists but who have simply decided we don't like Hillary Clinton as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

I just re-read mfw13's post very closely. It was emphatic and even caustic. He said voters he knew didn't like Hillary on a gut level. But I didn't see anything misogynistic in his comments. You could substitute Romney for Clinton in the post it's so gender neutral.

Here, let's try:

The big problem for Romney is the fact that people simply don't like him....even many of his supporters. My wife was like that....a professional woman who supported Romney despite not really liking him. However, after hearing a couple of Obama's speeches, it wasn't to hard to persuade her to caucus for Obama instead.

That's what Romney is up against. His support is shallow and narrow....Obama's is passionate and wide. That's not something that is going to change overnight, not unless Romney has a personality transplant.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 13, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I see the inevitable momentum argument that Obama has this all wrapped up and Clinton needs to stop now has raised its head for the THIRD time in six weeks now, I wonder what makes it any more reliable this time than it was after NH and going into SC? Clinton should not drop out until and unless he mathematically cannot win, and I would say the same for Obama as well. How about letting the voters make that call instead of the partisans? Not to mention that whether Obama supporters like it or not it looks more and more likely that Florida and Michigan will count in the end otherwise those two States may well cost the Dems the GE. There will not be do-overs as if that were to happen it should have begun to happen already (as in getting the needed pieces set in place to organize/run them). There is also the argument that is being made at MyDD regarding the rules being broken by all five pre Super Tuesday States moving their primary dates but only Florida and Michigan paid any price for it, which I had actually forgotten about until I was reminded of this fact by the diarist.

This race is far from over, and while Obama is currently the frontrunner by a hair it is nowhere near finished and I do not see nor believe either side should quit until it is impossible (not improbable, but truly mathematically impossible) for them to win the nomination and that is not true for either side at the moment. I love this theme I am seeing on various blogs from Obama supporters about how for the good of the Party Clinton must drop out now or she is placing all in jeopardy, that is a classic dishonest argument by those that are not certain their candidate can win in the end.

I said before at this blog that I thought having this hard and long drawn out contest is actually healthy for whoever ends up being the candidate by making them better candidates for the GE, and I see no reason to change that view. I also think it is important to see how well Obama handles the scrutiny of being the frontrunner and having the GOP start to campaign against him as they have against Clinton and whether that affects his negatives. Not to mention that so far Obama has not won a large Democratic core State aside from Illinois to date, and that if he cannot take any of the last big three (Texas, Ohio, PA) that is a very serious problem for him even with all those caucuses and primaries he won in traditionally red States and State primaries where the AA vote was significantly larger than the national demographic profile given how high a percentage of those votes he gets. The AA vote is clearly a major part of why he has done as well as he has, and while that is a major aid in the primaries given the demographic makeup of the Democratic Party it is quite another when talking in terms of the general election.

Clinton has a harder struggle now than she has had to date, but the point at which this is truly decided is still a ways off. At the very earliest it cannot be settled until March 4, so until then I would argue anyone trying to claim otherwise prior to that is being overly partisan, ignorant/uninformed, or dishonest (or a combination thereof).

Posted by: Scotian on February 13, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

A Feminist:

I hate having to do this but I have to agree with paxr55 on February 13, 2008 at 3:33 PM that you are reading sexism into that comment. While I disagree with a lot of what it said it wasn't actually sexist in any way I could see, and before you jump on me for saying so you might want to note in many of my earlier comments I have been more than a little critical of the degree of sexism/misogyny I have been seeing in this campaign from both the MSM and more than a few Obama supporters and even regarding some comments from Obama and his campaign. He didn't say he made his wife change her vote, but that she was already hesitant about her support for Clinton and that it only took exposing her to some of Obama's speeches to change her mind and support. I don't see how that can be reasonably seen as sexist. If he had said he told her to, or some other clearly dominating manner then you might have a case, but I don't see it there.

Posted by: Scotian on February 13, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

What would a terrorist attack do to the election? Suppose terrorists entered through Mexico and exploded an a-bomb. Would there be any regrets on having all open borders, amnesty candidates?

Posted by: Luther on February 13, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Queen is dead!

Posted by: Greebe on February 13, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

Obama is not ahead by a hair. As a result of primary and caucus voting, Obama has almost 20% more delegates than Clinton.

The reason people keep saying she's losing is because she is. Every contest she loses, the amount she must win future contests grows, and now, she has to win about 57% in all future contests, or if she focuses on 3 big states, she has to win them with about 70%. Even Obama isn't doing that regularly --but now he is in the lead and doesn't have to. Clinton, to win, has to.

That's why people are saying it's over. It's not over yet, but it's becoming a conclusion that when it's over, he will be ahead.

Winning this for Hillary is like me deciding to get a tan at 7pm on a summer night. Possible, but the odds are pretty slim that I can get it done.

Posted by: david in norcal on February 13, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

"But if Obama is ahead by more than, say, 200 delegates or so, the people really have spoken. Hillary would risk fracturing the party if she then tried to pull out a victory by holding floor fights over Michigan and Florida and twisting arms to get a lopsided win among the supers."

Personally, I think that if he gets more than 2025 pledged delegates, he really deserves the nomination. Otherwise, Clinton will be justified in winning on the backs of superdelegates.

(Please. Winning by more than 200 delegates means that Obama would need to win the upcoming primaries at about the same rate as the prior races. And that isn't "big enough to deserve the nomination" -- it's abso-freakin'-lutely spanking Clinton on a nationwide basis.)

Posted by: Joe on February 13, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt Clinton would do that. Call them whatever else you'd like, but neither Hillary nor Bill are stupid. There's no way she'd try to contest the results if there was a clear indication, even a small one, that he was more the more favored candidate, if for no other reason than she doesn't want herself to be hated in the party and marginalized for the rest of her life.

Besides, even if she tried to twist the arms of the delegates, how likely is that she'd succeed? Even with the influence she and her husband have in the party, they are free to vote for whomever they choose, and I doubt she could overcome the forces in support of Obama if she tried to illegitimately get the nomination.

Posted by: Brian on February 13, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

david in norcal:

Well, we'll have to disagree here. If Obama was still waiting on his best period of primaries/caucuses instead of Clinton I might agree, but given the numbers currently even without Florida and Michigan are anywhere between just over 100 and as close as a handful of delegates depending on whose numbers you use I call that by a hair, especially when I recall that the caucus States' delegates are not technically pledged yet, not until the State convention occurs and they are bound/pledged there given the history of some of these delegates being poached between the caucuses and that State level convention in the Democratic Party's history by clever rule mechanics. Especially not when Texas, Ohio and PA, the last three big States so far still look like hers to take/win at least as of this date. Get back to me after March 4 and I may be able to agree with you on this, until then nope can't do it.

Posted by: Scotian on February 13, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama was still waiting on his best period of primaries/caucuses instead of Clinton I might agree...

You know, Texas and Ohio aside, the rest of the calendar isn't looking too bad for him, either. He can win Vermont and maybe Rhode Island on the same day those two states vote. After that, I can see him getting solid victories in Mississippi, Wyoming, North Carolina. Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota while keeping Pennsylvania pretty close. That gives him 31/32 states. Clinton will probably win the big states of Ohio and Texas, but it won't be by blow-out margins. Even after those two states vote, Obama will be looking at a lot more victories.

Posted by: jbryan on February 13, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

"political joke:

obama is just creaming hillary in all those primaries, you know----- and hillary says it's not fair because it's being held in feb. and feb. is black history month-----
and unfortunately for hillary there is no white, wellesley witch-bitch month."
Posted by: wschneid25 on February 13, 2008 at 5:43 PM

Now THIS is definitely sexist, and not at all funny, yet somehow it is acceptable?

Posted by: Scotian on February 13, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

It is now officially Obama's race to lose. Over the next few weeks the GOP will turn on their mud-slinging machine and aim it at him because they WANT to run against Hillary. If Obama can take it then he'll actually earn his place and will become the nominee. If not, if he stumbles or some icky skeletons are discovered, then Hillary will rise up.

This is the first race in a long time where the primary was an actual contest-- each of them has to prove themselves over time and both have enjoyed being the frontrunner.

May the best candidate win.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on February 13, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary has the sway on superdelegates that she has had with voters throughout the primary season, I don't think Obama has to worry about how they will vote.

Posted by: david in norcal on February 13, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that Mr. Drum's reference to "more than 200" delegates is due to the fact that the candidate with the majority of votes/delegates may not have the majority of delegates/votes.
So, based on present statistics, what happens in August if Sen. Obama leads by 100 or so delegates, say; while Sen. Clinton leads in the popular vote by 100-200,000? Both candidates would have shown the ability to garner a majority; the only question is: which majority counts for the nomination?

Posted by: Doug on February 13, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

"So, based on present statistics, what happens in August if Sen. Obama leads by 100 or so delegates, say; while Sen. Clinton leads in the popular vote by 100-200,000? Both candidates would have shown the ability to garner a majority; the only question is: which majority counts for the nomination?"

Um, the delegates, because that's how they keep score in the primaries?

And any event, if Clinton is up 200,000 votes, that means that she will have won the remaining primaries by 800,000 or so votes. It's hard to see how she would only pick up 35 delegates under those circumstances.

Posted by: Joe on February 13, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is good to have the three weeks until March 4 to reflect on things a bit. The Obama "surge" since Super Tuesday has basically been due to his superior caucus organizations in a number of small states, and in the Potomac Primaries to large black populations voting their skin color. We really ought to have a hard think again about nominating someone whose coalition is so problematical.

I hope we can detach ourselves a bit from the passions of the campaigns and have a hard think about what we are doing.

Posted by: bob h on February 13, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm seeing a lot of this talk about whomever comes in second should automatically be made VP. Can't tell for sure, but these comments seem mostly to come from Hillary's side of the fence (you know, one of those orange, holey, plastic kind, that we can take down easily later).

I think this qualifies as a REALLY BAD IDEA whomever wins. These people are both too exceptional to be relegated to the VP's position. I don't care what Gore (or Cheney for that matter) have done to seemingly make that a more important position, it is basically a black hole as far as influence and neither HRC or Barack should be subjected to that (and I doubt seriously either would accept anyway).

Much better if Obama wins, for him to appoint HRC as Sec'y of State. She'd be most excellent in that role and it would be a perfect jumping off point for her in '16.

Posted by: CB on February 13, 2008 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is good to have the three weeks until March 4 to reflect on things a bit. The Obama "surge" since Super Tuesday has basically been due to his superior caucus organizations in a number of small states, and in the Potomac Primaries to large black populations voting their skin color. We really ought to have a hard think again about nominating someone whose coalition is so problematical.

Let's see. Last weekend Obama won in Louisiana (a Deep South state), Maine (in New England), Nebraska in the Midwest and Washington state in the Pacific Northwest. These states have very little in common culturally, demographically or politically. Last night he added victories in Maryland, Virginia and DC. All seven of these victories have been by very large margins. Even masters of political spin like James Carville and Paul Begala are not trying to pretend that these results are anything but a disaster for the Clinton campaign.

By the way, how do you know that black people (but not whites) are simply "voting their skin color?" Arguments and assumptions such as these are definitiely NOT what the Clinton team needs if it is to salvage anything at all from this campaign.

Posted by: Thrasymachus on February 13, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert: "[RUbbing furiously with smile on my face] Pass the popcorn."
--

Tapping foot... meet me at the stall, Minneapolis airport!!!

PS: That's not butter on the popcorn.

Posted by: Larry Craig on February 13, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Thrasymachus:

You asked, "By the way, how do you know that black people (but not whites) are simply "voting their skin color?"

Well, look at the exit polls. In state after state, the black vote has gone much more lopsidedly for Obama than the white vote has for Clinton. In Virginia, Obama even won the white vote (or at least split it almost 50/50 with Hillary), while getting 88 percent of the black vote. In Maryland, the figure was 90 percent. These results suggest that a much higher percentage of blacks are "voting their skin color" than whites.

And is it really conceivable that if Obama weren't black, he'd be winning the black vote so overwhelmingly, given how enormously popular Bill Clinton was among African-Americans--popular to the point of being called the "first black President"?

Posted by: Lee on February 13, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

I know it's all dramatic and exciting to think of--gasp!--a brokered convention. Egos a-flying as hard and as fast as fists, the future of the party squandered and ruined. The Democratic delegates pawns in the game of superheated ambition. And on and on and all that sort of thing. And, yes, I know Hillary Clinton has learned how to fight as hard and as nasty as she can.

But seriously.

Let's all cease hyperventilating for a second about The Worst Thing That Could Happen Evah.

Perhaps the most reassuring thing to me about Hillary Clinton is her ability to learn. To learn on the hoof and to learn from the past. She saw the brouhaha in Chicago and how that paralyzed the party, fed directly into Nixon's win. Are you honestly going to tell me--wait for it, take a step back, breathe deeply, stop getting yourself so excited, go to a happy place, deep breaths, relax, be at one with the universe, okay? good? okay--that she's so monumentally a monster that she'd destroy the party, destroy the chances of America getting back on something resembling track, just to feed her insatiable craving for power power POWER?

TBogg didn't just get the MSM nailed when he remarked upon their ability to believe that they saw every move she made and projected ever future move she might make on her insatiable need for power or, in some cases, to hide her secret insatiable need for power, he also got you.

Posted by: The Critic on February 13, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

"And is it really conceivable that if Obama weren't black, he'd be winning the black vote so overwhelmingly, given how enormously popular Bill Clinton was among African-Americans--popular to the point of being called the "first black President"?"

No more conceivable than the idea that Clinton would even be in the race if she was not a middle-age white woman, given that this is the only voting bloc that is remotely consistent in their support for her.

Posted by: Joe on February 13, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Joe:

You're right that Hillary's gender draws huge numbers of women to her. But that doesn't make what I said about blacks and Obama any less valid.

Posted by: Lee on February 13, 2008 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

"You're right that Hillary's gender draws huge numbers of women to her."

Not women (she's lost that demo in several primaries/caucuses). Older white women. That's the only group she's won consistently.

Posted by: Joe on February 14, 2008 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we need to have two elections, one for the vanguard of the future, the supporters of the good reverend Obama, and another for all of the us older democratic has-been shitheads. I'm really getting tired of the gender gap bullshit from the Obamacrats. Not all older people are quite as stupid or as politically ignorant as those of you who have just discovered politics seem to think. Many of the self-important supporters of Obama have a real talent for insulting anyone in their own party who does not support their man. What's your plan, Obama supporters, are you going to win the presidency with the republican vote ? You already sound like republicans, saying that if Clinton uses the rules to defeat your guy, then obviously she's dirty, because after all, your guy is supposed to win. Hasn't god himself already ordained this ?

Posted by: rbe1 on February 14, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK
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