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Preview of Mini-Super Tuesday: Don't Assume the Obama-Clinton Race is Over

    The press has been approaching the upcoming contests in Ohio and Texas (with two other states voting) as the end of the line for the Clinton campaign. That could happen but it's far less likely than the media has been assuming. Sure, if Obama wins Ohio and Texas, it's over. But right now, the polls indicate that this is not a likely occurrence. If he only wins Texas, it's true Clinton probably can't emerge as the nominee but whether she quits at that point and decides not to contest Pennsylvania in six weeks is an open question. And, if she wins both -- and it's hardly out of the question -- the race is close to being back to even.
    In other words, let's wait until tomorrow night to see where things stand. Right now, the pundits have been getting way ahead of themselves. This is still an extremely close race.
  • LorenzoJennifer said:

    Polling trends in Ohio and Texas seem to resemble a phenomenon found in other states - that is, Hillary Clinton's campaign has failed to meet the revolution of rising expectations that formed long before her candidacy actually started.  Clinton had a 10-point lead in Ohio. She had a 20-point lead in Texas in January. Both have since dropped dramatically.  Could be the voters were expecting another Bill Clinton-like dazzling bravura  performance and Hillary's charisma deficiency and practical approach  put them off.  The disenchanted voters were then looking for a viable alternative and found one in Barack Obama. Barack has been credited with having a late surge in the primaries. Would be a surge that filled the vacuum created by Hillary's failure to fulfill voters' expectations.

    Clinton has a lot to lose in 2008. Probably her best shot as she and Bill have twisted many arms and called in many favors.  The Super Tuesday multi-state primary was created by Hillary's allies in an effort to clear the field early-on.  Terry McAullife, former DNC chair and now her campaign chair, was reportedly instrumental in that effort.  We have no incumbent president seeking re-election in 2008; no V.P. or cabinet member running; the 2004 Democratic nominee - John Kerry - forsook any ambitions after an unfunny joke about school dropouts joining the military (the negative reaction to his joke was far more excessive than the actual joke - they wanted Kerry out of there!); the 2004 Democratic VP nominee - John Edwards - was a private citizen as of Jan. 2005;  the 2000 Democratic nominee - Al Gore - declared in June 2006 he would not run in 2008; the 2000 Democratic VP nominee - Joe Leiberman - was getting on in years and a virtual Republican at that; in other words, a clear field for Hillary Clinton to assume the mantle of inevitability.  Barack Obama is a charismatic phenomenon.  He's caught "lightning in a bottle" to quote John McCain on his 2000 Straight Talk Express run.  Yet, in 2012, Barack may be more predictable than phenomenal, less exciting than now and have a Senate track record open to interpretation by his opponents.  Sustainability is tough.  So, for both Hillary and Barack, 2008 looks like their best opportunity.  Charisma is fickle.  Just ask McCain and Edwards, who were graced by charisma in 2000 and 2004, respectively.  Or ask Bill Clinton, the Charismatic  Kid of 1992, who still can pull it off but cannot transfer his charisma to Hillary.

    March 3, 2008 2:13 PM
  • Tyler said:

    Steven, I agree.  It's still an extremely close race, and most TV talking heads' declaration of Obama as the Democratic nominee is premature, though the Wisconsin result two weeks ago was a significant boost to his chances.

    But it will be a difficult and perhaps destructive road ahead for Hillary Clinton, as small (3-8) point victories will not be enough for her to secure the nomination without some serious political arm twisting come convention time.  She should win both TX and OH (and right now, with the SNL and Daily Show appearances, the "media momentum" is with her), but probably not with the necessary margins of victory to claim frontrunner status, and, with only 1 major primary after tomorrow, time is running out.

    If she wins both primaries tomorrow and secures the nomination through "back-room deals" with superdelegates in a bitterly contested convention, her victory will be Pyrrhic, and Sen. McCain will be the next President.

    On the other hand, if she wins both primaries tomorrow, and -- toward the convention -- works out some sort of deal with Obama whereby both candidates can make a legitimate claim of satisfaction with the result, then  regardless of the nominee, the Democrats will have an excellent shot at winning in November.

    March 3, 2008 4:07 PM
  • Vic in Chicago said:

    Steven -

    Interesting post, but what you don't seem to be considering is the unforgiving reality of the delegate math.  

    After Super Tuesday, both camps said the race was all about delegates, and they were right.  But with eleven wins in a row since then, Obama has all but put the delegate race away.  So at this point, even if Clinton "wins" both the Texas and Ohio popular votes, it's not enough.  To narrow the delegate gap meaningfully at this point, she doesn't need "wins", she needs "blowouts".  And that just doesn't seem to be in the cards.  

    Obama will win the delegate race in Texas due to reasons unique to Texas primary/caucus rules, even if Clinton ekes out a win in the popular vote.  So even if Clinton manages a popular vote win in Ohio, the almost-certain situation on Wednesday morning is that she will have narrowed Obama's overall delegate lead by little or nothing.  

    So what then?  She can continue campaigning if she wishes, but with virtually no chance of catching up in the delegate count, she will continue to bleed superdelegates, as she has for the last two weeks.  

    And it's very unlikely that "arm-twisting" can change anything.  For the superdelegates to take the nomination from the the delegate and popular vote leader - Obama - at the convention, through backroom dealing, would be radioactive for the Party, and they know it.

    Finally, with seven weeks until Pennsylvania, Democratic party establishment types will have little patience with this thing continuing that long (particularly with Clinton now turning negative against Obama), and the pressure on her to drop out will be enormous.  Even Bill Richardson, who is uncommitted, started that drumbeat over the weekend.  (All it will take will be for the superdelegates to abandon her, and that's already started to happen.)

    So with all due respect, although I guess anything is possible, and with whatever happens tomorrow (even Clinton winning both states' popular votes), it's not "an extremely close race", as you indicate.


    March 3, 2008 10:28 PM
  • LorenzoJennifer said:

    Note to Steven, Tyler and Vic  

    Hillary Clinton is working hard to have the delegates selected in the Michigan and Florida primaries recognized and seated at the Democratic National Convention.  While there will certainly be full delegations from those respective states at the August convention, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has so far chosen to not recognize the primary results.  To recap, the DNC, in late 2007, voted to not recognize the results of the Michigan and Florida state Democratic party primaries as each of those states decided to hold their respective primaries prior to Super Tuesday, February 5.

    Michigan held its primary on Jan. 15.  Barack Obama and John Edwards were among those who, in deference to the DNC decision, officially withdrew their names from the ballot.

    Michigan had been assigned 156 delegates (130 through the primary and 26 superdelegates).  Had the vote count been accepted by the DNC (and, again, the vote was not recognized by the DNC) . . .

    Candidate . . . . . % of Popular Vote . . . Delegates



    Dennis Kucinich.............4..................5

    Chris Dodd..................1..................1

    Mike Gravel.................0..................0

    Florida held its primary on Jan. 29.  Florida had been assigned 210 delegates (188 through the primary and 22 superdelegates). Florida worked under rules different from Michigan and candidates could not withdraw.  Had the vote count been accepted by the DNC (and, again, the vote  was not recognized by the DNC) . . .  

    Candidate . . . . . % of Popular Vote . . . Delegates




    Joe Biden...................1..................2

    Bill Richardson.............1..................2




    If we were to combine delegates selected by Hillary and Barack, Clinton would have 166 from the two non-recognized primary results to Obama's 62, giving her a completely hypothetical 104 net delegates over Obama.  Superdelegates, not bound by primary results, may vote for whomever they wish and are not required to announce their choice until the convention, though they may certainly choose to declare their preference at any time.

    Interestingly, Florida Gov. Charles Crist, a Republican, has offered to use state funds to hold another Florida  primary and DNC Chairman Howard Dean has indicated his interest.  Beware of elephants bearing gifts to Donkey Land and beware of donkeys bearing gifts to the Elephant Grounds!

    March 4, 2008 6:23 AM
  • LorenzoJennifer said:

    Addendum(b) to above - - - sorry my columns are off-line and out-of-kilter.  Got me an ancient computer, running on phone support, and powered by a small army of elderly squirrels running on a thread-bare treadmill.  Audio features folks slurring their speech v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y while video shows several seconds needed for someone to take a single step.  A thousand apologies for my wretched existence.

    March 4, 2008 1:21 PM

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