Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Defining Democratic Victory

Another round of primaries, another game of expectations. Trying to figure what victory means, seems to depend on the source, or the respective campaign's spin. I thought I would offer what I think are legitimate scenarios, which would rightfully allow either side to crow.

"Victory" for Obama:

Aside from the obvious, he's "already won" argument, Obama needs to show something tonight. I would argue that a double digit win in North Carolina is an absolute necessity, given the demographics, given where we were just two weeks ago (Obama leading by 20 plus according to some). If Obama manages a rout in North Carolina, then he really only needs a razor thin loss (2 points)in Indiana to claim overall victory. If, however, Clinton were to win by a larger margin in Indiana, North Carolina is negated, and if anything, Indiana would be viewed as the more representative fight, because both campaigns have built-in advantages.

The other scenario for victory is pretty self-evident. A win in Indiana, no matter the margin, accompanied by a win in North Carolina, no matter the margin, translates to complete success, Clinton is effectively done, pressure will mount on her to concede, superdelegates will flock to Obama in droves.

"Victory" for Clinton:

Anything less than a win in Indiana, see above. Clinton doesn't have to win big in Indiana, it is the "tiebreaker" after all, but she made need more than a squeaker, if she is blown out in North Carolina. Lose North Carolina by less than double digits, and any victory is good in Indiana. Make it respectable in North Carolina, carry whites by a noticeable margin, coupled with a convincing win in Indiana, that is the best case scenario for her, she lives on, questions remain about Obama, West Virgina looms next (she leads by 30 plus), superdelegates probably stay on the sidelines.

If Clinton were to win both, which she won't, then Obama is mortally wounded, he will never recover.

The likely scenario here, neither campaign does what it needs for a clear "victory", much will be left for interpretation. Columnists with a soft spot for Obama will re-introduce the horrible math for Clinton, the Clinton leaning view will ask why Obama struggles, the annointed one and all.

Should be a fascinating night.


Anonymous said...

Howard Dean has said that Florida and Michigan delegates will be seated.

So, no matter how those delegates are alloted, and I personally believe no organization can over ride the certified results of the Secretaries of State, see US supreme court decision on Florida in 2000. They could be sanctioned by 50% but not realloted.

But, no matter, the pop vote for those contests will count. Hillary needs to stay ahead in the pop vote and probably win it including Florida, but not Michigan.

She is going to litterally blow him away in WV and Kenn and win by a healthy margin in P.R.

The Obama camp may try to say PR shouldn't count, but then they risk the hispanic vote and they don't do well there now, so it's a bad idea for Nov.

She can't lose the others by much to stay ahead. That's what she needs. I believe the delegate count will be very very close when MI and Fl are included, which they will be, and always were going to be, somehow.

She needs to win Indiana of course and Obama himself said it's a tie breaker, which says she has won. And yes she can't be blown away in NC, but it doesnt look like she will be. Obama was up by 23% in some polls, that now show him at plus 9%.

Losing 14% is a loss, no matter what the Obama camp says, especially when, again, he has outspent her 2:1.

Unless she loses Indiana, Hillary has won this day. It may not be enough, but that is yet to be seen.

Steve V said...

One of the biggest head scratchers of this campaign, how the greatest democracy on earth can't manage to redo primaries in Florida and Michigan. The last I heard a 55/45 split in favor of Clinton, but even that isn't right, it's just a subjective bandaid. No matter who wins, do Democrats really feel comfortable with the nominee having an asterisk beside their name.

Blues Clair said...

The Clintonians keep the Florida and Michigan delagate debate alive (for obvious strategic reasons) at the detriment of the Democrat party if she loses the primary race to Barack Obama. The issue would of been forgotten if Hillary closed the deal like she was supposed to on Super Tuesday. Florida is a little different because both Obama and Clinton were on the ballot. But Michigan is a major problem for Hillary's side of the argument.

Anonymous said...

Now both Al Gore and Howard Dean have said that the MI and FL delegations will be seated.

Gore did so today on NPR. Harry Reid also said this the other day.

So Gore, Dean, Reid. MI and Fl are being seated probably as is.

The Democratic Party does not want to take on a States Rights battle, and by extension the US constitution, which is what they would be doing by arbitrarily over riding the Secretaries of State for Michigan and Florida.

Remember these were state run and state paid for primaries.

I think there is more chance of the Texas caucus results being reallocated 50/50, given the evidence of fraud and voter intimidation by the Obama camp than MI and FL being split.

There's nothing and I mean NOTHING that fires Republicans up more than States Rights.

The DNC will not take on states rights and overturn MI and FL. they are going to be seated.

Anonymous said...

BC, Obama chose to take his name off the ballot in Michigan. That has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton.

A more interesting question is why didn't he take his name off the ballot in Florida?

The DNC didn't tell anyone to take their name off of any ballot or it would have happened in both states and the DNC knows this.

They also know that Obama took his name off the ballot in MI but not Fl to gain favour with Iowans.

It doesnt matter what propoganda the obama camp screams from the rooftops. The DNC knows its rules and proceedures, knows what it asked candidates to do and not do, knows there is a process for seating MI and FL and knows why they have to be seated at convention.

MI and Fl have to be seated and will be seated. It is not just threatening the democratic white house bid but the down ballot races and controll of the house and senate as well. The DNC knows all of this.

Back to the topic. The only way Hillary loses today or is even remotely out of the race is if Zogby is right and every other pollster is wrong and that obama is getting a late surge in Indiana.

We will see in a few hours.

Anonymous said...

Ok here's the funniest headline of the day, possibly the whole primary.

"Latest Polls: Insider Advantage Calls It a Split; Zogby's Special Sauce Smothers Obama With Twin Wins"


Dan said...

As desperate as "anonymous" here is, Obama never stepped foot in either Michigan or Florida and whether anyone likes it or not the results of those votes should no zero impact in determining a winner. If they want to be seated after Clinton or Obama drops out of the race then fine.

Steve V said...

I agree with dan, those results should have no impact. That said, those states must be included in the process, in some capacity, with a race so tight, not to mention if the Dems have a prayer in November.

Anonymous said...

I do think it is worth pointing out that while neither Clinton or Obama set foot in Florida prior to the primary, Obama did in fact run ads there. I actually saw one during my visit there the week prior to the primary.

Obama's campaign at the time argued that they weren't really advertising in Florida, those were just "national ads" that happened to play on national channels broadcast in Florida. You know, random channels like CNN and MSNBC - duh. Sounds like ads to me. At the time the Clinton and Edwards camps pointed out they somehow managed not to have their ads run in the state.

But if people are going to argue the semantics of whether or not the campaigning should make a difference, it is definitely worth noting.

At the end of the day, I just think it will be a tremendously horrible mistake if the Democrats don't give credence to the primary votes in those states in a fundamental and meaningful way. To do otherwise, and be vulnerable to attacks for disenfranchising voters in the closest primary race in generations . . . well, they might as well just skip campaigning for those states in November because the Republicans will mop the floor with them on their actions (or inaction)

Steve V said...


What did you think of the results tonight? My initial take, a good night for Obama overall.

Anonymous said...

I am tempted to call it game, set, and match for Obama. Told a couple of people a week and a half ago that Gary, IN will give Obama a win. Still, Obama needs to win one state in Hillary country to force a concession. My take is that it is probably Kentucky. A bellweather state with Louisville and a lot of blue collar Democrats. Almost a tipping point race given Hillary's increasing difficulties to fundraise.

Claude said...

The race is over. On MSNBC Tim Russert (who is not a partisan) is calling Obama the "presumptive democrat nominee". Obama would have won Indiana as well had it not been for the Rush Limbaugh effect. Expectations game worked to Obama's advantage, polls showed Clinton lead in Indiana at 7-10% and Obama lead in NC around 7% as well. Obama exceeded expectations. The race is officially over, there is no path to the nomination for Hillary. At this point even if you give the results of Florida and Michigan to Hillary as they stand (something that is very unfair to Obama) she is still short in the popular vote by 200k and short in delegates by around 100. She cannot even make the big state argument considering Obama's convincing victory in NC. It's is over for Hillary plain and simple, she canceled all her morning interviews. Watchout for a flood of superdelegates for Obama tomorrow morning. Fox news is in distress.

Claude said...

Oh and by the way tonight's strong performance by Obama came after he had what were 2 of the worst weeks not only of his campaign but of his political career. If Hillary cannot take advantage of that and come out with a solid win in IN and close the gap in NC she has no shot whatsoever. According to exit polls Obama increased his share of white vote, white women and whites making under 50k in Indiana and all of this is after a week of media saturation over Rev. Wright.