Wednesday, May 07, 2008

End Game

My previous hesitation in agreeing that the Democratic race is over primarily stemmed from the fact that everytime Clinton was against the wall, she won, every time Barack could have put her away he didn’t. Understanding the math, the long odds, it was still quite curious that Clinton continued to win crucial primaries, apparently the voters didn’t get the “no chance” memo. IMHO, the race was never really over, until Obama demonstrated some strength in these later primaries, the now seemed more important than the before, in correctly gauging where these candidates were really at, math aside. It seemed entirely reasonable that the “presumptive nominee” should be able to outpace his opponent who couldn’t win.

Yesterday, I laid out what I thought constituted victory for both sides. I believe Obama did what he had to last night, a convincing rout in North Carolina, for all intent and purposes a draw in Indiana. The gap is larger now, and last night represented the biggest delegate haul left. I thought David Gergen explained the process best, and why last night might mean the end of the campaign:
But the critical point is, four times now in this campaign, we have come up to the brink and each time she's been successful. Tonight, we came up to the brink, and she was not successful in the way she needed to be successful.

That explains why the race has continued on, because Clinton has won every time it was required. Last night was another one of those make or break scenarios, this time she fell short and as a result the sober truth is unavoidable.

I had the sense last night, that there we will now see increasing pressure for Clinton to accept the reality, people will argue it is time to close ranks around Obama. Last night will surely bring more superdelegates off the fence, leaving Clinton to play the role of spoiler. Fact is, Clinton will probably win next week’s primary in West Virginia by a landslide, ditto for the following week’s contest in Kentucky. However, those will be more moral victories than “game changers”. It was last night that provided the last opportunity, and the results effectively sealed her fate.

I think the time has come for Clinton to suspend her campaign and support Obama as the nominee. I don’t subsribe to the view that she has hurt the party by continuing, because in reality it was the voters that allowed it to occur. If Obama would have just won, then she would be gone, it’s as simple as that. However, her central thesis is now gone, she didn’t “win” last night, but any measure she “lost”, which doesn’t allow for anymore “tomorrow’s”. It is from this moment on, that the Clinton campaign is an objective negative for the Democrats, her continued presence hurts Obama’s chances in the fall.

I am now in the “it’s over” camp, the results have finally supported the arguments, Obama did what he had to, “closing the deal”. McCain vs Obama, let’s get on with it, time for Clinton to do the right thing.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your post on this completely. (also agreed on your last post as well, btw, very very good disecting of yet another "Harper the master strategist" myth).

It appeared to me last night that Clinton's speech in Indiana was very much a pre-concession speech even as she claimed victory there. There was a large segment devoted to bringing the party together, and how only electing a Democrat in the fall would really represent a change from the past 8 years.

It just struck me as a prelude to conceding the primary race, and hope that is what it indeed was. Is it true she has canceled appearances this morning?

I think Obama, more than his supporters, has acknowledged that Clinton staying in the race has made him a stronger candidate. I don't believe that is just rhetoric. As for any bad news that has come up during the primary, whether Clinton's campaign was involved or not. I say, great! That is one of the reasons for a primary season. Someone would have to fool themselves to think these same issues wouldn't come up later. Better to have them hit the news in March or April than in September or October.

Anonymous said...


Some numbers for you to consider from one of Jerome Armstrong's blogpost in MyDD. The focus is on Indiana, because Hillary's chances in NC was a bit of a longshot:

"Black voters supported Obama by 87% in OH, and by 90% in IN.

White voters supported Obama by 34% in OH, and by 40% in IN.

White Democrats moved from Clinton leading by 43% in OH, to Clinton leading by 28% in IN.

Liberal voters moved from Clinton leading by 7% in OH to Obama leading by 14% in IN.

Conservative voters moved from Obama leading by 5% in OH to Clinton leading by 24% in IN.

In short, for Indiana, Clinton's projecting of a more GE favorable image (she's risen nationally in the polls in recent weeks) appears to have cost her among the liberal voters. This also explains why the polls were so wrong, especially SUSA. Clinton didn't gain the 21% of black voters that they polled, and they polled Clinton winning among liberals by a 53-44 margin, off by 23 percent. This is most likely due to the 'gas tax' issue. Though she had a 'divide and conquor' frame of the issue that work well for a GE against a Republican, in a Democratic primary, it allowed Obama to squeeze her from the liberal viewpoint."

I will add a further point.

Something happened in the past two weeks for Hillary. Watched the Indiana results and Obama won big in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and South Bend. When Notre Dame went for Obama, you knew that the Virgin Mary is not with Hillary. She went hard left to win the so-cons in Ohio and Penn, but when she tacked back to the centre, the wheels felled off.

It seems that Zogby's polls were right this time and Survey USA got it wrong. Expect a public concession from Hillary after Oregon and Kentucky on the
20th, when Obama comes closer to the inevitable numbers. Still have to wait for the Gore and Edwards endorsement of Obama, which will come soon. All campaign stops now for Hillary are merely to pay off the debts

Steve V said...


If the "bad" news didn't come out now, it was surely going to come with a flurry when it mattered most. Obama exits this process fully vetted, he knows where he must connect and he can see the clear attack lines.

I didn't see Clinton's speech last night, but I take what you said. I suspect the super delegates will give her the extra push, if it's required. Donna Brazille basically came off the fence last night, and I doubt she is alone. It will be interesting to see what Edwards does in the coming days.

JimmE said...

Interesting comment on HuffPost -seems from some exit polls the RUSH factor may have helped Clinton eek out the limited victory in Indiana. Not sure I agree with all the conclusions, but interesting none the less. It does confirm (to me at least) my personal observation from BLUE friends who really, really want Clinton as the candidate; to run against.


RuralSandi said...

The Edwards' said there are not going to endorse anyone. John Edwards had trouble with Obama's rhetoric without substance and they both felt his health plan was not universal. As far as Clinton is concerned - they were concerned about her lobbists backing.

Elizabth Edwards said that when Obama came to see them - he was arrogant, rude and tempermental - he didn't want to hear what they had to say. She also said that when Hillary came to see them, she laid out her policies and plans, talked with them and took in their input. Interesting, because Elizabeth was not a Hillary fan, but seems to have changed her mind.

I think there's been a danger in putting Obama on a rock star pedestal.

Steve V said...

"I think there's been a danger in putting Obama on a rock star pedestal."

I think the even the campaign started to realize that, because in the last few days, the big rallies were replaced by more intimate settings.

I hadn't heard Elizabeth Edwards "rude" references, that is interesting.

Anonymous said...


Note that Indiana is as red as you can get in the Midwest. Strongly Republican, with a chance to go Democrat given Bush's unpopularity. Obama did well where the Dems need to win in November. Hillary won in the regions where the GOP are strong. Different from Ohio and Pennsylvania where Hillary won in areas where Dems need to win in order to clinch the Presidency (Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Dayton etc.)

Steve V said...

And so it begins.

JimmE said...

Ooospie! I get my colour tenses mixed-up between Canada & America! Most of my family & friends State side are BLUE while a few are, as friend & former JarHead calls himself Red-as in Red Meat Republican. So my comment should have read "Red friends who want Clinton to win".

Antonio said...

she has to go til june 3rd steve

after all, she has been saying she would fight every state, she needs to come through on that promise.

The Clinton campaign also filed with the rules commission of the DNC seeking to overturn the michigan and florida ruling. She might still be aiming for the back door.

Obama has it locked up at this point, but it will still have to wait 4 weeks, because of texas, ohio, and PA, unless MICH and FLA are in play.

Remember, nobody forced Obama to remove his name from the ballot. Obama's michigan supporters urging their people to go vote uncommitted show complicity in the campaign as well. This show could yet get even more ugly...

a historical tidbit, bill clinton's nomination was not complete until the first week of June in 1992, so there is still plenty of time for Obama to make his case.

But I bet many of Obama's supporters in the early states, may not have gone that way if the Jeremiah Wright issue had not been there, nor if they knew just how Liberal Obama was.

If we have learned anything from Clinton's last gasp which lasted 2 whole is that Obama needs to connect to those blue collar reagan democrats if he wants to win in november. Hillary dropping out in march, would have never allowed him to realize it

Anonymous said...

I disagree. I think she was successful. Not as successful as she would have liked, but enough.

She is only behind 52,000 votes. She is leading in WV polls by 28% and Kenn by 34%. That's a whole lot more than 52,000 votes.

Obama didn't win whites again last night. He didnt win the working class and he didnt win rural voters. He didn't win gun owners.

Clinton won his neighboring state while he outspent her 3:1

She shaved 9% of his lead in NC, very different from what has happened in other southern black states. She didnt come near a 14 point spread in other similar states.

Obama gained all of 4 supers today Clinton 2. One of the Obama supers was already known. They like to do that.

So its actualy 3:2 for today for Obama. That's not a watershed of super delegates.

They know that Obama is looking less a

She was never going to overtake his pledged delegate lead.

She has to win the popular vote and she will. Mi and Fl will be seated. Obama will not have enough pledged delegats to win outright.

I still think she did what she neeed to do yesterday. Could have been better, but she did what was neccesary for now.

Anonymous said...

Steve Obama hasn't even come close to being fully vetted. The big boys haven't stepped up to bat yet.

Honestly it is pure folly to think that someone with that many radical connections, a left of the fringe left voting record and really no experience to speak of first term senator from the NE could be elected President.

Pure folly. Impossible. Supre delegates were put in place to make sure this didnt happen again.

McGovern, Dukakis, Carter second term, Kerry, Gore

If they let this happen again, they need to totally reform their nominating process and go to winner take all only primaries. The democratic system is absurd. If it were the republican system she would have won a long time ago. if it was the electoral college shewould have won a long time ago. No rigged caucuses, she would be well ahead. I

It is a system that is meant for super delegates to excercise judgement and prevent a McGovern from getting nominated.

If they don't, dems should give up until they reform the nominating process to a winning one.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you another thing. As a left leaning Liberal, i would vote for McCain in the fall.

I don't believe the US Presidency is an entry level position.

I believe that Obama is dangerously inexperienced, arrogant and immature (the giving Hillary the finger several times in one day wont go over well if you substitute lets say Mushariff for Clinton) for example.

As I would rather have an experienced Republican neurosurgeon than a democratic intern operating on my spine, I would not vote for Obama now.

I would vote McCain and I can't be alone. He is John Edwards except black so the black vote has probably given him the nomination.
Edwards also thought the Presidency was an entry level position campaign ing for the job within a year of becoming a US senator.

Anyways, I really think McCain will win and Hillary will be nominated in 2012 if the Democrats have any sense.

Dan said...

Okay someone has to tell Liberal4ever here to bugger off.

If you want to spin find an American blog.

Steve V said...

I hear the arguments, and I'm not saying Obama doesn't have challenges, but I think he crossed a threshold last night. She can go on until June, but I now see that as counter-productive in the long run.

Just to add, Obama has picked up 4 superdelegates today alone.

Anonymous said...