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Friday, April 25, 2008

Clinton Continues, But Why?

For the balance of the Democratic Primary, one question should trump all others: Who is the better general election candidate?

I understand the argument in both directions. (On Tuesday, I'm going to make talking point memos for both sides.) There is something to say about Obama's ability to turn out the youth as well as being the only candidate to be against the unpopular Iraq War from the start. There is something to say about Clinton having momentum and success with rural and middle class Democrats. They can both make cases that there are important voting numbers in their favor - Obama the pledged delegates, Clinton the popular vote (with Florida and Michigan).

Despite my short post outlining the improbability of a Hillary Clinton comeback in pledged delegates, there is still an avenue towards a Clinton victory.

Keep in mind that neither candidate will reach the requisite number of delegates without more superdelegate support. When superdelegates finally make their decision, they can look at whatever criteria they'd like, but it seems the strength of the party should be right at the top of their list.

So, who is the better general election candidate? If superdelegates think it's Clinton, they're within their right to vote for her.

And that's why she pushes forth, if she can just keep it close. She'll win Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky (all locks). With that kind of momentum, she will probably win Oregon, and one Bill Clinton visit to Puerto Rico probably wins her that commonwealth as well. If she can just keep it close, maintain her momentum, continue to poll well against John McCain in swing states, and win the popular vote... the superdelegates might just decide to push her over the top in a superdelegate breakdown that could look like 470-325 in favor of Clinton.

Of course, strengthening the party might not necessarily mean nominating the person with the better chance to win in November. They should be aware than if elitist superdelegates overturn the pledged delegates, states, and the popular vote (minus Michigan and Florida),then even if Clinton was the better general election candidate, such an overturn would make millions of Democrats feel incredibly disenfranchised, asking "Well what the heck was the point in voting, then?"

If this occurs, the effect goes beyond Obama supporters being upset. Remember, Clinton supporters seem much less willing to vote for Obama in the general (probably thanks to the tactics of the Clinton campaign) than Obama supporters doing the same for Clinton. The effect of a superdelegate veto on the nomination process could kill the Democratic Party down the ticket, with poachable Senate and House seats falling to the lock-stepped GOP.

Frankly, Clinton continues at her and the party's peril. She's clearly counting on superdelegates to push her to the nomination, and if that happens, the party could be headed to disaster in November, with consequences reaching far beyond who's in the Oval Office on January 20.

In the meantime, the party continues to fracture. This cannot be what Democrats had in mind in the closing months of President Bush's second term, but it is what they have.


I'll be back on Tuesday to draw up campaign memos for both sides in an effort to show you how both sides can make convincing arguments that they should be the ones nominated. See you then.

3 comments:

James said...

I go back and forth on who you support. I was going to label you a Clinton backer after the first half of this post, and now I'm confused again!!!

I like your conclusion, though.

Peter said...

Well done.

The Dude said...

Don't sleep on the vitriol of Obama supporters. I think the Clinton's collective ego and devisive means of manufacturing consent will destroy Dems chances. It will be 2004 all over again, and many Obama supporters will bail. Better get ready for McCain's "Rockin' to the 50's" celebrity inauguration gala.

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