May 07 2008

Clinton’s Morning-After Hangover

Published by at 9:44 am under 2008 Elections,All General Discussions

Well, it seems Clinton did not pull off the big win she needed, while Obama did in NC. But if you step back from the media hype we still have the same basic tie that has been in place for weeks. The Democrat party voters are split and not budging one way or the other, and there are arguments on both sides. While Obama has the delegate math he is losing support of the white voter – which makes his general election run problematic. He is getting ~90% of the African American vote, which is why he is leading Clinton. But Dems always get ~90% of the vote in the general, and it is not enough to win the presidency.

The big question is what does Hillary do? I have been saving some articles from last week to see how things played out in IN and NC, and now is a good time to dust them off and look at them. One option Hillary has is to convince the party Obama is doomed in the fall and use the rules committees for the convention to seat the MI and FL delegates and pull the hat out of the rabbit:

With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party’s 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could — when the committee meets at the end of this month — try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. Such a decision would give Clinton an estimated 55 or more delegates than Obama, according to Clinton campaign operatives. The Obama campaign has declined to give an estimate.

Using the Rules and Bylaws Committee to force the seating of two pro-Hillary delegations would provoke a massive outcry from Obama forces.

David Broder actually said it best last week when he asked: can Clinton win without crippling the party?

Does the Clinton camp still see any realistic way she can deny Barack Obama the Democratic nomination without blowing up the party?

To have a chance, the Clinton folks figure, she must win Indiana on Tuesday and do well enough to keep Obama’s lead by the end of the primaries closer to 100 than to 200. She must also find a way to get some votes counted from Michigan and Florida, whose delegations are barred from the convention for violating the party’s primary timetable.

Then the superdelegates would have their moment. The first thing my Clinton friend noted about them is that, over the past two months, their conversations have shifted from a fascination with the rush of young people onto the voting rolls, benefiting Obama, to a focus on older voters and Catholics, who have broken heavily for Clinton in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states vital to Democratic chances of assembling an Electoral College majority.

Second, he said, the Jeremiah Wright affair and other recent incidents have reminded the uncommitted how little they really know about Obama — including his ability to deal with political crises, real or manufactured. Clinton has plenty of scars from past battles that weaken her compared to Obama, but the uncommitted have seen her demonstrate repeatedly that she has the will to survive and fight back.

Those two factors have begun to change some superdelegates’ minds about the candidate they want to see nominated. But, as my friend acknowledged, they have not yet overcome the deep discomfort many of them feel, as they contemplate taking the nomination away from Obama. They know that would break the hearts of his African-American supporters, who have been the most loyal of Democratic constituencies.

The Clinton camp’s answer comes in two parts. First, they say that the institutional party — the unions, the environmental groups, the abortion-rights groups and others who are desperate for victory after losing twice to George Bush and who recognize the potential appeal of John McCain — would exert heavy pressure on the losing side not to sulk or erupt.

In effect, my friend was saying that may well be beyond Clinton’s power to win the nomination without severely damaging the party. Only Obama can make her winning seem right.

Interestingly, the reverse question is never asked. Can Obama win without blowing up the party? Both sides are so entrenched that large segments from each camp are ready to go to McCain than to the opposing Democrat should their candidate lose. We shall see how badly Hillary wants this. Right now I see no reason for her to stop with 6 races left. She might as well go to the end and then assess her options. Either she succumbs (not likely) or she blows up the party somehow. Even if she is bribed by Obama to step aside I am not sure that would appease the supporters.

Update: Clinton is not giving up – as I suspected.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Clinton’s Morning-After Hangover”

  1. browngreengold says:

    And Operation C.H.A.O.S. rolls on.

  2. dave m says:

    What’s all this stuff about “not damaging the party” ?
    Maybe she just wants to win – period. There is another
    possibility – I’m the first one raising it so you heard it here first.
    My guess: Hillary privately knows she won’t get the 2008
    nomination, but there’s still 2012. Quitters never win they say.
    So who would Hillary want to see elected in 2008? Why that
    would be John McCain, of course.
    Mr. McCain has some good arguments, but his age is showing a
    little. He is still pretty clear but his delivery stumbles at times
    and the hesitancy shows the weakness that damnably afflicts us
    as we get older. From Hillary’s viewpoint there is a chance that
    John McCain will stand aside in 2012 so the contest would
    not be against an incumbent. Obama would be “the loser”
    if this plan succeeds – after all, losing an election makes you
    a loser – just ask John Kerry, whereas not getting your party’s
    nomination doesn’t tar you – you just try again.
    If Hillary wants to try again in 2012, she needs to do as much as
    she can to destroy Obama’s chance of winning the October
    election and staying in the race and continuing to dig up the
    dirt that is so copiously present in the Obama camp is her best
    For that reason I expect her to give no quarter and I hope she
    does give no quarter. I don’t support Hillary but I’ll still say
    “you go girl”. I think Obama is the greater of the two evils.

  3. Mike M. says:


    My read on the situation is that Clinton wants to press on to the convention, knowing that she can cut Obama’s lead – then attack hard on his electability. The problem is that the Democrat party leadership and (probably more importantly) the propaganda press are strongly behind Obama.

    As to the general election, I’m not certain.

    Obama is glib, has raised a mountain of money, and has a cadre of fanatics. Particularly in the propaganda press. On the other hand, he has VERY left-of-center politics and has thoroughly tarred himself as a racial extremist.

    Clinton has a lot less money, no fanatic base, and increasingly hostile press coverage. On the other hand, she has the Clintonic cut-throat mindset…she will stop at nothing. Which is what I think the Dem leadership fears. She is likely to throw not just the kitchen sink, but the septic tank as well.

    McCain? He doesn’t have a lot of cash, and a significant part of his base is unenthusiastic. On the other hand, he has the potential to be very appealing to the old Reagan Democrats…he is a man who understands that there are things more important than a dollar bill.

    My read on the situation? In the short term, the next few days will tell the tale on the Clinton campaign. If she does not drop out by 15 May, she’s in it all the way to the convention. Which will be a Good Thing for John McCain.

    In the long term, I see the general election being between McCain and Obama. Watch the activity of the 527 groups…I will give long odds that there will be several large, well-funded groups that will take the offensive against Obama, while McCain’s own campaign runs a purely pro-McCain effort.

    I’m not sure how it will all play out. Obama will, I suspect, prove as polarizing as Clinton. But he is polarizing on racial lines…which enables his propaganda press allies to portray anyone opposing him as a racist. The question is, will this work – or backfire? As to McCain, the question is whether or not he can close the deal with the Reagan Democrats. If he can pull this off, Obama is toast.

    If not…well, it’s going to be a long, painful, bloody four years. Because Obama and the rest of his party will drive this country off a cliff.

  4. MerlinOS2 says:

    Right now the money issue is not that critical….there is next to nothing left in the primary schedule and no real big ad war states in what is left.

    Hill has large margins by 20 to 30% in a couple.

    Now the issue is money for the general, the primary payout is for most intents and purposes already done.

  5. WWS says:

    I admit to kind of cheering Hillary on – but when a couple of days ago she came out with her Grand Plan to Lower Oil Prices by suing OPEC in the WTO court – she reminded me why I’ve always despised her.

    Hillary’s oil plan:

    Plan A – Sue OPEC
    Plan B – Stomp my widdle foots and hold my breath till I turn blue.
    Plan C – Umm, what plan?

    Not that Obama has anything different, but still –

    Good bye to bad rubbish.