A Tie Goes To Clinton
by Todd Beeton, Tue Feb 05, 2008 at 10:34:19 PM EST
Expectations can be a bitch. The recent polls showing Obama moving up (especially in Clinton country i.e. CA & NJ) plus those early exit polls today certainly created some expectations for tonight that simply weren't met, which is fairly ridiculous considering how many states Barack Obama won and the fact that he's actually likely to win more Super Tuesday delegates than Clinton. But the psychological element of what constitutes a win and momentum is very real.
Josh Marshall sums up the takeaway from tonight well:
If you look at this from the vantage point of two weeks ago, it's a huge win for Obama, since he was trailing in states across the country by a very big margin. From the vantage point of the last couple days, however, it's much less clear. The hype of his momentum just got a bit out ahead of what he was able to pull off. And in that sense there's very mild echo of New Hampshire, though the Clinton campaign is silly to claim some sort of comeback. There were a handful of states which, had he won two or more of them, would have taken him from a delegate tie to a decisive win that would have been Clinton seriously on the defensive. But it didn't happen. Not in New Jersey or Massachusetts and most importantly not in California, which Clinton won decisively.
Tucker Carlson expressed this idea that Clinton was a sort of de facto winner out of tonight in a comment he made to Chris Jansing on MSNBC earlier. He was talking about who'd be best equipped to go up against McCain in November and he said
"If Obama wins the nomination, which I now think is less likely..."
That said it all. And Nora O'Donnell asked an interesting question as well when discussing exit polls that stated voters' overwhelming desire for change:
"If people want change so much, why isn't Obama winning this outright?"
Not that I think Tucker Carlson in particular is an arbiter of truth in journalism nor do I think his words can be separated from his own agenda, but to the extent that his and O'Donnell's comments represent conventional media thinking, and I think that's actually quite likely, the headlines stating that Clinton and Obama "Trade Victories," and that the race is "Not Settled" are telling and indeed represent a non-victory victory for Hillary Clinton; as New Hampshire before it, tonight was the equivalent of hitting a reset button. At least that's how it seems from where I'm sitting.
Update [2008-2-6 3:43:9 by Todd Beeton]:Speculation of a Gore endorsement of Obama is starting to spread. If indeed Obama's momentum has been stalled out of tonight, that could certainly restart it, although as we've learned, the electoral value of endorsements is uncertain at best. The Kennedys could not take Obama over the finish line in MA or CA but it was probably foolish to think that they could.
Update [2008-2-6 4:57:16 by Todd Beeton]:Speaking of the psychology of what exactly winning means, has anyone else watching MSNBC noticed that on the handy US maps with the states colored in according to where each candidate has won, MSNBC is including Michigan and Florida for Clinton? OK, so sure, yes literally she won them, but seems like they should be filled in with a different shade or something to indicate there's an asterisk next to those wins, because with MI & FL colored in, I have to say it sure looks like she's closer to having won a comparable area of the country to that which Obama gas won than she actually is. Not that area correlates to population or delegates bu psychologically, it's a powerful image seeing Clinton's and Obama's maps next to each other and with FL and MI colored in, you really have the sense that they're even; but if MI & FL weren't included, you would get a far different effect.