Penn, Clinton Campaign Simply Wrong About Obama's Electability
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 02:49:09 PM EDT
The Clinton campaign is really grasping at straws these days.
On the Clinton call earlier, Mark Penn said, "We believe that [the Pennsylvania primary result] will show that Hillary is ready to win, and that Sen. Obama really can't win the general election."
He later revised it to say that losing Pennsylvania would raise question about Obama's ability to win.
But it's a pretty strong thing to say.
If this charge were not so absurd on its face it would merit a long-winded takedown, here and elsewhere. However, in short I'd point readers to a couple of things: One, state-by-state polling showing Barack Obama to be at least as strong a competitor to John McCain as Hillary Clinton, as well as national polling that quite consistently shows Obama either leading McCain or tied with him (and running at least as well as Clinton against McCain); and two, the analysis of non-partisan election tracker Marc Ambinder, who doesn't have a dog in this race and generally calls these things fairly and evenly.
Of course Obama can win the general election; it's illogical to generalize from the vote totals alone, as I and others have pointed out. Yes, Obama's Gary Hart-Jesse Jackson coalition is untested in modern general elections, but we live in hyperpartisan times, Democrats have an enormous partisan identification identification advantage, and Democrats are much more enthusiastic about their candidate than Republicans are. There's just no way to justify Penn's assertion from reading a poll.
With this in mind, the most sensible conclusion I seem to be able to infer from Penn's statements are that after the Clinton campaign gets done with Obama he won't be able to win a national election -- in other words a promise from the Clinton campaign to make Obama unelectable.
Don't get me wrong, there is definitely room for the two campaigns to hit one another on legitimate bones of contention or to make the case that their candidate is relatively stronger. And both candidates should be and need to be scrutinized so that the Democrats can put their best foot forward in November. But when a campaign begins lashing out senselessly, as appears to be the case in this instance, it simply must be put to a stop -- for the good of the party and for the good of the nation, which cannot afford to go through the third Bush term with a McCain presidency.