Superdelegates Unmoved By Controversy?
by Todd Beeton, Tue Apr 15, 2008 at 09:21:53 AM EDT
As Jonathan asked yesterday: "weren't Obama's comments supposed to hurt him?" While there is some evidence that they have at least for the moment in Pennsylvania, nationally there is absolutely no sign of any effect in Clinton's favor in the Democratic primary race. Quite the contrary. Following up on Obama's 10 point lead in yesterday's Gallup daily tracking poll, today's Rasmussen has Obama leaping to a 9 point lead 50-41, a 10-point flip toward Obama in 2 days. At first glance it would seem that Clinton's exploitation of Obama's comments were more harmful to her than the controversy itself was to him. Now, it should be noted that these are national numbers, so not necessarily reflective of the sentiment in the ten final upcoming contests where Hillary really is hoping to win over voters, but the national trends are instructive as to the general feeling among Democratic voters nationwide and it's clear she's simply been unable to rattle confidence in Obama.
And it's not just voters who appear unmoved by Clinton's attacks. As I wrote yesterday, Clinton has been appealing not only to voters in upcoming primary states but also to superdelegates with an electability argument against Obama. Chris Cilizza sums up one hope of the Clinton campaign:
For the last two months or so, there has been a story circulating just outside of the public view that there are a large number of superdelegates who are privately committed to Obama and waiting for the right moment to pledge their allegiance. Do Obama's comments freeze these superdelegates in their current undecided pose? Or, more problematic for his campaign, do some significant number of undecided superdelegates side with Clinton -- citing Obama's comments as their prime reason for choosing the New York senator?
The AP story yesterday that Clinton received the endorsement of Yellowstone County (Montana) Commissioner Bill Kennedy as a result of Obama's comments seemed to perhaps portend some momentum along those lines among superdelegates (Kennedy is not one) but today, via First Read, we learn that, at least among two undecided superdelegates, that's not the case.
The Washington Post checks in with two undecided superdelegates to get their reaction to Obama's comments. "Looking for any possible edge, the Clinton campaign has pressed uncommitted superdelegates to view Obama's remarks as a major debacle that could harm him in November. But as of yesterday evening, there was little evidence that the electability argument is resonating. "Rep. Mike Doyle (D), an undecided superdelegate who represents Pittsburgh and surrounding towns in the Monongahela Valley, said yesterday that he was not particularly troubled by Obama's comments. `I don't disagree with a lot of what he said. My dad was a mill worker. My grandfather was a steel mill worker, and when the steel industry collapsed, nobody's family was hurt more than mine,' Doyle said. `It's not inaccurate to say a lot of politicians have come through these towns, made a lot of promises and failed to deliver. I thought he was spot-on when he said how people feel.'"
And in fact, for one of them, much as we appear to be seeing in some of the national numbers, Clinton's exploitation of the controversy may have been worse than the controversy itself.
Rep. David E. Price, an uncommitted Democrat from North Carolina, which holds its primary May 6, said his frustrations are with Clinton, for the potential damage she has inflicted. `Senator Obama could have chosen better words, but it seems to me that he's stating the obvious,' Price said. `People are feeling a great deal of economic stress, anxiety, and there is a certain amount of anger out there... I think it's most unfortunate that opponents simply pounce, particularly opponents in his own party.'"
Time and again Barack Obama has shown a remarkable ability to weather these political storms and this one looks to be no exception. Which means that ultimately this controversy, contrary to Hillary Clinton's hopes, may end up increasing the confidence voters and superdelegates have in him as a potential nominee.