Clinton Campaign: The Democratic Race Will Be Over in June
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Apr 17, 2008 at 11:00:59 AM EDT
It has generally been assumed that the Obama campaign wanted the Democratic race to end as soon as possible while the Clinton campaign was determined to keep fighting all the way through the convention. But perhaps that assumption is off the mark. Here's Clinton campaign chair, the usually not off the talking points Terry McAuliffe speaking in Oregon:
During a Medford appearance Wednesday, the chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign and a high-ranking Democrat said he believes his party's presidential pick will be sewn up shortly after the voters have spoken in the 10 remaining primaries.
"I think it will be over in June," said Terry McAuliffe, former chairman for the Democratic National Committee.
Congressman Barney Frank, a long time and high profile supporter of Hillary Clinton, went even further this week:
Longtime Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts - A Hillary Clinton supporter and the brother of senior Clinton policy advisor Ann Lewis - said Tuesday that whichever Democratic presidential candidate is trailing should drop out once it "became clear that candidate had no remaining practical chance of winning the nomination," the Associated Press reports.
Frank named the date by which he believes that candidate should give up the fight: June 3rd, the day of the South Dakota and Montana primaries. He added that the trailing candidate should drop out "probably sooner" than that.
Following Frank's logic, it sure sounds like the Congressman wants Clinton to drop out by June 3, at the latest, and perhaps even sooner than that. At this juncture, Barack Obama holds an overall 142-delegate lead and an even larger 164-pledged delegate lead -- leads that do not appear likely to disappear any time soon. Indeed, while the Clinton argument seems to rely on the possibility that superdelegates would swing en masse in her favor, the fact of the matter is that since as long back as February 5, and even continuing to this week, superdelegates have been moving noticeably towards Obama and not Clinton. What's more, and perhaps more importantly, given the demographics and polling out of the remaining states, as well as the apportionment of delegates acress congressional districts and proportional splits of delegates (rather than a winner-take-all system), it appears highly unlikely, if not nearly impossible, that Clinton will be able to catch up to Obama among pledged delegates. As such, because Clinton will most likely remain behind in the overall and pledged delegate counts come June 3 and Frank seems to be calling on the candidate behind in the race for 2,024 to drop out, it sounds (at least to these ears) that Frank is making an early argument that Clinton, whom he supports, should be easing herself out of the race.
But even taking McAuliffe's less strong words at their face, it's hard to see how Clinton would emerge the winner under the prediction he made in Oregon (even though he did explicitly say later that he believed Clinton would be the nominee). Given the great likelihood (spelled out above) that Obama will continue to hold a significant delegate lead in June, it's hard to understand how, in such a situation, Clinton would emerge as the nominee in June while trailing, both among pledged delegates and delegates overall. For Clinton to win at this juncture, it seems just shy of necessary that Obama comes into the convention with a lead, but a delegate mark short of 2,024, leaving open the possibility that the convention will go to multiple ballots in which Clinton might be able to eventually emerge on top.
Can things still change? Certainly. Anyone who talks in hard terms about what will happen about what might or even might likely happen doesn't know what they're talking about. To the point, is it possible that Obama will tank over the next month and a half? It's certainly a possibility, one that the Clinton campaign seems to be banking on. Specifically, the Clinton campaign pushed the talking point today that last night's debate changed everything.
But we've heard that argument before. We've heard that Obama was done after revelations about some of the things that his reverend said, or that he was done after he used the term "typical white person" to describe his own white grandmother, or that he was done after he admittedly slipped up in the wording of his comments in San Francisco -- after each of which Obama has persevered, and indeed maintained his lead in the race for the nomination.
Will last night's debate finally be the feather that breaks the camel's back? There is little tangible evidence that would lead me to believe that Obama's superdelegates are about to bolt, or alternatively that a large portion of undecided superdelegates are about to move to Clinton. In fact, Obama has picked up two new superdelegate endorsements today, including one that switched his backing from Clinton to Obama. So while it could happen, I just don't see it actually happening. As such, and in light of the comments by Frank and McAuliffe as well as the reality on the ground, it's getting increasingly hard for me to see a genuine path to the nomination for Clinton.