I whole-heartedly agree with Jerome's point in yesterday's "Deal With Defeat", but I don't think he took it far enough. Yes, Obama supporters should be prepared to lose West Virginia (as well as Kentucky), but so too should Clinton supporters be prepared to lose the nomination.
Jerome is right. Clinton is going to do well in West Virginia, and blindly accusing that state of racism doesn't make any more sense than blindly accusing North Carolina of sexism. Truth be told, this is one Obama voter who is happy to see Clinton pushing hard in WV and Kentucky. Assuming both candidates are capable of running positive campaigns, I welcome sending them to states Romney and Giuliani didn't even dream about. We are registering millions of new Democratic voters, and if Obama and Clinton can focus on McCain rather than on each other, the remaining primaries will be wonderful opportunities for our party.
But even if Clinton wins landslides in WV and KY, this nomination seems just about locked up. As far back as March 21, Clinton advisers were privately putting their chances at a mere 10 percent. If it was just 10% all the way back then, what is it now that North Carolina and Indiana have spoken and the superdelegates have turned?
I am sympathetic for Clinton's supporters. I've been on the losing side myself - Howard Dean and John Edwards in 2004, and Joe Biden in 2008. There's a reason I call myself an Obama voter rather than an Obama supporter. It hurts, but reality is reality, and none of the remaining Clinton talking points make sense. You've heard most of the arguments before, but I'd like to sum them up in one post.Clinton will win the popular vote once MI and FL are settled: There are three things wrong with this argument. First of all, it assumes that not a single person in all of Michigan supports Obama. Real Clear Politics has Obama up by about 846,801 without those two states and up 113,498 with them, but that latter figure does not give Obama any of Michigan's "uncommitted" vote. If you're determined to count every vote, you certainly can't ignore a full 200,000 voters. Second, the results of those two states are in no way reflective of this campaign. If my memory is correct, Indiana is the only state where both candidates have aggressively campaigned and Clinton's lead has not narrowed (or disappeared altogether). This pattern would no doubt have held in MI and FL, where no campaigning took place and Obama's name recognition had not yet taken off. A true reflection of those state's sentiments would certainly lean towards Clinton, but probably by a narrower margin. And third, even if you assume Edwards did as well as Obama and award him only half MI's uncommitted vote, he still picks up 119,084 votes and leads Clinton by well over 250,000. Do we really think that WV and KY will net her that many votes? To put it in perspective, Pennsylvania didn't, and it has a larger population than KY, WV, and PR combined. Throw in Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota, and I can't see Clinton catching up.Clinton is more electable because of the big states: As before, there are three things wrong with this argument. First of all, it's just silly to claim no Democrat can win the White House without Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you want to bind us to the electoral map of 2000 and 2004 for the rest of time, perhaps you'd have a point, but the map has changed before and it will change again. Obama took swing states like Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, and North Carolina, and he's likely to take Oregon. These swing states matter, too. The second problem with this argument is it contradicts any notion that the popular vote matters. If you want to argue for the popular vote model, you can't obsess about Ohio and Florida while ignoring Louisiana, Idaho, and Mississippi. The Clintonistas are trying to have it both ways. Finally, primaries test only the Democratic electorate, and so hardly predict general election results - does anyone really expect Clinton to win Tennessee in November by 13 points, or McCain to swamp California? By this logic, Bill Clinton should have lost New Hampshire in 1992 and John Kerry should have won Iowa in 2004. Clinton is more electable because of Obama's scandals: It's certainly true that the Jeremiah Wright scandal received more coverage than the sniper fire story, and that Obama's "bitter" comments dwarfed Clinton's elitist inability to pump gas. The last few months, however, are hardly the standard by which to gauge coverage of the coming election. Obama had the decency not to bring up Whitewater, the 1994 health care debacle, or the candidate's spouse's extra-marital affairs, but the Republicans won't be so kind. Yes, Clinton can argue that those scandals are old news, but that won't matter as long as they are THE news. I guarantee that Republicans will harp on her past as much as they will Obama's, reminding voters what they didn't like about the 1990s. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming this is a good thing or that it helps Obama; I offer this only as a counter to the Clintons' talking point. The Wright scandal and "bitter" remarks are certainly powerful, just no more so than the equally unfair coverage Clinton will receive.Clinton is more electable because Obama can't close the deal: Of all the Clinton talking points, this is the one I am probably the most sick of. Thank God it has largely faded since NC. As recently as February, Clinton had a 20-point lead in national polls; today, Obama leads by 2. A year ago, he was an afterthought and she was inevitable - yet we're supposed to believe that because he can only gain 22 points and become only a slight frontrunner, he's not good enough? How exactly is this an argument for someone who LOST 22 points? Isn't Senator Inevitable the one who can't close the deal against the young upstart? The latest reincarnation of this argument is that a frontrunner should be able to win WV and KY - perhaps, although I wasn't aware they'd changed the definition of "frontrunner" to "the candidate who wins every single state."
I don't want Clinton to drop out. Unlike some of Obama's other voters, I don't despise her; she's done impressive things in New York and Washington. I do, however, want her to apologize for implying that the superdelegates should take African Americans for granted, but once she's done that, I'm thrilled to have her go on to WV and KY and register thousands of new voters. This race should be settled on June 5, not May 11 - but just as Jerome wants Obama supporters to be cool about WV, so too should Clinton supporters be cool about the popular vote, the pledged delegate lead, the superdelegate lead, and the Michigan uncommitteds. Last year we kept talking about our abundance of riches and our wonderful slate of candidates. That's still true, folks. These are the same people we had running last year, with the same potential.