Clinton was a formidable candidate, but then again she really wasn't...

Okay, I just want to vent about a little pet peeve of mine that appeared in the FP story. What does it really mean when Clinton supporters, along with the "pro-Obama media" say things like

But around the same time that Clinton started shining, Obama started faltering, and I don't think he's fully recovered from it yet.

??

In the last two months of the primaries, the Appalachian states came up big for Hillary, and they faught to a virtual draw in Texas. In those Appalachian primaries Hillary scored two huge victories (Kentucky, West Virgina), two states with demographics that favored her heavily. We saw this Appalachian trend early on when Clinton carried Tennessee, and when she dominated the western counties in Virginia and the northern counties in Maryland. For whatever reason, voters in Appalachia identified with her message. And there were many who knew this all along. Remember how everybody said she just had to score big in Texas and Ohio because Appalachia was going to pull through for her?

But it's not as though she took the rest of the Appalachian states as decisively as KY and WV. She won Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana each by less than 10 points. Solid, but unless you are just counting "wins" these were not the kind of clobberings that many expected.

Outside of Appalachia, how did Obama do? He won Oregon, North Carolina, and Montana by a margin of 55 delegates, more than Hillary's delegate margins from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, West Virginia, and the Texas primary combined (with 9 more to spare).

So to say Obama faltered is not exactly true and is borderline disingenuous. Did he come up short of the media's expectations? Certainly. But he most certainly beat the expectations of many Hillary supporters, who declared repeatedly (do I need to link all the diaries?) that Obama was finished and that with her momentum from Ohio and Texas she had turned the tide and would pull even. And in fact the more Obama actually exceded expectations the more we saw the "popular vote" meme foisted upon the media.

But that's not my point.

My point is, Obama was not running against a patsy. Obama was running against one of the greatest fundraisers the party has ever seen (second only to himself). He was running against a candidate who had been a household name for 16 years and who, at least in the democratic party, was considered very favorably. He was running against a senator from the country's second most populous state and who had a huge core of devoted followers. If it were not for Obama, Hillary Clinton would have easily run away with this primary and would likely be our next president.

To suggest that Obama "faltered" is to suggest that Obama should have dominated in every demographic and that he was running against a second-rate candidate who, due to his own shortcomings rather than the strength of his opposition, he couldn't put away. That is simply not the case, and to promote this thinking is to suggest that the once-formidable Hillary Clinton was really not very formidable at all.

Tags: Barack Obama, Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton (all tags)

Comments

38 Comments

Re: Clinton was a formidable candidate, but then a

I agree with you, but can we stop writing about the nomination contest? It's over.

(Of course, there are still some who think it's not over, but what can you say?)

Example:

I'm not ready to stop fighting for Hillary's shot at the nomination and I know a lot of other folks haven't given up the fight either. . . The fight for Hillary continues folks.  And with the help of a few good friends as regular front-pagers and contributors here, we could help turn enough of those super delegates - convince them to line up behind the one candidate who actually has a shot at beating John McCain in the general election.
http://alegrescorner.soapblox.net/showDi ary.do;jsessionid=B1D8C41DB3890A4684809A 350E1170E9?diaryId=2

by politicsmatters 2008-06-16 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

I clicked on your link.

Wow.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

In a way, it's more of the same -- Just like the claims that Obama's unassailable lead in pledged delegates wouldn't matter to superdelegates or that he wouldn't be clinching after MT and SD.

I've been involved in politics for a long time and learned that policy is more important than commitment to a particular candidate.  My favorites have lost before and then I went on and worked for the Democratic nominee.  If you want to better people's lives and prevent damage to the country, that's what you have to do.

by politicsmatters 2008-06-16 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

Alegre is like the AC/DC of the deadender blogosphere. She writes the same diary over and over again. Just like AC/DC she's perfected the formula to the point she once was the most prominent Clinton supporter on the blogosphere. Alegre can spin like the best of them.

by spacemanspiff 2008-06-16 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

uprated for abuse.

by MeganLocke 2008-06-27 05:14PM | 0 recs
I should have clarified that I was

prompted to write this because of Jerome's suggestion that Obama not only faltered but that it is still affecting his game (see blockquote). I just don't see where he gets this.

by 79blondini 2008-06-16 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I should have clarified that I was

One word:

Disappointment.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 11:24AM | 0 recs
I always thought alegre

would do what Hillary asked of her. I've been saddened to discover that I was wrong. I considered commenting over there, but clearly, she's lost right now. No point in trying.

by sricki 2008-06-16 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: I always thought alegre

I do not enjoy saying this, but I did not think she would.

Some folks went over the cliff on this one.  Their candidate did not.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 11:29AM | 0 recs
you should still try.

I'm disappointed in Alegre. She has so much potential to be a great advocate for Hillary in supporting Barack Obama, and this is what she chooses to do?

sigh I hope she comes around in her own time.

by slinkerwink 2008-06-16 11:48AM | 0 recs
Heh.

"Continuing the fight for Hillary's right to be heard."  Except for the part where she says "I endorse Barack Obama, and urge you to support him."  Then it's nothing but "la la la!  I can't year you!"

by username 2008-06-16 11:29AM | 0 recs
One more.

Oh, and I missed the gem at the top: "Help Hillary retire her campaign debt - DONATE NOW!"  And yes, it still links to her Hillraiser ID.  But really, she should have just joined NOQUARTER or something -- that's some of the worst web design I've seen in awhile.

Awesome!

by username 2008-06-16 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

Excellent points.

To add a sliver of my own wisdom (such as it is), I am very sad about one thing after some reflection.

This primary was almost entirely about demographics and self-identification.  If we look back at the various contests a strong majority of them played out exactly along the various groups and sub-groups that broke for one candidate or the other.

This scares me a little.  I'd prefer to believe that discourse matters enough to sway people.  I'm sure it did, but in the margins.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

Great points. I often have trouble with the Obama faltering memo due to the fact that in a year he went from 25-30% down to winning the nomination. Unfortunately he often became a victim of his meteoric rise in expectations.

by Dog Chains 2008-06-16 11:03AM | 0 recs
Or you could just say it was machine versus

the West. It's about as accurate, too.

Corrupt states: Clinton Wins with Huge Margins

Machine states: Clinton Wins, with smaller Margins

Non-Machine states: Obama walks away with the house, the farm, and the two cows!

by RisingTide 2008-06-16 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Or you could just say it was machine versus

Well, let's be fair.  Illinois is a bit corrupt, and Obama won there pretty damned big.

:)

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 11:13AM | 0 recs
he also won hawaii

which is also a machine state.

by RisingTide 2008-06-16 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Or you could just say it was machine versus

Um.... are you kidding?

As mentioned, it doesn't get any more corrupt than Illinois, except perhaps Louisiana, which was also a big win for Obama.

And most of the Southern states are machine states when it comes to primaries. The party leaders in the counties decide who wins in those counties.

Ohio is no more "machine" that Maryland or Wisconsin.

You're citing those states where a Governor controls the machine, but thats not the only way it works.

And what of Hillary's wins in AZ, NV, NM, OK etc?

Neither machine nor corrupt and Western all of them.

by theshornwonder 2008-06-16 01:12PM | 0 recs
It gets one HELL OF ALOT MORE CORRUPT

than Illinois.

Try West Virginia (you do remember what they said about ol' Joe and JFK, don'tcha?).

In fact, I'd argue that most of the Appalachia is a machine dominated region.

I don't know much about Wisconsin, can you drop me some links?

Ohio is considerably more machine than those two, in that the Republican machine fights the Democratic machine.

Who said Hillary won Nevada?

Other than that, credit's due to you for finding me some counterexamples.

by RisingTide 2008-06-16 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

Politics is always about demographics and self-identification and it's not ever going to change. Instead of being scared by this, recognize it and learn to utilize this information to sway people. That's how you win elections.

by LakersFan 2008-06-16 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a

Well, I can't exactly just whip up some more black people, now can I?  My point was that self-identification drove votes more than anything either candidate actually said or did.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-06-16 11:24AM | 0 recs
Demographics

You're missing the point (and sounding sort of racist-ish while at it.) Demographics are always going to be more important than what a cnadidate does or says. That's why you have to play the demographic slice-and-dice game to put together a winning coalition.

The Obama campaign figured out how to use the demographics to win the primary. Now they have to use the demographics to win the GE. It's a pretty simple formula, and ignoring it can be it is very costly.

by LakersFan 2008-06-16 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a formidable candidate, but ...

My point is, Obama was not running against a patsy. Obama was running against one of the greatest fundraisers the party has ever seen (second only to himself). He was running against a candidate who had been a household name for 16 years and who, at least in the democratic party, was considered very favorably. He was running against a senator from the country's second most populous state and who had a huge core of devoted followers. If it were not for Obama, Hillary Clinton would have easily run away with this primary and would likely be our next president.

To suggest that Obama "faltered" is to suggest that Obama should have dominated in every demographic and that he was running against a second-rate candidate who, due to his own shortcomings rather than the strength of his opposition, he couldn't put away. That is simply not the case, and to promote this thinking is to suggest that the once-formidable Hillary Clinton was really not very formidable at all.

by BishopRook 2008-06-16 11:17AM | 0 recs
Why Clinton did well.......
The Clinton "shut my eyes and see only what I want to see" supporters NEVER deal with the FACT that Obama did not even bother to compete in the last 5 contest. At all. If he had then it is just as certain that he would have done MUCH better because in EVERY state where he went head to head, even when it was considered "her" state, he came to within a few points of her.
She did so well at the end because he decided (read that knew) that he would win and used his time to go after McCain on a National level.
by Grissom1001 2008-06-16 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Clinton did well.......

Hillary won 9 of the last 16 primaries by over 500,000 vote despite being outspent 2 to 1 by Obama.

Hillary 12'

by jrole 2008-06-16 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Clinton did well.......

It's not worth the bandwidth to engage in this discussion. It's done. We have a nominee, unless you're in the anything-can-happen-at-the-convention camp like this blogger we used to see here: http://alegrescorner.soapblox.net/

by politicsmatters 2008-06-16 12:59PM | 0 recs
are you obsessed?

enough already....  this is the second time you've posted this link.  we get it - alegre has her own blog and doesn't think its over.  

i guess the good news is this will put to rest the innuendoes that she is a paid blogger for the campaign.

by canadian gal 2008-06-16 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Why Clinton did well.......

But Obama still lost in a number of states where he competed heavily and in fact, outspent CLinton too. PA and Ohio come to mind.

by Mayor McCheese 2008-06-16 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a formidable candidate, but then a

Given where the front page puts the ellipses, you could have just posted a one-word diary:

CLINTON WAS A FORMIDABLE CANDIDATE, BUT THEN...

...lost.

by ihaveseenenough 2008-06-16 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a formidable candidate, but then a

Primary is over. Let's move on please.

by spacemanspiff 2008-06-16 01:30PM | 0 recs
I agree, but there are still those

who are trying to present Obama as a "damaged goods" candidate based either on disappointment or unrealistic expectations for the latter third of the primaries

by 79blondini 2008-06-16 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a formidable candidate

by then he was considered the winner, and so it is a sign of weakness, that is showing in the polls. All is not lost, he admitted himself that he needs to be a better candidate (today's NYT story). he does, she was warm and friendly and funny and on top of every issue, and he was tired and cranky and wanted it over.  He needs to learn from that, he's our candidate, he needs to show he's glad to be running, glad to be campaigning, because the stakes are high and he's our only hope right now to end the war. He's got a lot to carry and he must carry it gladly and show he's up to the task. He seems to know that.  I hope he does those town hall meetings with McCain who is getting great press from Barack ducking them, even though he was saying while the primary was going on and he was ducking debates with Hillary that he can't wait to debate McCain.  he needs to not wait, trust himself more, get out there and face his opponent.  

by anna shane 2008-06-16 02:18PM | 0 recs
I don't think any candidate has ever

won who has tried to play the "he's afraid to debate me" card. Usually it's the cash-strapped democrats who pull this and no one ever buys it. Just look at Obama's victory in Oregon where Hillary played this to the hilt.

by 79blondini 2008-06-16 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think any candidate has ever

it's not about cards, it's about public perception. We all heard him say he couldn't wait to debate McCain and everyone knows he ducked more debates with Hillary.  He needs to get out there and show his stuff and not wait around.  

by anna shane 2008-06-16 02:55PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think any candidate has ever

Well, frankly, his strategy worked for the primary.  It's not "ducking" debates, FYI... don't get caught in a GOP frame... it's limiting your underfunded opponent's access to free television time.

There will still be more than enough debates.

by ihaveseenenough 2008-06-17 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think any candidate has ever

Kerry won the primary too, that's not good enough, he needs to win the GE, there is too much riding on it, our troops being top of the list.  

by anna shane 2008-06-17 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't think any candidate has ever

No- totally agreed there.  But really, to compare Obama to Kerry... that's a stretch.  Kerry was "not George Bush", and for most of us, that's all he was.  We fought, but really, he sort of won by attrition.

I know some people, particularly the die-hard Clinton primary voters, feel that way about Obama- but comparing where Kerry was in 2004 to where Obama is now- you have to admit we are WAY further along than he was.

There will indeed be debates, and McCain is going to get destroyed.  This guy can't handle live television (I still maintain his appearance on the Daily Show where he led with a joke about kicking John Stewart's dog was one of the worst meltdowns I've seen from a candidate on national tv), and we proved he damn sure can't deliver a speech.

by ihaveseenenough 2008-06-17 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton was a formidable candidate, but then a

by 79blondini 2008-06-16 02:45PM | 0 recs

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