...because of Senator Hillary Clinton's far-greater experience and establishment backing...
How can you tell? Because there are no quotation marks around it. We have no idea if Axelrod believes that or not. He wasn't quoted, he didn't say it. Media bias? Oh yeah. Bolding doesn't change anything.
I'd still like someone to explain to me how Hillary Clinton has more experience than Barack Obama. By what measure? More Senate experience? Yes. More experience serving in elective office? No, Obama has. Faced more elections? No, Obama has.
...There are no practical limits to the amount of money that Obama can raise to go into the coffers of candidates running for downticket races. The superdelegates will be most influenced by who they feel can raise the most money for them.
Anything positive to say about our most likely nominee, Jerome? I just did. It's pretty easy. Give it a try sometime. It may be good for the soul.
RedDan, you bring up an excellent point. I am completely lost as to how Jerome makes the arguments he does after co-writing Crashing the Gate. I just cannot find any consistency between Jerome's current thinking and the central thesis in that book. Markos (Jerome's co-author) has arrived at a completely opposite read on the current Democratic nomination contest, so it's all the more puzzling.
I think Michael Meyers blew it, actually, because he wasn't listening to Obama carefully enough. The sad fact is we Americans do have misguided perceptions of race, and that's exactly what Obama was talking about. Those perceptions contribute to certain realities. Like segregated, rotting schools. (What neighborhood do you live in, Jerome? :-))
Obama is not George W. Bush, and indeed he is an unconventional politician. As we've learned from George W. Bush, it's a fundamental truth that you cannot hope to fix a problem, especially a big one, unless you first admit its existence and define it. We haven't had a politician do that when it comes to racism in... well, forever maybe. Obama took a bold step here.
As you hint Jerome, I think it's way too soon to judge how Americans react. It's March, not November, as Mike Huckabee (!) pointed out. We'll see how mature most Americans are. Are they interested in listening to a candidate who challenges their preconceptions? Who occasionally makes them think? We'll see.
Obama is still in a dominating position for winning the nomination. (See: Bill Richardson's endorsement today as yet one more data point.) The fundamentals of this race haven't changed since at least Super Tuesday. I had no doubt the right-wing noise machine would attempt a "Southern strategy" this cycle. It's good news for Obama that it's March during a 6-week lull in the primary calendar, especially prior to a state he was never expected to win.
Recall that Bill Clinton faced a political catastrophe ten times worse than Obama faced, the accusation and his (grudging, between-the-lines) admission that he committed adultery. He got the wind knocked out of him, but obviously he survived, won the nomination, and won the presidency. No analogies are perfect, but I think this one is closer to the mark than most.
Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton garner a majority of delegates going into the convention...
That's (near enough) mathematically impossible, assuming we're talking about pledged delegates. There are only two candidates remaining, and there are only two ways mathematically you could get such a result:
1. If one candidate is ahead of the other by less than the number of (shrinking) Edwards delegates;
2. If the two candidates end up exactly tied.
The chances of either outcome are vanishingly small. So I wouldn't worry about it.
I think, Jerome, you're missing a good part of the story on why there's an issue with Republican primary voters in Michigan. Your co-author, Markos, openly called for Michigan Democrats to cross over and vote in the Republican primary when it was clear that the non-sanctioned Michigan Democratic primary would not count. Markos's call to arms got a lot of attention in the traditional press. A lot of good, loyal Democrats thus voted in the Michigan Republican primary to help keep Mitt Romney alive.
There are some possible remedies, though, to allow these good Democrats to vote in their home party's contest. One remedy is that people who voted in the Republican primary are eligible to vote in the new Democratic primary as long as they switched their registration back as of, say, the end of February, 2008. Assuming Michigan has party registration, that'd be quite fair and allow "Kos Republicans for a day" to vote.
There's a powerful motivation to make contests seem closer than they are when reporting on them.
Just look at the MyDD Delegate Counter(TM). Apparently its maintainer doesn't want to put a simple date stamp on it because it's better for traffic to make things look closer than they are. So let's ignore those 14 net delegates Obama picked up last week, and let's keep a separate tally with Florida and Michigan because....well, I don't know. Heck, why not have a third scoreboard that assumes one candidate convinces 10% of the pledged delegates to defect? Or a fourth scoreboard which assumes that Nebraska's delegate bus breaks down on its way to Denver. If that shows a closer race, it must be a close race.
The truth is the fundamentals of this race haven't changed since Super Tuesday on February 5th. We're cruising toward an entirely predictable outcome. But I know that's a boring storyline. Sorry about that.
There are a lot of people posting about how superdelegates can override the pledged delegates if the nomination battle is close enough. But nobody that I've read has come up with any plausible argument why they should. And it would have to be a "damn good reason," preferably more than one.
All candidates claim they're more electable than the other ones. Except maybe Mike Gravel. It's a boring, tired old argument with absolutely no objective proof points. It's not a "damn good reason."
What would be a "damn good reason" is candidate plus horse plus intimacy plus videotape. And in that case it's pretty much a moot issue anyway, because a lot of pledged delegates would bolt the barn, too.
A lot of people forget that the real reason superdelegates exist was not to do much at the Convention, actually. But it was to encourage them to attend and to free up pledged delegate positions for Democratic Party rank-and-file people. Before that a lot of Democratic elected officials didn't bother going to the National Convention, or if they did go they'd displace local party activists. In both respects that was harmful to the party, so the superdelegate invention tossed those pols a bone. That's the major reason they exist.
Yes, I know Geraldine Ferraro says otherwise, that the superdelegates were invented to prevent another McGovern or whatever. Except they would have done nothing in 1972 even if they existed: McGovern won a supermajority on the first ballot. The Party made superdelegates very weak. They didn't allow them to veto the pledged delegate winner by, for example, voting as a supermajority bloc. The superdelegates were Democratic Party officials who could suffer the wrath of rank-and-file voters, not some committee of untouchable party elders collecting government pensions. And, immediately after their creation, the superdelegates ratified the pledged delegate winner (Walter Mondale) who then went on to lose 49 states (together with Geraldine Ferraro). So they're not exactly predisposed to using their power to overturn the pledged delegate winner even in cases where they might be tempted (Gary Hart).
And one more point on that poll. It is entirely reasonable that many voters would feel that the pledged delegate winner is inherently the most electable. (I believe that, because anybody else winning the nomination would receive a poisoned chalice.) So it's a very confusing poll question. A lot of people answering "most electable" understand that's only achieved by winning the nomination with the most pledged delegates. The two attributes are perfectly correlated, they're not either-or.
It's really a bad poll question, because it asks voters to compare an objective fact (pledged delegate lead) with a subjective assessment ("electability"). These are apples and oranges.
The problem is that there's no hiding an override of an objective fact. Either the superdelegates vote with the pledged delegate winner or they don't. And thus, by definition, they'll unavoidably piss off about half the electorate if they don't. That would include 80+ percent of African-Americans, I would assume. There's no "Gee, he really didn't have 170 more pledged delegates" argument here.
Conversely, as you do correctly point out, there's really not any objective way to assess "electability." (Ask John Kerry. The only way is to put a candidate up for an actual election, but there are no do-overs in the general.) So superdelegates won't be able to piss off the "electability" crowd even if they tried, because it's easy to come up with a reason (excuse, actually) why either candidate is more electable. Honestly no one really knows. It's like predicting whether it will rain in New York City on November 4, 2008.
No, the real conclusion from this poll is that roughly half the electorate is paying close attention to an objective fact (the pledged delegate lead) and believe the democratic process is king. That's why the superdelegates simply won't even go there and try to overrule the pledged delegate winner. The polling confirms it: it would cripple the Party. Politicians, particularly the Democratic Party kind, are spineless. In this case that's a good thing.
So that's why Hillary Clinton is harping on the "I'm more electable" meme, as John Kerry did before her. Trouble is, she can never prove it. For every argument she makes as to why she's more electable there will be two arguing the opposite. And if you've got a hard objective fact versus a mere assertion that can never be proven, the hard objective fact prevails.
I also think that "vote with the pledged delegates" number can only go up in public opinion polling the longer this thing drags on. You think the media would let that one slide by? Not a chance. And you don't need anywhere near half the public to assemble a pissed off mob in Denver.
I really don't know why we're even contemplating the possibility of activist superdelegates. Not. Gonna. Happen. It didn't happen in 1984, nor in 1988, and it certainly won't happen now. 2008 ain't that special.
See here for a Florida/Michigan remedy that's consistent with the DNC's rules. It's a discretionary remedy — the relevant committee is under no obligation to do it — but I would suggest heading in that direction pronto.