There are major, though not fatal, problems with Obama recent stands (voting for FISA and not filibustering as promised, advocating the death penalty for child rapists, promoting Bush's faith-based department, etc.).
The main problem is that Obama does not look like a man of principle, rather a triangulator (which was the basic problem the net roots had with the Clintons). If he is perceived widely as one without principles, he could lose this election. Remember, most Americans did not agree with Reagan's policies in 1984, but voted for him overwhelmingly, to a great extent because they admired how he fought for his beliefs.
Another problem is that it is insulting to the net roots supporters to say you were not listening when he was running in the primary. At least he should have explained why these stances were necessary and exceptions. A great deal of his online donations comes from the net roots and if he continues triangulating and being dismissive, his sources of funding could be materially diminished.
From a common sense view point, why should he flip flop on issues which do not affect single issue voters (e.g. gun control)? Would he have lost many solely because he voted against FISA? I don't think so.
Obama must realize that his support isn't unconditional, so he cannot take them for granted. Also he cannot appear to be a flip flopper which could negatively affect moderate voters of all registrations.
I never in my life had seen the media want someone to drop out of a race like they do with Hillary. Somehow they do not believe in letting democracy take its course.
She won IN, which was a sure victory not so long ago (see the Obama spreadsheet). It was an important upset if you look at from pre-PA days, as it is a neighboring state to Obama and independents voted.
If you count FL (no doubt that vote will stand) she is only about 300,000 votes behind in the popular vote. She can make that up in the remaining 6 elections. She is expected to win big in WV, KY, and RP. MT and SD are small. If she wins OR, which could be challenging, she is right back in the game. OR has high participation as it has mail in votes, so Obama GOTV may not be as important.
Anyway with the lead in popular vote, more delegates from FL and MI than Obama, and ahead in the equivalent electoral vote, she would have a case for the nomination.
Remember no one is taking anything away from Obama. Winning a plurality is not winning. They both have to earn it with the help of the super delegates. She is probably is the strongest candidate in the general election as she easily could win OH, FL, AR, and possibly MO and WV, where Obama can't. He only does better in the former red state of CO and VA, but the last one is a long shot with its heavy military and veteran presence and it hasn't voted for a Democrat for 44 years.
Why are Obama supporters afraid of the rest of the election? Why are they trying to hinder redo primaries in FL and MI? I think they are afraid of Clinton making a comeback and winning the popular vote and all of the important swing states.
Obama is against a mail-in in FL because it will maximize turnout especially for elderly and working folks and they tend to vote for Clinton. It also hurts those that change addresses frequently such as many African Americans and students. However caucuses (which are much less the will of the people than primaries) have favored his demographics and he has benefited immensely from them, so another way of doing it in one state is fair.
Let this election play out. If Obama is the most electable Democrat, then he needs to show it in a true 50-state contests. He should not disenfranchise voters in any state. If he does and he wins, his nomination will be tainted.
The thrust of the comment was that the Democrats must win PA to win the election. Actually they need to win 3 of the big 4 (FL, OH, Mich, and PA). If OB can't come close in PA, Clinton has one valid claim for the nomination.
Despite all the statistics of how ahead Obama is, he hasn't made the case he is the most electable. He has benefited from 12 states with a caucus system which is not the will of the people as a primary is.
The current caucus system which is mainly in non-battleground states has benefited OB and may give a misleading impression to the extent of his electability. (I think both are electable, but the question who is most electable is arguable and important.)
I compared the smallest 10 caucuses and the largest 10 primaries. This was before Mississippi. I used Wikipedia for delegate count and thegreenpapers.com for voter count and made a few assumptions here and there. I think it is close as anyone's and valid for analysis.
10 smallest caucuses:
States: WY, ND, Alaska, NV, Hawaii, ID, Maine, NE, CO, KS (OB won the vote of 9, and most delegates for all 10) (Doesn't count foreign territories.)
# of battleground states: 3 - NV, Maine, Colorado - total of 18 electoral votes.
Total OB and HC votes: 443,583 (OB 280,875, HC 162,875 Difference 118,167)
Total OB and HC pledged delegates: 236 (OB 159, HC 77, difference 82)
10 largest primaries
States: CA, TX, NY, FL, OH, IL, Mass, GA, WI, NJ (HC won 7, OB 3)
# of battleground states: 3 OH, FL, WI - total of 57, add NJ total of 72, add CA total of 127 (need 270 to win). Michigan would have been on this list if it had a competitive primary.
Total OB and HC votes: 19,373,950 (HC 9,913,618, OB 9,460,332, difference 453,332)
Total OB and HC pledged delegates: 1635 (HC 732, OB 718, difference 14) This gives zero delegates to FL.
The smallest caucuses are having a disproportionate effect on the race. They involve battleground states only worth 18 electoral votes, the voter difference was only 118,167, and OB had a net advantage of 82 pledged delegates.
Compare this to the 10 largest primaries. The battleground state electoral vote is at least 57, HC won by a margin of 453,332, and only netted 14 delegates (would have been more if FL was awarded delegates).
Not only are the small caucuses having undue effect, but caucuses favor OB as he can organized college students, plus the educated are more likely to favor OB and attend. In contrast, significant segments of HC's constituency cannot attend for a whole including elderly who have health problems and working class who are on-shift or can't afford a babysitter. Caucuses do not have absentee ballots.
How much of a difference can a caucus make? In Washington state, OB won 52 delegates (with 67%) to HC's 36 (with 31%) in the caucus with about 250,000 attendees. A week or so later, Washington had a non-binding primary which OB won 339,165 votes (51%) and HC won 303,151(46%), a total of 642,317 (2.5X the caucus).
A primary is closer to the will of the people than a caucus.
Clinton is likely to catch up on the popular vote, especially if Florida and Michigan redo (as they should and probably will). If demographics play out, she should be strongest in PA, IN, WV, KY, FL,Puerto Rico, and Mich. Obama should be strongest in NC and maybe SD. Oregon is probably even.
So it will take the whole cycle to have enough information, but it is clearly too early to crown Obama as the strongest candidate.
I can't agree more that the media and pundits are bashing Clinton every chance they get, but give Obama a free pass. There are tons of examples.
One is that Clinton said at a rally she offers solutions not speeches, which is well within the bounds of civil debate rules. Then Obama in a rally said that Clinton was being cynical in trying to put down a movement and not understanding the power of words. The spin was Clinton was orchestrating personal attacks on Obama. However, Obama who actually implied that Clinton was not a good person, and no one says a thing about this.
Also the media is saying the campaign has turned ugly. Nonsense. Clinton has an ad that Obama won't debate her and his health plan doesn't cover 15 million people. He responds that 18 debates and 2 to go are enough and his health plan covers more people and cost less. These are legitmate arguments. This is no where close to nasty, personal, and yes ugly ads.
Also this whole tirade (including comments and actions by DFA, MoveOn, Pat Buchanan, and Donna Brazile) against super delegates seems self serving for OB supporters for a variety of reasons:
- Caucuses are not representative of the voters (perhaps between 1% to 10% of registered Democrats vote, where is a primary this year it could be 25% to 40%) and dominated by insiders and activists.
- Winner of most states is irrelevant, as a caucus in Idaho with a few thousand voters is not equivalent to a primary in CA with maybe 3 million - voters.
- Florida (1.5 million voters) and Michigan are not being counted because a few insiders in the DNC decided that the state legislators cannot decide the date of their primaries (in itself anti-democratic). OB and other candidates worked hard for primary holders in Michigan to vote for "no one", as HC was the only one on the ballot - as she worked to do this.
- Disenfranchising 1.5 million FL voters, which has a history of voter will being denied (Gore in 2000, butterfly ballot in 2000, Tilden in 1876, laws prohibiting felons from voting disenfranchising hundreds of thousands, etc) is a moral dilemma and potential a public relations nightmare. To me it is hypocritical to say we must play by the rules regarding MI and FL, but super delegates cannot exercise their allowed discretion.
- Super delegates are elected representative, either by virtue of a current or prominent past office, elected to a county or state party position, or elected to DNC (which I am not sure how this is done). If we believe in representative government, such as we practice at the local, state, and federal level, this is legitimate. These folks would only make a difference if there is a virtual tie (say that there is less than 100 pledged delegates difference between HC and OB) and each of them have a vested interest in picking the strongest candidate \ executive with proper consideration to their state's interest.
- The will of the people is debatable Is it the national, state, or congressional level? Does Ted Kennedy have to vote for HC as Mass went for HC decisively?
- OB is right to argue to his favor, as he is a competitor. However, his campaign would be making a difference case if: 1) OB lost the delegates, but won the vote count, 2) Puerto Rico, which is the last caucus and has 56 votes and winner take all, swings the majority to HC. It would be something for those who can't vote in the national election to be the final determinate of the Dem nomination. It is a real wild card, maybe up there with the Nader candidacy in 2000 in being a factor electing Bush or 3) Florida went for OB instead of HC.
It is good to see I wasn't the only one surprised at today's NY editorial. Edsall does not deserve to be a columnist. He is analysis is over a decade old.
What he implies is preposterous. What do these old liberals want? Return to school busing? 70% marginal tax rate? Resurrect the Black Panter movement? Job and college quotas for minorities and women?
Thus the new liberals (Tester, Webb, Sherrod Brown) are advocating the same economic populism and protect-our-constitution that is consistent with old liberals like Charlie Rangel, John Conyers, Henry Waxman, John Dingel, and George Miller. They have though updated the description of the countries problems in a way to convince voters to elect them.
However, as Edsall doesn't realize, the debate has changed. Businesses are now advocating for government intervention in health care cost. The concentration of wealth is so great now, there is a ground swell for minimum wage, fair trade policies, and fair taxation. Pay as you go is fiscal responsibility. Ethics reform is a Democratic issue as it is consistent with transparent government and fair elections and importantly not practiced by the Republicans.
This country may be center-right in rhetoric, but it is center-left in sensibilities. The majority of the people know we need a government and there needs to taxes to pay for it, so tax-cut zombyism and extreme economic libertarians will never be accepted. On social issues I still maintain it is on average in the center, but with uncompromising factions on each side of the spectrum (especially on abortion). So the suggestions of the progressive movement are really proposed solutions to real problems. What was "far left" is now mainstream or no longer seriously discussed.
McCann has a heroic personal story and a maverick image which would help in a general election. Giuliani's image a leader and a tough cookie is seared in everyone's head. A ticket with McCann and Giuliani would be very tough to beat.
Actually I would say that the Dem field is one of the weakest in a while.
Obama may be popular with Dems, but not nearly the same with independents and Republicans, plus it is only a matter of time before something tarnishes his image. On top of that, he will have so little experience compared to McCain and Giuliani and after Bush the public will not be in the mood to take chances.
It is easy to scoff at conventional wisdom, but Clinton would have the Republicans and Republican leaning independents come out en masse against her, so her chances of winning against a McCain or Giuliani are slim, even in NY. (Conventional wisdom said that Kerry being a northeast liberal with a cold personality and overplaying 6 months of military service with a convention in Boston would likely not be able to win - strike one up for conventional wisdom again!)
Giuliani though may have some problems as 9/11 fades and his Benard Kerik behavior is revealed to the public (having the police escort him to his good friend Judith) and that he told the public he was divorcing his wife before he told his wife.
James Carville should be quiet and stop criticizing Howard Dean as the head of the DNC. Dean's 50 state strategy is absolutely necessary. It has paid some benefits already in the last election by providing an environment where Democratic candidates would be encouraged to run in district held for years by Republicans. Even if they didn't win, they set the stage for next election and made the Republicans spend money that can't be used in other races. Without an infrastructure, it is next to impossible to win in now deep red states. In the medium to long run, it can help make the Democrats again the dominant party.
The Democrats won at least 28 seats. To say that taking away money from state organizations to fund certain campaigns is the reason that Democrats didn't win even more seats is highly speculative and does not seem correct to me. The environment was right for the Democrats and the money wasn't the most important factor, especially in House races. As proof, all the money the Republican spent and they didn't take a house or senate seat from the Democrats.
It is insult to Democrats everywhere when someone says that the RNC did a much better job than the DNC, when there purposes were not exactly the same. Also Mr. Carvel should have better things to do than criticize a fellow Democrat, especially one who has been a major force in putting a pulse back into the party.
I agree in general that the Republicans made a long term strategic blunder in the divisive action of Rove and Bush. It won them 2 Presidential election and great inroads in the Bible Belt, but lost thousands of moderate Republicans who became Democrats or Independents. Most of these will never go back.
However, when the next election comes with probably either Giuliani or McCann as the standard bearer, they will switch on a dime and appeal to moderates.
Also the Republicans haven't completely abandoned the Republican candidates. The Club for Growth is functionally an appendage of the Republican Party. Plus Lynn Cheney bragged today that her husband raised $40 million for Republican candidates and we know that Bush has raised more than Waterboarding Dick.
Harold Ford comes from a conservative part of the country, so he needs to meet certain thresholds to be competitive. Democrats have to recognize this and work to reconcile differences in social issues, but not take sides which immediately polarizes the country.
However Ford stands up for the middle class and this is the single most important thing that Democrats should stand for. By building the middle class, you reduce poverty and juice the economy.
Lou Dobbs is a great model. He supports the middle class. He doesn't trash labor really. He talks about the disparity in wealth in the country. He disparages the Democrats for being ineffective, but is he wrong?
On immigration, he is right about how corporate interest exploit immigrants. Paying fair wages to Americans would only increase prices very moderately, and there would more Americans able to buy more products. He is xenophobic a bit and doesn't address what we do with 12 million illegal aliens currently living in the US. So his crusade isn't perfect, but still it is a model to modify and build on.
Every political junkie Democrat should read Mudcat Sanders' Foxes in the Hen House. Rural voters are in most ways natural Democrats, as they are not rich and have benefited from competent government.
Democrats have a historic opportunity now. Our candidates are so good, it is hard to believe the Democrats could recruit them, as they include military, physicians, cowboys, physicians, and professional athletes.
To become the consistently winning party, in my opinion, means the focus has to be on building the middle class (similar to Lou Dobb's current crusade but tweaking his immigration stance). Then the party must be able to incorporate moderate views and moderates. Finally, there needs to be acceptance there are irreconcilable differences in opinions on social issues, especially abortion, and that the party absolutely should not take sides and recognize those differences.
Instead the Democrats should find some means where most people with differences on hot button issues can agree to live in peace. Once this is done, the Democrats will represent everyone except the self-interested rich and economic libertarians and can be a truly dominant party for years.
Some of the best legislation came when the Democrats balanced the interests of its conservative Southern wing with its Northern liberal wing. Now that blatant institutional civil rights discrimination has receded, Democrats need to return partly to this paradigm.
The really good shots for the Dems are MT, PA, OH, and PA. They need another 2, and if national trends continue, they could find another 2 to tip that way. Senate races can't be gerryamandered, so they are relatively more competitive than House races. Remember in 04, the Rep won 5 seats vacated by Dem incumbents.
If the scenario of 49-49-2 holds out, the Dems will have a majority as Sanders and Leiberman will definitely go with the Dems.
Perhaps the most interesting race is MO, as this state is considered the most representive of the country of the whole. McCaskill was on Meet the Press and looked very good debating Talent, who reminded somehow like the misguided-David Brooks.
I pray for NJ, as the more I know about Menendez, the more I feel he is a solid progressive.
I saw Tester debating Burns on C Span tonight, and he is a GREAT candidate. He has the right persona, the right delivery, and the right platform.