The "damage" to me has always been more of the missed opportunity. McCain has been able to travel around, reinforce his brand among voters, rally his party, rally his fundraising, etc. And he's been able to do this largely ignored by the democrats as they continue to battle each other.
The other problem has been some of the Clinton campaign's choice of rhetoric which serves to harden her supporters against Senator Obama. I was uncomfortable with some of President Clinton's choice of rhetoric over the weekend when he was telling people stuff like they don't understand you, they don't believe you matter, etc. And we see the results of this in exit polls with the number of Clinton supporters that say they won't support Obama should he become the nominee. Now I believe that for the majority of these people they will in the end, but it serves to create divisions where there shouldn't be and makes what will already be a hard job uniting the party that much harder.
I wonder how much stock should be put in the mythic spreadsheet at this point given it's data is 3 months old.
I thought the more interesting bit in the Obama campaign memo you cited was this:
Obama's Strong Position in the Race Ahead
Nationally, Obama is running stronger among Independent voters than any winning Presidential candidate since 1988 and is significantly outperforming Sen. Clinton among these voters as well in general election polling.
To understand a potential general election match-up between Obama and McCain, the only analysis and data that should be considered valid are the current head-to-head National polls rather than extrapolating irrelevant assumptions from exit poll data in Democratic primaries.
And, on the issue of Democratic unity in the Fall, analysts need only consider that in April of 1992, on a night when Bill Clinton won four primaries and was the presumptive nominee, 6 in 10 Democratic primary voters said they wanted another candidate in the race. Despite this, five months later, Democratic voters were unified behind Clinton and he won his first of two terms in office.
A more interesting question is turnout, and the reason the Clinton campaign is driving so hard to turn this into a game changing contest. They need bodies at the polls, absent that the big margin is fairly yawnworthy.
8.72% of voters in Indiana indicated on exit polls that they would not support the Democratic candidate they voted for in the primary in a general election against John McCain, these voters supported Clinton over Obama in the primary by a 3 to 1 margin.
8.52% of voters in North Carolina indicated on exit polls that they would not support the Democratic candidate they voted for in the primary in a general election against John McCain, these voters supported Clinton over Obama in the primary by nearly 4 to 1.
Was it Rush, or just people deciding to vote in a popular contest, who knows. But in a state where the winner won by about 14000 it's not hard to realize that these mischief voters accounted for the margin of victory.
The popular vote argument just isn't going to be that compelling. If you have to put an asterisk after your vote argument to define how you arrived at that number you've already lost the argument. The fact that the only way she will lead in the popular vote, which in itself isn't even certain, is by the inclusion of contests where one candidate wasn't on the ballot and neither could campaign is just horridly flawed. Disallowing campaigning is death to an insurgent candidate who is under pressure to get in front of voters and sway them to their position. Without an ability to do that they never go anywhere. And an election people were told wouldn't count is no election at all since large numbers of voters won't show up.
Even if she wins the popular vote metric with the including of michigan and florida it isn't going to sway superdelegates. It will be used as cover by superdelegates she already has supporting her to not switch, but it won't bring in new ones. Just look at the superdelegate endorsements she's gotten over the last week, they are almost all either add ons in states she's won or congresspeople whose districts she's won. And that's likely to be the only new superdelegate endorsements she gets going forward absent a colapse in the Obama campaign.
This is true, and it's the reason that Senator Clinton left her name on the ballot after agreeing to not participate in the election. She expected to walk away with the nomination handily on Feb 5th and would have as the nominee asked for the delegations to be sat anyway. It also led to the lovely bit of sound that we all love quoting and her campaign and her supporters like to pretend never existed where she says the election wouldn't count for anything, she was defending violating the agreement by leaving her name on the ballot.
If she had something she'd use it. She would have used it before North Carolina and Indiana. What incentive would there be to keep it hidden at this point? I certainly think she hopes there is something out there that derails him but there is no reason to believe she has any such thing.