by upper left, Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 09:38:02 AM EST
In a front page post entitled "Pennsylvania Forward," Jerome argues that Obama has had three shots to close out Clinton and has failed each time. My response follows:
Jerome's piece should be seen for what it is: an "advocacy" piece rather than a piece of solid "analysis."
For weeks, Jerome has been telling us that it is "all about the delegates" and that momentum was highly overrated. Now that his preferred establishment candidate is badly behind in pledged delegates and has lost half of her lead with the super-delegates, we are supposed to believe that it is now "all about her momentum." With all due respect for Jerome's very significant contributions to the progressive cause, this is 90% spin.
Jerome was right the first time, ultimately this race comes down to delegates on the floor in Denver. He is also right that Clinton has the upper hand in Pennsylvania. But trying to turn PA into a make or break primary seems arbitrary. There are twelve states to go, what makes PA the only one that matters. I suspect that the effort to elevate PA to make or break status is simply because it is the last big state that looks favorable to Clinton. HRC got a couple of big news cycles out of Ohio and Texas, but the press is starting to catch on to the fact that she picked up a total of only about 6 or 7 delegates, while the pool of available pledged delegates shrank by over a third.
Bottom Line: she is running out of time and states to catch up. Obama is likely to match her net increase from OH and TX in WY and MS next week. The pattern remains stable: Clinton wins narrowly in big states with large blue collar and/or Hispanic populations, but Obama wins by large majorities in most of the other states (except border states with small AA populations)
In part, Obama's winning streak can be chalked up to momentum, but more important was demographics. What stopped Obama was not an "inability to close the deal." What stopped Obama was fighting on unfavorable turf while receiving a great deal of unfavorable press. He cut her led in half in Ohio and by three-quarters in Texas.
The turf will change and the press coverage will evolve. I expect Obama to win in WY and MS. He will probably loose by a few in PA, but it is hard to see how that will save her campaign. Obama should win in NC. Indiana is probably a jump ball that will be determined by the overall momentum at that point. OR, MT, SD are all likely Obama territory. Jerome's assertion that Oregon is up for grabs is only true if HRC has a huge head of stem coming into this state, which seems unlikely looking at the calendar.
By the time we get through the currently scheduled primaries, the most likely scenario based on the demographics of the remaining states is that Obama's pledged delegate lead will be about where it is now or a bit bigger. If this is the case, the supers will start coalescing around Obama.
Florida and Michigan are wild cards. On one hand both of these states have demographics that appear to favor Clinton. However, I think it is questionable whether or not the proposed re-votes will ever take place. First, there are real logistical and financial issues. Clinton can not afford to compete in caucuses and the state parties can not afford primaries.
More importantly, I suspect that Clinton is doing the same math I am doing, and realizing that re-votes are unlikely to yield enough delegates for her to catch Obama. The only way she can catch him is by managing to seat the current "as is" delegations. Unless she far exceeds her expected performance in the remaining primaries, and wins over two thirds of the remaining unpledged super delegates, she will not have the votes to win a floor fight.
Most importantly, if she has to seat these illegitimate delegations based on elections where the candidates did not campaign, and where Obama did not even appear on the ballot, she will fracture the party. As I have said in several threads, "if this is the only way she can win it, it will not be worth having." Many Dems will defect to McCain, many will protest by voting for Nader, and many will simply stay home. Given her high negatives, Clinton can ill afford any drop in Dem base turn-out. A fractured party would almost certainly result in a McCain victory in November, and in disaster for down-ballot Dems.
I simply do not see the math adding up for Clinton, unless Obama has a melt down and starts loosing his base demographic groups. If she just continues to hold her own demographic groups, she is not going to get there. Obama may not be able to kill HRC in PA, but likewise she was no clear way to stop his steady progress towards the nomination.