Wednesday, April 23, 2008
As many had expected, Sen. Hillary Clinton won a decisive victory in yesterday's Democratic Pennsylvania primary against the presumed frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama. Yet while basically every single prominent talking head on CNN and MSNBC acknowledged the significance of this win, the Obama camp, and the NY Times in a blistering editorial Wednesday, have trashed Clinton and reduced Tuesday's results as anything but. It's time to face facts here. And the simple fact is, she is winning and he is not. Obama's popularity clearly peaked win February winning streak. Since then, it's been all Hillary.
To be sure, a Democrat cannot string together consecutive wins in California, NJ, NY, Massachusetts, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania without being taken seriously as an extremely viable candidate. And get this: you can be sure that at some point very soon voters in both Michigan and Florida--two big states sure to rally behind Clinton--will have their voices counted as well. Anyone who thinks the Democratic Party is going to nominate a candidate and send them into a general election after disenfranchising voters in two key states is terribly mistaken.
Make no mistake: Obama is a fine man, a brilliant thinker, and would likely make for a great president. But he's one lousy candidate. He can blame no one but himself and his handlers for failing to close the deal with voters. For failing to use his huge 10-state win on Feb 5th to build successful momentum in his campaign against Clinton. For failing to truly unite Democrats; he simply cannot, despite pouring buckets of money and time into the race, appeal to working class white voters who comprise most of the Democrats' historical base.
Let's look at Pennsylvania for a moment. She won by an impressive 10% margin, which is what every pundit said she needed in order to prove her viability going forward. Sure, the Obama camp is discounting that by saying the lead "was 20%" a couple of months ago, but by that same analogy then, Obama's popularity peaked months ago as well. Can't have it both ways, Obama-cans. If we're gonna judge Hillary today against the backdrop of her past "highs," then looking at how Obama's fallen to Earth lately, we should stop the race now and give her the nomination. Regarding the popular vote, she cut her deficit by almost a third. Not much movement, however, with delegates; she picked up about 35. Overall, Obama outspent her 3-1, invested an incredible amount of time canvassing all over the state to huge crowds, and was and continues to be the media's darling. He had it all going for him, but still could not nail it.
There's still plenty of election left, and plenty of time for either candidate to decisively pull ahead. The remaining Democratic contests are primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, Oregon, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico, and caucuses in Guam. In two weeks we'll have Indiana, where Clinton is up about 2% according to RealClearPolitics.com's average, and North Carolina, with is large black vote, showing a huge 15% lead for Obama. If Clinton can pull off another impressive win in Indiana--where she has the key support of the highly respected Sen. Evan Bayh--her obvious momentum continues. With regard to Obama's inability to crossover, less significant will be his expected win in North Carolina. Looking down the popular vote road, according to analysis Tuesday evening from MSNBC, Clinton stands to net about 100,000 votes in Kentucky and 80,000 in Kentucky. Throw in another 300,000 when Florida is factored in. In North Carolina, rumor has it Elizabeth Edwards is going to campaign for and with Clinton. If true, who knows what effect that could have on the election. But the conventional wisdom says she'll have a net loss there of about 150,000 votes. After these contests, she'd have just about caught up to Obama. There's also the current corruption scandal in Puerto Rico involving Gov. Anibal Acevedo, a Democratic super-delegate who has pledged support to Obama. The commonwealth could see its 63 delegates go to Clinton as a result. Voters there typically follow the Governor's lead, but his indictment could change all that.
Look, if Clinton wins the nomination, she will not only capture the base--white working class women, seniors and Hispanics--but she will very likely win much of the black vote as well. They simply will not vote for the GOP's presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain. She may not get Obama's youth vote, but guess what? The youth vote never matters for anything. They never vote. Every candidate in recent memory has won without them. That leaves the affluent and educated, not exactly a huge constituency when it's time to close the curtain in November. Hillary can easily win without them. It's highly questionable whether Obama will get the white working class vote. But he cannot, and will not, win without them.
It's no longer just about "math," as the Obama camp would like to portray the race. Clinton has a very compelling narrative to offer the Super D's: she's winning. But despite the fact that a record number of voters turned out Tuesday to give Clinton a decisive 10% win, the NY Times, in it's editorial Wednesday, essentially crucified Clinton for running a "vacuous, desperate, mean, pandering" campaign. It claims she "did not get the big win in Pennsylvania." That she "squandered a 20-point lead." That her ads are "right from Karl Rove's playbook." That she "turns off voters." And that it's "time for the Super D's to do what the Democrats had in mind when they created super-delegates." The irony is that this scathing attack appears on the very same day that its lead front-page story headlines with "Clinton Clearly Outduels Obama in Pennsylvania...With Victory, She Has Rationale to Fight on." Little bit of schizophrenia going on at the Times, no?
I say to the Times, the Obama camp and anyone else who desperately continues to call for Clinton's premature exit...stop whining and start winning. Nothing shuts up an opponent like success.