Saturday, May 10, 2008

Playing the flash card

Politics never sleeps. Weekend? What weekend? It’s been a busy forty-eight hours for both the campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama (on the glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination) and Sen. Hillary (Mike Huckabee II) Clinton (on her own glide path back to her home in Chappaqua).

Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press reported this from Washington:

“Barack Obama erased Hillary Rodham Clinton's once-imposing lead among superdelegates Saturday when he added more endorsements from the group of Democrats who will decide the party's nomination for president.

Obama added superdelegates from Utah, Ohio and the Virgin Islands, enabling him to surpass Clinton's total for the first time in the campaign. He had picked up nine endorsements Friday.”

The last unassailable metric Clinton had to her advantage in her increasingly desperate drive for the Democratic nomination has now disappeared. Obama now leads in pledged delegates, superdelegates, states won, popular vote and fundraising. Last time we checked, all of those add up to — what’s the word? — Electability.

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Clinton’s latest double-down on tweaking the campaign benchmark math — her hopes that adding delegates from Florida and Michigan might transform the game at the 11.5th hour — is likely off the table.

The Politico reported Saturday that Obama “can fully accept Hillary Rodham Clinton’s terms on Michigan and Florida and still win a majority of pledged Democratic delegates on June 1, allowing him to lay claim to the nomination under the New York senator’s own rules.”

The story, based on a Politico analysis of figures culled after the Tuesday primaries in Indiaina and North Carolina, were dismissed by Team Clinton as (get this) “artificial metrics.” Clinton’s crew wargamed their new scenario — another change of the goal posts — proposing that “Obama needs to clear yet another figure — 2,209 pledged delegates and superdelegates, a figure that includes the two rogue states.”

“But using Clinton’s own numbers, there now seems a clear path for Obama to claim victory. 

Clinton’s push for the full inclusion of Florida and Michigan brings the total pledged delegates to 3,566. That would mean the magic number for a majority would rise to 1,784. 
A conservative assessment of Obama’s chances shows he would reach 1,785 pledged delegates on June 1, when polls close in the Puerto Rican primary. 

“This showing by Obama is possible even under extremely generous expectations for Clinton in the weeks ahead.”

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It would be, uh, presumptive to say that the Obama campaign has locked into cruise control. The candidate himself has warned his staff not to get complacent, remembering the overconfidence before Obama’s comeuppance in New Hampshire. But increasingly, there’s a sense of the finality of numbers, the brutal and inescapable mathematics that is working, day to day, to Barack Obama’s advantage. Team Obama is playing the flash card right now, wielding the hard counts on the ground as their best claim to electability.

Dave of New York, N.Y., posting a comment on, has a better grasp of the situation, a better handle on the math facing Hillary Clinton than Hillary Clinton does. Blue-collar baseball fans will understand:

“It’s the bottom of the 9th. Two outs, nobody on, the batter has an 0-2 count. The score 21-7. The winning team is up 3-0 in the series. Nobody is left in the stands. The pitcher is throwing strikes but the batter keeps fouling them off. She doesn't realize that for all intents and purposes the game and the series is over. She has way too much pine tar on her bat and keeps whining to the ump about how it’s not fair that they're not playing football. They keep cheering from the dugout that [they’re] only down two touchdowns and anything can happen. Nobody knows what they are talking about and nobody cares. But nobody has the heart to tell them that you can't score touchdowns in baseball.”

Meanwhile, Hillary soldiers on. “There’s a great sense of yearning in this country,” she said Saturday at a fundraiser in New York. And for Clinton, that’s the problem. As dramatically proven by the likely mathematical and financial trajectory of her own campaign, Clinton represents much of what this nation is yearning to change.
Image credits: Obama: Clinton: ronnie44052 at Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license 2.0. Strikeout: Unidentified author; source Wikipedia, republished under GNU Free Documentation License.

1 comment:

  1. Michael that about sums it up! Loved the baseball analogy.

    Headline in tomorrow's NY Times:

    Already, Obama and McCain Map Fall Strategies

    Marc Gold


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