Don’t you just love election years? They’re full of pandering to special interests, saying one thing and meaning another and, especially if a Republican is in office, negative talk about the economy. Don’t get me wrong, things are getting bad out there, but the press almost seems happy about it. It’s as if the positive news coming out of Iraq is too depressing for them, so they need to get their fix with a weak dollar and the long overdue housing bubble bursting.
But the real joy is in the Democratic primary. Barrack Obama is starting to show signs of mortality. His once teflon exterior is starting to melt away in the sunlight of some (still gentle) media scrutiny. There are still far too many unanswered (and some still unasked) questions about his dealings with Mr. Rezko and his connections to extremists like William Ayers. Now, questions are even being raised against his passionately anti-American pastor of 20 years. From all reports, it may have been better politically for Mr. Obama to have stayed Muslim. At least Islam is a religion of peace.
Florida & Michigan
The other thorn in Mr. Obama’s side is the twin-headed monster of Florida and Michigan. Hillary Clinton is and will be very much alive at the DNC convention in August, and she will continue to harp on three things: (1) “Obama is unelectable (beacause I’ve made him so)”; (2) “I’ve won all the big, important states”; and (3) “I’ve got the momentum to lead this party into the general election.”
The first argument is the modus operandi for the Clintons. Why build when you can destroy? They’re the political equivalent of Bizzarro Superman.
The second argument is also classic Clinton: self-serving, illogical and yet oddly effective. Clinton has been arguing that she has won all the big states needed to win the general election. This is clearly specious in Democratic enclaves like the People’s Republics of California, Massachusetts and New York. It’s not as if those states are going to swing Republican because Hillary is not the nominee. It’s patently ridiculous in Texas, which hasn’t gone Democratic since it went for Carter in 76. I think they learned their lesson.
The argument, however, is slightly more seductive, however, in places like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These are the swing states that actually decide who becomes president. Of course, the fact that Hillary wins a Democratic party beauty contest in these states does not, necessarily mean she will win the general election there. After all, McCain won those states by an even larger margin. But, and this is the grain of truth in the ridiculous, it does mean she has better ground troops there. It means, arguably, her organization is better positioned to fight in those states. On balance, however, I think whatever advantage she has over Obama in those states will not survive Hillary Hatred or the new McCain Democrats.
On the momentum issue, here is where it gets tricky for Mr. Obama. Hillary can show momentum by continuing to win big states and by keeping the popular vote close, or even passing him. In delegates, Obama leads Clinton by about 10%, and neither Obama nor Hillary have a realistic chance of sealing the deal before the convention. But Obama currently leads the popular by about 13.3 million to Hillary’s 12.6 million; if you include Florida, that lead nearly halves from 700,000 to 400,000. Both will need “super” delegates to win.
Hillary will probably win Pennsylvania by the same 10% or so she won in Ohio. This will do little to help her in delegate count, but it will put a dent in Obama’s popular vote lead. With the stakes being so high and such a long lead up to Pennsylvania (still five weeks away), look for high turnout, which I believe will favor Hillary. Also look for voter fraud, but that’s par for the course in PA, especially with a Clinton running.
As for Florida and Michigan, only the kind of person who feints at political rallies believes Obama has a chance of winning Florida. Hillary is sure to win and, given that this election will actually count, turnout is going to be better than it was in January. (Meaning a Hillary win will bring the popular vote even closer). If there is a revote, especially so close to the convention, Hillary will have another big state win, a jump in her popular vote count and Obama will have proven himself unable to win in any big state (other than his native Illinois).
Obama’s best bet is to mathematically allocate the Florida delegates and take the wind out of Hillary’s sails. The same is true for Obama in Michigan, although he may play better in Muslim regions where his middle name is an asset, not a racial slur, as he now claims. Even if he applies the 60/40 split of the January votes in Florida and Michigan (which is the best mathematical split Clinton could reasonably hope for), he will only lose a handful of meaningless delegates. He will also be able to paint himself as reasonable and generous in giving up those delegates and Hillary Clinton as mean and petty when she inevitably demands that the popular votes count as well. A small price to pay to show the world the obvious.