EBB AND FLOW
Hillary Clinton's "turning tide"
goes out, if only temporarily, in
North Carolina and Indiana
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
An at least relatively short Commentary from me this time (for once! [;-)]):
For I have not all that much to add to what I had already written back on 29 April as, for the most part, my views as expressed therein basically still stand unchanged by yesterday's results in the two Democratic Presidential Primaries.
Nevertheless, if I might be permitted at least a few updated observations:
Generally speaking, it was a rough night for Senator Clinton- at least in terms of how she should be perceived in relation to Senator Obama insofar as Momentum is concerned. Certainly, it was a much better night for him!
Despite the disingenuous "spin" in the course of Mrs. Clinton's victory speech re: Indiana (insofar as Obama's "prediction" that Indiana would be the "tiebreaker" [in relation to her win in Pennsylvania and his eventual win in North Carolina] is concerned: puh-LEEZE! Lesson from 'Political Observation 101' class: a candidate who does not galvanize his or her supporters with visions of potential victory ahead of an actual loss isn't really trying all that hard. So it was with Obama "predicting" victory in Indiana in the wake of Pennsylvania's Primary- as it was for Clinton's "the tide is turning" in the wake of her victory in that very same State [clearly aimed at the North Carolina she would end up losing]), Indiana proved something of a pyrrhic victory for the former First Lady.
First of all, Indiana- taken as a whole- is very much like Ohio (and western Pennsylvania [and, for that matter, Michigan]): i.e., "Clinton country". The potential influence of Obama's home base being in nearby Chicago was always going to be significantly smaller than that of this particular salient observation (and one also has to keep in mind that Senator Clinton herself originally hailed from a Chicago suburb not all that unlike the more suburban parts of Indiana's Lake County-- how really different is Park Ridge, Illinois from Whiting, Indiana?).
Simply put: Indiana should have given Senator Clinton a margin of victory greater than that she actually received yesterday. While "a win is a win is a win" and, thus, the very points I made in my piece previous to this one are still valid (since they were based on the assumption that the two Democratic presidential contenders would "split the difference" in the two Primaries), it has to be fairly noted that Obama actually did better in the State he lost than Clinton did in the one she lost and this puts her somewhat further "in the hole" than one thought she would be going into yesterday.
Secondly, when this observation is combined with Senator Obama's concomitant decisive victory in North Carolina, it all means that- once again- for all her complaints that he can't "close the deal", neither can she (at least not without Florida and Michigan "as is", that is!-- but that will have to be a whole other Commentary awaiting the, in essence, "hearing" before the Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee at the very end of this month). Put another way: once again, Mrs. Clinton has failed to stop Obama's momentum when she seemed (as she has already often seemed during earlier stages of this campaign) on the verge of doing just that and, as a result, we are now pretty much back to where we were in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination just before Pennsylvania voted a mere two weeks ago.
In this particular marathon, she- so it seems- ever appears to be "reeling him in" only to always see him suddenly sprint ahead of her yet again and thus, once more, regain the same lead he once had held at a previous milepost.
OK-- all well and good: so assume that Senator Obama has seemingly survived "Bittergate" and the controversial rantings of Reverend Wright (at least as regards this intra-Party skirmish [the General Election may well be another matter altogether, should Obama be the Party's nominee!]): this does not at all change the likelihood he will only have to put up with seeing her "reeling him in" yet again; for West Virginia and Kentucky will (assuming that Mrs. Clinton, indeed, wins both the Mountain State and the Bluegrass State [not any great stretch of political punditry's imagination]) erase much of the "umpteen" (a term I'll use if only because, as of this typing, a final pledged delegate count from yesterday is still not certain-- but his gains from yesterday will, regardless, prove to have been in the very low two digits) delegates by which he has now padded his lead (my own admittedly perfunctory calculations here, by the way, suggest that Senator Clinton needs [if only because sociopolitical demographics suggest she can actually get] at least a double digit edge [literally, at least +10] in pledged delegates coming out of those two Primaries over the next two weeks in order to be able to consider both States just south of the Ohio to have been all that helpful to her presidential ambitions).
Assuming that Mrs. Clinton does get just such a "Pennsylvania-like" pledged delegate count boost from both West Virginia and Kentucky (that is: her "tide", indeed, comes back in), Oregon- reporting later the same night as Kentucky- then becomes the potential "Heartbreak Hill" for both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton: if he can, yet once more, sprint ahead in such "terrain"- or. at the very least, doesn't allow her to at all gain on him even more should his pace continue to slacken- then he maintains what he currently has regained as a result of yesterday's voting. If, on the other hand, Senator Clinton can get what will amount to a "service break" (if the gentle reader doesn't mind my so mixing my Sports metaphors herein) in the Beaver State, we may- finally- see his momentum stopped while still in the very midst of this "stretch run" (and such a happening, in turn, might well then have a fair amount of influence on that 31 May "hearing" re: Florida and Michigan, as well as becoming an even bigger determining factor- as we come to the very end of this Primary/Caucus "season"- when it comes to attracting both dollars and "superdelegates").
[Speaking of "superdelegates", by the way: there are more of them now available to the Democratic presidential contenders than actual pledged delegates still "up for grabs" (but 217 of the latter are left "out there", as of this typing)!]
So, for now, we all will have to wait for yet another two weeks and, except for the "sideshow" of seeing just how much less support (compared to that seen in caucuses held in the same State three months ago) Senator Obama might have in Nebraska's "beauty contest" Advisory Primary next Tuesday (which, in the main, will mean nothing much at all- other than giving political "junkies" such as myself yet one more thing over which to cogitate to no apparent useful purpose), it all seems very much like going into the very last week of a Major League Baseball pennant race in which we already know that the team that fails to win (yet is still in the hunt for) the Division title will still gain the lone Wild Card berth while, at the same time, it is very likely these same two teams will only end up meeting in the League Championship Series that will determine the League's representative in the more important World Series in any event!
But the game's on TV-- it's raining outside-- I have nothing better to do-- so I'll watch it anyway.