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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

US Presidential Primaries: Ohio/Texas « Previous | |Next »
March 5, 2008

With the GOP presidential primary all but resolved in favor of John McCain, Mr Straight talk, the political interest is with the Democrats. Ohio is where Hilary Clinton, the New York senator, will be making her stand amongst the blue-collar, ethnic Roosevelt Democrats. It is the Clinton's big attempt to try and hold back, if not negate, the movement momentum of Obama in Texas, with its unique coalition of young folks, African-Americans, and independents. Economic concerns are the dominant issue for Democratic voters in Ohio and Texas.

The Peter Brookes cartoon captures the current political situation:

ClintnObama.jpg Clinton's last stand will not be negate the momentum.

Even if Clinton wins Ohio, and gains more than a dozen delegates in the overall primary race, that still leaves her behind in the race by roughly 100 delegates.

This is Clinton only shot at the presidency. She had the early led in the polls in Texas but it is now neck and neck. The media have decided, in their collective wisdom, that Clinton is finished. So she has to fight hard and dirty. Will it be her Last Waltz?

If Clinton doesn't win both states she'll face heavy pressure to pull out of the race. Will Clinton hold on by the skin of her teeth? Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo comments that:

We've run the numbers, and even assuming a very big night for Clinton, she seems unlikely to make more than a small dent in Obama's lead of roughly 150 pledged delegates. Indeed, she could actually do quite well on the popular vote side and end up falling behind a bit further on pledged delegates. The upshot is that the Clinton campaign may come out of tonight with a major shot in the arm and a round of good press and yet still be in no more realistic a position to win the nomination based on the stubborn tally of delegates.

This question, along with others, is explored in 8 Questions that could be answered by today's primaries" piece in the Washington Post. If there is no clear result tonight--Obama wins, Clinton wins--then the Dems face a grim prospect of six weeks of uncertainty until Pennsylvania on April 22.

I mentioned Clinton playing dirty in order to hurt Obama. The politics of fear works:

This is her way of highlighting experience over change. She is selling experience by heightening fear, and so shifting public opinion towards solutions that emphasize guns and bombs over diplomacy and cooperation.

When will the Clintons start arguing that America is just too racist for Obama, and that fear is always a surer bet than hope? When they try to block the drift of the superdelegates to Obama?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:33 AM | | Comments (12)


Several days ago Bill Clinton said that if his wife didn't win both Texas and Ohio, she couldn't win the nomination. At the time it was accepted as the standard she had to reach.It does not look possible now.

She is also too far behind in the delegate count. The commentary here concludes:

So no matter how you cut it, Obama will almost certainly end the primaries with a pledged-delegate lead, courtesy of all those landslides in February. Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people. Even coming off a big Hillary winning streak, few if any superdelegates will be inclined to do so. For politicians to upend what the voters have decided might be a tad, well, suicidal.

Clinton's weapon has to be the superdelegates. It's all she has left.

the US media's attention may have started to shift from bashing Clinton to turning a critical gaze on Obama.

An amusing representation of the troubled relationship between Clinton and the press corps. Clinton's campaign rented a men's bathroom and assigned the traveling press corps to sit there to do their work. It was an actual, fully functioning public bathroom -- complete with running urinals and stalls, situated just a few feet from where they were told to sit and work for five hours and eat.

At stake tonight are 370 Democratic delegates. Texas is the crown jewel of the night -- doling out 193 delegates in a hybrid primary-caucus process (voters are to choose 126 delegates in the primary and 67 in the caucuses) ---and its demographics are changing away from Karl Rove's designed Republican ascendancy.

Obama wins Vermont. The trend of Obama doing very well in states with no black people continues.

McCain takes Vermont and Ohio. To be expected. Huckabee ought to concede and finish the joke. It's stale.

The interest is with the Democrats because it is expected that the Democrats will win the Presidency.

Peter Baker in Clinton Down, but Not Out, for the Count in the Washington Post says that, what if Clinton does well today, and then asks:

what would Clinton need in the remaining contests to catch up among pledged delegates? There are a dozen contests still to come after today, starting with Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi next Tuesday. Then you have Pennsylvania on April 22, followed over the next few weeks by Guam, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and finally Puerto Rico. Working the Slate calculator, she would need to win 62 percent in each of those states to pass Obama in pledged delegates, giving her a total of 1,605 to 1,604.

His analysis of this scenario is this:
For starters, the idea that she would win, say, Mississippi or North Carolina may be a stretch under any circumstance. The latest polls show Obama with a double-digit lead in North Carolina, while Mississippi has similar demographics to other Southern states that he has won in landslides. But even assuming she could win those two states, to understand just how steep a hill it would be for Clinton to get 62 percent in the remaining states, all you have to know is that she has gotten that much in only one state in all the voting so far -- her onetime adopted home of Arkansas. Even in New York, where she is the sitting senator, she won 57 percent. She won 55 percent in Michigan where Obama was not even on the ballot.

Clinton is not going to get the delegate numbers this way. So Clinton's inner circle has to head off calls for her to give up and concede to Obama, even though he has a clear lead for delegates etc.

Entering today's primaries Obama has 1,194.5 pledged delegates, and Clinton with 1,033.5 That's a lot to make up. Will she start clawing it back?

CNN calls Rhode Island for Clinton and she appears to be leading in Ohio. NBC has called Ohio for Clinton. CNN too. Clinton's gone a month of crushing defeats. She's been outspent and the media narrative has all been against her. But she has hung in there.

Huckabee concedes as McCain has won enough delegates to become the Republican nominee. No doubt there will be an early endorsement of McCain by Bush. Bush then has to start working his fund raising gig. What will Chuck Norris do now that the farce is over?

So it's Texas for the Clinton/Obama struggle. A good place for the updating Texas results is here. Within over 25% precincts reported Clinton is winning the primary vote but losing the delegate count. However, Obama is expected to win Texas, according to the commentators.

The media work in crude negative stereotypes that lurches into caricature – Hillary as hopelessly conservative and amoral Lady Macbeth, Obama as modern day snake-oil salesman seducing the gullible and naïve. This is reinforced by the general media characterization of the primary campaign as a war between opponents, rather than as a competition between aspirants or contenders.The end result is that the two Democrat camps Democratic end up bitterly deprecating or demonizing the other opponent.

It's elections as war rather than as a competitive game.

Clinton wins the popular vote in Texas. She did what she set out to do -- win Texas and Ohio. Now she has a rationale for continuing her campaign.The Clinton campaign got rough and nasty over the last week-plus. And they got results.

Clinton appears to trail in the caucuses and it is unclear where the delegate count is. In Texas the popular vote accounts for 126 of the Texas delegates; 67 more are up for grabs in the caucus.

One scenario is this. Rhode Island and Vermont (the battle of the New England micro-states) basically cancel each other out. Despite Clinton's currently solid win in Ohio, she nets only 7 delegates. Though the Texas numbers are still up in the air the possible range from a 4 to a 9 delegate pick-up.That is not much movement on the pledged delegate front.

At the end of the day, the winner of the pledged delegate race has the strongest claim to the nomination.Will Clinton's strategy be to become a determined and ruthless street fighter out to damage Obama (puncture his aura of integrity and trustworthiness) and make him look as if he cannot take the political heat? It's called a "buyer's remorse" strategy of raising enough doubts through increasingly vigorous attacks and tougher media scrutiny to convince the superdelegates that it would be too risky to nominate Obama against the Republicans.

The media in the US and the onliners in Australia have been too busy barracking for Obama. I know it's hard to be partisan and objective. Some are better than others at it. I've been kved to respond with a short animation: 'The Great Presidential Race' on my blog, just click the link, or Youtube.

Clinton failed to make a significant dent in Obama's commanding lead in the race for the Democratic nomination in spite of her three victories yesterday. With counts almost completed, her haul from the victories in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island proved to be meagre, awarding her only 12 more delegates than her rival.

However, her wins provide her with momentum going into the struggle for the Pennsylvania primary that holds its contest on April 22. The long time lag allows Clinton to attack Obama with even more intensity than she displayed over the last week and which exit polls suggest swayed last-minute votes.

It's going to be a tough, divisive campaign.

The situation is this. Obama has 1,562 delegates, including the super-delegates, members of Congress and other senior party members who have an automatic vote at the conference, and Clinton 1,461. It takes 2,025 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.

He is expected to extend his lead by winning the Wyoming caucuses on Saturday and the Mississippi primary on Tuesday.

Clinton has to do something different to persuade the Democrat Party to select her, apart from roughing Obama up.

On the topic of the power of video.

Well done!

Obama's 101-delegate lead, is not exactly a definitive manifestation of the popular will when 2,025 is the magic number for nomination. While Obama is indisputably ahead, no presidential candidate in modern memory has ever hoisted the white flag at this stage in the campaign with the contest this close.