Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Progressive Update--04/23/2008--Pennsylvania Results

Nomination Math—With 99% of precincts reporting, Hillary took 54.7% of the vote to Barack’s 45.3%, a 9% margin. Despite the spin, it was not a double-digit victory. She captured 6 more PA delegates than Obama, cutting his total delegate advantage to 127. Hmmm, six more delegates won by Hillary than Barack in PA. All Hillary needs to close that delegate gap are similar victories in 21 more states like PA. Oh that’s right, there aren’t another 21 states like PA left. There are only 7 states left, none with as many as PA’s 187 delegates. Actually, only one has more than 100 delegates, North Carolina, where Obama is polling 15% ahead of Clinton. Yesterday’s minimal gain by Hillary will be lost by her in two weeks.

I would like to mention two websites that I regularly visit: is wonderful, and is updated daily. Real Clear Politics has many pages-- presents the current Democratic delegate race. Neither site appears to favor either Democratic candidate.

In PA Obama closed the gap with Clinton from 20% to 9%. He did this by outspending her, which he could do as he is supported by his much larger base of donors. He had to outspend her to close the gap, for she began with so much more name recognition, both due to her years as first lady, and for her time serving in the senate for neighboring state New York. Obama did exactly what he needed to do, close the gap, and keep the delegate loss to an insignificant level.

What are the superdelegates waiting for? The party needs to come together behind one candidate. The party decides its nominee by delegates, and Hillary Clinton can not close that gap. It is time for the superdelegates to confirm the primary results, the delegate math, and to pledge their votes to Barack Obama, so that we can get to the job of beating John McCain, and ending the eight year debacle of a Republican White House.

Dream Ticket?—A friend raised this issue with me this morning, of Hillary running as VP to Barack as President. I consider this much more of a nightmare ticket. For Hillary to be an asset on that ticket, she needs to stop, today, in her negative ads, and the negative words she and her surrogates aim at Obama (no problem directing them at McCain, of course). Without that drastic change, she is showing Obama and Democrats that she is putting herself above the party, and that is a trait that a VP can not have. Furthermore, she needs to really put a muzzle on Bill—perhaps she can get him to campaign for her in Guam.

And now the view of Villanova Political Science professor Matthew Kerbel on the PA primary:

Two word take: nothing changes. This is about what I expected (I predicted an 8 point win and the final numbers are going to put it close to 9). She will spin that the superdelegates are starting to wonder about Obama, and there is a serious doubt about his ability to win blue collar ethnics in the rust belt, but that's not a new concern. She will most likely net in the range of 8-15 delegates out of yesterday, which doesn't put her any closer to the nomination. And the clock is running out.

The main issue for Democratic superdelegates today, as it was before Pennsylvania, is to find a way to bring this to a close without alienating her constituencies by making it appear she is being forced out. The calendar has conspired against this happening, providing a yawning seven week gap with no contests sandwiched between a pair of states (Ohio and Pennsylvania) with strongly favorable Hillary demographics, giving no cover to those superdelegates who would like to unite behind Obama. Their next chance comes with North Carolina, which Obama is certain to win just as Pennsylvania was always going to be Hillary's to win.

This is and has long been a race between two different coalitions, where outcomes have been decided by who had the most voters in a given state, not by who could change the most minds. That's why it has been shaped more by the calendar than by momentum. Obama prevailed in that race by being better organized in caucus states and campaigning hard in small states that Hillary ignored. But he can't close it out against an equally strong coalition until the calendar lets him. That, too, was the case before Pennsylvania. So nothing has changed.

Paul S Baumbach

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