Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Should she stay or should she go?

So, it didn't turn out quite as I had hoped it would in Pennsylvania. I thought Clinton would only win by 5, shutting down her momentum. Instead, she won by 10, just as in Ohio. But, Hillary's in barely a better position than she was at the beginning of the week. The newspaper headlines were about Hillary staying in the game, but not about winning the game. Obama actually performed slightly better with a whole range of demographic groups than in Ohio. This from Kos:
Obama's percent of the vote:

60 and older 28 38
White 34 38
White men 39 44
White women 31 34
Less than $50K 42 46
No college 40 38
College 51 49
Catholic 36 31
Protestant 36 53

What was a 10.5% win in demographically friendly Ohio has become an 8.6% 9.4% win in similar Pennsylvania, except the state was even less black and with a much smaller youth voter population (Pennsylvania's seniors accounted for 32 percent of the electorate, compared to 23 percent in Ohio).

And, those gains were made despite the Wright controversy as well as manufactured bullshit about "bitter" and flag pins and whatnot.
And, don't forget, Obama, had Ed Rendell's machine running against him, along with the machines of local electeds from around the state. (BTW, even though he supported Hillary -only because Obama had supported one of his opponents in last year's mayoral election- I really came to like Philly Mayor Michael Nutter. Definitely a politician with a bright future).

But, one thing that came through in Tuesday night's exit polling is that there is some seriously deep-seated antipathy and resentment developing between Hillary and Obama supporters, at least in PA. And, it's not the kind that's going to go away overnight. Those polls show that two-thirds thought Clinton attacked Obama unfairly; 50% thought Obama attacked Clinton unfairly (exit polls in other states were at 15% and 12%). Only 53% of Hillary voters say they will vote for Obama in November, 26% will vote for McCain.

As much as Tuesday night sucked for Obama, Hillary can still not win this nomination without a bunch of elite party regulars (i.e., Superdelegates) stealing away the election from a black candidate who's winning the nomination while playing according to all the rules. I don't know if Hillary and Bill know this, but certainly everyone else, including most superdelegates, does.

Also, as again Kos points out, Obama is kicking ass in state match-ups with McCain. In red states like Colorado and North Carolina, solid blue states like California, "purple" states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nevada, Oregon and Iowa (and Washington), Obama against McCain outperforms Hillary against McCain. Even in New York, he does a hair better than their Senator over Obama. And, of course, we can't forget that Obama is still way ahead in states won, electoral votes and, yes Hillary, the popular vote.

So, should Hillary exit the race? No. After May 6? Maybe.

As those exit polls indicated, and as increasingly amplified by the media, this campaign is heading into increasingly treacherous ground. But, as I've said before, if Bill and Hillary can keep their worst instincts under control, it's fine, or even desirable, for Hillary to stay in the race. The competition in each state allows both to build up grassroots networks that Obama can utilize in a general election campaign (for several reasons, McCain is unlikely to have a strong ground game going into the Fall campaign). And, of course, the media stays focused on the Democrats, while McCain speaks into a media echo chamber.

Also, I wanted to point to an argument by (now former) Stranger news editor, Josh Feit. Josh makes an argument I haven't heard anywhere else: Hillary is helping the eventual Democratic party nominee by re-building the bond between the party and working class voters:
The more the media keeps talking about Hillary as the lunch-pail candidate (and the more McCain is ignored during the primary season), the more this important bloc actually begins thinking and voting Democratic. It’s the old “everybody’s doing it” advertising ploy, and she’s getting free advertising.

For the first time in a generation—thanks to the media coverage during this prolonged campaign that’s linking the working class vote with a Democratic Party candidate—the Democrats are poised to represent Jane and Joe Six Pack.

But what if Obama gets the nomination (which still seems like a given)? Well, first of all, even without Hillary on the ticket, there’ll be an established connection between a Democratic candidate and working-class voters, an association that hasn’t been authentic in a generation or two. This will give the party and Obama an opening they previously didn’t have. (How is this campaign destroying the Democrats, again?)
I'm not sure I buy this argument. I'm worried that these working class voters are going with Hillary more out of racist antipathy toward Obama than class affinity with Hillary. But, then again, it's undeniable that these working class voters do not want to vote Republican this year. So, maybe if they can't stomach Obama in the Fall, they'll just stay home rather than vote for McCain.

And, in spite of what the NY Times ed board had to say on Tuesday night, I actually think that Hillary is backing off a bit from her original mission to destroy Obama. The uncommitted superdelegates seem to be getting more public in their warnings to Clinton that any attempts to destroy the likely nominee will bring them out in his favor.

There's also increasing chatter that she's running for the VP spot on the ticket - the more delegates she gets, the harder it will be for Obama to deny her the pick (as much as he'd like to) is the argument. While she ran for president to win, she would, after all, be the first woman VP and ensconce herself as the presumptive nominee next time around whether Obama wins or loses.

Whether she's staying in the race to be VP, or to be the nominee-in-waiting in case Obama screws up at the end, or because she wants to be in the strongest position possible to be the next Sen. Majority Leader, or because she just hasn't found a good opportunity to exit gracefully (hard to do when you're winning), as long as Hillary will not indulge in harming Obama's chances of winning in November, she should and will stay in the race. Of course, if she loses both NC and IN on May 6 (and there's a better than 50% chance she will), it'll be over.

Update: I just noticed this article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. I guess whatever restraint Hillary might be inclined to show could, at any moment, be undermined by the "Billification" of her campaign. This is one of those classic Maureen Dowd columns in the making. And, a McCain presidency in the making too. Fuck you, Bill! They should have impeached your ass!

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Hey, Bill--

Saw your comment on SLOG yesterday. How come you don't have a hipster nickname, and a link to your blog?

You're just about the only person I know who's way wonkier than I am. I liked the Bill Maher clip you posted. I'd already seen it. Every Friday night I go to my parents' house to watch because they have HBO. Now it's done for the summer, so I'll have to find something else to do. I especially liked Cornell West's comment about the makings of the fall of an empire.

Keep up the good blogging!