Wednesday :: Apr 23, 2008

It's Called Democracy


by Turkana

It was inevitable. More than a million and a quarter people turned out yesterday to vote for Hillary Clinton, she won another large swing state by more than two hundred thousand votes, and those champions of democracy in the shrillosphere are again today begging someone to pull the plug on this race. Stop her before she wins again!

As Big Tent Democrat continues to try to get people to understand, demography is everything, in this race. After Clinton's disastrous, and politically incompetent, final few weeks of February, she has been doing very well. She has been winning large states by mostly solid margins. She has been chipping away at Barack Obama's popular vote lead. While Obama supporters continue to tout The Math, they continue to ignore the fact that Obama cannot win the nomination on pledged delegates. Once again, repeat after me: the superdelegates will decide the nomination. Obama cannot win without them. Clinton cannot win without them. The pledged delegate metric is only one, and because Clinton cannot catch Obama in that metric, her entire argument rests on the possibility of her ending up with the most popular votes. That's a reasonable argument, and one that the uncommitted superdelegates are clearly willing to listen to. Of course, for that argument to even become part of the discussion is dependent upon Clinton's prevailing in the popular vote, and that's still very much an uphill climb, for her; but it is by no means impossible. And Obama supporters need to understand that.

Last night, Clinton once again denied Obama the knockout punch. Once again, she started with a large lead in the polls, he vastly outspent her, the polls showed him close, and possibly capable of winning, and she then held him off by a significant margin. Once again this took place in a state that was demographically favorable to her. North Carolina is next. For the first time in many weeks, Obama will be on his demographical home turf. In a large state, which could provide him with a large popular vote victory margin. On the same day, he can probably end this race by winning Indiana, which is more demographically favorable to Clinton, but which borders his home state of Illinois. He has, thus far, won every state that borders Illinois, and where Illinois's friendly media markets have spillover influence. If Obama is going to end this race before June, it will be in two weeks. Win huge in North Carolina, and simply win in Indiana, and Clinton will have no chance of catching him in the popular vote, even including Florida. If Clinton wins Indiana, and somehow pulls off the upset in North Carolina, she will be the nominee. But barring a political disaster for Obama, she won't win North Carolina. The demographics are too unfavorable. But if she holds down his victory margin, and wins Indiana, her popular vote possibility will remain alive. Once again, the dynamics are obvious. Once again, many will ignore them.

The good news for Obama, in the long campaign, is that all the bad news has now been aired. As Joan Walsh and others have pointed out, better now than in October. Rezko's at trial, we've seen the Wright videos, we've heard the name Ayers, we've looked aghast at Obama's flagless lapel. He's also made some serious gaffes, and hopefully learned from the reactions. None of that has changed the demographic nature of the race. None of that has derailed his candidacy. We now know his vulnerabilities, and even though many Obama supporters continue to ignore the potential impact of those vulnerabilities, once the GOP 527s start toying with them, those vulnerabilities are not having an appreciable impact in the primaries. Should he close out the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote, she will not prevail upon the superdelegates by arguing about those vulnerabilities. Clinton supporters need to understand that. Should Obama clinch the popular vote, he will have won both plausible arguments about the will of the people, and just as Obama supporters need to recognize the importance of the will-of-the-people argument in Clinton's quest for the popular vote, Clinton supporters need to recognize that if she can't make that argument, she has no valid argument.

Electability arguments won't prevail against a candidate who has won both the most pledged delegates and the most votes; and Clinton has her own electability vulnerabilities, anyway. That's another little reality that many Democrats need to face up to: despite the extraordinarily favorable political climate, both Democratic candidates have serious electability problems; and both candidates cannot legitimately blame anyone other than themselves. Race could be a factor, and so could gender, but both candidates have said and done things that only make their vulnerabilities worse. But those are problems for the summer and fall. The problem, now, is that we have a very split party, with two candidates still locked in an unresolved primary campaign, each of whom has a lot of very passionate support. In the blogosphere and the shrillosphere, we tend to see only one side of that split support; but when millions of people continue to turn out, in record numbers, to give Hillary Clinton solid victories in large states that will be key factors in the fall, calls for the race to end reveal nothing but bias and latent worries about her continually surprising (to some) electoral strength. Obama remains the clear favorite, but he hasn't closed the deal. Cries for the superdelegates or party elders to end the race fly in the face of the very concept from which the Democratic Party draws its name. This race is not over. Many voters have yet had the chance to make their voices heard, and the consistently large turnout is proof that they like having that chance. It's called democracy. Let the people decide.

Turkana :: 12:28 PM :: Comments (77) :: Digg It!