Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama momentum outpaces Clinton and McCain

Senator Barack Obama not only defeated Senator Hillary Clinton by a wide margin yesterday’s “Beltway Primary” (Virginia, DC and Maryland) but also outpolled all the Republican candidates in total votes cast in the two primaries. These results are not quirks of Mid-Atlantic voters but are a reflection of the choice of voters across the country. The Senator from Illinois has bested Clinton in 23 of the 34 caucuses and primaries held so far including the last eight in a row. Real Clear Politics has a running compilation of polls head-to-head contests between Clinton and McCain and between Obama and McCain. Those polls show Clinton losing to McCain but Obama beating McCain.

Isn’t it time for the Democrats to rally behind their strongest candidate against the Republicans in the fall?

Here is Michael Tomasky in the Guardian on yesterday’s one winner and two losers:
Here's what we learned from Virginia: with 99% of the vote counted, the Republicans combined for about 457,000 votes. Barack Obama had 617,000. In a state that hasn't voted Democratic since 1964. That is a signal. Democrats, and many independents and even some Republicans, want Obama to bear the Democratic standard this fall.

And now, some exit-poll estimates from Maryland, which suggest that the scope of Obama's victory there will be as great as in Virginia. He won women with 58% (and 62% of the vote was female). He just barely lost white voters overall, 47 to 49%. He won older voters with 51%. And of course he carried black voters with more than 80%. That last one sounds predictable, but remember that only a few months ago, Hillary Clinton led Obama among black voters.

Tonight's memorable moment as a television-watching experience came when CNN switched from Obama's victory speech to John McCain's. McCain started his speech before Obama finished his - a little tacky, but not a capital crime.

Well, as Keith Olbermann dryly noted on MSNBC, someone needs to remind McCain that in the future he'd better speak before Obama. The Illinois Democrat was leading 18,000 attendees to fever pitch in his speech when CNN cut away. McCain, by contrast, was talking to what could have been mistaken for a bingo game in a church parish hall. The contrast was striking, and not lost on anyone imagining the two of them on a stage together at some point this fall.

Obama has now taken the lead from Clinton in the delegate count. But CNN's John King just made a useful point. Obama could win the rest of the states by an average of 55%, the CNN counters estimate, and he still would not have the votes needed among delegates to win the nomination.

What King did not mention is that, if Obama keeps this momentum alive and somehow manages a big night for himself on March 4 when Texas and Ohio vote, the drumbeat urging Clinton to give it up and get out of his way may become too loud for her to ignore.

But if that doesn't happen, and as of today one has to assume that it will not, King's count still raises the question of how hard and long Clinton will fight - and how she will fight. I suspect it becomes harder and harder for her, with every Obama win, to pursue her various arguments that amount to "he's not ready." Voters appear to think he's ready. The "35 years of experience" line obviously isn't counting for much.
You can read the entire piece here.


RVA Foodie said...

Sisyphus, I really like the selections you've excerpted in your blog. Lots of great analysis and I think we're both feeling pretty well persuaded by Barack. My question is, what do YOU think? There's an ongoing debate over at my political food blog, and your comments would be more than welcome.

Comrade Kevin said...

I think perhaps if concessions were made to Hillary Clinton (cabinet post, perhaps ambassadorship in Obama presidency) she would step aside sooner for the good of the party and we could have a nominee to unify the party against McCain.

MSNBC kept with the entire Obama speech and as you noted, the contrast between Obama's and McCain's was striking.

Will said...

This one's going to be fun, Sis'us. We should do a pool as to how long it will take McC to bring up Obama's refusal to wear the American flag lapel pin. I give it weeks, not months.

My theory, CK, is that is would be out of character for Billary to step out of the race, my thesis being that they will do *anything* to return to power.