Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday produced a draw…or did it?

The Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses produced no obvious winner. Senator Clinton led in national and most state polls prior to the election and yet failed to knock out the challenge posed by Senator Obama. Senator Obama, whose polling numbers were quickly closing the gap on the Clinton lead, failed to topple Senator Clinton from her lead.

All things being equal it was a draw for Super Tuesday but of course all things are never equal. During all of 2007 the Clinton campaign promoted the Senator from New York as the inevitable nominee and Super Tuesday was to put the final touches on the Democratic race. The strategy was to wrap up the nomination within a month of the Iowa caucuses. That didn’t happen. With half of the country now having voted, she has been forced to loan her own campaign five million dollars just to stay competitive and staff are going without pay. Despite the importance of winning big states on Tuesday such as California, New Jersey and Massachusetts, her campaign is struggling.

The Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen list five reasons Senator Clinton should be worried following Super Tuesday:

1. She lost the delegate derby. Pure and simple, this is a war to win delegates, one that might not be decided until this summer’s Democratic convention.

And when the smoke cleared this morning, it appeared that Barack Obama had ended up with slightly more delegates in the 22 states.

Obama’s campaign says the senator finished ahead by 14 delegates.

With results still coming in, Clinton’s campaign says the candidates finished within five or six delegates of each other. Either way, Super Tuesday was essentially a draw.

Clinton may still hold the edge overall, but Obama is closing in rapidly.

2. She essentially tied Obama in the popular vote. Each won just over 7.3 million votes, a level of parity that was unthinkable as recently as a few weeks ago.

At the time, national polls showed Clinton with a commanding lead — in some cases, by 10 points or more. That dominance is now gone.

One reason is that polls and primary results reveal that the more voters get to know Obama, the more they seem to like him.

This is especially troubling for Clinton since the schedule slows dramatically now and a full month will pass before the next big-state showdown.

All of this allows candidates ample time to introduce themselves to voters in each state — which plays to Obama’s core strengths.

3. She lost more states. Obama carried 14 states, six more than Clinton, and showed appeal in every geographical region.

His win in bellwether Missouri was impressive by nearly every measure, marked by victories among men and women, secular and churchgoing voters, and urban and suburban voters.

4. She lost the January cash war. Money chases momentum, so Obama crushing’s 2-to-1 fundraising victory last month is revealing.

He raised more than $31 million; Clinton raised less than $14 million. The implication is hard to ignore: Democratic activists and donors are flocking to Obama at a pace that could have a profound effect on the race going forward.

5. The calendar is her enemy. Now that more than half the states have weighed in, there is a fairly predictable formula for determining who is most likely to win the upcoming contests.

In caucus states, Obama’s organizational strength shines: He has won seven of eight. Up next are three more caucus states, Washington, Nebraska and Maine.

Obama also runs tremendously well in states with large African-American populations, another promising sign since next Tuesday’s three primaries are in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia — all of which have significant percentages of black voters.

Then comes another caucus state, Hawaii, where Obama is viewed as a native son.

The bottom line is that it figures to be another month before Clinton hits a stretch of states — places like Ohio and Pennsylvania — where she will be strongly favored to win.

So it couldn’t be any clearer as to why the supposedly inevitable candidacy is anything but — even when she’s supposedly winning.


Joel Monka said...

You write as if the people are going to decide this. If the party decides the people are selecting the wrong candidate, the Superdelgates can effectively overrule them. The winner will be whoever can convince the party insiders that they can attract enough Republicans and Undecideds to win the general election.

matthew said...

insurgents for obama! Let the lilliputian common folk overwarm the SUPERDELEGATES and not give them the option of defying us and derailing the democratic victory train. Hoo-Hoo.

Comrade Kevin said...

The key then is going to be a war about propaganda. Obama comes out the clear victor in this contest and with a slight edge in delegates, depending on how you spin it.

The latest poll on Rasmussen has Clinton losing to John McCain by 2% points and Obama beating John McCain by 2% points. Statistically, they are both within the margin of error, but the results benefit Obama far more than Clinton, Hillary.