Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Old Fashioned Ass Kicking

Texas and Ohio have now made Hillary Clinton the comeback kid. In a crushing blow to the Obama campaign, having outspent Hillary Clinton 3 or 4 to 1 in this week's primaries, the big ticket states overwhelmingly gave their support to the woman who's promised to take their 3am phone call.

What does it mean?

1. We're going to Denver. There will be a bitter fight all the way to the convention and there will be blood.

2. We're going negative. It clearly worked. Fear motivates as much as hope and she is going to scare the piss out of you if you're leaning towards Barack Obama.

3. We're going to get a big Michigan/Florida push going. She's not going to give up on those states (nor should she) and we'll see some kind of do-over where she crushes Obama in Florida and probably beats him handily in Michigan as well.

4. McCain will get to load up and get his general election campaign organized. He has no money and needs to get the base more on his side, but he'll have time and plenty of help from the established Republican machine.

5. Obama has to rethink his strategy to address the "fighter" Clinton that has obviously resonated with people in blue collar areas. He talks like a diplomat and a statesman, but that demographic like Rocky. He needs to find that inner Stallone to balance out the softer, more cerebral Obama. His inner Wesley Snipes. "Always bet on black!"

6. The math doesn't lie. Obama might actually GAIN delegates after all is said and done on March 4th. It won't matter to the headlines and it won't matter to the newly energized Clinton base, but it is something. Presuming he goes on to win Wyoming and Mississippi in the next week, he can extend. He also is rumored to have 50 superdelegates waiting in the wings to back him. After tonight, you have to wonder how solid that is, but it could keep tilting the math in the Obama direction.

At this point the winners on March 4th are John McCain, Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party, headline writers and Saturday Night Live. The losers are Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, the Democratic Party, and mathematics. This is going to be long and painful. To wrap this up, I want to revisit my own pre-Super Twosday predictions to hold myself accountable.

I predicted that Obama would win Texas by 10 points and wipe up after her in the caucuses. I think it's obvious that Obama fell flat in the primary, but I think he still looks on target to deal her a delegate blow in the caucuses. I predicted that Clinton would win Ohio by 6 to 8 points and I thought it looked like possibly more. I was right on with that prediction as Clinton will win Ohio by roughly 10 points. It was in the tea leaves. I gave Rhode Island to Clinton by about 10 points, but she drank Obama's milkshake to the tune of 18 points there. Not completely unexpected, but stunning to the Obama people nonetheless. Finally, I was looking at a 15 point win for Obama in Vermont and he delivered by more than 20 points. It's very interesting, but my final prediction was that Obama would come away with more delegates in the end, and that Clinton would get the ammunition to run this campaign all the way to the end. And there you have it.....


mike's spot said...

Good assessment Mike

is this damaging to the democratic party in the long run? are we going to hit a point with 'too many coaches and not enough players'

Mike Plugh said...

It's a mixed bag actually. The Democrats under Howard Dean's leadership (YEEEEEAAAAAHHH!!!!) have undertaken a "50 State Strategy" where they are trying to make up for ignoring "Red States" for generations by party building from the ground up. The extended primary campaigns help the party build a local identity, recruit ground forces, and generate enthusiasm where it probably wouldn't have existed otherwise. This is very good for the Dems in Texas and North Carolina and so on. The long campaign will probably hit all 50 states at this point.

It's bad because it makes Democrats in either camp hate each other and argue. It makes for bad feelings and splits the demographics against one another. It further divides working class/union Dems against Eastern Progressives and so-called latte drinkers. It creates friction that the GOP can count on. The Republicans in any election can find a crack and exploit it to turn the Democratic camps against one another.

It also allows John McCain, specifically, to organize and play catch up with the rolling Democratic primary fundraising.