Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why I Don’t Buy Clinton’s “Big State” Argument













The tide hasn’t turned for Clinton, as much as she’d like to think it has. What no one is talking about this morning is that, going into Pennsylvania, she was up by more than 20 points (some estimates had her lead as high as 30) and she won by only ten.

Pennsylvania is a hollow victory in that the only advantage it gives her is perpetuating the race rather than moving her into the lead (and, one hopes for her sake, encouraging deep-pocketed donors who sniff a certain degree of viability in the air). Furthermore, almost every time she goes up against Obama and wins, she only ekes out a victory. The clock is against her. The numbers reveal that, given enough time, Obama would overtake her in nearly all of their match-ups.

Here’s my thing: in the general election, should he win the nomination, Obama is going to net almost all of Clinton’s voters, including those who cast votes for her in the big states like New York, California and now Pennsylvania. However, the same cannot be said for Clinton. Obama is drawing people in a wide net — he is devouring independent voters, signing tens of thousands of new voters and even snagging some Republicans. Those are voters who, were he to lose, will not turn to Clinton as a monolithic block — they are far more likely to turn to the “maverick,” “liberal-friendly” McCain. So what looks like a massive trump card now actually turns into a liability during the general election, a liability that not only dooms Clinton, put perhaps the entire Democratic party.

This is still a math game and Obama still wins it, no matter how you spin the numbers. Pennsylvania just strings out the process longer.

Which brings us to another point of contention. Are the Democrats destroying their chances to win the White House by bickering all the way to the convention in Denver? While I am the first person to say that the Democrats have always been their own worst enemies and only they can lose the most “sure thing” election in modern history, I am not willing to wag that reproaching finger.

This infighting may hurt the Democrat’s chances in November, but I think some perspective is important: what one person calls "infighting" another calls "the democratic process."

Think about it. It’s not as if malevolent, smoky room forces are manipulating events behind the scenes to extend the process to the breaking point. (Whether or not you define the future participation of the super delegates in that way is another story; ultimately it is not whether I buy Clinton’s “Big State” argument, but them). No, this is a simple, if shockingly unexpected and significant, display of two phenomenal and historical candidates going head to head in a battle in which their adherents simply happen to break straight down the middle in almost every single primary.

As frustrating as the ongoing slog may be (and is), it is also a mesmerizing and enchanting display of the democratic process we all love and value in breathtaking action. Because no one ever saw this coming (who could have foreseen the election of 2000?) doesn’t make it any less momentous.

If you are even remotely a politico, you have to just sit back and beam.

7 Comments:

Blogger Justin said...

It sure is a democratic process...

right.up.until.the.superdelegates.

Hmmmm.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Indeed.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Even my friend Jeff at the conservative Weekly Standard agrees.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Brandon,

I really don't think it is all that surprising that Obama and Clinton has split the vote down the middle. Although the late primary numbers have been skewed by republicans voting for Hillary to keep the dems fighting, it is what I would expect from 2 candidates that are identical on the issues. One appeals the young crowd, the other appeals to the establishment. I have intentionally left out the gender and race appeal that dems love to promote.

I also think the tide has turned in Clinton's favor. If you add up all that has been revealed about Obama recently (the Rev., lapel pin, the clinging comment, his whining when finally asked real questions) the sum is greater than the parts and his negatives are going to increase. The lapel pin is not a real issue other than the fact that he doesn’t wear one in order to appeal to an anti-American portion of his constituency. And I agree that patriotism is more that a pin of your suit. I have said the same thing about fish symbols on back of Christian’s cars for years. The other 3 items reveal an Obama we have not been allowed to see in the past year.

I don't see how either candidate can recover from this in such a short time before the general election. Let hope McCain doesn't become complacent.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

Identical on the issues...hmmm...there is validity to that statement, but then again I've yet to hear Obama respond to questions about Iran with "I would obliterate them".

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I'm guessing that most of the Obama/Clinton supporters are not aware of the 68 Democratic convention. Let's hope history does not repeat itself by those who refuse to learn it.

2:02 PM  
Blogger nathan said...

An interesting thing to guess.

Why do you guess that, other than you are clearly the only person to have opened a book, ever?

1:59 PM  

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