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.