Obama cannot limp to victory

This has been a tough few weeks for Barack Obama. Having seeming weathered the initial storm of the (in my opinion overblown) Wright controversy, he got himself into trouble with his “What’s the Matter With Kansas” inspired comments about rural voters. He was put off balance by guilt-by-association style questioning at the recent Democratic debate. His Pennsylvania loss, despite being widely predicted for weeks to months, bolstered Clinton support and fueled her questioning of his candidacy. The balance of press coverage has tipped in her favor. Superdelegates and donors allke are helping to keep her campaign afloat. News from his side has been almost non existent.

Despite all this, Obama is still decisively in the lead with respect to delegates and will almost certainly lock up the nomination. To do so by laying low and waiting out the clock, however, would be a big mistake. Obama needs to come back fighting. A tepid victory marked by a string of losses is not going to look good, and will not inspire Democrats to rally around their candidate.

Obama needs to start making strong stances and set out his vision for the country. He needs to increase visibility and promote his personal brand. This election is about more than winning by technically gaining a few more delegates than your opponent. He seems to finally be getting this message with increased visibility of his less serious side on the basketball court and, more importantly, with a firm split from Wright after it became clear that Wright was in not looking out for anything but his own image.

Some damage is already done and I don’t see much hope of a victory in Indiana, but there is still time to reenergize his campaign for a strong finish.

PA Votes

Today’s primary in Pennsylvania strikes me as rather unexciting. There are a few options:

a) A single digit win for Clinton
b) A double digit win for Clinton
c) A win of any sort for Obama.

Many are predicting outcome a, which really doesn’t change much in the election. There will be more pressure for Clinton to drop out with a small victory, but ultimately her campaign will treat this as a victory and the battle will continue on.

Outcome b will give Clinton’s campaign a boost, but still is unlikely to change the outcome of the future races and, ultimately, the nomination.

The only significant outcome would be option c, but polls are suggesting this will be highly unlikely. The only place polls completely missed the winner was in New Hampshire, but that appears to have been an outlier. Generally, Clinton has done slightly better than predicted by the polls, most likely because “undecided” voters tend to go with Clinton, probably because she is better known and thus considered “safer”.

I predict a 10-point victory for Clinton, and she may even creep into the low double-digits. We’ll see tonight.

Worst. Debate. Ever.

I can’t believe I lost two hours of my life watching that debate. Nearly an hour of questions rehashing the nonsense that’s been passing for news in the election. I learned nothing about the candidates and watched both fumble around with uncomfortable questions about people not involved in this election.

The second half was a little more reasonable, though still embarrassing for ABC. Gibson was the most outrageous, sounding like a panicked stockbroker when grilling the candidates on whether they were going to raise capital gains taxes. Stephanopolous didn’t seem to have much to contribute either.

Both Obama and Clinton had a fairly rough time, with Obama facing numerous questions about various people who had some sort of association with him (some more than others) and Clinton essentially having to admit she flat out lied about what happened in Bosnia.

Clinton did seem better prepared, however. Her answers were firm and confident, while Obama was clearly shaken from the first hour.

Overall, not a productive use of the time. Maybe there’s only so much more to add if you’ve already had 20 debates. We’ve past the point of diminishing returns.

Five Ways Clinton Leads Obama

Daily Kos: Five Ways Clinton Leads Obama: “Hilllary Clinton has won New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York.  By contrast, Obama has failed to win a single state with the word ‘New’ in its name.  Obama’s failure among self-proclaimed new states, raises serious questions about his supposed strength among young voters (new people) and his supposed message of change (new policies).”

Maybe I should reconsider my support of Obama…this is a metric that carries a lot of weight. Pay attention, superdelegates!

Confronting the Kitchen Sink – New York Times

Confronting the Kitchen Sink – New York Times: “Mr. Kroft asked Senator Clinton if she believed that Senator Obama is a Muslim. In one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date, Senator Clinton replied: ‘No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know.’

As far as I know.

If she had been asked if she thought President Bush was a Muslim, would her response have included the caveat ‘as far as I know’? What about Senator McCain? Why, then, with Senator Obama?”

I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this…

Is Hillary gunning for VP?

Everyone knew that hillary had to win Ohio and Texas on Tuesday to remain competitive. It’s also generally agreed upon that, to have a hope of catching up to Obama, she had to win big. But she didn’t. In fact, given her minimal edge in the Texas primary and apparent loss in the Texas caucuses, she may end up with fewer delegates than Obama from this state. Essentially, a major opportunity for her to work towards catching up was lost.

One can argue that she may pick up some legitimacy from her victories, that she won’t be so quickly forced out of the race, but statement that she has a real hope of winning the nomination requires a real suspension of disbelief. Even if she wins big in Pennsylvania in April, the numbers are stacked against her. The only real way for her to win would be for the superdelegates to override the popular vote and elected delegates. That’s just not going to happen, as it would be suicide for the Democratic party.

I think hillary knows all this, but listen to what she’s been hinting at recently: a shared ticket. If hillary loses the nomination to Obama by a relatively small margin, then she can argue that she has the support of a large fraction of the party. Obama may then be pressured into adding her on to the ticket as VP to placate the party and “bring people together” (which of course, he says, is his specialty). If hillary plays her cards right, this may be the inevitable outcome, which would of course position her well for a presidential run in 2012 if the pair wins the next two elections. The question is how averse Obama is to this idea.