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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Over and Out?

Today marks the final two primaries in the Democratic presidential nominating contest (we can pause here for a final horselaugh at those, myself included, who spent months last year deploring the “front-loaded” primary/caucus calendar, and predicting a too-early conclusion). But as the votes are counted in SD and MT, most of the action will be elsewhere: in MN, where Barack Obama is planning a victory rally tonight in the very venue of the Republican National Convention in September; in NY, where Hillary Clinton’s immediate plans will be revealed; and in DC, where we can expect a steady series of superdelegate announcements in Obama’s favor.
Those last voters out west could complicate things a bit. For weeks, it’s been assumed that MT and SD are Obama Country. But the entire Clinton family has been relentlessly campaigning in SD during the last couple of weeks, and a rare poll of the state (from that frequent outlier-producer, ARG) has Clinton ahead there by an astonishing 26 points. MT may be closer than earlier expected as well.
But the real issue for Obama is how rapidly he gains the superdelegate endorsements that will certainly, within a few days if not tonight, put him across the threshold of the 2,118 delegates needed to claim a majority. According to a good Washington Post summary of the state of the race, Obama’s also planning a big northern Virginia rally for Thursday night, where he can show off some new big-name superdelegate supporters, and formally claim victory if he doesn’t do so tonight.
The Clinton camp has put out a variety of mixed signals about what she plans to say and do tonight, and in the days just ahead: she can stay in, withdraw and endorse Obama, or (and I’ve thought for a while this was where she was heading) “suspend” active campaigning while keeping her options open for Denver. There’s no particular reason to think she’ll do anything until Obama’s nailed down a majority, but at that point, a suspension would enable her to keep up a quiet but intense campaign among superdelegates; consider support for a MI or FL Credentials Committee challenge of the DNC decision to halve their voting strength; and most of all, hope for a raft of polls showing Obama in deep trouble in the general election. She could also, of course, withdraw at any point between now and the Convention, particularly if Obama’s general election prospects actually rise, and pressure from party poohbahs for a unity gesture and a “healing” interval become intense.
It’s not at all clear what impact HRC’s immediate plans will have on her core supporters, particularly those who have become convinced of late that she’s been unfairly denied the nomination by media bias for Obama and/or premature pressure to end her campaign. But the signals both candidate send tonight and over the next week or so will be carefully watched by the considerable array of party leaders who want the competition to be over, and any competitor to the putative nominee out.

One comment on “Over and Out?

  1. steve duncan on

    Hillary unfortunately has many supporters that will not heed a call to support Obama, even a personal plea from her very lips. Democrats need their votes in what may be a very hotly contested election. Even worse I fear a great many will actually vote for McCain rather than sit out the ballot, a mindless act of self destruction I personally can’t fathom. The danger of handing Republicans a solid majority of SCOTUS is reason enough to swallow your bile and vote for Obama. Many make fun of Democrats for being their own worst enemies, a charge we’re quick to refute. On what grounds we’re staking our refutations I’m not sure.

    Reply

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