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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Phantom Insurgency

I would normally not annoy readers with yet another smackdown of yet another bout of vague talk about Democrats denying Barack Obama renomination in 2012. But the vague talker in this case is an Iowa State University poli sci professor who blogs for the Des Moines Register, has an East Coast megaphone via WNYC, and is reporting that New Hampshire Democrats are begging their ancient rivals the Iowans to launch an effort to draft another candidate, perhaps Hillary Clinton. And all this intel from Steffen Schmidt has been picked up by the influential aggregator RealClearPolitics.
Where to begin? According to Schmidt, New Hampshirites are telling Iowans to create a “write-in candidacy” in the Caucuses for Hillary Clinton. As I am sure the professor understands, you do not really have “write-in” candidates in the Iowa Caucuses. People show up, separate themselves by candidate affinity groups, and recombine once threshold levels are applied to candidates who are deemed viable for the next level in the delegate selection process. There is no secret ballot, and in fact, no real ballot (just raised hands), so it’s the least hospitable environment imaginable for a “write-in” candidate, or really for any development that is not methodically organized by an actual candidate.
Of equal importance, Hillary Clinton has emphatically showed zero interest in running (despite the vast internet chum being tossed onto the waters by PUMAs and conservatives) and even if she was, she’s far from being a suitable vehicle for left-bent critics of Obama.
And finally (sorry for the redundancy there, but it’s apparently essential), there remains no significant evidence of the kind of grassroots Democratic revolt against Obama that would be an absolute minimum threshold qualification for a credible challenge to his renomination.
According to the latest Gallup weekly tracking poll on presidential job approval, Obama is stuck at an all-time low of 40%. But he’s at 79% among self-identified Democrats and 82% among self-identified liberal Democrats. He’s also back up to 88% among African-Americans, who may not matter much in Iowa or New Hampshire, but sure would be crucial later on to any left-bent challenge to Obama.
I know there are a significant number of readers of this site who would love to see a primary challenge to Obama, but in reality, folks, at present there is no candidate and no actual, voting constituency for such an unusual revolt.
As for Dr. Schmidt’s strange, expert certainty, based on conversations over drinks, that New Hampshire and Iowa Democrats are getting ready to dump Obama, I just have to say the analysis is worth the thought he seems to have put into it. And I’d note that Schmidt’s last big pronouncement back in May was that he it was a lead-pipe certainty Sarah Palin was running for president. If and when that transpires, maybe it would be time to take a second look at his predictions of an Iowa-New Hampshire collaboration to replace Barack Obama with Hillary Clinton.

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