Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Morning of Ohio and Texas

It's the AM of Tuesday March 4th, and very likely that by tonight we will know who the Democratic nominee will be. Specifics first: if Obama wins today, even by narrow margins, he'll be the nominee. If he wins by large margins, and does well among whites, women, older voters, less-educated and union voters, he's unstoppable (and perhaps for the national election as well). If Clinton wins today it's not that decisive, but does spell trouble for Obama, as in Clinton could win and the momentum would be changed. The polls suggest that things are very close, with a slight edge if any for Obama (and closeness is good for Obama). In an earlier post I predicted that Clinton would win on Super Tuesday (now fading in the rear-view mirror), and I was wrong. Obama has since then completely dominated the field. But I can't resist pointing out that the media has been dead-set against her, and the Obama campaign has four times as much money, and Clinton is still very much in it. For all that people constantly refer to the Clintons as insiders and cynical establishmentarians, there is no doubt, looking at today's polls, that Clinton is a candidate of the people. Millions of voters have stuck with her, and a poll number getting a lot of play on cable talk this morning is the huge number of people who opine that she should stay in. Tonight will tell the tale, and I'll be posting tomorrow morning, one way or another. Thomas Hobbes said that intelligence was the one resource of which we know we have no shortage, since everyone is satisfied with their share. It's possible that the tipping point was past some time ago and that Obama is already inevitable. But I think that Clinton is still alive. But only if the voters defy these polls and hand her bigger margins than expected.
Meanwhile the question of the Democratic running mate continues to be exciting, also because of the Hillary factor. In earlier posts I've pointed out that if Obama wins the nomination, he pretty definitely needs to pick a woman for his running mate (not out of any abstract sense of justice, which isn't how politics works: the Democrat needs to make the gender gap work to win the election, period). I've been assuming that that running mate won't be Clinton, since Obama would, all other things being equal, be happier without her. But earlier I would have said happier and better off. The old argument was that Clinton's negatives were large enough to counterbalance the loyalties of her supporters. But now the race has unexpectedly (by me, anyway) gone into this protracted, overtime phase. And that starts to look like a case for Hillary as running mate, if she's taking it to the wire with something near half of the votes and half of the delegates (and that's half of the historically high turnout, too). I'm not saying that Obama must accept Hillary on his ticket, like it or not, but the case for her is much stronger now than it was a month ago. Otherwise I like Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, or Kathleen Sebelius.

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