After a long layoff, voters finally became the focus of attention again as they went to the polls in Pennsylvania in the moat hotly contested Democratic campaign in my memory. Clinton went in needing a decisive victory of fifteen points or more to but a dent in Obama’s delegate lead. Obama went in needing a close result to pull the remaining super delegates into his corner. Neither happened. Clinton won, as expected, but with only a ten point margin 55%-45%, giving her only a net gain of ten delegates. How we interpret these results depends largely on whose spin you want to hear. The Huffington post has the spin from both camps plus criticism of both from the NY Times:
…The Hillary Victory Spin: Ben Smith reports that Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee at the Park Hyatt in Philadelphia said: “There’s beginning to be a subtle shift of psychology of a lot of the uncommitted supers. [They] are beginning to wonder why Obama has been unable to win this thing despite all the advantages he has.
“There’s a lot of questions that are beginning to surface about him,” he said, while superdelegates are learning that “every time she’s got her back up against the wall, she delivers.”
Here’s her victory speech, where she told a spirited rally in Philadelphia that the “tide is turning” in her nomination contest against Barack Obama.
The Spin From Obamaland: “Sen. Barack Obama was en route from Philadelphia to Evansville, Ind., when the race was called,” the Washington Post reports, “but the candidate and his advisers were all smiles when they boarded the plane, relieved that the dreaded blowout had not occurred. The news of a projected single-digit win for Clinton — a projection that might yet change — was transmitted via BlackBerrys as the campaign landed.”
“We’ve been very clear from the beginning, we didn’t come in with oversized expectations,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political adviser. “We wanted to get our share.” More here.
In Evansville, the Democratic presidential front-runner told supporters that he was able to narrow the gap in Pennsylvania, register a record number of voters and rally people of all backgrounds to his campaign. After the bruising Pennsylvania contest, Obama said bickering and tit-for-tat politics obscured the great issues of the day – two wars, a recession and a planet in peril. Watch the speech:
NYT Blames Clinton For “Mean, Vacuous, Desperate” Race: The Obama campaign is sending out a New York Times editorial released tonight that blasts Hillary Clinton — whom the Times endorsed. Here’s a sample:
The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.
Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.
If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.
The editorial also knocks Obama:
He is increasingly rising to Mrs. Clinton’s bait, undercutting his own claims that he is offering a higher more inclusive form of politics. When she criticized his comments about “bitter” voters, Mr. Obama mocked her as an Annie Oakley wannabe. All that does is remind Americans who are on the fence about his relative youth and inexperience.
… [emphasis original]
Inserted from <The Huffington Post>
I agree with both criticisms, and call on both to argue issues between themselves and save the vitriol for McConJob.
The Delegate Count:
Since I reported delegates on Sunday, Clinton has gained eight net delegates.
Overall, the Democrats will have 4049 delegates at their convention. Of those 3,253 will be pledged delegates and 796 will be super delegates. I oppose the inclusion of the super delegates, because they give roughly 20% of the power to nominate to party insiders. They include Senators, Representatives, Governors, DNC members, and other party hacks, and they are not bound to represent the will of the voters.
As time progresses, it looks more and more like the convention will be brokered with the super delegates deciding the nominee.
There’s plenty to analyze there. It’s clear that Clinton needs to improve her image with young people and Obama needs to improve his with blue collar workers.
As I see it, Clinton will not close the gap in pledged delegates, and Obama will go into the convention with a lead in that department. Unless Clinton wins the remaining primaries with decisive victories, I do not believe that the super delegates will tip the balance in her favor. Even then, it would be a toss-up, because deciding contrary to the popular will would thoroughly alienate African American voters, without whose support a November win would be tenuous at best. Therefore I think it most likely that Obama will emerge as the nominee.
In the interim, I call on the supporters of both candidates to reserve your attacks for McCain and support what’s good about your candidate.
All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus