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Superdelegate math

April 8, 2008

This graphic has been all over the progressive blogosphere and back – it’s the number of pledged delegates that Hillary has gained since Super Tuesday vs. the number Obama’s gained, 69 to -2.

In absolute numbers, it’s 221 Clinton, 209 Obama, 364 undecided/refused to respond.

I didn’t buy into the idea that Clinton was going to win through a “coup” by superdelegates. (Can we define the “will of the people” before we start throwing the word “coup” around?) The superdelegates may be able to vote for whomever they want, but that doesn’t mean that they just will. They’re elected officials, for the most part, and they have constituencies back home to talk to post-convention.

As Hillary pointed out this morning, neither candidate will have enough delegates at the end of this. But I don’t see how that means that there won’t be someone with a clear edge.

I’ve been pretty cheery about the election so far. The advantage that Obama and Hillary have had individually over McCain in terms of fundraising and the advantages Obama will have in the general with everyone hating the war and 81% of people thinking that the president is leading the country in the wrong direction. I know that money and polling aren’t as exotic of a metrics as media analysis, but let’s get real, they have predictive value.

But this article from Politico makes me rethink some of that (via Hullabaloo):

The Democratic National Committee, too, is organizing an anti-McCain campaign, but a spokeswoman, Karen Finney, said fundraising to support that effort has met “mixed” results.

So while news releases and Internet ads have been launched, the largest-bore weapon in contemporary politics — a sustained television campaign — hasn’t. That’s because, people involved say, the soft-money groups don’t have the soft money.

“Many of the people who would normally be involved in such an effort are overly focused on the primary, which is a mistake,” said Michael Vachon, a spokesman for George Soros, who is the largest individual donor to the Fund for America, which in turn has passed on at least $1.4 million to what was expected to be the main attack group, an organization called the Campaign to Defend America.

“We know we’re going to have a good Democratic nominee — it’s time for Democrats to turn their attention to John McCain,” Vachon said.

Yes, he needs to be defined by progressives early and often. And it shouldn’t be too hard to find angles to work on a guy who supported escalating troop levels in Iraq before Bush even did, who has more lobbyists in his campaign than anyone else in this primary did, and who called his wife a “cunt.” The dude’s a douchebag.

I’m torn on whether he has a chance to win. I remember being awfully distressed after 2004 because no one, and I mean no one, that I knew was supporting anyone besides Kerry. Of course, that’s a skewed sample, but even my father was voting Dem and my mother was voting for the first time.

But even someone like me can see that there’s value here in starting to work the McCain angle. I’ve been saying since December (sorry, this blog doesn’t go back far enough for me to get that in link form) that the Democrats need to find a way to hold primary contests that involve ritualized criticism of Republicans instead of each other. If the battle was to see who could berate McCain the most right now, we’d still have the primary going and we’d have Dems defining McCain early on. Instead, we have Mr. War Hero out there touring the South and talking about honor.

In the absence of such a system, it’s hard to see much benefit to her staying in.

And, yes, I’m late to that party.

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