Tuesday, March 11, 2008

straight on 'til morning

(Photo Credit, BluBet)
Commander Pavel Chekov: Course heading, Captain?
Captain James T. Kirk: Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.
Trust me, I have never been much a fan of either Star Trek or Peter Pan. This is all an artistic lead-in (well I hope so at least) to a discussion of how this crazy Democratic presidential primary ends.

And Peter's (and Capt. Kirk's) incredibly vague directions are about as precise as both candidates' end games. How does Barack Obama finish off Hillary Clinton? He was right in saying the other day that she will "not lose it on points, [he's] got to...knock[] [her] out." Yet, Obama and his campaign staff keep arguing about the point score to say that Clinton cannot possibly catch up with him in pledged delegates.

At the same time, Clinton's strategy seems to be to attempt marginalize Obama's wins and the delegate (and popular vote) lead, then complain about poor Michigan and Florida. Even if both states hold a re-vote and she wins Pennsylvania convincingly (it's possible, she currently is up 19 points)...she still won't capture a pledged delegate lead, let alone enough to win on the first ballot without the Super Delegates.

And for that matter, neither will Barack. For him to deliver that knock out blow, he could have won New Hampshire and Nevada, or Texas and/or Ohio. Now, his latest chance is Pennsylvania, which doesn't look good for him right now. If the patterns hold, he will get a lot closer, but probably won't be able to overtake her...I would guess 52-48. And that's not good enough by far, even if he still maintains a 100-150 delegate lead.

Then again, Clinton could have knocked Obama out in Iowa, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday...but also failed.

What we are looking at is two essentially equally matched opponents with tons of money, excellent field teams, and crappy surrogates. This is why the nomination seems poised to go right through every state and straight on 'til Denver. As long as they keep it civil, the whole process will help build the Democratic party in states blue, purple, and red (as well as protectorates like Guam and Peuto Rico), which can only help the party, and highlight the craziness of the nomination process (which also might lead to a good outcome--reform based off the popular vote or something far more "fair"). The worry for Democrats is that, with all the time between tomorrow and April 22, Clinton's and/or Obama's camps will get increasingly nasty and hurt the eventual nominee. And that if this does in fact go to Denver, there is little time for Democrats to get organized for the general. Remember Bush had his field team in place for 2 years prior to his reelection campaign.

Since people like sports metaphors, let's try this one out. This 2008 election cycle has the feeling of the NBA/NFL playoffs of recent years, where the Western Conference/AFC finals felt like the real Finals/Superbowl and the other conference's battle seemed to be about who had won the right to lose to the West/AFC. Now of course, the sports pundits, like political pundits, haven't always been right...just look at the Giants' victory this February. But you have to agree, the Republicans' nomination battle always played second fiddle to the Democrats'.

And I don't that was because Democrats had two "firsts"...I think it was because the political environment favors Democrats. As a result, Democrats had a very strong field, whereas the Republicans had a terrible one. If George W. Bush was still as popular as he was in 2002, the field for both parties would be very different.

No comments: