Sunday, February 03, 2008

It's Just a Flesh Wound

A new poll came out today showing Barack Obama with a slight but statistically irrelevant lead in California. It's the first time that any poll has shown him ahead in that state. There are also other polls showing him closing the gap in Missouri and New Jersey. It appears that the endorsements last week by the Kennedy's and the momentum are helping Barack Obama. What didn't help him, or at least hasn't helped at this point is John Edwards dropping out of the race. Nationally, the Edwards vote seems to have split equally between the candidates with a small portion heading into the undecided column. What we do know about the Edwards voters at this point is that their support is fairly soft. Meaning that come election day those voters could change their minds when they cast their votes. That could make a huge difference in a few of the close states.

While it does appear that the more people see Obama, the more like him, I just don't believe that there is enough time for him to overcome the huge lead that Hillary enjoyed early on in the campaign (which amazingly was only a month ago). As I've stated before, the delegate count will not be decisive coming out of the Super Tuesday, but will make a difference is the perception that Hillary Clinton will be seen as the winner. She will win the majority of the states including the big prizes of New York, New Jersey, Missouri and California. The only big state that Obama will win is Illinois. He may also win Alabama, Colorado, Georgia and Kansas (and few other small caucus states), but it won't be enough to offset the sheer number of victories that the Clinton campaign will claim. She may exit the day with about a 100 delegate lead which will be practically impossible to overcome considering that delegates are awarded proportionately.

A lot of the so called "super delegates" have been non committal at this point and I believe that they have been waiting for the winner of the super Tuesday vote. Even though the delegates will be split, Hillary will be the winner and the super delegates are sure to follow. Delegate count and money will keep Obama in the race, but come Wednesday morning, he will know that the race is lost.

Democrats have been given a historic choice and they will have made the choice not based on policy (where they both mainly agree), but with who they feel more comfortable with heading into November. The latest polls show that Obama would actually win a head to head showdown with McCain, while Hillary would lose. However there is a long way to go between now and November. Early polls, as we have seen in this primary season, are practically useless. Just six months ago Rudy Giuliani was the overwhelming choice of Republicans and now he's out of the race after spending upwards of $50 million and winning one delegate.

Watching the pundits on TV is like watching a bunch of kids in high school climb all over themselves to heap praise upon the most popular boy in school. I don't think I've ever seen a love affair of the scale that the press in now engaged in with Obama. The press usually leans to the left, but this love affair may just be unprecedented. In the end though, I don't think it's going to matter. Obama has shown that Clinton does have chinks in her armor, but after Super Tuesday, it's Obama who is going to playing the role of Monty Python's Black Knight. His spin machine will go into high gear to try and convince America that close losses are indeed victories. He will try to convince the voters that losing a leg is "only a flesh wound". The press will eat it up and the race will go on. Obama certainly has the money to compete beyond Tuesday, but it's a damaged campaign that will head into the next primary.

There is one chance for Obama and that is if he can somehow pull off an upset in California or Missouri. California is important because of it's size and Missouri is important because they are almost never wrong. Missouri is a moderate to conservative state and like the saying about NY goes, "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere". If Obama can somehow convince the voters of that state that he is the best candidate for the Democratic party then he stands a good chance of getting to the convention with no worse than an even split of delegates. California isn't really a good indicator for the rest of the country, but they the sheer number of delegates at stake means that it will be very important in picking the next nominee. I have to say, that in my mind, it's a longshot that one or both of those states are going to go Obama's way, but then again, I have been wrong before.

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