Monday, March 10, 2008

Idle Hands

It seems inevitable that the Democratic voters in Michigan and Florida will get a chance to vote again before the convention. I did a run down of all the remaining scheduled contests last week, but I left out Florida and Michigan. I have no idea when they'll take place, but the Clinton campaign is working feverishly to make sure that both states get a do over.

I know that they are both a long way off, but I just wanted to make sure that I made predictions for them as well.

Florida - Clinton 10 55-45. Florida is full of the type of voters who love Hillary. The panhandle is Hillary country and the retirees are Hillary voters and we already know about the Hispanics. Obama will have to do a lot of work in order to come within 10 points of her here, unless they have a caucus (but the Clinton campaign would never agree to that).

Michigan - Clinton - 51-49. She will win a close victory there, but because of the Obama supporters being concentrated in the big cities, he should come out of there with a win in the delegate count.

So that's about the size of it out of the 13 remaining contests, Hillary should win 7 to Obama's 6 (or 8 to 5 depending on Guam). By the way, I know that the press will make a huge deal out of Pennsylvania, but the last remaining real test on the regular calendar is May 6th. On that day Indiana and North Carolina go to the polls and combined they have more delegates than Pennsylvania. The reason that day is so important is because it is perhaps the last chance for either candidate to pull off a real "upset". Indiana, given it's location and demographic makeup, should be solid Clinton territory and North Carolina, with it's large African American population and highly educated and high income population centers, should be fertile ground for Obama.

If either one can pull off a victory in the others "backyard" (so to speak), then it would signal that one of the campaigns may be in real trouble. Clinton has a real chance to grab the reigns of the campaign with a victory in North Carolina. She will have won Pennsylvania (and potentially Guam) leading up to that vote if she could sweep the primaries on that day, she will essentially deny Obama a victory for two and a half months. West Virgina will go for her by a very large margin (20+ points) and so will Kentucky. That would leave Oregon on May 20th as Obama's firewall (to borrow a phrase).

The next six contests line up very well for Hillary Clinton, and although Obama's delegate lead may not be greatly affected, a win by Clinton in North Carolina would deliver a serious blow to Obama's chances. This is why the forgotten John Edwards can play a huge part in this race. His endorsement, which was so highly sought by both candidates just a month ago, will once again become the 800lb Gorilla in the room. I am sure that both campaigns have started their full court press to try and secure his support. It could mean the difference between Obama stemming the tide or Hillary essentially being able to make a very credible argument to the super delegates at the convention. Edwards' strength with white males is critical to both candidates. Obama has shown that he can carry them (in a state like NC), but an endorsement of Hillary may just swing that vote in her favor.

It is time for Obama to start questioning Hillary's tactics. In the next debate (and there will be at least two before the Pennsylvania primary), he needs to ask her whether she is interested in a Democrat winning the election in November or just interested in beating him. I think her recent comments about her and John McCain crossing the "commander-in-chief threshold" (WTF is that????) are ridiculous and he needs to call her on that. It is something that is much better done in a face to face format. Trading barbs through speeches is not as effective as confronting her in a debate format. He needs to question her 35 years of "experience". He needs to question her claims that she played a major part in brokering peace in Northern Ireland and in Kosovo. He needs to point out that he has been an elected official longer than she has. He needs to ask whether working on the board of Wal-Mart or badgering a 12 year old victim of a sexual assault counts as "experience". She touts the courage in took to fly into Bosnia when it was too dangerous for the President, but apparently Cheryl Crow and Sinbad had the same level of courage, since they were both on that trip. The next debate could be a turning point of his campaign or it could just be another boring recapitulation of their positions. He shouldn't allow that to happen. It is not "going negative" to question statements that the other candidate has made. He feels that he is walking a fine line of being a "new" type of candidate and becoming just another candidate who will use negative tactics to win an election , but when his opponent has based her entire campaign on series of statements that may or may not be true, it is fair game to question her on those.

Six weeks is a long time to go between contests. If you think the campaigns have been silly before, you just wait and see the kind of nonsense that takes place over the next six weeks. You know what they say about idle hands.

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