O.K., NOW, I’m Bitter
Just kidding. Last night’s victory for Sen. Clinton (D-NY) in PA, while disappointing, was expected. In fact, given the non-stop smear campaign by Clinton and surrogates, by the G.O.P., and by the media (especially so called “debate moderators” at ABC), Sen. Obama did surprisingly well. Sen. Clinton did not win by a large enough margin to close the gap with Obama’s delegate count, nor his lead in the popular vote–and so have a convincing argument for the remaining superdelegates. (Early count suggests she won 84 pledged delegates last night and Obama won 74, which should still put her over 150 delegates behind.) She needs something on the order of 85% of all remaining primary votes, winning all the remaining Democratic primaries by over 20%, to catch Obama’s lead. Not gonna happen.
Here’s the remaining primary schedule:
03 May Guam caucuses (Obama favored: 4 pledged delegates at stake).
06 May Indiana and North Carolina primaries. (Obama is, depending on polls, 11 to 15 points ahead of Clinton in North Carolina, with 115 pledged delegates at stake. Indiana could be close. Northern Indiana is Obama country and Southern Indiana is Clinton territory. But, so far, Obama is in the lead by 7-11 points, depending on poll. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), a Clinton superdelegate and probably on her short list for running mate, has been campaigning hard for her on TV ads–which spill over into KY viewing area, but Obama is also picking up influential Indiana surrogate support, including that of former Indiana Sen. Lee Hamilton (D-IN)–whose seat Bayh occupies–co-chair of the Iraq Study Group (that Bush/McCain failed to heed). Hamilton has plenty of influence and shores up Obama’s foreign policy credentials. 72 pledged delegates are at stake in Indiana.)
13 May West Virginia primary. (28 pledged delegates are at stake. The white, rural nature of WV favors Clinton, but, unlike in PA there are no areas of “ethnic whites,” whites whose primary identities are still Romanian or Polish or Irish or Italian, etc. It is in those “ethnic white” states–except for Illinois–that Obama has struggled most to win white votes. Clinton is still favored here, but an endorsement for Obama from either Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) or, even better, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), or both, could swing this for Obama. Neither WV senator has yet endorsed a candidate, but Byrd is probably being lobbied by both. He has strong ties to the Clintons, but he has warmly welcomed Obama to the senate and is eager to show the world outside of WV just how far he has repented from his early career as a segregationist. WV is Clinton-friendly, but not out of reach for Obama.)
20 May Kentucky and Oregon primaries (Everything said about WV could be repeated in KY. Obama is favored in Louisville and Lexington, but Clinton is stronger in rural and small town KY, and Obama must cut into her lead there to win KY. So far, the only KY superdelegate to endorse is Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) of Louisville, who is an Obama supporter. If Greg Stumbo (D), state rep. and former state attorney, were to endorse Obama or Rep. Ben Chandler, it would go a long way. But Obama needs to visit Eastern KY, highlight the problem of Appalachian poverty, talk about mine safety under GOP deregulation, about ways to save our mountains without losing jobs, ways to help small farmers as big tobacco declines–those issues can win over enough of KY for a win. KY only has 8% African-American pop., and most of it is concentrated in Louisville. 51 pledged delegates at stake. Oregan, by contrast, should go heavily for Obama with 52 delegates at stake.)
01 June Puerto Rico primary. (55 delegates at stake. I don’t know who is favored here. Clinton has had a lead on Latinos generally, but has lost the Latino vote in CO and UT and IL, divided it evenly in NM, and won it only by 55% in TX. Obama has won all of the U.S. territories so far except American Samoa. )
03 June Montana and South Dakota primaries (16 pledged delegates available in MT, 15 in SD. Obama has done well in these Mid-West “Red” states and I think he will win, at least, South Dakota.)
And that’s it. Even if Obama only wins North Carolina and Oregon remaining, he would finish with the most pledged delegates and, probably, the popular vote. That leaves only Clinton’s claim that he doesn’t win most of the “big states” (but what is NC? MD? IL?) to swing superdelegates, and her claim that he cannot beat McCain–which she has now admitted that he can. She can force him to limp to victory–and possibly weaken him for the fall, but I don’t see how she can win. Her campaign is deeply in debt and his is plenty flush.
Oh, and if Clinton and Obama keep criss-crossing KY, it is bad news for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), no matter whether Greg Fischer (D) or Bruce Lunsford (D) wins the primary to take him on in the Fall. (I will vote for Fischer.) McCain and McConnell have been bitter rivals in the GOP, with McConnell trying unsuccessfully to get the Supreme Court to overturn the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, so McCain has stayed away from KY. Maybe this is the year we finally “Ditch Mitch.”
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