Memo to SuperDelegates: There is No Frontrunner, the Race is Open
The latest Gallup poll shows Hillary and Obama in a statistical tie.
The results confirm Gallup's March 22 report showing that Clinton's recent lead in the race -- apparently fueled by controversy dogging the Obama campaign over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- had evaporated.
At the same time, thus far Obama has not been able to reestablish the clear frontrunner position he enjoyed in late February, and again in mid-March. As has happened so often over the past six weeks, the race among national Democratic voters has become "too close to call."
As to the popular vote, pledged delegates, super delegates, electability and electoral votes, here's some things to think about:
Peter Daou, Hillary's internet director, writes at Hillary's blog:
Myth: The delegate "math" works decisively against Hillary.
FACT: The delegate math reflects an extremely close race that either candidate can win.
"The Math" is actually very simple: with hundreds of delegates still uncommitted, NEITHER candidate has reached the number of delegates required to secure the nomination. And EITHER candidate can reach the required number in the coming weeks and months. That is indisputable. No amount of editorials, articles, blog posts, charts, graphs, calculations, formulas, or projections will change the basic fact that either candidate can win.
MYTH: For Hillary to win, super delegates must "overturn the will of the people."
FACT: The race is virtually tied, the "will of the people" is split, and both candidates need super delegates to win.
The race is virtually tied; the "will of the people" is split. By virtually every measure, Hillary and Sen. Obama are neck and neck -- separated by less than 130 of the more than 3,100 delegates committed thus far and less than 1% of the 27 million+ votes cast, including Florida and Michigan. Less than 1%.
An incremental advantage for one candidate or the other is hardly a reason for super delegates to change the rules mid-game. Despite the Obama campaign's aggressive spin and pressure, the RULES require super delegates to exercise their best independent judgment, and that is what they will do. Even Sen. Obama's top strategist agrees they should. If not, then why don't prominent Obama endorsers like Senators Kerry (MA) and Kennedy (MA), and Governors Patrick (MA), Napolitano (AZ) and Richardson (NM) follow the will of their constituents and switch their support to Hillary? After all, she won their states. And if this is truly about the "will of the people," then Sen. Obama's short-sighted tactic to run out the clock on a revote in Florida and Michigan accomplishes exactly two things: it disenfranchises Florida and Michigan's voters; and it hurts Democrats in a general election. Apparently, for the Obama campaign, the "will of the people" is just words.
Other ways to look at the race: The big states, the Republican states and electoral votes.
The Wall St. Journal (free link)on the first two:
Clinton aides are highlighting that Sen. Barack Obama has won among affluent voters in caucuses and primaries in states with small populations of Democrats -- such as Idaho and Wyoming -- and among African Americans in Republican states unlikely to turn blue in November -- such as South Carolina and Georgia.
A Clinton campaign memo released early this month noted Sen. Obama has won 10 out of the 11 core Republican states that have held primaries or caucuses this year. Wyoming, for one, the campaign later noted, hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.
Here's the map showing who's won which states so far.
Then there's the electoral vote. Sen. Evan Bayh, a Hillary supporter, told CNN the superdelegates should consider them as well:
“So who carried the states with the most Electoral College votes is an important factor to consider because ultimately, that’s how we choose the president of the United States,” Mr. Bayh said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”
....So far, Mrs. Clinton has won states with a total of 219 Electoral College votes, not counting Florida and Michigan, while Mr. Obama has won states with a total of 202 electoral votes.
One point I want to make here. The DNC requires a certain number of delegates to get the nomination. Excluding the MI and FL delegates affects the total number of delegates each candidate is entitled to claim, but it doesn't invalidate the popular vote. The DNC can't erase the more than 2 million votes. Thus, I think the superdelegates should include the MI and FL votes when counting the total popular vote in deciding who has the bigger share. Both candidates were on the Florida ballot and Floridians voted in record numbers.
Obama could have agreed to the MI revote and didn't. He withdrew from the MI race, most likely for strategic reasons, seeking to minimize a probable win by Hillary. His supporters ran radio ads in Michigan telling them to vote uncommitted. In my view, he has no right at this point to tell the superdelegates not to count the votes, regardless of what the DNC does with the delegate count.
So, Hillary's ahead in popular vote and electoral votes, in the big states and the states most likely to go Democratic in November. She's ahead in the big states that are critical for Dems in November. Obama's got a small lead in overall pledged delegates and has won more Republican states that have a slim to no chance of going blue in November.
The superdelegates need to consider who will bring it home for Democrats in November. The results so far indicate that person is Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama. [Update: Comments now closed.]
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