Friday, March 21, 2008

No realistic path for Clinton to win Democratic nomination

From Politico:
One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.
The article goes on to discuss the media psychology behind pushing this notion of this race as something close to even right now. But let's analyze just this point.

Slate's delegate calculator shows that Sen. Clinton must win the next 10 Democratic primaries by a wholly improbable 28 point-margin of victory in order to catch Sen. Obama in pledged delegates. She'd also have to win unrealistically big in each state to overtake him in the popular vote, especially with no re-votes forthcoming in Florida and Michigan.

Despite the Clinton camp's effort to use the Rev. Wright controversy (which isn't working with voters) to influence the super delegates in overturning the results of the primaries, longtime Clinton appointee and friend Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama after he gave his historic speech on race this past Tuesday. This reflects another trend of momentum on the side of the supers, as Obama has gained almost 50 since Super Tuesday and Clinton barely escaped having a net loss (and her overall lead among super delegates is actually due to the support of un-elected party members, while Senators, Governors, and Congresspersons are actually split between the two candidates). And while Richardson didn't explicitly call for Clinton to exit the race, he did say that Obama was the clear front runner and that Democrats ought to start uniting behind a nominee.

So, as the above articles state, Hillary Clinton faces a situation in which the only way she can win is by taking Obama's comments on race out of context (and hypocritical coming from the right) and questioning his patriotism and asserting he hasn't passed some "commander-in-chief" test and hoping they can convince party elites to overturn the will of voters. This will, of course, assure that African Americans, legions of young and/or apathetic voters, and well, pretty much most people who supported Obama in the primaries won't vote for Hillary Clinton making winning the nomination no more than a Pyrrhic victory for her.

Hillary Clinton has a right to stay through the last primaries on June 3rd, but if she fails to meet the hurdles required to overtake Barack Obama she needs to drop out. Trying to convince the supers to overturn the popular will is not acceptable, and she couldn't win the general election afterward anyway. But given the actions of the campaign so far, it does not look likely she will choose to exit this gracefully and avoid a brokered convention in August (unless super delegates make their decision known in June). In the interest of having a Democratic nominee who can beat John McCain in November, let us hope her campaign comes around and does not choose to take the entire party down with them.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

I agree that it's fair for Clinton resist calls that she drop out before the primaries are even ended. As close as this race has been, she has the right to see it through to the end, and in truth voters in the remaining primary states should have the right to vote for her if they wish. But it's true that her route to the White House is a long shot at best, and once it becomes clear that she can neither surmount Obama's lead in the delegate totals and the total popular vote, she should concede. And that should come well before August.