Tuesday, February 26, 2008

CLINTON V. OBAMA

Before the campaigns took off, it seemed to be assumed that Hillary Clinton would sweep through the primaries and receive the Democratic Party nomination for president, then be ushered gracefully into the White House, finally receiving her due and opening the way for the golden millennium of social democracy. It would not be a campaign, but a coronation.

Instead, Clinton is fighting for her life. Texas and Ohio will decide her fate. If she wins, she stays in. If she loses, she sings “It’s Cryin’ Time Again”. She practiced some on the campaign trail, so the tear ducts will be ready.

(There are 2 other states involved, but I can’t remember them. When Texas is involved, I tend to lose sight of other things. It is sort of a Church of Christ view: us and other.)

Obama has won 11 straight primary contests, polling well all across the country. Now, that’s what I call a surge. Obama leads in the delegate tally 1,362 to 1,266, as near as I can figure. It is not an exact science, as each state has different rules on how delegates are picked.

The candidates are debating again in Ohio, but it is their 20th debate. What can be said that will be new or winsome if it has not been before? Obama will say he’ll bring change. He won’t say what that means, but he’ll smile and look sincere. Hillary will say she has 35 years of experience, and people will say “at what”? Look for Hillary to put on the boxing gloves and go for a knock down, if not a knock out.

The polls for Texas and, oh yes, Ohio, have been following the trends in all of the other states. Early on, Clinton had a sizeable lead. But, as the time to vote approaches and the candidates come to the state to campaign, her lead continually fades. Obama is gaining in both the Ohio and Texas polls.

In Ohio, Obama was behind by 21 points on February 14th. By February 23, it was 9 points.

In Texas, Clinton leads by only one percentage point. With 9 percent remaining undecided, and a 4 percent margin of error, she could lose by more than 10 percent if Obama charms the Democratic crowds. Given the difference in crowd size at their appearances, the lead would seem to be greater for Obama. Then, factor in the Obamacans. These are Republicans who wanted to vote for Huckabee, but have given up the fight. They want anybody but Hillary at this point, so they will cross over and vote for Obama.

Texas has 228 total delegate votes. However, it is not winner take all based on the popular vote. The method is actually somewhat complicated. I’ll detail it in another post. There are 3 tiers of delegates. Only 193 are apportioned by popular vote.

Ohio has 162 delegates. It is expecting a large voter turnout.

Oh, yes. I remember the tiny little Northeastern states that are also on March 4 with TEXAS and Ohio. Vermont has 15 delegates and Rhode Island has 21. (I know that is not many, but, really, per square foot of land, they have more delegate concentration.)

Nationally, the news is even worse for Clinton. The CBS/New York Times poll, just released, showed Obama with a whopping 16-point lead over Clinton nationally. Clinton was down to 38 percent of Democratic primary voters. Or, put another way, 62% of Democratic voters do not want Clinton to be the nominee.

This all seems to mean that people do not like Clinton in person. When she shows up to campaign, her numbers drop. In contrast, people love Obama in person. He charms. His numbers go up. This is no sign that he would be a good president, but Americans are long on style and short on substance much of the time. Didn’t P. T. Barnum say you could never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people? And what resembles a circus more than campaign season?

Even Clinton’s attempts to smear Obama have backfired. Clinton is a professional smearer. Just ask the women who claimed to have been abused or harassed by her husband. It is not, however, working on Obama. Obama is the new Teflon. Just look at the latest attempt, releasing a picture of Obama in African dress. Why would the Clinton campaign do that? It can only be to imply that he is foreign. Now Clinton looks like a racist. No one sent pictures of Kerry in Pilgrim attire. Ok, there were some pictures of Kuckoonich in a space suit, but no one minded, including him. Of course, Democrats have always liked Blacks better when they just pulled the lever and did not make noise.

While Clinton looked desperate and shady in this last attack, Obama picked up another endorsement. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut endorsed him, bringing some additional support from the Democratic establishment. It is true that only three people wanted to vote for Dodd for president, but he is a senator from a small northeastern state close to New York, where Clinton bought a house so she could run for the Senate. "He's ready to be president and I am ready to support him in this campaign" Dodd said. Add that to the senator from another tiny northeastern state who married well and served in Vietnam, and New England is no longer Clinton’s playground.

Another help for Obama is a recent poll showing him the favorite over John McCain, the presumptive Repbulican nominee.

It could be close, but Obama looks to be the favorite to win the Democratic nomination at this point.
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