February 6, 2008
POLITICS: Selected, Not Elected
Allahpundit looks at an analysis by Chris Bowers of OpenLeft (who is, obviously, no right-winger) admitting that the Democrats, with typical foresight, have created a situation in which it was, even before yesterday's results, essentially impossible for either of their candidates to clinch the nomination by winning primaries and caucuses. Thus, unless either Hillary or Obama concedes a winnable race for the good of the party (shall we take bets on the odds on the Clintons relinquishing power for the greater good? Anyone remember 1998?), the Democratic presidential nominee will not be elected by the voters but will be selected by the "superdelegates" (the party elite) and/or through machinations at the convention (mark your calendars - August 25!):
Here was Bowers' analysis on Monday - note that the split in delegates last night only exacerbates this:
+With Michigan and Florida removed from the equation, 2,025 delegates are required to win the nomination, and there are 3,253 pledged delegates.
+To date, four states with a combined 137 pledged delegates have held nominating contests.
+Currently, Barack Obama is projected with 63 pledged delegates, and Hillary Clinton is projected with 48 (source).
On Super Tuesday, 22 states and a couple territories with a combined 1,688 pledged delegates will hold nominating contests.
From this point, quick math shows that after Super Tuesday, only 1,428 pledged delegates will still be available. Now, here is where the problem shows up. According to current polling averages, the largest possible victory for either candidate on Super Tuesday will be Clinton 889 pledged delegates, to 799 pledged delegates for Obama. (In all likelihood, the winning margin will be lower than this, but using these numbers helps emphasize the seriousness of the situation.) As such, the largest possible pledged delegate margin Clinton can have after Super Tuesday is 937 to 862. (While it is possible Obama will lead in pledged delegates after Super Tuesday, it does not currently seem possible for Obama to have a larger lead than 75). That leaves Clinton 1,088 pledged delegates from clinching the nomination, with only 1,428 pledged delegates remaining. Thus, in order to win the nomination without the aid of super delegates, in her best-case scenario after Super Tuesday, Clinton would need to win 76.2% of all remaining pledged delegates. Given our proportional delegate system, there is simply no way that is going to happen unless Obama drops out.
Note: Hillary's actual lead, according to RCP, is now 900-824 (including pledged superdelegates), so this still holds, and of course the numbers are even starker for Obama. And it gets better:
Given that Michigan and Florida combine for 313 pledged delegates, it is likely that this situation won't be resolved without severe bureaucratic fighting on the DNC rules and by-laws committee, or even a credential fight at the convention itself.
And why should either candidate drop out? Clinton has a large lead in super delegates, and can make a real argument over the Michigan and Florida delegations. Obama, by contrast, will probably lead in pledged delegates at the end of February, and will be able to raise significantly more money than Clinton. And so, we are at an impasse.
I think [Bowers is] right about how the Democrats are going to handle this. Call it a party version of the "national popular vote" initiative. If the super delegates won't bind themselves to vote as a bloc, the pressure on whoever trails next month to drop out and avoid a convention fight will be enormous, thus raising the tantalizing prospect of a melodrama where Hillary has to commit hara kiri because the party establishment, of all things, simply doesn't love her anymore. Dude. Dude.
Popcorn. Stock up on it.
H/T Patterico. The Politico's Roger Simon has more here.
Realistically, if Obama falls behind by a supstantial amounts of delegates, I'm sure he'll be pressured to pull out and wait for next time. And if Hillary falls behind, her money will dry up. So it's only if they remain almost totally in lockstep that this becomes an issue.
Hillary!'s money has started to dry up already. She loaned her campaign $5 million last month to keep fighting for change. If money continues to dry up, Bill just needs to head on a quick speaking tour and the money problem will be solved. Hillary! can't stop, because she knows she won't have another shot.
I stand by my earlier statement about Obama. The scenarios as I see it:
1. McCain v. Clinton. Obama loses either in the primaries or at the convention. He then builds a large national organization, and is ready to win in 2012. Because McCain will beat Clinton. Enough of the far right will finally grow up and realize that McCain is more one of you than Clinton, except for idiots who object to his "language" (of of course those are assholes who didn't spend 5 years with free room and board at the Hanoi Hilton.
2. McCain v. Obama. This would be amazing, if Obama can beat a Clinton. He will still lose, but I think will run again and win in 2012.
3. Huckabee or Romney v. Clinton: Clinton wins. She gets the undecideds, and the right of center voters, because she really is a better choice than an idiot who doesn't believe in evolution and a guy who paints his hair and doesn't believe in anything (neither does Clinton, but she is better at it).
4. Huck/Romney v. Obama: A barnburner, the race card comes out, but I think Obama wins this one too. Same reason.
So I still see McCain as a one term president and Obama as the 2012 winner.
I don't see McCain beating anyone. He's cranky, old, kind of nutty and as seen here not well liked by either the base or the party machinery. I think he would go Bob Dole in the campaign and people would be hesitant to put in a 75 year old, cantankerous guy who turns people off on both sides of the aisle. I think it would be close between him and Clinton. I think Obama would crush him.
Whether McCain can win would really depend, I think, on which disaffected factions switch sides or stay home. If Huckabee or someone else with religious conservative credentials isn't on the ticket, I'd think that McCain would suffer a lot of stay-at-homes from that group. If Obama isn't either on the top or the bottom of the ticket, a lot of blacks are likely to stay home. And if Obama wins, I think the Democrats would risk losing older voters to McCain. Although older voters are probably also the most likely to rule McCain out for being too old.
McCain vs. Clinton: McCain because the Republicans will all vote for McCain (even the conservates), middle of the road Democrats will vote for McCain because they have had enough of the Clintons. The media might even play up the Clinton dirty laundry. You can bet a few meltdowns by both candidates!
McCain vs. Obama: We all lose. Cranky old man vs. Inexperienced Liberal-not much of choice. McCain might meltdown a few times. Mdeia pushes Obama.
Huckabee or Romney v. Clinton: Clinton win going away with the Media's help.
Huck/Romney v. Obama:Media pushes Obama all the way to the White House. Media trashes Huck/Romney as bad as they did Bush in 2004.
Lee, the liberal media's at your door. Go grab a tissue. We'll all play the tiny violin for you.