Thursday, February 07, 2008

Obama wins Super Tuesday, Hillary on the ropes

As expected, the two candidates for the Democratic nomination split the delegates Tuesday night, and have more or less the same number of delegates pledged, giving the race the appearance of a tie heading into the next round of primaries and caucuses.

The reality of the situation however is that Obama is in a much stronger position going forward, and has the momentum and the cash needed to close the deal. The first important point to note is that Obama did much better than Hillary on Super Tuesday. Where as Obama had been predicted to win 8 or 9 states, he actually won 12, many of those by huge margins. Hillary by contrast narrowly avoided disaster, winning only 8 states, and with only Arkansas and California backing her by more than a small majority.

The second big issue and problem for Hillary is fund raising. Obama has been out-raising her by a 2-to-1 ratio for some time, and her campaign has run so short of cash that she has had to loan herself $5 million and force some senior staff to work without pay. Worse, Hillary has long raised a lot of funds from a relatively small number of wealthy donors who have already given her the maximum legal amount.

The final important consideration, and the one will likely seal the deal for Obama, is that he is favored to win all the primaries and caucuses taking place in the next month. Here's the schedule.

Saturday 2/9: Louisiana primary, Nebraska caucus, Washington caucus
Sunday 2/10: Maine caucus
Tuesday 2/12: DC, Maryland and Virginia primaries
Tuesday 2/19: Hawaii caucus, Wisconsin primary

This group could hardly be more favorable to Obama. 4 of the 9 are caucuses, and he has in fact won every contest so far in states with caucuses. Obama has also dominated the upper Midwest, as well as states with large African-American populations.

If Hillary does in fact lose all 9 contests, the pressure will be heavy on her to drop out of the race. Her strategy now is to win somewhere in the next month, and survive at least until “mini-Super Tuesday” on March 4. On that day, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont will hold primaries. Hillary has some advantages here, and if she can score a couple of wins she may be able to carry her campaign all the way to the convention.

On the Republican side, I can best summarize the situation by quoting conservative columnist Tony Blankley. He correctly observes that McCain's now certain nomination represents “the first time in living memory that a Republican presidential nomination went to a candidate who was not merely opposed by a majority of the party but was actively despised by about half its rank-and-file voters across the country -- and by many, if not most, of its congressional officeholders.”

For my part, I will be representing the Obama campaign at the Washington caucuses this Saturday as precinct captain for the 43rd district, precinct 2113. Yes we can!

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