Saturday, March 08, 2008

Clinton's Strategy: Rewrite the Rules

In the four states that voted this past week, Obama and Clinton earned an even split of the awarded delegates. And despite what you may have heard from the major media sources, Obama actually won Texas. There are 11 states and territories left to vote between next Tuesday and June 3rd, and it is mathematically impossible for Hillary to catch up to Obama's delegate lead.

So...what's she doing?

Unfortunately, it is also impossible for Obama to secure enough delegates by convention time to lock up the nomination. In order to become the nominee, either candidate will need considerable support from those current or former elected officeholders and party officials known as superdelegates.

Hillary's strategy is to bend the rules to her advantage to pick up additional primary delegates and to convince the superdelegates to support her for the nomination.

The key to this strategy is Michigan and Florida. Both states were stripped of their delegates for holding their primaries earlier than February 5. Clinton won the non-competitive votes in both states, so she of course would love for the Party to change its mind about seating the delegates. The Democratic National Committee has recently said that both states are free to hold new contests, and both appear to be moving in that direction. Michigan is considering a caucus, while Florida may hold a primary vote by mail. Clinton has recently said that she “would not accept” a caucus. That's no surprise, considering that there have been 15 caucuses so far, and she's won only one.

Clinton would also like to arrive at the Convention with a larger popular vote total than Obama. Right now she trails him only narrowly in the total number of votes from all contests. The rest of the primary schedule isn't particularly favorable to her. Hillary has another card up her sleeve however: she's beginning to pick up votes from Republicans who are voting for her in the Democratic contests because she would likely be the weaker candidate in the general election in November.

I'm not bothered that this hasn't been settled yet. We still have two strong candidates criss-crossing the country, spreading the Democratic message. Meanwhile, the Republicans are out of the spotlight. The best they can manage for media exposure right now are public spectacles where George W. Bush smugly reminds the public that John McCain will continue his unpopular policies. Good luck with that, John.

Also today, a huge victory in Illinois! Physicist Bill Foster won an upset victory to pickup the 14th Congressional District for the Democrats. This was former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert's seat. Republicans put a lot of effort in trying to prevent this seat from going Democratic. Hopefully, this is a harbinger of things to come this November.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

March 4 preview: Obama likely to knock Clinton out of the ring

Four states go to the polls on Tuesday, and conventional wisdom has it that Hillary must win Ohio and Texas or concede the nomination to Obama.

Polls show Obama with a small lead in Texas, and a small lead for Clinton in Ohio. I found an interesting analysis that suggests that in the contests so far, Clinton has performed more or less consistent with the polls, while Obama has on average outperformed his poll numbers by a considerable margin. I'm predicting that Obama will carry Texas comfortably, and Ohio will go right down the wire. Either way, it's going to be time for Hillary to go home.

Update on the congressional races:
I did a state-by-state analysis today, and I'm increasing the number of seats I expect Democrats to pick up in the U.S. House to 14, up from my prediction last fall of 8-10. This is due principally to the fact that, as expected, an ever growing number of Republican incumbents who might be expected to have tough reelection battles are instead opting to retire.

On the Senate side, I'm still confident that Democrats will pick up five seats, possibly more. I was most pleased to see that Al Franken is already leading incumbent Republican Norm Coleman in Minnesota. If Franken is leading this early, probably the only way he can lose is if McCain picks Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty as his running mate.