Friday, March 07, 2008

The Clinton campaign is rejuvenated, the Obama campaign is on the ropes, and blah blah blah. But here's the thing: as I've said in the past, I really have a hard time picturing the superdelegates choosing to overrule the pledged delegates on this. My strong feeling is that whoever comes into the convention with a pledged-delegate lead is going to get the nomination. (Though clearly my strong feelings aren't worth a hill o' really, really cheap beans; and I should also note that the strength of this particular feeling lessens as the two candidates get closer and closer in pledged-delegate totals.)

At this point, there are a total of 747 outstanding pledged delegates. Current breakdowns vary by a few here or there, but they pretty much unanimously give Obama a pledged delegate lead of between 120 and 160; for the sake of the middle-ground, let's use the AP, which puts it at 1,360-1,220, Obama.

So it comes down to a basic word problem. We know that there are 747 delegates, and we know that in order to take the lead (or at least tie), Clinton would need to earn 140 more delegates than Obama does: so XC + (XO + 140) =747. 747 - 140 = 607, and 607/2 = 303.5. 303.5 + 140 = 443.5, and then you divide: 443.5 / 747 = 59.4%; 303.5 / 747 = 40.6%. In other words, Clinton has to win the remaining primaries by a margin of at least 59-41.

So the Clinton campaign is now hoping for one of three unlikely eventualities:
1. She wins 59-41 the rest of the way. Clinton winning every remaining state? That's hard to imagine. Clinton winning every remaining state by a cumulative score of 59-41? That's downright unfathomable.
2. Michigan and Florida are seated, and vote according to their current primary results. It's actually looking pretty likely that both states will be seated at the convention, but how they'll vote remains to be seen. The fairest way would be to force them to vote 50-50 (which I think should be called the "All-Time QB" option), second- or third-fairest would be to hold new elections, and then somewhere around eightieth- or eighty-first-fairest would be to allow them to vote according to the primaries they've already conducted.
3. The superdelegates override the pledged delegates and swing the race to Clinton. As I said, I don't think this'll happen no matter what. But if Obama heads into the convention with a 100-delegate lead, not only will it become politically difficult for Clinton supporters to gin up the support necessary for an override, it'll become quite logistically difficult, as well. There are only about 800 superdelegates, remember. Overcoming a 100-delegate margin would require Clinton to carry the superdelegates to the tune of 12 or 13 points. Right now, without any of the political pressure that'll come with the convention, she's only managing to hold a superdelegate lead of about 8 points. (And even that's weakened in recent weeks.)

Unless one of those three comes true, Hillary Clinton cannot win. And though, as I said, I am utterly incapable of making an accurate prediction about anything, you have to figure the odds on each of those are pretty long. If Clinton would agree to some sort of a d├ętente for the next six weeks -- some sort of "why can't we all just get along" campaign theme -- I'd have no objection to her sticking around and taking her chances. But if she's going to spend the next six weeks swinging hard, then my patience is pretty much up. She's damaging her future, she's damaging the party, and she may very well be damaging [menacing sound effect]... the world.

[Unrelatedly: Tom Daschle was rockin' the open-collared shirt on The Daily Show tonight. Doesn't sound like it'd be weird, but trust me: it was.]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rosa Brooks calls Hillary Clinton (on the red phone):

Here it is at last, Hillary, a genuine test of your ability to lead in a dangerous world. It's too late for you to win the Democratic nomination -- but if you stay in the race, you can sure help Obama lose the White House.

What are you going to do?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Here's a question. (And in the style of Tim Russert, this is not a hypothetical! This is reality!)

Suppose Clinton stays in the race through at least Pennsylvania.
Suppose that during the next month, she takes big swings at Obama, wounding him in the process.
Suppose that Clinton eventually loses, and the nomination goes to Obama.
And suppose that Obama -- wounded from the long primary -- loses to McCain in the general.

Just how angry do you suppose Democrats will be? "She's a jerk, but I'll forget about it in two years" angry? "I can't believe she did that, and I look forward to donating money to her primary opponent in New York in 2012" angry? "Holy shit, she's doomed the planet, she is dead to me" angry? Or "Holy shit, the Clintons have doomed the planet, they are both dead to me" angry?

[I think I'd be somewhere between 3 and 4.]

Before the exits start coming in, here's the official Purple State prediction (which I actually first made yesterday morning, and in which I now have relatively little confidence [but which I'm sticking with, because people who stick to their guns are admirable]):

  • Texas: Obama by 7-8
  • Ohio: Obama by 1-2
  • Vermont and Rhode Island: Obama by 65
Mark my words.

(And then forget them when they turn out to be wrong.)

Update: I hate politics.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I saw a clip of this yesterday, and actually had to rewind it because I couldn't believe that she'd just said what I thought she said. Quoth the Clinton:

I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.
As Rachel Maddow put it, "That's what you say when you want to be John McCain's Vice Presidential choice. That's not what you say when you are trying to become the democratic nominee for president." Good grief.

Ah, the justice system:

Mr. Moussaoui’s lawyers urged him not to plead guilty, but they could not tell him why.

"Incredibly," the brief said, "defense counsel had evidence specifically found to be material and exculpatory as to Moussaoui, but at the time of the plea his lawyers could not discuss that evidence or even tell Moussaoui it existed. No plea can be knowing and counseled under these circumstances."

A surprisingly interesting story about the origins of the term "maverick."

This is a bit old, but it's worth mentioning (since it may not be particularly germane after, say, tomorrow): Geraldine Ferraro, one of the original members of the Hunt Commission (the group that created the superdelegate system twenty years ago), argues convincingly that "the superdelegates were created to lead, not to follow." But then she goes a bit off the deep end:

But if they are actually upset over the diminished clout of rank-and-file Democrats in the presidential nominating process, then I would love to see them agitating to force the party to seat the delegates elected by the voters in Florida and Michigan. In those two states, the votes of thousands of rank-and-file party members will not be counted because their states voted on dates earlier than those authorized by the national party.

Because both states went strongly for Mrs. Clinton, standing up for the voices of grassroots Democrats in Florida and Michigan would prove the integrity of the superdelegate-bashers. The people of those states surely don’t deserve to be disenfranchised simply because the leaders of their state parties brought them to the polls on a day that had not been endorsed by the leaders of our national party — a slight the voters might not easily forget in November.
I seriously don't understand how the whole "count Michigan and Florida" thing is actually a legitimate argument. Obama wasn't even on the ballot in one of those states. Either the Clinton-boosters who are pushing this thing have lost their minds, or they're being intellectually weasely, and neither of those eithers would be particularly encouraging.

A picture is worth a thousand words. (And in this particular case, approximately nine hundred and ninety-seven of them are "oof.")

Sunday talk show roundup!

Face the Nation

  • Evan Bayh wants to be vice president so badly that he can taste it.
  • Chris Dodd doesn't really want to be vice president (but he kinda does).
  • Bill Richardson did such a good job pretending that he didn't want to be vice president that I think he actually surprised himself. Also, he thinks politicians endorsing politicians is stupid. But he still might do it. (But he thinks it's stupid.) (But he still might do it.)
This Week
  • I'm getting pretty tired of these Wolfson/Axelrod back-and-forths. They don't really accomplish anything, and they seem to invariably devolve into twenty minutes of whining ("No, you're the bigger liar." "No, you're the bigger liar." "No, listen, you're my good friend, but you're the bigger liar, here, and you know it." "Well, I appreciate that, and you're my very good friend, but I must insist that you're the one who is the bigger liar, by a wide margin.").
Meet the Press
  • [Hosted a panel consisting of James Carville, Bob Shrum, Mary Matalin, and Mike Murphy, and like hell I'm going to watch that.]