Thursday, May 8, 2008
The Political Hoedown
May 6th's Primaries; the Media, Judging McCain, ...and the beat goes on...
By now you know how things hashed out Tuesday night in North Carolin and Indiana. Barack won NC by about 14% (56% to 42%) and Hillary eked out a victory in IN, 51% to 49%. It took until 12:15 in the freaking morning to find out the latter, due to stonewalling by Lake County Indiana officials, including the Obama-supporing mayor of Gary, Rudolph Clay. Mayor Thomas McDermontt, Jr. of Hammond, a Clinton supporter, got into a conference call argument with Clay Tuesday night on CNN, claiming accurately that the results were all on a computer. No one was going around by hand and counting the votes. Gary's mayor, flustered, just annoyed McDermott by hamfisting an answer about lost of absentee ballots and leprechauns and so forth.
The real winner last night was the media. They've been driving this competition since Iowa, building an underdog case for Obama until he topped Hillary after Super Tuesday. Noting that ratings would drop if the Democrats had a clear choice, they muddied the waters by insisting on the "national states" strategy of Clinton, casting her as the underdog and reinforcing that with each win.
What they've given us, the citizens, the voters, is a clear path to dischord. Democrats can't be happy that their primary election is so bitter, not even thinking about the fall. Come September and October, when McCain has the full might of the GOP campaign blitz behind him, will the Dems wither to nothing, as they burned themselves out too soon?
Not that Republicans have it easy. Somewhere around 23% of voters last night cast their ballots against McCain and for Paul, Romney and Huckabee. The Senator may've clinched the nomination, but he hasn't sealed the deal with his base. He came out this week saying he wouldn't appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court, hinting at more conservative choices that frankly scare Democrats. Not that Roberts or Alito, Bush's picks, have been bad; I think Justice Roberts will stand, after his - hopefully - decades-long career on the highest bench, as one of the best up there. That is the true legacy of President Bush, a young Chief Justice. (This armchair pundit's personal opinion is that we'll be better off with that some silly legislation overturned in the next Congress.)
Expect more of the same from McCain in the next month: a gentle hush. He knows if he makes waves - news - then the sharks on the DNC will latch on to every word and whittle him down without spending a dime. Best to leave the Dems to put their own house in order, agonizingly, then give them something to distact the media from the potential implosion in their party.
Did Barack Obama win the nomination last night? According to many headlines, articles and editorials today, he did. The victory was big enough in NC and the loss miniscule in Indiana (not to mention last week's Guam win). Neither state is especially crucial in the national scheme of things, and when you break down the demographics of the state and how they hashed out for each person, nothing was a surprise. The same blocks voted for the same candidates in roughly the same amounts. These elections showed nothing new.
What they highlighted was Obama's lead. Hillary just can't overcome it. While he isn't breaking into her base, she's having little luck with his. In fact, 11% of the total Indiana vote could've been Republicans masquerading as Dems. That would be the Rush Limbaugh initiative showing its hand. Were that the case, Hillary is dead in the water, for they would all prop her up to keep Obama - the more dangerous candidate in Rush's eyes - off the ticket. But back to Barack's lead, it is nearly insurmountable at this point. Proportionate voting in the primaries will ensure Hillary gets more delegates when she loses Oregon, Montana and South Dakota, keeping her "alive," yet Obama also gets to increase his totals when she undoubtedly wins in West Virginia next week, followed by Kentucky and Puerto Rico.
The phrase "double-edged sword" applies to every victory of hers, because at this entrenched phase they're not enough in themselves to yank her into the lead. Only the Superdelegates can do that...
Obama is already planning his campaign for the fall, a classic psych-out strategy. He's not locked in yet, either.
The staying power of each rival's constituencies is in the news, as exit polling shows a greater proportion of Hillary's supporters will jump ship and vote for McCain or not at all, vs. Obama's numbers.
FYI: she needs ~67% of the remaining delegates overall, which ain't happening. Former presidential (D) candidate George McGovern, orignally for Clinton, has restated his position, claiming Obama has won and Clinton should concede.
We're down to the last six contests for the Democrats: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. I already told you who I think will win, and that means we'll have more acrimony, more infighting and more media blitzing for the next month than the a primary season has had in most of our lifetimes.