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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rally around the winner?

According to many pundits, the Obama-Clinton Democratic nomination contest is doomed to a 50-50 delegate split that will be decided after a long string of state elections by superdelegates at the convention.

Before criticizing these pundits, I'll admit to reporting this possibility myself -- in a Thursday, February 7, post at the Duck of Minerva.

However, that post also noted the possibility that Barack Obama's post-Super Tuesday success may make him the "inevitable" front-runner based on a "rally-around-the-winner" affect. He's raised far more money than Hillary Clinton since January 1 (winning January 70-30) and is poised to have a great February with voters -- from yesterday's victories in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington state and the Virgin Islands to Tuesday's likely big victories in DC, Maryland and Virginia and beyond.

Clinton is currently ahead in Wisconsin according to one recent poll (ARG), but the actual election result my be influenced by what happens in the leadup to that February 19 contest.

Today's caucuses in Maine might go Clinton's way, but local rules provide that heavy snow could delay results until later in the month. At 12:30 pm ET: "It is snowing there now, with four to eight inches expected from snowfalls last night and today. In western Maine, there could be as much as a foot of snow."

I'm not trying to focus exclusively on the horse race, as opposed to the issues, but some Clinton campaign staff are apparently in a "state of panic" right now.

Part of the problem with the coverage is that these candidates are not that far apart on the issues and the Democratic platform is likely to be very similar whichever one wins the nomination. Clinton has perhaps been a bit to the right on foreign policy (voting with Joe Lieberman to call the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terror organization; opposing some minor openings toward Cuba, etc.).

Domestically, Clinton's health plan includes mandates for universal coverage, while Obama's does not. Both of them will likely borrow good ideas from the failed John Edwards campaign -- on college education and corporate responsibility, for example.

The general election is still almost 9 months away, so there's plenty of time to contrast the Democratic position on major issues with the view espoused by the Republican candidate (likely to be John McCain).

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