March 5, 2008

HOW FAR TO BATAAN?:

Obama Unable To Close Deal (NICHOLAS WAPSHOTT, March 5, 2008, NY Sun)

Superdelegates were invented and given considerable power in order to calm the runaway enthusiasm of temporary, extreme, callow primary voters who might elevate an unelectable general election candidate. Mrs. Clinton's supporters can argue that the Democratic party constitution should not be tampered with. If the party had wanted a one person one vote system of picking a candidate, that is what would have been chosen.

This is important when assessing who exactly has been voting for Mr. Obama. While Mrs. Clinton has relied almost entirely upon long-standing Democratic party members, Mr. Obama has enjoyed enormous support from independent and even Republican voters. As many as 10% of those who voted in Democratic primaries formerly billed themselves as Republicans, and exit polling suggested that they mostly voted for Mr. Obama.

When debating which candidate has democratic legitimacy, the vast numbers taking part in the Democratic race in open primaries who are not necessarily Democratic supporters — and may not vote Democratic in November — might become a liability for Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Clinton has been carefully keeping in reserve, too, her wins in Michigan and Florida, two primaries the Democratic leadership deemed void. No Democratic candidate campaigned in either state, and in Michigan only Mrs. Clinton and Senator Dodd were on the ballot, but Mrs. Clinton won both. In Florida, 1.7 million voted in the Democratic primary, which is a large number of voters for the Democratic leadership to ignore.

Although Florida's Republican Governor Charles Crist has joined Mrs. Clinton in demanding that his state's votes be counted in the Democratic contest, and has even hinted he would fund a rerun, it is not clear how practical it would be to mount late primary races. If the contest were to reach Denver in August, as seems increasingly likely, the lost voters of Florida and Michigan are sure to play their part.

To put last night in perspective, it has been just two months since Mr. Obama trounced Mrs. Clinton in Iowa, but there are six full months before the Denver convention.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 5, 2008 8:52 AM
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