Thursday, February 14, 2008

State of the Democratic Race

Barack Obama's lead in pledged delegates and dubious, though undeniably competitive edge with Super Delegates, combined with eight straight primary/caucus wins, including a surge which places him ahead of Clinton in opinion polling has given him a razor-thin status as front-runner.

Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris provides this assessment, entitled "Why Hillary Will Lose". It is important to know, however, that Morris was fired by Clinton, Bill and has a grudge against both of them. Personal bias aside, Morris' analysis is generally sound. Hillary's message until recently would have been a sure winner, in THE REPUBLICAN primary. Democrats historically have run campaigns based on the concept of change and against the status quo. I would add to Morris' commentary that due to the weakened economy, an unpopular war, and a general belief in the minds of most every American that the country is on the wrong course play to Obama's strategy of change perfectly.

Today's New York Times has a much more cautious analysis, one I am inclined to agree with more. The race is far from over. But what both columns concede is that Obama has the momentum and that combined with Obama's edge in personal charisma may be the deciding factor. On Sunday, Obama will likely win Hawaii without much problem, and has been leading Clinton in Wisconsin substantially in recent days. If Obama can win both states, winning ten states in a row would be a formidable, to put it lightly, edge to overcome that Clinton could not hope to begin to mute.

It depends, of course, on timing. A better than expected showing by Obama in Texas and Ohio, or an unexpected narrow victory in one or the other and it is game, set, match Obama. What has gotten lost in the shuffle is that two other smaller New England states hold their primaries/caucuses on 4 March: Vermont and Rhode Island. Vermont, home of 2004 early favorite Howard Dean would seem to be Obama's as would Rhode Island, since Obama has shown he is much more effective at winning smaller states. In the final analysis, however, it may not matter and I hope if Ms. Clinton does not perform as expected next Tuesday she will do the prudent thing and concede for the good of the party. I hope she will not try to seat Florida and Michigan's delegates, to which she has no clear right. I hope she will not force a convention fight in late August, because division in the party is the best chance a weakened GOP has to maintain its hold on the Presidency. We need a Democratic President for the future and health of the country.

It is a long time between now and November, and defeating John McCain will be no easy task.

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