February 12, 2008

Potomac Primary (Updated)

The Potomac Primaries tonight settled two rather important points.

First, for the Republicans, the question was whether anti-McCain animosity was so great that GOP voters would pick "anyone but McCain." It wasn't likely, in my estimation, but now we have a resounding "nope." Huckabee is a strictly regional candidate. Virginia is a border state -- it's part Southern, part Mid-Atlantic. Huckabee got 41% and McCain 50%. Huckabee does worse the farther away from the Tennessee River one gets.

Second, for the Democrats... wait. Listen -- do you hear that? That's the sound of desparation from Camp Clinton. There is no doubt anymore that Barack Obama has overtaken Hillary Clinton and is now the front-runner. For many observers, this has been pretty obvious for some time -- but now, anyone's delegate count makes that clear. Superdelegates or not, Obama is ahead of the power curve and Hillary is behind it. Clinton is now campaigning in Texas, of all places, as a last-ditch effort to keep her candidacy viable.

I wonder what her victory strategy is at this point, how she can credibly tell her supporters that she could indeed get the nomination despite obviously having become the #2 choice. Yes, it still appears that the convention will be brokered, but it is becoming readily apparent to everyone that Democrats prefer Obama to Clinton. The superdelegates aren't dumb and there is every reason to believe that most of them will vote for the candidate who they think will first, give the Democrats the best chance of victory in November, and second, best reflect the wishes of the party as a whole.

That candidate will not be Hillary Rodham Clinton, until and unless Obama goes on Jimmy Kimmel and vivisects a puppy.

So although the conventions are months away still, it's about time to start really thinking about Vice-Presidential choices for Obama and McCain.

A little poking around in the history books reveals that only twice before -- in 1920, with Warren G. Harding and in 1960 with John F. Kennedy -- has a sitting Senator been elected President. We're in four our third time in 2008. What's more, this is the first time in American history that a sitting Senator will challenge another sitting Senator for the Presidency.

Update: Rick Moran at Pajamas Media suggests that the reason Hillary is going on is that she has an advantage in big states because of her larger, more well-established machinery. Given that the convention will be brokered, she would be able to make the argument that in November, she can carry those big states. Not an inconsiderable argument. But also not a particularly compelling one, as I see it. You don't need to be a special Democrat to carry California. It's highly unlikley that any Democrat will carry Texas. The fight will be in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Maybe Michigan. Hillary hasn't really proven her ability to carry Florida or Michigan in the primaries -- Obama honored his pledge to not campaign there.

Clinton's Plan "A" was "be inevitable and win every state without competition." Plan "B" was "win big on Super Duper Tuesday." Plan "C" is "win the big states and don't sweat the small stuff for the intervening month." Given that Clinton's Plan "C" has earned praise from Mike DuHaime, the author of Rudy Giuliani's "wait until Florida" strategy, I'm inclined to think that she needs to figure out a Plan "D." Turns out, momentum and the media drumbeat of losing-losing-losing still matters. She's headed down a road that leads her to not losing as badly in Texas and Ohio as she did in Virginia. That's not a path to victory.

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