Monday, May 12, 2008

Hillary: Out for the Count

It's not over until the fat lady sings - well, ladies and gentlemen, the fat lady has finally sung. In this case, the fat lady has a name: superdelegates.

That's right, as of earlier today, Barack Obama now leads Hillary Clinton in every category relevant to the democratic nomination: he has won more states, more delegates determined by the vote, a greater percentage of the popular vote, and now has gained even more superdelegates than the former first lady. Hillary's last hope - that of convincing enough superdelegates to her cause - appears to have abandoned her. For the full details of this latest development, see CNN.

This is not quite the landmark that the media makes it out to be, but it does represent the final nail in Hillary's electoral coffin. After being soundly defeated in North Carolina and barely squeaking by with an Indiana victory (demographics favored her, Chicago suburbs favored Obama), most papers were willing to ask Mrs. Clinton to take a reality check. Indeed, even the Economist, normally a paper to hedge its bets on political calculus, has called on Mrs. Clinton to give way to Obamamania.

The real question here is this: should any of us, after the first few contests following Super Tuesday, have been surprised? Of course not. The states have split almost exactly as they should have following Super Tuesday. Perhaps the only surprise has been that Obama performed as well as he did in large, white, working-class states (PA, OH, IN) while Clinton seemed unable to close within a 15-20% margin in most of Obama's states. Media commentary aside, any cold look at the numbers revealed this picture at the end of February - especially to those who watched John Fox's touch-screen presentations. The only thing that could have changed this picture would have been a major scandal and, contrary to what the media seems to think, one bombastic preacher does not a scandal make.

There are probably multiple reasons for Obama's victories - his obvious charisma and speaking ability; the fact that, by and large, he has remained graceful even under extreme pressure; and the "Clinton Dynasty" effect - most 18-30s are sick of having presidents in the same two families. I, for one, was born during Regan - but cannot remember a president not named Bush or Clinton. Lastly, and this may be contentious although the numbers support it, many Democrats are keenly aware that Mrs. Clinton probably would not carry the independent vote, especially against Mr. McCain. Indeed, Clinton might do the one thing McCain has trouble with: force the Republican base to vote in November. The name Clinton is still a loaded and often divisive one for the majority of Americans.

Obama, by contrast, is fresh and new - and also relatively young. He smacks of a cross between JFK and Woodrow Wilson, with an important caveat. While the idealism of JFK and Wilson led them to be a bit uncompromising (less noticeable for JFK, because LBJ was wheeling and dealing for him), Obama genuinely speaks of compromise and healing the rift in American politics. He wants us to talk to each other in a civilized fashion - and he leads by example. He is not only the best chance the Democrat's have of regaining the White House, but I - for one - will be glad to see him do it.


Liana said...

*nods* i agree. (such a profound comment, isn't it. just wanted to let you know i am still reading.)