Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why Can't Hillary Clinton Close the Deal?

Watching the post-Pennsylvania primary coverage, you’d think Hillary Clinton has pulled an unprecedented upset by beating out Barack Obama with a “decisive” 10-point margin.

There are two components to the spin.

First, why wasn’t Senator Obama able to close the deal in Pennsylvania, despite outspending Clinton 3 to 1 with record amounts of money in the state? And second, why can’t Senator Obama win big states that Democrats need in the general election?

Obama wasn’t able to completely close the 20 point gap in this one state – Pennsylvania – despite the millions he spent, and according to Clinton, that makes him unelectable.

Does that mean the superdelegates should now gravitate towards Clinton, who (i) cannot close the much wider, nationwide 130+ delegate gap even if she gets up to 70% of the remaining delegates in the primary season; and (ii) has run out of money at least twice in the last two months, even having to loan her campaign $5 million at one point?

So the first question probably brings up even more questions.

How was Obama even able to raise the money to outspend Clinton 3 to 1?

Why wasn’t Clinton able to raise as much money – if not more money – than Obama, having been a multi-term New York senator, not to mention First Lady for eight years with a wildly popular Democratic president?

Why did she have to loan her campaign millions of dollars earlier in the primary season?

How is it that Barack Obama, after outspending Clinton 3 to 1 in the state, still has over $41 million in the bank while her campaign was in debt when the polls closed in Pennsylvania? Is he more advantaged than the 100-million-dollar Clintons?

Let’s step outside of Pennsylvania and ask the bigger question.

How is it that a black man – whose first name rhymes with Iraq, last name with Osama, and middle name literally IS Hussein – has come out of nowhere, de novo, with no prior political connections and just over one Senate term, singlehandedly dethroning the Clintons, who are virtually royalty in the Democratic Party establishment, if not in the entire country?

With the immense stature and recognition that Hillary Clinton has had nationwide over almost twenty years, how is it that has she not been able to defeat the unknown-till-very-recently Obama by more than just 10 points in Pennsylvania after six weeks of Jeremiah Wright, Bittergate, Bill Ayers, his weakest performance ever in a debate that was watched by over ten million people, and an initial lead of more than 20 points?

Moving on, the answer to the second question is shorter. Winning large states in a primary has very little to do with winning them in a general election. The Democrats in these states voted for either Clinton or Obama during the primaries because they had a choice among multiple Democratic candidates. In the general election, they won’t have that choice, and will most likely vote for whichever Democrat is going against John McCain, whether it's Obama or Clinton.

Every primary election season has those that swear they will vote for the other party if their favored candidate isn’t made their party’s nominee - don’t forget the hordes of Republicans who loudly and publicly vowed to vote for Hillary Clinton if the not-too-conservative John McCain ended up as their nominee. Now that the fight has died down and the GOP has almost uniformly coalesced around McCain, does anybody seriously believe that these Republicans – such as Ann Coulter or Bill Cunningham – will still vote Democratic in November? Come on.

Either Democratic candidate will be able to carry the states that Clinton has said only she can carry in a general election.

When (yes, "when", not "if") Obama is the nominee, Massachusetts will not suddenly go the way of McCain because Clinton won it in the primary. In the same way, whichever Democrat won Texas (Clinton by popular vote, Obama by delegates) is very unlikely to carry it in the general election.

That brings us back to the media coverage. Despite popular opinion, the media has helped Clinton all along, by treating this as a “close”, “neck-in-neck”, “tight” race, even though it was effectively over more than six weeks ago.

So don't fall for the electability argument. Clinton cannot take McCain down for one simple reason: she could not – and cannot – take down Obama.


Michael Hew said...

Nicely stated. The MSM is pretending that there is a "real" race in order to keep their ratings high. They know it's over as well.

Ali A. Rizvi said...

Exactly. It's been over since March 4! It seems now that the superdelegates are coming around.