Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The tactics of politics: Battleground to Denver

Buckle up folks and get ready for a bumpy ride. Neither side is going to give an inch as Hillary and Obama prepare for "World War I style" warfare up to the convention according to Politico:

The Democratic race has entered its World War I phase, a bloody fight between two adversaries making only the most incremental of gains. And there is no reason to think either side will emerge from the trenches anytime soon.

There are 10 scheduled contests left, but thanks to proportional allocation, not enough pledged delegates to be had for either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton to clinch the nomination. And, because of increasingly firm demographic voting trends, it appears to be a foregone conclusion who will capture most of the remaining states. So on June 3, when South Dakota and Montana end the current voting calendar, the contours of the race aren't likely to be much different from what they are today.

That means 2 1/2 months of conference calls, attacks, counterattacks and millions of dollars spent, all to move the political needle just a few inches.

“It’s going to be a long, hard slog,” predicted Jim Jordan, a veteran Democratic strategist not working for either candidate. “It’s not good for the party.” Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22, and Indiana and North Carolina, which both go to the polls on May 6, will be closely watched, as will Florida and Michigan if they vote again.

But the stretch otherwise lacks any obvious primary of consequence or other decisive moment that could spell the end for either candidate.

“We'll have a race that doesn't look that different than it does now, in either pledged delegates or the popular vote” at the end of voting, predicted a top Obama campaign official.

Clinton’s campaign thinks it can cut into Obama’s lead on both counts but concedes that, barring unforeseen results or events, the stalemate won’t break before June. “All the voters ought to have a chance to speak, and we’ll let them speak,” said Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee.

“At that point, we expect some clarity.” So increasingly it appears that the actual contests themselves may not determine the Democratic nominee.

Yes, there will be the usual commercials, speeches and town halls in the remaining states. But the prime audience for the candidates isn’t to be found in Altoona, Evansville or Chapel Hill. The voters will merely be playing a supporting role in a race likely to be decided by the party's superdelegates.

Clinton's overarching mission now is to raise doubts among the superdelegates about Obama’s viability as a general election candidate. The primary results, then, are relevant only to the extent that they drive — or, for Obama, dispel — that argument.

“We believe that [the Pennsylvania results] will show that Hillary is ready to win, and that Sen. Obama really can’t win the general election,” Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.

Penn subsequently modified his analysis to say that losing Pennsylvania would only raise questions about Obama's ability to win in November.

But the point was made nonetheless. “A lot of these superdelegates are sitting back and waiting,” a Clinton aide said. “When they see us racking up wins in big states … that sends a very strong signal to them.”

This is why we wanted Hillary to stay in this race. Neither side is going to budge, and she will make it all the more harder on Obama as she keeps hammering away at his inexperience. We've gotten a taste of that in recent weeks as he tried to explain away his ties to the Trinity Church and Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- spin that didn't sit all that well with the 'Sphere yesterday as it was uncovered that Obama did actually hear some of these controversial sermons despite what his statement said. Throw in the recent revelation from Obama himself that Tony Rezko raised significantly more for him that the $60,000 to $70,000 he initially claimed (closer to $250,000 to $300,000 for those keeping score), and he has shown serious flaws that reflect the shift in the polls in the last 24 hours. It all stacked up, and fell over on him like the wall of bodies hitting the Immortals in 300.

And that is where Hillary will make her stand, not just now but in Denver as well. He's a rookie, folks. Wet-behind-the-ears, and barely can comprehend Washington politics. Given the fact he's only been there about three-and-a-half years, and she's actually had longer time in DC than he has, and her argument has a sensible ring to it.

She is going to hit him on his inexperience in Washington, and his lack of accomplishments when it comes to a brokered convention. Make no mistake, there will be a brokered convention because neither one of them will have the delegate totals to take the nomination outright. That means a floor fight, and that means from now until the convention you have a bloody slog to go through. But what will happen when they arrive in Denver. Given that there will be a floor fight, who's going to pull the better backroom deal with the least cons involved?

Hillary can make a solid case that she's been here before, that she knows how DC works, and that she could easily split John McCain's "backup" base of independents and moderate Democrats. Obama, on the other hand, brings the black vote with him, and the youth vote he is desperately banking on that has always failed to show in the fall when they're needed most. He lacks the mettle that Hillary has with DC politics, and he's been hammered on for his naivete regarding foreign policy, especially the war. While national security isn't a Clinton trait, she can at least point to her vote on the war, and add in that she's not ready to pull a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq as Obama has repeatedly stated.

Remember, they're vying for the superdelegates, and unlike the contenders, they're not exactly beholden to or abide by the fringe of the base. The Kos Kiddies don't hold a ton of sway with the superdelegates. (Truth be told, we're sure the superdelegates would prefer the "youngest children" in the party sit down and be silent as "adults" do the deciding. (I know, it's hard when the entirety of the base seems to be made up of children, which is why I made the distinctions.)

Her argument, which will gain ground in coming weeks, is that Obama can't close the deal in November, and that she can. That's an argument -- amongst the GOP base -- for another day. Many in the GOP think McCain stands less of a chance than she does. (For the record, we don't buy that from them because she's too polarizing of a figure. The GOP will turn out in droves to vote against her.) She lacks the core demographics to the Democrat party right now in the youth (non-existent in November) and blacks (who are threatening to sit out if she gets the nomination and Obama is cheated from his apparent victory). He has them. But if the argument she makes is compelling enough, she might be able to persuade the blacks back into the mix; possibly even with Obama on her ticket. (We still think that's way outside the realm of possibility, given the shots they've thrown at each other in recent weeks.)

This all leads up to a potential bloodbath at the convention. We think she still has a slim chance of pulling this out, and if she does you watch how ticked off the Democrat base gets. This might actually be an election with lower voter turnout than expected on their side. McCain, on the other hand, is still convincing the conservatives that he can be trusted. That message is resonating through the base right now, to the chagrin of self-described conservatives. (No offense to you guys, but knock this crap off and get behind the man already so we can ensure the Democrats don't get the White House.) If he has a fairly unified base by November, it's not going to matter which democrat gets the nod. It'll be a landslide either way for McCain because only some will support either nominee, and the rest will sit at home and pout.

Publius II


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