Friday, February 22, 2008

Will It Be Over Soon?

The debate did suggest the possibility that all this will be over soon. First there was Obama telling a reporter that after March 4, the party ought to get together and work this out. Then there was the graceless comment yesterday by Bill Clinton:"If she wins Texas and Ohio, I think she will be the nominee. If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be. It's all on you." Which is graceless because it places the burden--or the blame--on her supporters in these states. He's repeated the sentiment today, though without the sour grapes sound.

Then came the conciliatory statements Hillary made in the debate, seeming to say her campaign won't fight to the end, specifically over super-delegates. I take that with a grain of salt, but it could be Hillary putting something on the record to control her own campaign staff. But it's only a recognition of reality at this point. The idea of counting Florida and Michigan as if they were real primaries has gone nowhere, except to elicit powerful opposition. The idea that super-delegates would determine the winner against the outcome of the contests, ditto. And even as a practical matter, ever since this strategy was floated, Hillary has been losing super-delegates while Obama has been gaining them.

The super-delegate situation is muted especially by Obama's lead in elected delegates being more than 150, and his popular vote margin of more than one million. Obama also just won his 11th contest in a row, when the Democrats Abroad results finally came in. Obama won in every country, and ended up with a 2-1 margin.

Moreover, Hillary's chances of winning Ohio and Texas by a substantial enough margin to cut into Obama's delegate lead significantly are waning with each passing day. While the possibility that Obama will win one or both states is growing every day. The polls show all the momentum in these states is towards him. His campaign is promoting participation in the early voting system in Texas, and sure enough, people are voting early in record numbers. He's got the most powerful unions on his side now, and the mayor of Cleveland has just endorsed him. The mayor of Columbus endorsed him months ago, and those are the two biggest cities in the state. The governor is for Clinton, but it is mayors who get out the vote--as Obama learned in Los Angeles, where the mayor backed Clinton.

The last ditch effort to support a financially drained Hillary operation with a 527 organization seeking to raise $10 million in $100,000 donations has met with a storm of controversy, as it is evidently designed to circumvent--that is, violate--campaign law. Moreover, the Obama campaign is raising more than $30 million a month, and will soon celebrate its one millionth donor.

The Obama campaign has the money, and it looks like they are willing to use it to end this in Texas and Ohio. But Obama is closing the gap in Pennsylvania, too.

If on March 4, Obama wins all that day's contests by convincing margins, then the march of the party elders to Clinton's door on March 5 begins, assuming she hasn't dropped out by then. This is no longer a "delusional" possibility. It's too early to say that this is likely. But its likelihood grows every day.

No comments: