Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wisdom Wednesday

Conventional Wisdom, that is. What will it be? (Because it's just after midnight here.) On the GOPer side, it looks like McCain is inevitable, and Huckabee is his v.p. Even if Romney doesn't drop out entirely by day's end, he's not given much of a chance.

For the Dems, the campaign for votes and delegates goes on. Obama won Connecticut, where he was down 14 points two weeks ago. He won Alabama, where Hillary was up 15 points. He won Missouri, where he was behind by 19 points. He came up short in Massachusetts, where he was down 37 points two weeks ago. And by the time you read this it may be more evident that he came pretty close in California, where Hillary was up something like 20 points two weeks ago.

The CW also says that the next few states will probably go to Obama, but Hillary will make her stand in Ohio and Texas in early March. Ohio, like CA, is where she's put in resources and time. Though Obama has more money now, Hillary may get enough to compete, and the question is whether there is enough time for Obama to get himself known well enough in the coming states to start really cleaning up.

You have to give the CW and the political calculus their due. But Obama said something in his eloquent speech from Chicago election night--he referred to his campaign, I think for the first time, as a movement. Oddly, I was thinking about this earlier in the day, whether it was legitimate to start calling it a movement, because that's what it seems to me to be. And the power of a movement is inherently unpredictable. Plus Obama just gets sharper with each stump speech, and more eloquent with each election night speech.

I find myself wondering about endorsements now. Did Tuesday call into question their usefulness? I don't think you can measure the impact of the Kennedy endorsements, or their campaigning. Certainly the endorsements of Governors like Kathleen Sibeleus paid dividends. And above all, the Mayor of Los Angeles, with patronage power to deliver for Hillary (Kos' theory.)

Regardless of how their electoral impact is evaluated now, the question of Super Delegates looms larger in a close race. It will be fascinating now to see if there are new endorsements this coming week. Will potential Super Delegates wait for more outcomes? Or will they do what they did even after Hillary won New Hampshire, and make their move with the future?

What does John Edwards do, when most of his staff and supporters have already gone to Obama, and his voters are trending that way? Does it matter if he endorses, beyond the photo op? Bill Richardson's endorsement may still matter with Latino voters in Texas, but the moment may have passed him by, as it did the other former presidential candidates. It matters only when they are current members of Congress or otherwise are designated Super Delegates.

The one voice who can still make something of a difference is Al Gore. It's been reported that it's only a matter of when and not if he will endorse Obama, but even that is still speculation. There is one more element of a high profile endorsement that perhaps can't be quantified, but we saw it with the Kennedy endorsements (which were in the works before the great South Carolina victory.) And that is their immediate influence on the narrative.

Right now the narrative is unclear. A high profile endorsement creates its own momentum. If Gore or Edwards were to endorse Obama in the next few days, Obama would win the narrative of Tsunami Tuesday.

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