Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rules and Games

Circus and civics it was, as the Rules Committee had a morning session, then took a long "lunch break" to decide on compromise proposals for Florida and Michigan. Both states got to seat their full complement of delegates, but each now has one-half vote, including super-d's. The delegate apportionment for Florida compromise got unanimous support, but Harold Icky, the head Clintonista, objected to the Michigan compromise with some vituperative language, ending, "I have been instructed by my candidate [HRC] to reserve the right to appeal this to the Credentials committee." That, and the constant interruptions by Hillary's Hooligans in the room, put on hold any sense of party unity. But the decisions, as Chuck Todd said on MsNBC, affirm that this is now Barack Obama's Democratic Party, and no longer the property of the Clintons.

What does it mean for the race? The new "magic number" for the nomination is 2118. Reserving the right to change these numbers, for they are approximate, the Obamagic Number is 65 (Chuck Todd), 66 (AP) or 68 (CNN), depending on who you ask.

Just about the only open questions now are: will Obama pass the Obamagic Number by Tuesday night? Will Hillary take the fight to the Credentials committee and the convention?

Before the heavyweights weigh in--and I'll update this post as their posts start appearing--here's my intuition: Icky's threat is going to alarm enough super-delegates who were thinking of waiting until June 4 to declare, to declare sooner, so that Obama will have the national stage on Tuesday night to start the campaign against McCain in the highly symbolic St. Paul site of the upcoming GOPer convention. And that Hillary will not appeal. There are two reasons she won't: 1. both proposals had the support of the state parties, which makes it very difficult for her to do so with any credibility except to win more delegates for herself. 2. Enough super-delegates will declare for Obama to establish him as the nominee long before that committee meets at the end of June.

Updates Start Here: Based on his estimates of what Obama is likely to get from Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana primaries, Al G. at the Field estimates that Obama needs 25 super-d's to win the nom. He and the Jed Report concur that the Iccy threat is empty and this isn't going to the convention.

Chuck Todd updates his numbers ("the New Math") here. According to NBC figures, the Obamagic Number is 62.5. But it's changing even tonight as Mich and Fla are sorted out, and as new super-d's declare. But at the moment, if Clinton and Obama split the remaining contest delegates 50% each, Obama will be 20 delegates from the nomination. The Obama campaign has not yet updated its numbers.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Day Before (With Update)

CNN is treating tomorrows Rules Committee meeting like a major event, with live coverage. (So is MSNBC.) With the Clintonistas protesting outside, could be a combination of circus and civics lesson. Maybe that's a good description of our political system.

Anyway, Chuck Todd has a description of the agenda and the formulas being discussed. Apparently the scenario he outlined yesterday he still thinks is the most likely, resulting in Clinton gaining 19 dels in Florida and the pop vote counts; Michigan splits 50-50, after their delegation is reduced by half. Figuring Obama's likely del gains in the upcoming primaries, Todd figures he will be all of 15 delegates short of the new Obamagic number of 2118 after Tuesday. But there are other possibilities that will require more super-d's. What's not going to happen, he says, is the Clintons getting all they want.

After what may turn out to be a fascinating unity event Saturday night in New York, there's the Puerto Rico primary on Sunday, which will be over by 3 pm Eastern. The Clintons are all over the island but this story questions whether a whole lot of people are going to vote. Officials there predict a half million voters, and this story says maybe not that much. Hillary needs a big turnout as well as a big win to continue her already ridiculous claims of a popular vote lead.

Today several outlets are quoting Hillary saying in a Montana press briefing that she expects super-dels to begin declaring right after the last primaries on Tuesday, responding to the Pelosi and Reid exhortations. She said she would support an appeal of the Rules Committee decision tomorrow if Florida and Michigan officially made appeals (which is very unlikely.) She says she hopes the nomination is settled by June 3. So we're getting half-heartedly conciliatory Hillary today.

Conciliation might be in order if she wants to have a political future in New York. After stories last week about the fence-mending she needs to do with New York African Americans, this poll suggests she's losing the support of her own state. Half of Democrats polled want her to drop out of the presidential race, with just 43% supporting her staying in. More New Yorkers believe Obama is the stronger candidate, and his favorables have gone up (to 62%) while hers have gone down.

All of this is happening while on another track entirely the general election campaign is being engaged, with heated exchanges between the Obama and McCain campaigns, and most the news focused on the Scott McClellan book. It's a schizoid moment.

Obama got two super-d's today so far. The current Obamagic Number is 41.

Update: The story is circulating that Obama will declare nomination victory on Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN--the very place where the Republican convention will be held. As those two guys say on the commercials, "Brilliant!"

Donna Brazile has made a fascinating statement on her web site, which I've excerpted at Dreaming Up Daily, under a great photo from Montana today.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nerves (with Updates)

Today the mediageist is hesitating, suggesting that maybe this nomination thing is going to continue past June 4, but still be over by June 15, or June 30. The Clinton campaign sending signals that it is planning beyond June 3, which could be gamesmanship to not discourage its voters from voting in the upcoming primaries. But they could be serious.

The unknowns involve how much bigger the magic number will be after Saturday. Chuck Todd writes that in the plan that seems to have the most support at the moment, it would turn out to be 2118. How quickly Obama gets to that number depends on delegate allocation, the results of the primaries and how successful the Obama campaign is in getting super-delegate committments for June 4 and 5. Their aim likely is to run up the score to 2210 as soon as possible, because that would be the magic number if all the Florida and Michigan dels were fully counted, and therefore a convention challenge to the Rules committee solution would be useless to Hillary.

The question still seems to be when and if Hillary will concede and end all doubt. There is growing noise that not to do so by June 5 would severely damage her political future.

Chuck Todd suggested that a little persuasion by the triumverate of Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid would more or less force her out. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told the SF Chronicle that she would step in to help resolve the nomination question if it's not resolved by the end of June. Update: Harry Reid is on board as well.

On the other hand, it still could be over on June 4. Rep. James Clyburn, member of the Dem House leadership and a S.C. super-delegate, announced he will endorse on Tuesday. That could be a signal. As today's statements by Pelosi and Reed (see update above.)

With no reliable polling, the South Dakota contest on Tuesday is expected to be close, with Obama having the edge due to organizational advantages.

Roger Simon has a funny column at Politico about the drama gap between the Hillary and Barack campaigns.

With one super-del today so far, the current Obamagic number is 44.

UPDATE: AP reports further: Top Democratic leaders intend to push for a quick end to the battle for the presidential nomination when primaries are over next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday, adding that he, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and party chairman Howard Dean will urge uncommitted delegates to choose sides. "By this time next week, it will all be over give or take a day," Reid said of the marathon race between the front-running Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Democratic officials said Pelosi already has begun contacting uncommitted House members urging them to weigh in soon after the primary season ends. Numerous Democrats have expressed concern that a protracted nominating campaign could harm the party's chances of winning the White House in the fall. John McCain effectively wrapped up the Republican nomination in March."

Another story suggests that the Clinton proposal faces "tough, if not insurmountable odds" at the Rules committee meeting Saturday, but that the Clintonistas plan to appeal an adverse ruling to the Credentials committee (which others said is unlikely to succeed) and then to the convention.

Putting these two stories together, the outcome could be that Obama passes all the magic numbers next week, Clinton suspends her campaign but doesn't concede, or she neither suspends nor concedes--and the party essentially ignores her. The danger for her is that they will keep ignoring her for the rest of her career. If Obama wins in November, she'll be the sore loser. If Obama loses, she'll be blamed.

Update on Delegates: score one more for Obama. Current Obamagic Number: 43.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clear and Clearer

Though the book indicting major administration figures by a former Bush press secretary has taken the media wind out of the Dem Rules committee meeting Saturday, there is still news about it. Principally that the committee's lawyers have given their legal opinion that by rule no more than half the Michigan and Florida delegates can be seated, no matter how they are divided among the candidates. Though the Clintonistas are arrogantly demanding that the party violate its own rules and decisions (the decision to not seat the delegates at all once had the support of all the Clinton supporters on the relevant committee), it's almost certainly not going to happen.

The questions that remain are who gets how many delegates, and whether to allow these states their full slate of super-delegates. But no one now believes that the decision will affect the outcome, and Obama will remain ahead in delegates.

While the Obama campaign has called on its supporters not to demonstrate outside the committee meeting, the Clintonistas are organizing their protests. But Marc Ambinder says "this will almost certainly backfire and wind up steeling the committee's spine."

Count Tim Russert of NBC--as close to an establishment voice as there is in the media now--among those saying that the race will be over Wednesday, June 4.

There is a new Puerto Rico poll that has Clinton at 51% and Obama at 38%, although half said they may not vote. With those percentages, Obama would get at least 24 of the 55 elected delegates, but if Obama does a few points better and it's 49-40%, it would be considered a victory in the expectations game.

Wednesday Obama picked up 4 super-delegates. The Obamagic Number: 45.

Looking forward to the general election, this AP story that says "Barack Obama has done poorly in the Democratic primaries with women, Catholics and others who will be pivotal in this fall's presidential election. Yet early polling shows that with several of these groups, he's competitive when matched against Republican John McCain."

And this analysis that says Obama is already ahead of McCain in enough electoral votes to win the presidency, but this is likely his baseline--he has the potential to win big.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It Will End Next Week

All signs now point to an end to the Democratic nomination fight a week from now, or maybe a week and two days, with Barack Obama becoming the Democratic Party nominee for President.

Saturday the party Rules committee meets to resolve the Michigan and Florida situations. There are signs that the Hillary campaign is ready to deal, and although the formula may be different for each state, there will be a resolution, and it will not affect the outcome. These deals may be negotiated this week, but it may take the reality of the meeting--I read somewhere that the more Hillary has talked about this, the angrier committee members have gotten. The Hillaryites may have to see that anger before they go for the best deal they can get.

This should be a pretty dramatic Saturday. First the Rules meeting, with a Hillaryite demo outside, reminicent of the thugs who scared the vote-counters in Florida in 2000 (those of you with HBO can see it all dramatized again.) Then a big party fundraiser with both Obama and Hillary people, hosted by Al Gore.

Then Sunday the Puerto Rico primary. Hillary is expected to win--mostly because she's familiar and backed by key unions--but nobody really knows. Depending on how these two events go, Hillary may have her last news day on Monday. Then Tuesday, June 3, Montana and South Dakota end the primaries. Montana is a lock for Obama, SD is probable.

Then the super-d's end it. Marc Ambinder reports that "as many as three dozen Democratic superdelegates have privately pledged to announce their support for Obama on June 4 or 5. The campaign is determined that Obama not end the first week in June without securing the support of delegates numbering 2026 -- or 2210, as the case may be. " Last week President Carter predicted this will happen, and it sounds like he will be one of them.

Others are agreeing that something like this will happen, and the race will be over.

Or it could end a bit sooner, if Hillary decides to concede before her last two likely primary defeats on June 3. But I don't expect that.

Today's Obamagic Number is 48.5

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Low and Lower (with Update)

Hillary Clinton's campaign continues to set new lows in continuing to be the most pernicious, vile and monstrous lying bunch of morally depraved politicians that the Democratic party has seen in a long time. They may even be going beyond the corruption routinely practiced by their new hero, Karl Rove.

In this past week, rabid Hillaryites were screaming to CNN that Obama had better offer the vp to Clinton or they will scorch the party, and the Clinton campaign blamed this talk on the Obama campaign.

Today the Clinton campaign accelerated its attempt to blame the Obama campaign for the shock, horror and disgusted reaction to her RFK remarks. Two of her chief idiots, the vampire Terry McAuliffe and the werewolf Howard Wolfson went on the Sunday talk shows to make these obscene charges, even though when asked, Barack Obama attempted to excuse Clinton's comments as misspeaking in a long campaign. Can you even imagine what the Clinton campaign would be doing and saying had Obama made anything approaching the stupidity (best interpretation, since her "historical" references were inaccurate in just about every way) and creepiness of Clinton's statement? There's some projection being played here, as well as indecent politics.

And even after all the horror expressed in the media--including the NY Times and Washington Post--Hillary Clinton herself got an oped placed in the New York Daily News defending her RFK remarks. Not apologizing for them, but defending them. There is no defense for them, on historical or any other grounds. RFK's assassination had nothing whatever to do with the fact that the 1968 nomination went beyond the first week of June. Nothing. In refusing to confront the inference that practically everyone has made, she continues to enact the kind of denial that we know so well from the current president. This country cannot afford another such individual anywhere near the White House.

Meanwhile, Obama picked up 3 add-on super-delegates. On Sunday he filled in for Ted Kennedy to give the commencement address at Wesleyan University. It was a call to service, a preview of his administration, a tribute to Ted Kennedy and a peek at his own youth, college days and first job. It's about twenty minutes and worth the time, and on YouTube right here.

Monday Update: 3 more super-dels today. The Obamagic Number is 49. In latest Montana poll, Obama is ahead by 17 points.