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Which is more powerful, The Math or The Stampede?

or a boat, a scream and … a preacher II

As I wrote earlier this week, this issue of Obama’s 20-year relationship with Jeremiah Wright could trigger a delegate stampede of the sort that destroyed the campaigns of Gary Hart and Howard Dean. The question then was whether Obama’s speech would (or could) help him control the issue — maybe even silence it completely. Or if the speech doesn’t help will we see another Delegate Stampede?

I was devastated by the Dean Scream — shocked that something so silly could derail & end the campaign. It took me a long time to get over it. I’ve been through a Delegate Stampede and it’s not fun. The Wright Issue is starting to feel like that — a real stampede. Maybe it doesn’t matter to the die-hard supporters of Obama (maybe that’s one of the definitions) but it matters to the public.

The effects are showing up in polls, the analysis and soon — the delegate math. Yes, it won’t be long before The Math itself will reflect Obama’s fading chances at the presidency:

It’s early for polls but one national poll was released yesterday: Gallup Daily: Clinton Moves Into Lead Over Obama, “New Gallup Poll Daily tracking finds Hillary Clinton with a 49% to 42% lead over Barack Obama in national Democratic voters’ presidential nomination preference.”

The analysis from one end of the spectrum to the other doesn’t look good. We briefly hopped around the cable shows last night and The Wright Issue was prominently discussed. And they weren’t talking about the speech. In our bloggy world, Jerome Armstrong had this to say yesterday:

I was disgusted by what Wright said, and didn’t mind saying so. I said that Obama needed to throw Wright under the bus and run him over a few times, to move on from this fiasco. But unfortunately, Obama didn’t, or couldn’t, do it. That’s too bad, and will be costly for his chances. But it’s even worse that, caught up in a presidential contest in which denouncing Wright has been seen only through the prism of supporting Obama, progressives have been silent about Wright’s wrong and divisive words. That’s a terrible precedent to have set.

Pull off the blinders that have you supporting a particular candidate, while being blind to the bigger issue. If progressives are not going to have the guts to call out those who foster divisive talk, and demand their renouncement, no matter where it comes from, it’s a bigger loss than an election.

But, The Math — What about The Math?

So far conversations about Reverend Wright and The Math* haven’t merged. You’ll read about how Obama is sinking in the polls or how this HAS to effect his campaign in November. And in the very next post or story you’ll read that Hillary’s got a long, hard path to the nomination. There’s just a whisper here and there about how Super Delegates feel about this (see Jerome’s 2nd update)

But the fact is the Super Delegates and Delegates are people just like us — EXCEPT that they’re the one’s who will actually choose the Democratic Nominee for President. Think about this, please — Do you honestly believe the delegates will be unmoved by the polls and talking-talkers and their own next door neighbor or mother? Do you honestly believe that a “damaged” Obama can win the nomination just because The Math decrees it?

That’s just not how stampedes work.

Things are more unclear than the 9 or so (or so being MI & FL) still pending primaries would indicate. Over the next 3 months or so the caucus states will convene the next step in their process of electing delegates. Will Obama’s support hold through these next step caucuses? Will Obama’s local delegates stay loyal?

Some people think that we have to wait until the Pennsylvania primary

  • April 4-6: North Dakota, State Convention. 13 of 21
  • April 5: Washington, Second Tier Legislative District Caucuses
  • April 12: Kansas, District Conventions elect district-level delegates and alternates according to the results of the first-tier caucuses. (full-disclosure, I’ve sent in my application to be a Hillary delegate)
  • April 19 – June 6: Minnesota, National Convention District level delegates are selected at District Conventions.
  • April 19: Nevada, the State Convention chooses 25 of Nevada’s 34 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
  • May 3-16: Colorado, Congressional District Conventions.
  • May 24: Wyoming, State Convention.
  • May 31: Maine, State Convention.
  • 23 May 23-25: Hawaii, Democratic State Convention: The 20 pledged delegates are actually chosen at this gathering. These 20 delegates must vote as pledged per the preferences expressed by participants in the 19 February Presidential Preference Poll.
  • June 1 – Tuesday 10 June 2008: Nebraska, County Conventions.

So, between now and the Pennsylvania Primary 5 states will convene for the next step. I wonder if The Math will hold?

* The Math is the nickname for the arguments that “prove” Hillary Clinton has lost the election. I’m not linking to these posts — they’re all over the place.

32 Responses

  1. riverdaughter:

    Just to make your point the latest College Electoral map according to the most recent Survey USA polls:

    Hillary Clinton 294
    John McCain 231
    Tie 13

    John McCain 288
    Barack Obama 238
    Tie 12

  2. Trends change, but after seeing that THE SPEECH has not stopped the bleeding in the polls, I do not see how the math is going to work for Obama in the end.

  3. MABlue: good point.

  4. Katiebird–

    I think it’s happening. I was watching CNN a little while ago, and Lou Dobbs was ranting about both the Obama remarks on the radio and about what Kerry said. Obama said that about the “typical white person” on some sports talk station and now it’s all over cable TV. This is bad for Obama, really bad. He’s in big trouble.

  5. MABlue: good point.

  6. bb: I do not have cable. Is it really all over? Thanks for reporting.

  7. (waving at MABlue, UpstateNY & bostonboomer)

    There’s no stopping a stampede. (developing….)

    As a Hillary Girl, it’s not my job to give advice. But, what if he’d brought the Rev. Wright up on the stage with him to speak. Could that have diffused the trouble?

  8. If the November elections were only all caucuses, Obama could win.

  9. kbird: no, it would have made it worse, I think.

  10. katiebird..I just know you are joking about would the Rev. Wright help on the stage with Obabma. I can see the youtubes now, USA of KKK with all of those flags in the back.ground.

    UpstateNY. funny, “I do not have cable. Is it really all over? Thanks for reporting”

  11. I guess I mean that we keep hearing how the clips we see are just a small part of HIM. And that we shouldn’t fear HIM. If that’s true,

    I’m just so confused that anyone thinks this isn’t an issue.

  12. The Gallup poll misses the point. Obama’s strategy has never been very big on actual Democrats, because they’re not very big on him. he’s brilliantly exploited the serial idiosyncrasies of the primary process: states where non-Democrats get to vote, states where delegate allocations come from heated discussions rather than secret ballots, etc. I find nothing to condemn in all this–it’s an indictment of the Clinton campaign that it was so literal-minded about the notion of “Democratic primaries,” instead of parsing what that meant in each state. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking Obama and his campaign care about tracking polls limited to actual Democrats. It’s his world and they’re just living in it.

  13. “he’s brilliantly exploited the serial idiosyncrasies of the primary process: states where non-Democrats get to vote”

    This is true, Rich. But, he’s still got to hold the Delegates through these next steps. And right now the Polls are the only indication of how he’s doing.

    I saw something on TV (but didn’t get it down on paper) that he’s losing more independents & Republicans than Democrats — so maybe he’s failing even on THAT goal?

  14. (shaking my head

    Oh, Charles….

  15. Charles: Nah, he’s not done. If he’s the nominee, he’ll win pretty thumpingly, as would Clinton. They’re not fighting over a consolation prize here–the Democratic nominee is the next president.

    John McCain is one good compilation video away from sub-40% territory, and even amidst the current primary racket I’m sure some good creative minds are already on the job…not that too much creativity is needed to depict Mr 100 Years in all of his boobery.

  16. A friend of mine went to work for a start up company years ago named E-Connect. I think it had a few names before then, but I don’t remember what they were. The CEO was incredibly charismatic guy named Tom Hughes. Hughes raised tens of millions of dollars for E-Connect but when all was said, the product that money was supposed to developed was never fully manifested. Hughes went to prison for several years because he couldn’t stop sending out phony press releases.

    I say all this because Tom was a guy who had everything he need to create a company, put the money together, and do a brilliant job. Except he was a crook, and he couldn’t stop himself from being a crook. Instead of actually developing the technology that he promised, he did god knows what with the money.

    I see a bit of that in Obama – he could win a presidential race fairly and squarely – although that could have meant sitting this election out and cooling his heels for eight years or so. But he doesn’t seem interested in winning fairly and by counting the votes. He seems interested in winning with thuggery. His response to Michigan looks like a clusterfuck of pathologies to me. On one hand, he doesn’t have what it takes to face Michigan voters about the fact that he pulled himself off the ballot. Even though he has a good chance of winning, he seems to like the idea of disenfranchising those people. He also seems to really hate the idea of losing the state. It seemingly bugs the hell out of him that Hillary has offered to pay for it. And then there is the entitlement issue – he seemingly entitled to half the delegates in the state even though he wasn’t on the battle.

    Grrrrrr, why is this guy a Democrat? Doesn’t he have a healthy salary as a black conservative to go earn?

  17. tucsonlynn/Bostonboomer: I was not trying to be funny/sarcastic.

    We just cannot afford cable in our household, so I have to rely on you guys for info. I take it from your comments that it must be all over, eh?

    Thanks again.

  18. UpstateNY, I’ve got cable, but we watch Network TV on Thursday night. And I don’t get home in time to see Lou Dobbs.

    I doubt that anything said on his show will END the race. But, that “typical white person” thing doesn’t seem to have helped him at all.

  19. Lori, I hate the idea that he could have a personality disorder of that magnitude. But, I don’t get his reluctance to accept the FL & MI delegations.

  20. Upstate NY,

    I was only watching for 30 minutes while I rode my stationary bicycle. Lately that is the only time I have been watching TV. All I can tell you is that Lou Dobbs was all over it. He was quite outraged about both Obama and Kerry.

  21. Rich in PA, you’re a funny dude. And insightful.

    Lou Dobbs was all puffed up. It was weirdly toad-like.

    Did anyone else catch the “presidential backgrounds” beauty contest between Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama also on CNN? Seriously—they were talking about the fucking set dressing.

    All I ask, my friends, is that we all remain steady. The piranhas will swarm if Sen. Clinton’s make-up is a tad bit blotchy and it’s a long way from here to all the way over there.

    Slow and steady. I myself am taking the emotional position of “drunkenly pessimistic.”

    C’mon you automatic delegates…c’mon you repledgeable delegates…c’mon Sen. Clinton, be the leader we need you to be.

  22. Ohio — “C’mon you automatic delegates…c’mon you repledgeable delegates…c’mon Sen. Clinton, be the leader we need you to be.”

    This should have been my subtitle!

    This is what it comes to, isn’t it?

  23. I caught part of the ABC news Obama coveage on my neighbor’s TV (dropping off some groceries for her, so we were talking), and I saw part of the “typical white person” quote.

    They left off the part about he said he wasn’t saying his grandmother was racist.

    What a mess.

    Re: the Dean Scream. That was a pure MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) creation and it was played over and over and over andover. One MCM reporter did say she had been there and he hadn’t been screaming the way the tape made it seem, and she explained the way the mics are set up etc.

    But that was a one off–and then the MCM was right back to making fun of Dean.

    That was an MCM political coup d’etat.

  24. Ohio–who was talking about the set dressing? MCMers or members of the campaigns.

  25. He is toast now. Obama just lost the GE. No speech could undo the irreperable damage that he has done.

    Maybe the Wright controversy is one of the reasons why he and his surrogates have been pressuring Hillary to bow out for the democratic primary race. And that is one of the attributes that I admire in Hillary. She does not easily succumb to pressure. Very presidential.

  26. I don’t know what MCMer means.

    I think it was some dude on CNN trying really hard to not show his flop sweat.

    I think Wolf Blitzer was there. I was walking by and though 1) no Sen. Clinton and her set dressing and 2) how inappropriate around the fifth anniversary of this stupid stupid war.

    I mean, if you want to talk about flags, guys, how about the ones draped on those coffins?

  27. I get the feeling that the GOP and their lapdogs in the media have been sitting on this for a while.

    FOX News has apparently been bloviating about it, but not the “real” media. GOS and TPM were ignoring it.

    Something happened on Super Other Tuesday.

    It was like a dam broke. The Obots got really freaked out, and stories started coming one after the other. Obama lost one news cycle after another. Power got 86’d for name-calling, and they tried to hit back with Ferraro to regain momentum.

    But this time they were openly playing the “race card.” In the past the Ocampaign pushed the racial stuff anonymously so they could act “above the fray.”

    But when they complained openly about Ferraro they opened the door. It was the closet door and a skeleton came dancing out.

    To use a football analogy, they were on goal line and on the verge of putting the game away when the ball was intercepted and run back for a touchdown.

    I can’t remember a political reversal of fortune this dramatic since Gary Hart got caught monkeying with Donna Rice’s business.

    Frontrunner to flatliner.

  28. myiq2xu – That’s a great insight. I think Obama’s campaign was waiting for Hillary to “play the race card.” The Obama campaign probably had volunteers scouring the media, even the most obscure publications, looking for an excuse to accuse HC.

    The Ferarro quote is all they have. They must be desperate. Obama reminds me of a character in a Greek tragedy. It’s always hubris that leads to the protagonist’s downfall.

    Obama thought he could, as you say, open the door with impunity. He unleashed his Eumenides when he opened that door.

    In Greek drama, the protagonist always has a fatal flaw.

  29. Ohio re set dressing:

    This reminds me of my first thought when watching Obama’s SPEECH on Tuesday – “what’s up with ALL the flags?!!!! ” I know it’s pretty common place to see a battery of american flags these days but it seemed oddly inappropriate in that setting.

    I think the flags accentuated his dour (sp?) appearance and apologetic body language.


  30. I would like to think it is all over for Obama but I hesitate to underestimate the animus toward the Clintons from the Kennedy/Pelosi/Dean wing of the party. I hesitate to underestimate the willingness of the Dem. party to commit political suicide (best evidence to date: failure of the DNC to come up with a solution/compromise to MI and FL). The Weatherman Underground connection between Obama and Dhorn et al is out there (see Taylor Marsh post for a stunning video clip on this) but that may never make the media the way the Rev. and his church have. Hillary is probably going to have to win all remaining primaries to drive home the point that the Obama bloom has fallen off the pumpkin and Obama’s drop in the polls has to continue down. If these things happen, then it is really over and I think Obama will have to concede. I am not sure he is capable of conceding. Richardson’s endorsement was sickening and he looked creepy—beard/etc. What was with that???? If we get to a brokered convention, maybe we will see the re-emergence of Gore. The anti-Clinton ardor truly confounds me—I understand the Republican version of that but the intensity of the Democratic version makes no sense. Jangles, justanothertypicalwhiteperson/jatwp

  31. elixir, the flag thing is funny because my girlfriend looked at the set and said, “WTF with the flags?”

    ‘Cept it wasn’t exactly, “WTF,” if you get my drift.

    Anybody else think that perhaps Sen. Clinton should stop doing the expected now? She really has nothing to lose.

    I don’t think giving a speech on sexism and misogyny, etc., would help, though reprising her speech on “women’s rights are human rights” regarding the current slaughter could be good. And necessary. This election isn’t just about me and my wallet. It’s about what me and my wallet and my country is going to do in the world and what we mean to other people in the world.

    She could give an, “I see America,” speech without repeating the usualy, “hardworking, god-lovin’,” crap and intead focus on what we can really accomplish together.

    Like comparing vision with goals and vision without goals. JFK gave us a great vision, “We’re going to land on the moon in ten years.”

    That’s BIG VISION stuff. With measurable and demonstrable goals and a legacy that spans even national boarders. Can anyone say, “International Space Station?” It also has required sacrifice—Kristie McAuliffe, I may not spell your name right, but I know what you meant to me and my fellow citizens.

    Because you can never make the big dream real if you’re not willing to give something up in return.

    Contrast this with vision without goals: CHANGE. UNITY. FAITH. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Talking about vision without having goals and accepting sacrifice is a great way into a war without end.

    Ah, crap. sadbuttrue speaks wisdom.

  32. Lori, I think Obama jumped the gun on his “turn” not because he has a massive personality problem (although the foamier of his supporters certainly seem to).

    He jumped the gun because he and his handlers assumed that, since his opponent would likely be the hated and reviled Gorgon of Armageddon, his chances would be better this time than they likely would be in 2012. That’s the only reason he hopped in before he’d sat on the vine long enough.

    When Clinton does mental math like that, it’s called “calculating.” Hm.

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