Some of you know that I'm extremely cautious about making predictions. They have a bad tendency to come back and bite you in the ass. When I do, I always make sure to include plenty of qualifiers and always make it clear that I'm speaking from one moment in history -- the future is not written yet, so any forecasts can't be presented as fact.
Occasionally, however, it's completely unavoidable and you have to write about what you think will happen. Especially in a presidential campaign. With all eyes on the future, you really can't speak only of the present. We live in the present and so do the facts, but the future is where our goals are and it's in the future that all the candidates place most of their rhetoric. In an election, the future is the topic of discussion.
Prior to Super Tuesday, I wrote that Hillary Clinton had yet to actually win a contest. Her two popular vote victories were a tie and a loss in terms of delegates, so I wrote this:
Which puts the momentum behind Obama, who isn't losing any time capitalizing on it. Depending on when you read this, Sen. Ted Kennedy either will or has endorsed Obama. Kennedy's endorsement adds dem leadership to the Obama camp, which earlier scored a big win with Sen. John Kerry's endorsement -- which assumedly comes with the "Golden Rolodex" of fundraising contacts from Kerry's '04 run.
Although Associated Press has found that it's mathematically impossible for anyone to claim the nomination even after Super Tuesday, you could argue that -- at this point in time, at least -- the primaries are Obama's to lose. The man is on a roll.
And so, the rolling Barack Obama rolls on. His winning streak is beginning to take on Al Gore/global warming proportions, with the success of his message spilling over into other endeavors. He won five races this weekend -- Louisiana, Washington state, Nebraska, Maine and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Then, to top it all off, he won a freakin' Grammy for the audio version of The Audacity of Hope.
There are signs that this roll will continue. There are three primaries tonight, which the media have named either "The Potomac Primaries" or "The Beltway Primaries," depending on who you ask -- Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Camp Clinton finds itself on the defense in all three:
Clinton aides have tried to dampen expectations, publicly stoking the prospect of an Obama sweep today. But strategic moves by both sides in recent days indicate that Virginia is positioned as Clinton's likeliest target of opportunity.
Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign's communications director, said Virginia was "a state along with Maryland and others in February where Sen. Obama has significant advantages. We have long factored that reality into our planning."
Three Virginia polls released over the last few days, all putting Obama ahead of Clinton by at least 15 percentage points, gave credence to Wolfson's caution. The latest, issued Sunday and conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, showed Obama leading Clinton 53% to 37%. In surveys last year, Clinton held double-digit leads.
In addition to his lead in Virginia, an American Research Group poll that shows a 56% to 38% lead in Maryland. A lot of people are making a lot out of the fact that DC is 60% black, which common wisdom says favors Obama, but DC also has a love/hate relationship -- heavily favoring hate -- with a federal government that micromanages their city. Again, though, advantage Obama. Clinton's message of "experience" underscores her Washington insider bona fides and, for Washingtonians anyway, brands her as part of the problem, not the solution.
Coming up next week, Wisconsin and Hawaii. I finally get to vote. In Hawaii, I think Obama's a lock -- he used to live there, so there's some hometown boy thing going on there. Still, you never know. Wisconsin looks like Obama country too. I'd imagine he pretty much owns Milwaukee and Madison and my observation of the state shows that if you win those two cities -- the largest and second largest respectively -- you carry Wisconsin. At least one source backs me up:
Obama's campaign, according to an internal document published by Bloomberg News last week, projects a 7-point victory over Clinton in Wisconsin, garnering him 40 of the state's 74 delegates. Obama, a senator from neighboring Illinois, expects a close race statewide, except in Milwaukee, where blacks comprise a large share of the Democratic vote and he is likely to win decisively.
History also backs me up. The student vote from the UW-Madison has swung this city more than once and Obama seems to own that demo. The student vote is notoriously hard to poll, leaving that group largely unscrutinized.
So, once again, I find myself going out on a limb and offering a cautious, sorta-kinda prognostication. And that forecast hasn't changed any from the last time: You could argue that -- at this point in time, at least -- the primaries are Obama's to lose. The man is on a roll.
Technorati tags: politics; elections; 2008; Democrat; primary; Virginia; Maryland; Washington, DC; Hawaii; Wisconsin; Hillary Clinton's watching Barack Obama move ahead