Last night was a big night for Hillary Clinton. She won Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island. It started out good for Obama, with Vermont extending his winning streak to twelve in a row. Where there was a good chance that Clinton would would be thinking seriously about dropping out yesterday, there is apparently no chance of that now. But breaking Obama's winning streak is not winning in itself and Clinton still trails in the delegate count.
In other words, she's still losing. Obama has -- according to the New York Times -- 1,311.5 (?) total delegates, while Clinton has 1,211, including superdelegates. Clinton also suffers from Texas's incredibly stupid primary/caucus system. Where 2/3 of the delegates were assigned by the primary, a caucus that same night went to Obama. Since the vote was so close in the primary, Obama may take the majority of delegates. Like I say, it's an incredibly stupid system. I think it was designed by someone with a railroad spike in their head. As far as I can tell, no delegates have been officially assigned from that win.
Even with her string of wins last night, the math doesn't look very good for the Clintonistas.
Jonathan Alter, Newsweek (written before returns came in yesterday):
Hillary Clinton may be poised for a big night tonight, with wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. Clinton aides say this will be the beginning of her comeback against Barack Obama. There's only one problem with this analysis: they can't count.
I'm no good at math either, but with the help of Slate’s Delegate Calculator I've scoped out the rest of the primaries, and even if you assume huge Hillary wins from here on out, the numbers don't look good for Clinton. In order to show how deep a hole she's in, I've given her the benefit of the doubt every week for the rest of the primaries.
In this statistical experiment, Alter gives her better numbers than she got in some contests. Clinton takes Ohio 55-45 (actual was 54-44), Rhode Island 55-45 (actual; 58-40), Texas 53-47 (actual; 51-47), and ties Vermont (actually Obama win; 60-38). Alter then goes on to give her Wyoming, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Guam, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon... Well, everything. Clinton does not lose a single contest and all her wins are substantial. What are the results of winning every damned state there is left to win, complete with seating the delegates in Florida and Michigan?
So at the end of regulation, Hillary's the nominee, right? Actually, this much-too-generous scenario (which doesn't even account for Texas's weird "pri-caucus" system, which favors Obama in delegate selection) still leaves the pledged-delegate score at 1,634 for Obama to 1,576 for Clinton. That's a 58-delegate lead.
"So no matter how you cut it, Obama will almost certainly end the primaries with a pledged-delegate lead, courtesy of all those landslides in February," Alter writes. "Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people."
Perhaps, in this scenario that I can't help but call the Jonathan-Alternate Universe (sorry), she can manage to do this. The question is should she?
Democrats still have a bad taste in their mouth from 2000. Even if you believe that Bush won fair and square, no one disputes the fact that he lost the popular vote. Person by person, more people voted for Gore. Bush's first term was democracy denied, as the electoral college (never mind the Supreme Court) gave him the White House. Even if we ignore the election irregularities, even if we ignore the Supreme Court, even if we assume that a bunch of people in Miami meant to vote for Pat Buchanan and the butterfly ballots were clear and easy to use, Bush won on what can only be called a technicality and the will of the people was reversed.
If the Democratic nomination is given by the superdelegates to Clinton, despite the fact that Obama won the primaries, then many Democrats -- the majority, in fact -- will once again be left with a bad taste in their mouth. And all those new voters, those new Democrats that Obama has been bringing to the party, will get the message that the Democrats don't give a damn about them or their work. That the party is democratic in name only and that, if the establishment doesn't like their nominee, that nomination will be overturned. That everything they've done, all the organizing and new voter registration and phone banks were a sham -- no matter how hard you work and no matter how well your candidate does, they'll throw your ass out on the street if the establishment doesn't agree. The message will be that primaries didn't count for crap and neither did your vote. The message will be, "Thanks kid, now get the hell out."
And that helps the party and the nation how? Hillary may have won a few races last night, but not enough to make her frontrunner or even enough to make a future nomination possible. At least, not if we give a damn about the will of the people and democracy.
For the record, I don't see the superdelegate vote going contrary to the popular vote. Not only hasn't that been the history of this thing so far, but it's a pretty sure bet that their constituents won't like it. There's also the "coattails" factor to consider -- who's more likely to bring in the voters needed to widen majorities in the House and Senate, the people's nominee or the superdelegates'? You want those new Democrats to come back in November.
Clinton's continued campaign is a loser. She won't be the nominee and she isn't helping the party anymore. I don't know if she feels entitled to the nomination or what, but there really isn't any reason for her to continue. The battle last night was won, but the war was lost weeks ago.
Technorati tags: politics; elections; 2008; Democrat; Barack Obama; primary; Hillary Clinton won Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island, but how is she supposed to win the nomination?