It’s Over, Hillary. Let it Go.

You know, today would be an excellent day for the mandarins of the Democratic Party to pay a call to Hillary Clinton, sit her down and then, kindly and gently, and with full appreciation of everything she’s done for party and country, stick a goddamn fork in her. She suffered a 14-point blowout in North Carolina and while she scraped up a bare popular vote victory in Indiana, in the realpolitik terms of delegates, she tied. Combine the popular vote and the delegate allotment from both states, and she’s the huge loser for the evening. She lost. She’s done. She’s fallen down and she can’t get up.

But wait, you say, what if she manages to get the delegates from Michigan and Florida seated? And then convinces the superdelegates to roll her way? And then uses the Clinton machine at the convention back rooms to seal the deal? She could still get the nomination! Well, no. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure even now the Clinton apparatchiks are plotting out some Rube Goldberg-like contraption of an strategy that lands their gal into the White House. But in the real world, at this point, the fallout of a Hillary nomination and the positively un-small-“d”-democratic machinations that would be required to make it happen would be surpassingly grim, since among other things it essentially gut punches pretty much every Democrat who is either African-American or under the age of 40, Chelsea Clinton excepted. Throwing these folks under the proverbial bus is not the way to actually win an election. One advantage the Democrats have over the GOP is that significant slices of the GOP base actively dislike their nominee; it would be ill-advised for the Democrats to offer up a candidate with the same qualities.

And while one should never underestimate the Democratic Party’s ability to fuck up a cakewalk, I think in this case they’re not quite that dumb. Outside of the Clinton camp, it’s hard to see how anyone in the Democratic Party can see the Clinton campaign as anything more than an affectation at this point. It’s time to send in the grand old men of the party to tell her that it’s time to let it go. And if she won’t let it go — she is a Clinton, after all — then it’s time for them to metaphorically get up and start turning off the lights around her. Just because she’s still pretending she has a chance doesn’t mean anyone else is obliged to any more.

146 thoughts on “It’s Over, Hillary. Let it Go.

  1. Eh, I dunno, a 155 deficit lead is not “fringe candidate who should shut up and go away” territory. At this point there is a good case to let it play out to the convention. She has plenty of supporters who would be disappointed by her loss, too, so how come they get “thrown under the bus” without a second thought? Is disregarding them “no way to win an election”?

  2. John, I think you’re missing something, which is that a fair number of older, blue-collar democrats believe some things about their party and this race that are far outside the conventional wisdom, not to mention political correctness.
    To summarize the things that the older folks in my life believe about this race:
    1) it’s inconceivable that a woman would not defer to her husband, so this is really Bill running again
    2) the environmentalists, the people on the welfare rolls, and this Obama guy, we don’t know who they are, but the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for those things.
    3) (all of the various tripe about Obama’s faith, pastor, etc. – it’s strange to watch a mind twist around the idea that Obama is a Muslim AND his Christian pastor is a firebrand)

    I know they’re not necessarily a representative sample, but these are things the Dems have to deal with – I really feel for some of these people on #2 – they believe that the core of the Democratic party is an honest day’s work and a fair wage, just like some deluded GOPers still believe that their party is about small government and personal responsibility. These people have been left behind.

  3. JJ:

    “Eh, I dunno, a 155 deficit lead is not “fringe candidate who should shut up and go away” territory.”

    I’m not aware of calling Clinton a “fringe candidate.” She just can’t win. And no, for the Democrats, there’s really no advantage to having Clinton out there any more, since she can’t win and so the only purpose she serves is to snipe the candidate who will actually win. There’s nothing she’s adding to the mix at this point which is actually beneficial to the Democratic party and its chances in the fall.

    PJ:

    That’s certainly the Clinton argument at this point; I’m not sure the actual demographics of the Obama vote support it. Moreover, in realpolitik terms, I suspect that when it comes right down to it, the older pro-Clinton supporters will vote for their party’s candidate because they’re committed Democrats. Lots of the folks Obama are bringing to the table are new voters or people voting for him, not for the Democratic candidate. They are less likely to vote if Obama’s not the candidate. The Democrats will lose more potential voters — and more newer voters who could be converted to life-long Democrats — without Obama.

  4. If she chooses to gracefully withdraw now or next week, that’s fair enough. If she wants to contest every last primary, so that voters can choose as they like, that’s fine, as long as the kitchen sink strategy is left on the dustheap. (And yes, that means that Obama would have to stop his negative ads about her as well. Detente is not just cool, it’s smart. He needs her supporters.)

    But the ONLY way she can go to the convention and win the nomination, and potentially win in the fall, is if Obama is hopelessly damaged because of his own actions or misfortune before that date. If she does anything that looks like an attempt to steal the nomination from a very popular and viable candidate who has been leading in pledged delegates for month and who will soon have the superdelegate lead, then she’s dividing the party and almost guaranteeing a Democratic loss in the fall.

  5. Watching CNN late last night, one of the talking heads(I don’t remember which; they all begin to blur that late) made what has become an obvious conclusion. After Senator Clinton’s statement about Indiana being the tie-breaker, the head said, “The Clintons have their own version of reality.”

  6. I have to agree. Short of back room delegate manipulation, Clinton can’t win. She needed to get something like 80% of the vote in PA, NC and IN just to get close. She didn’t.

    I like her a lot and I would have voted for her in the fall but I like Obama, too, and it’s time for Hillary to go. Obama beat you. It’s over.

  7. Um, yes, all true, and it would be nice if it happened. But has there been any evidence that she actually cares about the fate of the Democratic party? Has there been any evidence that the “grand old men” of the party have any control over her whatsoever (as opposed to the converse, for which there is ample evidence)?

    You’re not going to win this argument by appealing to her better nature, because as near as anyone has been able to determine she doesn’t really have one.

  8. The real question is not when or how Hillary should withdraw (and she should have a while ago), its how the Obama camp is going to weather the inevitable sabotage.

    The Clinton legacy seems to be one of great success (on the back of real knuckle-busting insider politics) and punishment, retribution and revenge against those who thwart them – party politics or no party politics.

    Hillary is 60. She’ll still be far younger than McCain in four years. She’s got to be figuring that after the Bush 3rd term runs its course, she can run again.

  9. I agree with Steve on every point but the “Bush 3rd term” comment. I think she’s running for ’12 and sees that the only easy way to do that is for Obama to be tainted with a general election loss by then. Honestly if this primary hurts the Dems’ chance that much I’d rather see her win and see her claim that “loser” taint.

  10. FWIW, I carpool with a woman who is a Clinton supporter. On the ride in today, she was of the opinion that Clinton is done and Obama will have the nomination, although she hopes that Clinton would have some voice in the Obama Adminstration.

    Both of us felt that a lot of the “bad vibes” between the candidates comes not from the candidates but from the political pundits on television trying to create a story. Neither of us could think of anything even remotely strong as a “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment. Snippy would be a better way to describe what we’ve seen from the candidates.

  11. It’s weird about this election. I’ve come to both intensely dislike her and have more respect for her at the same time. The phony populism and anti-intellectualism with the whole gas tax idea was really disappointing. I’m not sure if it is just self-delusion or what, but man she is tough.
    I’ve never seen somebody fight quite this hard (that hasn’t been a crackpot) and you kinda have to respect that. She’s burning bridges where the safe thing to do would be to go quietly into the background once it was clear she couldn’t win.

  12. I’m embarrassed by and for her.

    As a white, 40+ year old, female, Democrat, I’m probably in her “demographic.” But I’m at best a Democrate who will vote for the nominee of my party. As this has dragged on, I’ve turned more and more into one of those people who really just wants to vote for Obama.

  13. Although I think it’s possible the Florida delegates will be seated, as someone who actually lives in Michigan, I don’t really see the Michigan delegates getting seated. Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan, it was a SNAFU of epic proportions (we can generally count on democrats for that).

    What I would like to see?

    I would like to see all the remaining superdelegates make a decision–today. Not next week. Not in June. Not at the convention in August.

    Today. If you haven’t made up your mind by now, I don’t want you representing me anyway.

    Make the damned decision so whoever wins can start pulling money together to hammer McCain back into the ground.

  14. “And while one should never underestimate the Democratic Party’s ability to fuck up a cakewalk, I think in this case they’re not quite that dumb.”

    Yes they are. And so is the Republican party.

    The problem is the actual candidates have strong motivations to go for short-term goals regardless of the long-term ‘health of the party’.

    I really don’t blame her for wanting to stay in. If you were close to becoming the President of the United States, wouldn’t you keep trying to win? She still has a chance of winning. A very small chance, but it is there.

  15. In some vague way I can’t quite define, Obama reminds me of John F Kennedy. Clinton reminds me of Richard Nixon.

    All she can do now is quit gracefully (not bloody likely) or continue to try to destroy Obama, so that he will have a harder time beating McCain in November. For the good of the party, she needs to quit. For her own good, she needs to continue fighting. So which will it be? Put good of the party before herself? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

  16. Sean:

    I get the ‘hate and respect’ thing at this point. Even some Republican pollster on Nattering Pedantic Robots this morning said that a lot of Republicans have come to admit a grudging respect for her toughness.

    That being said, I agree, it’s time to fold up the tents and go home. I think Scalzi’s on point, in that the Dems have a legendary ability to lose what should be guaranteed victories.

  17. That is true Buck. She does need to call it a day. I think the plus side for this is that nobody will be able to make the case that Obama hasn’t had a tough test in an election when we get to the general election.

    Maybe I’m just naive, but I really don’t see how the Dem’s could mess it up badly enough to lose. McCain’s kinda had the pressure off him as Hillary and Obama duke it out, but when the public gets to see what he is really all about outside the “maverick” image most people have, the shine is gonna tarnish.

  18. Bush 3rd term???

    I don’t like McCain but I dont see him being a yes man for Bush as opposed to Hillary serving a 3rd term Bill.

  19. @ 19: certainly if the Democratic nomination had been wrapped up by Super Tuesday they’d be cruising to an easy win, but now I think they’ll have run a very competent race to put McCain away

  20. I second Eric @16. Both parties can and routinely do fuck up the cakewalks. Somehow, the Republican primary managed to come to a fairly quick and decisive end. This does NOT mean that they are safely walking thru cake.

    As to John’s point about significant Republican dissatisfaction with McCain, pretty much all of ‘em over 35 remember how the ’92 election worked out. I think they’ll come out and vote. I haven’t heard any of my Republican friends saying they’ll stay home. Of course, living in FL, we’ve been busy asking our Dem friends what the latest Byzantine seating arrangement is at the convention, and then giggling when they get the angry forehead vein.

  21. Let’s face it, the vast majority of politicians are cowards. For the most part, if you don’t slavishly follow the political winds, you don’t win elections. That’s why the super-delegates have stayed undecided. Can we really expect them to stand up to the Clinton machine, even if there’s no chance she’ll get the nomination? After all, there are plenty of elections after this one. And the Clintons are nasty enemies.

    Hillary Clinton is trying to destroy Barack Obama’s chances in November. It’s not so much about getting the nomination this year, though she’ll certainly do anything to manage that. But if Obama does lose the general election, then Clinton will be the ‘winner,’ so to speak. And any politician who goes against the evil empire this year will face payback in the years to come. So most of these timid politicians are still playing it safe, hoping that OTHER super-delegates force her from the race, so they don’t have to take a courageous stand.

    Well, I’m not going to say that the Democrats look as bad as the Republicans, because that’s certainly overstating the situation. But they’re not looking very good, are they? Racism seems to work almost as well in the Democratic Party as for the GOP. And the Clintons have adopted – successfully – Karl Rove’s entire playbook. I’m increasingly disgusted with the people who are letting this happen. Are we different from the GOP or not?

  22. Over at IllDoctrine.com, Jay Smooth made a video to illustrate what’s going on right now:

    “A secret source got us this footage of Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Democratic party leaders, after the results of last night’s primaries in NC and Indiana. [WARNING: this clip contains adult language, which is not surprising if you saw how last night went for Hillary.]”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-cQQ3cClhQ

  23. It was going so well. Reasonable, well-written, agreeable political commentary…

    Until you used the “throw [noun] under a bus” cliché.

    It’s time to throw the term “thrown under a bus” under a bus.

    No more throwing under buses!

  24. Apparently, this post was written in some sort of bizarre parallel universe where the Clintons are known for actually yielding to circumstances, opponents, or reality. Neither one of them ever budged an inch during the impeachment, and compared to Congress trying to throw Bill’s lying ass out of office, a 150-delegate difference is nothing.

    The popular vote is utterly irrelevant. Since Obama and Clinton have a 51/49 split, it’s the superdelegates that matter; the state primaries are empty window dressing. Clinton will either have the nomination, or she’ll destroy the Democratic Party.

  25. Clinton may be within 155 votes, but that’s merely an artifact of the way the Democratic party allocates proportionate delegates for the vote. If they used winner-take-all, like the republicans, I’m fairly certain it would be an obvious blow out for Obama, given his 30 states to her 11.

    However, even with the system we have, that tiny difference of 155 delegates is as insurmountable a lead as 2 minutes at the last mile of a marathon. Clinton is approaching the point where she has to win every state by 70% of the vote, which is simply not possible.

    It’s time to quit. And to her credit, I saw a lot of hints in her speech last night that she recognizes it, and is ready. I think it’s just a matter of when and where she decides to do it.

  26. If the delegates from Florida and Michigan are not seated and there is no re-vote, whatever, no surprise. They’re just two states that are battleground in the general election. I know that Michigan is hard to count, as Clinton was the only mainstream name on the ballot. Florida, however, should be counted in the popular vote–it’s beautiful, because the candidates didn’t advertise there. The voters could decide based on who they though was the best candidate instead of by a few persuasive words or speeches!

    Just because they are not seated is no reason to completely ignore them!

  27. I think it’s a mistake to say that the superdels haven’t made up their minds. I suspect that almost all of them have; they just don’t want to announce yet, for reasons ranging from “I don’t want to admit that I’m voting for a candidate if he or she then drops out” to “I don’t have to commit until the convention, and so I’m not going to commit until the convention.” I’ve seen interviews with several “uncommitted” superdelegates, and every one has said, “I have made my decision, and I am not going to announce it until the primaries are done.”

    This is annoying for people who don’t want to wait that long (I’m looking at you, Blitzer), but I don’t think that it’s unreasonable of them. And if some superdelegates really ARE undecided, what of it? There are still three months until the convention; if they truly want to see more of the candidates, I think they should take that time. Rushed decisions haven’t served our nation too well in recent years; I’m content to wait.

  28. 31: I think you have it wrong: deciding and announcing now is in a way a wasted vote. The supers can use the leverage of their votes to get any favor under the sun. That’s why they’re waiting. We might think it’s indecent of them to hold out and not decide today but from their standpoint, that’s like throwing away an ambassadorship, a cabinet post, or at least some shiny pork.

  29. Many of the superdels also seem to be holding out at the behest of the campaigns — the pattern of the last week where every day Clinton announces N and then Obama announces 2N superdelegates suggests that each camp is holding superdelegates “in reserve” and timing their announcements to create a drumbeat of endorsements. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that in fact nearly every superdel is known by the campaigns to be in one camp or the other at this point, and the only reason that we plebs don’t know is that it’s not consistent with current campaign strategy.

  30. In my very unscientific count, if the Democrats used a winner take all approach, Obama would have 1,492 delegates and Clinton would have 1,520. That doesn’t include Florida or Michigan.

  31. It’s not only the Clintons that seem to be living in a different reality. The elephant has been doing so since Reagan left office, and the donkeys have joined them. Perhaps not “joined”; whether they’re with the elephants or not I don’t know, but neither is in the reality outside my window.

  32. I find it very telling (if the reports are true) that Ms. Clinton has had to loan her campaign over $11 million. I hope we still live in a society where you can’t buy your way into the White House.

    JUSTME @13, I am in the same demographic. I have a son who will be old enough to draft in four years. McCain scares the hell out of me, but Ms. Clinton’s recent comments on the Middle East make me afraid of what she might be willing to to to “prove” her toughness.

    BTW, that child of mine routinely comes home from school and asks if he can “youtube” Mr.Obama’s latest speech! He is gearing up to work on Mr. Obama’s reelection in ’12.

    Through all of the garbage thrown at Mr. Obama lately, with Rev. Wright, he has kept his cool and behaved like a person I would trust in a crisis. Character does matter.

    I can understand why Ms. Clinton doesn’t want to quit. She has made history with this campaign. The person who makes me angry in this political season is Mr. Edwards. If he had endorsed one of them last week, or even last month, we could be gearing up to defeat the Republicans. I am so disappointed in him.

  33. Hello? West Virginia here.

    Some of happen to like the fact that for the first time in decades we get to have a say in the primaries.

    As far as I’m concerned, all those jerks who keep inching their primaries earlier and earlier are getting what they deserve.

    You don’t like it? Too bad. This is a democratic process, where we’re supposed to have a say in who our candidate is.

    From where I’m sitting, this drawn out primary is fantastic–the number of voters going out to vote is through the roof, and people are paying attention not just to the presidential primary, but to state and local primaries, something that hasn’t happened for as long as I’ve been voting.

    You don’t like the process running this long, then do something about the states dragging their primaries into January rather than telling those of us who hold later primaries, “I’m sorry, we’re tired of waiting around and we don’t want you to have a say in the process.”

    Too bad. Sit down, shut up, and let this rest of us have our measly say in the democratic process.

    Let me enjoy putting Obama ’08 signs in my yard and having it MEAN something.

  34. As one of your under-40 Democrats who supports Obama, I can say you’ve hit the nail right on the head — if the Democratic party decides to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates in order to give Clinton the nod, then when November rolls around, I’m staying home and refusing to vote.

    The statistical likelihood of Hillary Clinton winning the nomination now is insanely low when we’re playing by the rules. If they opt to throw out the rules to let her win, then that’s a group I want no business with.

    I realize that my sitting home could contribute to a McCain victory, which would fuck things up even more, but I’d rather have that than have to vote for a party that can’t pull it’s head out of its collective ass and play by the rules.

    (I also am aware that by not voting, I forfeit my right to bitch about the President, whomever it may be, for the following four years.)

  35. Scalzi, you poor, deluded man. It is so far from “not over” that it’s not even funny.

    Let’s break it down: As of today, Obama needs another 200 delegate votes to clinch the nomination. He can’t get them. There are only another 277 total delegate votes up for grabs, and all of them are from proportionally-assigned states. To get a clear field, Obama would need to win 73% of the votes cast in the remaining states. So far, he hasn’t managed to pull off that kind of support anywhere — not even Illinois. Especially given the trouble he’s had while in the front-runner position, he’s not likely to suddenly gain 15-20% more support in the next three weeks.

    That means the DNC has two options: buy Clinton off, or watch the two candidates slug it out. Option one can be discounted; there’s nothing Obama or the DNC committee can offer to Clinton which she doesn’t already have. What she does want is power, the one thing dropping out of the race will surely exclude.

    So, it’s down to a slugfest — and what a slugfest it’ll be! Remember November, 2000? How every damn thing in the Florida was contested, even though time after time every fair recount showed Bush with a slight edge? Well, remember whose VP Gore was. He got on famously with the Clintons because they were cut from the same cloth.

    The seeds of this harvest were planted eight years ago. So, sit back and enjoy the legal wrangling over what kind of representation Florida (again!) and Michigan are being denied — and whether other states had tainted election processes, and any other damn thing which can legally be contested. No doubt the Democrats will finally be able to settle on a clear choice of Obama — some time in late October, after a SCOTUS ruling.

  36. The funny thing is, I am in NC and watching the news last night, I heard the TV guys say, “wow this is really exciting, we need to move up our primary so we get this excitement everytime.”

    Everyone should move up their Primaries next time.

  37. Dan Bailey @ 39,
    The implications of a McCain presidency will ripple out for much more than four years. You will also forfeit your right to complain about any new wars, any more destruction of the environment, the degradation of our education system (can you say “vouchers?”) and the far-right shift of the Supreme Court for decades to come.

    If Ms. Clinton gets the nomination, I will campaign my heart out for her, because the alternative is beyond my greatest nightmares. Of the three final candidates, she was my third choice. If she is the one we wind up with, I will put my personal preference aside and do what I think is best for the country, and the world.

    As I said before, I have a son who will be old enough to draft in four years. I will not sit home in November because I am not happy with the choice of MS. Clinton. I don’t see that as a reasonable choice for me, give what is at stake.

  38. Four bits:

    RMK@37:

    Some of happen to like the fact that for the first time in decades we get to have a say in the primaries.

    Why are the primaries staggered? Wik says that one advantage is to “weed out” candidates. I can sort of see that, but then why don’t the primary schedules rotate or something? Maybe I’d feel different if I were an Iowan, but… I just don’t get it.

     

    Scalzi:

    One advantage the Democrats have over the GOP is that significant slices of the GOP base actively dislike their nominee;…

    That may be so, but no matter who emerges out of the Dems’ bloodbath… er, I mean, nomination… McCain will still be, on whole, to their right. Any GOP-ers or conservatives (social, fiscal, or otherwise) who protest by withholding or throwing a vote would really be shooting themselves in the foot.

     

    Dan @39:

    I realize that my sitting home could contribute to a McCain victory, which would fuck things up even more…

    (This is more a related comment than a rebuttal/response, btw.) It’s remarkable to me that people on both sides of the aisle are so firmly convinced that with the other party in power, ‘things’ will completely spin out of control and collapse. Has politics always been like this? (For reference, I’m 27, have only really been paying attention to politics since ~2003.) To my understanding, our political machine has just as much (if not way more!) inertia as it did 20, 40, 50 years ago, and if things really did start to truly slide into the abyss, there would be time & opportunity to pull back. <shrug> Perhaps this is over-optimistic of me, dunno. In any event, the ~apocalyptic language that’s sometimes used when discussing the victory of an opposing politician… just gets under my skin.

     

    No one in particular:

    To anyone here who’s seen the film adaptation of Clancy’s Patriot Games, does the Democratic primary ordeal here remind you at all of the boat chase scene at the end? Like… Hillary is Sean Miller & the rest of the Dems are the other two in the boat… and Hillary is well-prepared to pop a few rounds into ‘em and toss ‘em overboard to get what she wants. Makes it an unpleasant time to be a Democrat… feel for ya, folks.

  39. I’ve actually come to terms with her running and I think I actually *appreciate* the fact that she’s swiping at Obama. I think it’s much better for him to take these pot shots now than in October.

    Can you imagine what would happen if the Wright thing hit in October? At least now he’s got his dirty laundry out in the open and come the fall when the Dems start airing McCain’s dirty laundry (and there is much of it) there won’t be anything new for McCain to hit back with.

    By then the Wright thing will seem old meme.

    (says the 41 year old woman who supports Obama)

  40. I would of put money down that the democrats had the election this year. Because of what has happened.

    Didn’t doubt it. If Hitler (Democrat) vs Jesus (Republican) were running it still would have been a democrat victory because of the war. I had no doubt on that. Figured it was a guaranteed victory for the Democrats.

    Then this happened between Hilary and Barack.

    I think the Republicans might actually have a chance this year because of the bickering in the Democratic party.

    The one thing I am most curious about is that the exit polls say that many of Hilary’s supporters will vote for McCain if Barack gets the nomination. But many of Barack’s voters will vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination. Why is that? I have my dark suspicions and really hope they are not true.

    Thoughts?

  41. @ Michelle in 37:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m an unaffiliated voter in NC, and while I normally vote in the primaries (whichever one’s more interesting, this year the Democrats), I was pleased that my vote in the presidential primary got to be relevent this time. I advocate a system that would move the primary season closer in to the conventions — maybe even something ridiculous like running all 50 states on consecutive days in the order we joined up, with DC and the territorries at the end. The only folks who really seem to profit from the early primary season are the news media, who get to rake in the advertising dollars for almost a year this way.

    I remember in ’04, thinking that there might be chance at relevence for NC when Edwards was running in second, but as the gap widened and he jumped on board Kerry’s ticket, we got little more than a few rallies out of the deal. This year, we’ve had record turnouts, massive voter registration, and all kinds of active participation in the democratic process. Here’s hoping we get it again some day (if history serves as any indication, it’ll be another 30 years or so).

  42. After reading all the comments so far, I am more skeptical about the outcome than I was before. I fear it will come down to superdelegates at the convention, sitting in dark rooms with one or both Clintons, asking “So, what’s in it for me? I’d like to be an ambassador or a judge.”

    And Random @37,38 Don’t apologize. You hit it exactly right. But what we need is some way to have all the states have the same choice of candidates. Letting the first few decide for everyone has always been morally wrong. Either dump the sham of primaries altogether (all together?) or make 3 or 4 regional primaries with states not allowed to change dates under any circumstances.

    as for “One advantage the Democrats have over the GOP is that significant slices of the GOP base actively dislike their nominee;…” yes, but they dislike liberal democrats more. Eschew prenatal poultry enumeration.

  43. It’s amazing how, at “done,” Clinton keeps winning states. I mean, she’s completely done. No point in voting for her, and everyone knows it. Well, except for the majority of voters in Indiana. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo that she’s done. Stupid voters, voting for a candidate who has the audacity to keep running, even though neither candidate can win this election before the convention.

    Why does nobody ever point out that Obama can’t win before the convention unless Clinton drops out? He can’t win unless she hands it to him. Either one is a fine candidate, but it’s not like he has any chance at all of gaining the nomination before the convention, either. Losing is losing, and both candidates continue to win AND lose throughout this process. I know it’s mean to Obama to not let him gain the nomination by default, but elections aren’t Little League.

  44. Brian — “has politics always been like this?” Yes and no. I’ve been involved in politics since 1963 (Pilots for Goldwater); it’s always been a blood sport, but until Vietnam it was usually a back-room private blood sport.

    Both parties had liberals, both parties had conservatives, and extremists from either side were (if admitted) kept on very short leashes. Progress was usually by the liberals or the conservatives of both parties getting together and making compromises that the other faction (of both parties) could agree to.

    I think it was probably television that changed it, you could get your face on the air by saying things out of school, so to speak, and too many of them were too tempted. Along the way the idea that “the USA is a democracy” gained currency; the founders fears of mob rule are coming true.

    I stopped carrying water for the elephant long ago, and usually refer to myself as a “Rational Anarchist”.

  45. Michelle K @ #37 — That feeling of wanting their vote to count is EXACTLY why different states have tried and will continue to try to get their primaries moved up. Think Iowa and New Hampshire are ever going to say, “Hey, we’ve had our turn, it’s somebody else’s turn to have candidates traipsing all over their state and making insane promises to try to win a little support from their early primary”?? Yeah, good luck on waiting for that to happen.

    The whole thing is set up in such a way that large parts of the electorate don’t feel that their vote is meaningful. I understand why we’ve got the system we do, and I even prefer it over some other alternatives, but it does have some flaws, and this is one of them. We could fix this particular bug, but it would require unpalatable (and perhaps politically unworkable) changes. It’s hard to get any significant impetus for change, because there will be no incentive to work for change from the people who benefit from the status quo (see “Iowa” and “New Hampshire”, for example).

    What’s the answer? I surely wish I knew.

  46. Basically, it really doesn’t matter who gets elected, or how much experience anyone has, or who really was in the sniper scope…..it’s all become American Idol, and if they could figure a way for everyone to text message their votes in, they’d do it in a FLASH!

  47. There is a logic to Hillary staying in for three more weeks.

    The next three contests are West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon. Obama will likely win Oregon, but WV and KY are difficult demographically for him. Not impossible, but difficult. If she stays in the race and wins those two states, it’s explainable. If she drops out but still wins those two states, well, that doesn’t look too good for the Obama campaign.

    McCain still hasn’t cracked 80% in any Republican contest, although last night he got close and pulled 77% in Indiana.

    John Ashcroft can tell you, it’s extremely embarassing to lose an election to a dead man.

  48. htom @50: “I think it was probably television that changed it…”

    <nod>, I’m with you on that. It’s interesting, I was talking to my research advisor last week, and he also said that visual media probably has been a major factor in how politics has changed, and overall for the worse… he mentioned a book by Garrison Keillor (can’t seem to find it on Amazon) talking about the death of radio ’cause of TV, or something like that. Very interesting.

     

    JJS @48: “Eschew prenatal poultry enumeration.”

    Awesome. Haven’t seen that one before. :-)

     

    Michael N @51:

    We could fix this particular bug, but it would require unpalatable (and perhaps politically unworkable) changes. It’s hard to get any significant impetus for change, because there will be no incentive to work for change from the people who benefit from the status quo (see “Iowa” and “New Hampshire”, for example).

    Do Iowa and New Hampshire (and their Congressional representatives) represent a sufficient number of people/votes to prevent change? I bet a lot of other states (heck, er… all of them?) would be delighted to have a system in place that would redistribute the early-primary attention more evenly.

    I suppose the better, and more depressing, question is: how big are the relevant corporate lobbies that would push for keeping IA and NH in front, compared to those that would push for a continuously redistributed primary system?

    (Have I mentioned lately that politics today drives me nuts?)

  49. JJS@48:

    Ambassador? I’m thinking Hillary Clinton’s starting point, if it came down to that kind of negotiation, would be something more like:

    1. Guam
    2. MSNBC
    3. “Medicare” renamed to “HillaryCare”
    4. “Democratic Party” renamed to “Clinton Party”
    5. Obama’s running mate will be a woman, with legislative experience, from a big blue state that has “New” and “York” in its name.
    6. The 2012 nominee will be selected by Michigan and Florida only.

  50. Nina 53 –

    Ashcroft didn’t so much lose to a dead man as he had no way to campaign against a corpse and the ‘grieving’ widow the governor promised to appoint in his place.

  51. As long as the talking heads keep saying “It’s over”, I think Hillary’s numbers will start to fade and would not be surprised if Obama sweeps all three of the next contests, two by very narrow margins.
    Flipping back and forth between CNN and MSNBC last night, once the Indiana numbers started to change, the talking heads did everything but carve her name on the campaign’s tombstone.
    At the same time, as long as her campaign owes them $11 mil and change, the Clintons aren’t going anywhere.

  52. Patrick @ 49: I know it’s mean to Obama to not let him gain the nomination by default

    Yeah, isn’t it a shame that there’s nothing like a sex scandal in his opponent’s background which would force Clinton out of the election the way Jack Ryan was, when Obama was running for Senate. ;-)

  53. Gerrymander @ 49 … in the immortal words of Hank Hill – you almost made me spit beer.

  54. I’ve been pondering this idea for a while, and since it’s crazy I figured I’d post it here where people could point and laugh.

    The problems with the Democratic primary system as it stands are that:
    – People think all the votes should count for something,
    – Some states going later than other states gives the race some chance to evolve and candidates to get some back-and-forth going
    – There’s something nice about states or state parties deciding when their primary is
    – Proportional delegation (win the vote by 10%, get 10% more delegates, as opposed to winner-takes-all as the Republicans do) prevents decisive victories.
    – Candidates should be tested both in fuzzy win-a-few-more-votes situations and in vicious little winner-takes-all knife-fights, as both skills are relevant to winning the general election.

    Why not declare that some fraction P of a state’s delegates must go proportionally, and (1-P) of them may be winner-takes-all, and that P starts at 100% at the beginning of primary season and decreases to 0% by the end (say, one month before the convention). That would mean that states that go early can’t have decisive contests (preventing the Republican “pick the nominee in New Hampshire and that’s that” system), but states that go later can deliver bigger delegate splits and so remain relevant to all but the most completely unbalanced of contests.

    This would also limit the ability of a state legislature to box a party into breaking the rules (as in Florida) or the ability of a state party to try to blackmail the national party with date-setting games (as in Michigan).

    The system may seem obtuse, but when you look at how delegates are assigned now it’s actually not a huge change (For instance, IIRC NC’s delegates are selected 90% by winner-takes-all within district, 10% proportionally). The major change would be a transfer of power over delegate selection from the state party to the national party, but that seems to be the mood anyway.

  55. One of the things that has really changed, just in television, is the shortness of the “shots”. I was taught in the 1960s that a shot should be held for at least twenty seconds (and that dissolves should be used in preference to cuts) because the audience would lose track of the story thread if they were done faster. Today’s coverage, you rarely see a shot that lasts ten seconds, usually they’re under five.

    They used to be called “actualities”, little thirty-to-sixty second bits of someone speaking (without interruption.) Then they were called “sound bites”, and today, what, “sneezes”? (That’s about how much information there is in one!)

  56. Patrick:

    “It’s amazing how, at ‘done,’ Clinton keeps winning states.”

    Unfortunately for Clinton, winning states doesn’t actually matter; what matters is winning delegates. In Indiana, if I understand the math correctly, Obama and Clinton are walking away with the same number of delegates, thanks to how the Democrats run their primaries. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Obama is leaving with more delegate than Clinton. So Clinton’s position toward the nomination has not advanced; Obama’s has.

    Note that Clinton’s likely to win the popular vote in West Virginia and Kentucky, but in both cases her net gain in delegates won’t get her where she needs to be, particularly with Obama up in Oregon.

    Or to put it another way, Clinton could win every single state left to win in the popular vote, and thanks to how the Democrats run their primaries, as long as the vote totals were close, all she would be doing would be spinning her wheels in the category that really matters: delegate counts.

    Which is to say that unless she wins stunning 70-80% victories in every primary left, she’s done. Which is to say: she’s done.

  57. A few notes on the whole process:

    Check out this fun little toy from CNN: it lets you divide up the remaining states and superdelegates and see how to get to 2025.

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/29/delegate.counter/index.html

    If it is to be believed, Clinton could win West Virginia and Kentucky 70-30, all other remaining primaries 60-40, and take 60% of the uncommitted superdelegates… and still lose to Obama.

    As of last night, Clinton (already losing in the popular vote, even if you include Florida and include Michigan but give the “Undecided” votes in Michigan to Obama) lost another net 200,000 popular votes (up 24,000 or so in Indiana, down around 230,000 in North Carolina).

    Looking just at pledged delegates for the moment, Clinton has 1,419, Obama has 1,588, Edwards has 19, and there are 217 outstanding. That means that Clinton has 43.8% of the delegates, Obama has 49.0% of the delegates, Edwards has 0.6% of the delegates, and 6.7% of the delegates are still outstanding. Obama is, in fact, pretty far ahead — about 5%. Not winning in a landslide or anything, but it’s not a virtual tie. For a while, Clinton’s lead in superdelegates obscured that, but she’s down to a 12 superdelegate lead, and it’s very likely that in the wake of last night’s primaries, Obama will at least narrow that lead further, if not erase it.

    Florida: If Florida hadn’t been stripped of its delegates by the DNC, it would have had 211 delegates, including supers. I don’t know if there are reliable figures about who would have gone where, but Clinton took 50% of the popular vote, Obama 33%, Edwards 14%. If we just divided the 211 into those percentages, then Clinton would take 105 of the delegates, Obama would get 69, and Edwards would get 30.

    Michigan: If Michigan hadn’t been stripped of its delegates by the DNC, it would have had 157 originally, including supers. Again, I don’t have figures for how they would actually be broken down, but the popular vote was Clinton 55%, Uncommitted 40%, Kucinich 4%, Dodd 1% (Obama didn’t appear on the ballot. I don’t think Edwards did either). That would be 86 delegates for Clinton.

    So, if we added Michigan and Florida, even not giving Obama anything from Michigan, Clinton would gain (very roughly) 191 delegates and Obama would gain (very roughly) 69 delegates. That means a net Clinton gain of 122 delegates, and she’d still be noticably behind Obama. That’s counting a large state where his name wasn’t on the ballot, folks.

  58. Actually, since about 12.5 percent of the “Democrats” voting for Hillary were recently Republicans until they changed registration to vote against Obama, you really can’t count Indiana as a close victory. Take out those false-flag ballots and Hillary lost the popular vote.

  59. I hate to break out the “I read it somewhere” line, but I have to…

    I read somewhere (it may have been John’s old college buddy’s site) the fact that the big problem is that there are no “grand old men” to do exactly what John suggests here. Seriously: can you name three respectable, powerful Democrats that you could picture having this conversation with the Clintons?

    I have absolutely no qualms with Clinton continuing her campaign. It ain’t my money (and speaking of, the $6.4 million check she had to write to her own campaign isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of her financial stance). That being said, here’s the one thing I’d say to her right now: You realize that if you win the nomination, but lose the general, you and your husband will in all likelihood be frozen out of this party forever, a la Lieberman? If that’s a wager you want to take, based on the poll numbers I’ve seen on prospective Clinton/McCain matchups, you’ve got bigger balls than I do, madam.

  60. Another Dave,

    Not to dispute the potential Republican mischief, but a vote’s a vote. If it was a legal vote, it counts. She won the popular vote.

  61. What is frightening is that because Obama’s been making an effort to play nice, while Hillary has been channeling Karl Rove something like a third of Hillary supporters say that they would not vote Obama in November if he wins the nomination, while a very much lower proportion of Obama supporters say the same about her.
    Also, she apparently has a majority of the superdelegates who make up the committee which will wind up deciding what to do with the Florida and Michigan delegations. She probably can’t win, she definitely can’t win fairly, but she can royally screw over the party.

  62. @65 Dave, do you really think “Operation Chaos” influenced that many people? I’d give you a few points but 12.5 is pretty high.

  63. And the Clintons have adopted – successfully – Karl Rove’s entire playbook.

    Do you remember the 90s? I think you have that backwards.

    I’m increasingly disgusted with the people who are letting this happen. Are we different from the GOP or not?

    No, you’re not. Politicians are politicians, no matter what letter you put after their name.

  64. Says the AP:

    “Clinton’s appearance in Shepherdstown, W.Va., was meant to underscore her determination to stay the course.”

    Great. Just what we need. Someone else who is determined to fight on, no matter the likelihood of success or the cost.

    Clinton wouldn’t bother me so much if she didn’t remind me a little of Bush in ways that have little to do with policy. Although, to give Bush credit, at least he sticks with a policy position when he chooses one. What exactly are Clinton’s core values, other than “Do what gets votes?”

    As to the remaining race itself, there are only two ways she possibly wins: (1) winning every remaining state by a greater margin than she’s won any state so far, or (2) convince a significant number of superdelegates that the capitalized “D” in “Democrat” is important, and that they should make the un-democratic-with-a-small-d move of going against the candidate who won the popular vote, pledged delegate count, and majority of states. I just don’t see enough superdelegates willing to do that.

    The real question is whether this is over on May 20 (which is when the heads suggested Obama would get a majority of the pledged delegates), or whether some party luminaries somehow convince Clinton to drop out before then. George McGovern just switched over to the Obama side and urged Clinton to withdraw. I wonder if any other notables will do likewise? Walter Mondale, I’m looking at you…

  65. Patrick @ 49, it’s not true that neither candidate can win unless the other drops out. Neither can win enough pledged delegates if the uncommitted superdelegates stay uncommitted, but superdelegate commitments can put it over for Obama (or, as is vanishingly unlikely, for Clinton). If enough supers commit to Obama, Clinton can still stay in through the convention vote if she wants to, of course, but she’ll continue to have no way to win. The best course for her now would be to run out the string in the Huckabee style, purely positive and relatively quiet, and then quit as soon as Obama has 2,025 delegates. (I know the Clinton campaign is talking about 2,209 as the magic number with Florida and Michigan, but that will be settled one way or another by May 31.)

  66. “Patrick @ 49, it’s not true that neither candidate can win unless the other drops out. Neither can win enough pledged delegates if the uncommitted superdelegates stay uncommitted, but superdelegate commitments can put it over for Obama (or, as is vanishingly unlikely, for Clinton). ”

    So, barring superdelegate pledges, which Clinton is being raked over the coals for trying to win, neither candidate can win this before the convention. But Clinton is evil, I know, because she’s actively courting this and still gaining votes (the majority of them in many states), and Obama isn’t getting his hands sullied by this…somehow.

    It’s this wish fulfillment scenario where Obama is Good and Clinton is Evil, because she manages to keep in a race in which she keeps winning a good number of states. It’s not like she’s well and truly far behind, and it’s not some statistical error that American Democrats keep voting for her.

    Is my math wrong, here? Obama has 1845 delegates, needing 180 more to win. There are currently 217 delegates up for grabs, which spread out through primaries, including Puerto Rico, which go until June. So Obama needs to win a HUGE percentage of every single primary up until now, whether you like him better than Clinton or not.

  67. The superdelegates are between the proverbial rock, etc.

    HRC would, without a doubt, be the stronger candidate in the general election. Obama, OTOH, has the “true believers” in his camp. Give the nominaton to Hillary to have a better chance at the WH, and watch the party tear itself apart, or let Obama be annointed, and watch McCain rise from the ashes, and possibly win.

    The popcorn is on.

    BTW, I’m a registered Lib, and I’ll be writing in Fred’s name in the general. I think all 3 candidates are slimy politicians, and those who don’t think that are selective optimists.

  68. 1) Anyone who *wants* the job that badly should *never* be allowed to have it.

    2) Someone who *wants* it that badly will not take “no” for an answer. She will not let it go. She will drive it to the convention hoping that Obama makes a mistake – any mistake – between now and September. She really doesn’t care what the leadership says. In fact, if she wants it as badly as she seems to, she may well declare that she doesn’t care who the “official” democrat nominee is, she will run for office anyway. Of course, she’s not likely to get electoral votes that way, but it is very possible that she will form her own party or just run as a third-party anyway. Say what you will about how she operates, but she does have delegates, she does have the ability and apparent willingness to spoil the entire race for the Dems, so she must be dealt with somehow. She’s already a Senator, so what other potential position could she be offered to induce her capitulation? There is none which she would accept.

    3) If Obama is really smart – and I mean *really* smart, he’ll get himself some major concessions and prominent, yet unchallenging and non-threatening administration position where he can continue to build influence for the next election – in exchange for his concession. He can position himself as a statesman, as a pillar of the democrat party, and, since he is young, he can be a major force for decades to come. He’ll also dodge what will be four to eight years of horrible economic conditions which are coming down the pike.

    Of course, nobody thinks that he’s really in the competition for second prize either…

    4) Meanwhile the Republicans are gleefully watching the Dems burn money like it’s a Kuwaiti oilfield…

  69. Clinton wouldn’t bother me so much if she didn’t remind me a little of Bush in ways that have little to do with policy. Although, to give Bush credit, at least he sticks with a policy position when he chooses one. What exactly are Clinton’s core values, other than “Do what gets votes?”

    Far as I can tell, Clinton’s policy positions are exactly the same as Obama’s. So if she has “no core values”, neither does he. But in fact, they have much the same core values, and thus, either one can win the nomination and progressives should be happy.

  70. I enjoy testing M&M’s against each other to see which one is strongest. That last M&M could probably defeat any randomly selected Reeses Pieces that didn’t go through an equally rigorous testing process. So I like these primaries. Whoever emerges in the fall will be the stronger candidate in every state where there was a contest.

    Re # 66, I suppose it’s just being a young, frivolous woman and all, but I’m glad there are no “grand old men” in the Democratic party who can ‘sit her down and have that conversation with her.’ That story has happened practically forever, and it never has turned out well for us ladies. Or black people either, for that matter. I like the fact that there isn’t an authority who will decide who our candidate is. I don’t like the implication that because I think Hillary should keep fighting, I’m somehow less hopeful that a Democrat will win the election. Or that I don’t like Obama.

    There have been a lot of hotly contested primaries over the years. Or at least some. And in very few of them has one of the candidates been told to get out with such force and – I’m trying to use words carefully here – venom, as Hillary has. At this point I want her to stay not just because I think she’d make as good of a president as Obama, but also for spite. Yes, spite. Because everyone wants her out before the contest is decided. Because no one thinks she could win.

    Point is, nobody knows that. She might win. Young, heroic politicians have fallen out of political races before. The Democratic party will be stronger for having someone there who either over half or almost half the country likes just as well as Obama if that happens.

    I don’t want anything to happen to Obama’s campaign. I like Obama. I’m honestly not certain who I would vote for, were the November election between the two of them. Either one has my vote. Please stop calling for Hillary to stop her scrappy fight. Obama should keep fighting, too. They’re both underdogs, here.

    And like anyone who cheered at Major League, or Down Periscope, or Cinderella, I love a good underdog story. It’s the central American narrative, and I want to see the whole damn thing play out. It’s crucial to that narrative that people beat down on the underdog, but I hate to see the beatdown come from people who I think of as being on my own team.

  71. Patrick:

    “So, barring superdelegate pledges, which Clinton is being raked over the coals for trying to win, neither candidate can win this before the convention.”

    Clinton has no possible chance to match Obama’s elected delegate count. All she can hope for is that the superdelegates overrule the majority of the elected delegates, which is, to put it mildly, an unlikely scenario. The only she’ll be the candidate is if, as other folks have mentioned, she pretty much trashes the future of the Democratic Party doing so.

    Look, no one’s saying Clinton can’t keep going right until the convention. Hey, it’s her money (no, really, it’s her money) so let her do what she wants. But it’s stupid of her to do so, and it’s damaging to the Democratic party.

  72. @Patrick,

    But if Obama gets 39 more delegates he’ll have a majority of the delegates. Not enough to nominate by the rules, but a majority nonetheless. I realize that it’s within the rules for Clinton to still be nominated despite this… but she could not then claim any mandate at all. “The other candidate won more delegates than I, more votes than I, but I still took the nomination from him.” Right, like that will work well.

    The superdelegate system is anti-democratic on the face of it and is a mistake. I’d bet we see it modifed or junked in ’12. As for ’08, the supers should stop cowering, make a fricking decision and make it publicly if they care about the party. If most of them are going to vote for Obama if he gets a majority of delegates, then make that known early vs late. Of course… that would not let them play games. sigh…

  73. As a bit of historical trivia, in 1980 Teddy Kennedy tried to get delegates released from their pledged commitments to Jimmy Carter. Kennedy was much further behind in the delegate count then than HRC is now. Obviously that is the reason for her to fight on.

    These “ceremonial” conventions that are nothing more than the crowning of the nominee who had it in the bag on Super Tuesday are so damn boring, I’m happy to see it come down to the wire for a change!

  74. I fully expect a tire iron wielding fat guy (shades of Jeff Gillooly & Tonya Harding) to be the next step in the Clinton campaign.

    What the heck – she had Vince Foster offed.

  75. “Clinton has no possible chance to match Obama’s elected delegate count.”

    So his non-winning number of delegates “wins” over her non-winning number of delegates? How does that work?

    This is a hotly-contested race, and I don’t doubt that Obama will be the victor here, but this is the process we all agreed to as voting citizens and as Democrats, and I know you’re not saying that it’s illegal or anything, but the implication I’m getting from your post and many comments all over the place is that it’s somehow unethical of her to keep challenging Obama.

  76. Another Dave @65

    Actually, since about 12.5 percent of the “Democrats” voting for Hillary were recently Republicans until they changed registration to vote against Obama, you really can’t count Indiana as a close victory. Take out those false-flag ballots and Hillary lost the popular vote.

    Actually, according to the exit poll, 10% who voted in the Indiana Primary were Republicans and 46% of them voted for Obama.

    Jim G @73

    As to the remaining race itself, there are only two ways she possibly wins: (1) winning every remaining state by a greater margin than she’s won any state so far, or (2) convince a significant number of superdelegates that the capitalized “D” in “Democrat” is important, and that they should make the un-democratic-with-a-small-d move of going against the candidate who won the popular vote, pledged delegate count, and majority of states. I just don’t see enough superdelegates willing to do that.

    Actually there is another way she can win: The “pledged” delgates who are “pledged” to Obama vote for her instead. According to the rules, pledged delegates are not required to vote for whom they were elected to vote for.

    In reality, every delegate to the convention is a Super Delegate.

    Scalzi @ 80

    Clinton has no possible chance to match Obama’s elected delegate count.

    See above. “No possible chance” is a bit strong.

  77. Patrick:

    I think it’s sweet you’re sticking up for Clinton and all, but no matter how you slice it, Clinton’s behind in elected delegates and overwhelmingly unlikely to catch up. No matter how you slice it, the super delegates are going to be extremely reluctant to back a candidate who is manifestly behind in the delegate count, the popular vote count and the number of states her campaign has won. She can’t win. She’s can thrash about a bit, but that’s pretty much it at this point.

    “the implication I’m getting from your post and many comments all over the place is that it’s somehow unethical of her to keep challenging Obama.”

    You should probably then not try to winkle out implications, then, Patrick, and pay attention the words I’ve actually written. To repeat: She’s perfectly within her rights to keep running for president. She’s just stupid to do so, and I expect she’s damaging her party by continuing to do so. Folks in the Democratic party not in her circle of yes-men need to tell her to wrap it up.

    Frank:

    “See above. ‘No possible chance’ is a bit strong.”

    (rolls eyes)

    Fine, Frank. Amendment: outside a conservative leaning-fantasy world where every single delegate to the DNC loses their fucking mind at the last minute, Clinton has no possible chance.

  78. I agree with your post, John, but from a realpolitk point of view we don’t want Clinton to drop out until May 20th. She is going to utterly stomp Obama in Kentucky and West Virginia whether she is in the race or not. To the tune of winning 70-30 or some absurd number like that. She’ll likely win those two states by the biggest margins of anything outside Washington D.C..

    So there are two choices: Obama gets roundly thrashed by an active campaign, or Obama gets roundly thrashed and loses massively to a candidate who isn’t even in the race any more.

    I gotta say that losing badly to a candidate who isn’t even in the race would look very bad. So it’s best that Clinton stays in until May 20th at the very least.

  79. David Bilek:

    “I gotta say that losing badly to a candidate who isn’t even in the race would look very bad.”

    Eh. I suspect Obama, already assured of his candidacy, would make it through the pain just fine.

  80. He’d still win the nomination. But why deliberately court bad press? Clinton staying in until the 20th costs him nothing and prevents the whole fiasco of losing to a candidate not in the race. Plus she can fundraise to pay back the money she loaned her campaign. It’s a win win situation.

    Now, she’s clearly not doing this. She just lent herself 6 million more dollars. I’m just saying that dropping out today would not be an unambiguously good thing. Dropping out May 20th when She wins Kentucky and Obama wins Oregon (putting him at over half of elected delegates) would allow her to exit on a high note and not look like she is being pushed out and would strengthen Obama by not having his campaign lose badly in a pair of uncontested primaries.

    It’s a win-win.

    She won’t drop out even on the 20th, though.

  81. One other effect of Clinton staying in, which flynngrrl alluded to in passing, is that a contested Democratic primary gets Democrats registered to vote. So why not remove one more barrier between Democrats and November’s ballots?

  82. David Bilek:

    I just don’t think anyone will particularly care if Obama were to lose a primary election to a candidate who just dropped out in states no one expected him to win anyway. And given that McCain has yet to win any state with more than 80% of the GOP vote, despite the fact he has no competition anymore, I don’t how much of a selling point that will be for them.

  83. I wonder how many more flawed elections we have to go through before people start to look seriously at ranked choice or range voting as an alternative to the current system. I was part of a small group which came close to getting instant runoff/ranked choice voting passed in our rural county last year. I think if more people had only understood what IRV/RCV actually WAS we’d have won by a landslide. The FairVote site has lots of info for folks who’ve never heard of any of these acronyms. Last I knew, Obama was friendly to the concept of IRV.

    In the meantime, Go Obama! And as for Clinton, in the paraphrased words of The English Beat, “Stand down, Hillary, stand down, please! Stand down Hillary ….”

  84. “The popular vote is utterly irrelevant”

    While this may be quite true, I find it utterly depressing; that’s the kind of mindset that gave us Dubya in the White House in the first place. And I hate the very idea of “superdelegates.” What’s their purpose? To intervene if “the will of the people” doesn’t serve their interests, or if they think they know better? What ever happened to one person, one vote?

  85. And, for god’s sake, Obama’s winning the popular vote! He’s winning the popular vote, he’s winning the pledged delegates, he’s winning overall number of delegates. All of these alternate metrics drive me crazy, not because the notion of using a (relatively sane) alternate metric has no validity, but because people assume that Clinton is winning them. She’s not.

    Obama is winning in overall delegates.
    Obama would still be winning in overall delegates if you included FL and MI.
    Obama is winning in the popular vote.
    Obama would still be winning the popular vote if you included FL, and I think MI, though I’m not sure about that last.

    Superdelegates are not going to win this for Clinton. A truly crazy number of the remaining ones would have to go for her in order to overcome Obama’s pledged delegate lead — we’ve seen no sign that she has such support available to her. If she had such support, honestly, she wouldn’t have spent the last few months where the media was obligated to note that she was behind every time they mentioned her.

  86. Hillary has a few chances that I can see:

    1. Obama steps in something and it sticks. Wright isn’t sticking, but something else could happen, be revealed, or he could say something really dumb and unforgivable. Likelyhood unknown but not high in my estimation.

    2. Hillary could win enough of a margin in remaining contests to overcome the sense that Obama’s got the momentum now, get a sense of momentum herself, and stay viable into the convention.

    3. Something happens that causes the relative advantages of Hillary vs McCain as opposed to Obama vs McCain to rise significantly. Something significant where lack of experience in foreign policy or defense matters made a huge difference, for example, though there could be others.

    4. Superdelegates could start defecting from Obama for reasons not yet known.

    None of these are individually very likely. The combined odds of one of them happening are also fairly likely. But I can see why she thinks there’s a fair chance for her, still.

    My own suspicion is that Obama picks up enough delegates to outright win about halfway from here to the convention, and she bows out then.

    Less likely is that he picks up enough delegates to outright win around then, and she stays in hoping that something will happen as above, and that the result would be superdelegates defecting to her despite existing pledges to Obama.

    Bowing out when he actually reaches 50% plus one (or whatever the required margin is) is one thing. Bowing out before then is another.

    Holding on after that on the hope that he’d somehow tank after that point would be far more destructive.

    My guess on the odds of those three things? 50:30:20. I think she will most likely leave a day or two after he reaches the point that he’s won, slightly less likely before then, unlikely to hang on after but that’s possible.

  87. The question of whether it is unethical to continue to fight after it becomes apparent that you will lose is interesting.
    Consider a war in which it is very apparent to everyone on all sides that one side cannot possibly win. That losing side has two options:
    A) surrender while they still have some kind of bargaining power.
    B) continue to fight, sacrificing their own people and continuing to kill the soldiers of their enemy before eventually being forced into unconditional surrender.

    Choice B is clearly unethical, it harms everyone, including the loser.
    It’s different if the issue is a battle rather than the war, the side which will inevitably lose may wish to continue fighting so that the forces that the enemy loses cannot be used against them later, or to delay the enemy, or to stretch the enemy’s resources.

    The primary war is inevitably going to Obama, unless Hillary manages to come up with some kind of biological weapon that wipes out everyone (Michigan and Florida and a floorfight at the convention weakening the Democratic party sufficiently to lose to McCain). Her continued competition means that Obama has to fight off attacks from both McCain and Hillary (McCain is ignoring Hillary, a telling sign) and continues to deepen the divide in the Democratic party. Additionally, it drives the Clintons further into debt and is not helping her long term effectiveness in the senate.

  88. “And I hate the very idea of ‘superdelegates.’ What’s their purpose?”

    Well, to take a positive view of it, they’re there for the same purpose as the Senate, to provide a longer term viewpoint. An inconsequential scandal breaking the week before an primary election might sway voters, but presumably would be less likely to sway superdelagates.

    Personally, I just find Clinton’s “kitchen sink” tactics repugnant. We’ve had eight years of a president who believes the ends justify the means, we don’t need another.

  89. Scalzi @86

    Fine, Frank. Amendment: outside a conservative leaning-fantasy world where every single delegate to the DNC loses their fucking mind at the last minute, Clinton has no possible chance.

    Ah, doesn’t that feel better? Isn’t it liberating to be precise in your thinking?

    Jennifer Ouellette @93

    To intervene if “the will of the people” doesn’t serve their interests, or if they think they know better? What ever happened to one person, one vote?

    We’re talking Democrats here. Remember?

    “Vote Early, Vote often?” – famous Chicago politician

    Disenfranchisement is only Republicans do….

  90. The other “rational” argument for Hillary to still be in the race is an attempt to negotiate some sort of deal for herself. I’d be surprised if she got to be Obama’s VP (although stranger things have happened) but she could get some other concession for not just going away quietly but actively campaigning for Obama.

  91. @ #99
    I’ll spare folks the threadjack, but I have a really long list of reasons, none of them vitriolic, why an Obama-Clinton ticket would be a terrible idea. Really, a long list.

    And yes, Clinton’s position in the primary has been clear since she failed to make big delegate gains March 4, and has gotten only more clear since then: in the absence of some event or revelation that completely destroys Obama’s candidacy, she’s lost the nomination. In consequence, she has spent the last two months throwing everything she could find at Obama and allying herself with people like Richard Mellon Scaife, Bill O’Reilly, and (implictly) Rush Limbaugh in the hopes that she could precipitate an Obama implosion. This strategy – which now appears to have almost certainly failed – was her only possible path to the nomination after March 4th, but it’s come at a terrible cost to the Clinton reputation and legacy, and I fear it has come at a terrible cost to the Democratic party.

  92. @JJ:

    Far as I can tell, Clinton’s policy positions are exactly the same as Obama’s.

    I may be used to finer distinctions after a protracted primary race. But Clinton’s view of the role of the Presidency is dangerously similar to that held by Bush, even if her policy goals are very different. Clinton, like Bush, believes in a strong, unitarian Executive. When most of Congress was pushing the White House to release documents (related, if I remember correctly, to its energy policy advisors, and maybe some post-Iraq questions as well), Clinton was silent. Why? Because she was convinced she was going to be President, and would need that power. Her recent comments on the value of economists betrays a similar mindset to Bush: “I know what’s right, who needs experts?” Sure, what she decides is “right” is going to be very different from what Bush thinks, but how she goes about making that decision is not so different than the way Bush does it. As President, effectiveness is as much about method as it is about goals.

    Is Obama any different in the way he’ll make decisions? I think so, based mostly on how he’s conducted his campaign and his method of analysis on things like the “gas tax holiday.” Of course, he isn’t trailing the primaries with no chance of winning, so I really can’t prove it, but I doubt he would be in “damn the torpedoes” mode if he were in Clinton’s position right now. That attitude of “stay the course no matter what happens” is the kind of thing she rips Bush for all the time.

  93. John @ 80: All she can hope for is that the superdelegates overrule the majority of the elected delegates, which is, to put it mildly, an unlikely scenario.

    No offense, but if it was all that unlikely a scenario, 180 of the 270 uncommitted superdelegates would have committed to Obama today and secured his nomination. They haven’t.

  94. You underestimate the desire of superdelegates, most of whom have their own elections to worry about, not to leave their asses hanging in the air. These superdelegates are eventually going to go to Obama, I suspect. They just want someone else to go first.

  95. Scalzi says: “And given that McCain has yet to win any state with more than 80% of the GOP vote, despite the fact he has no competition anymore [...]”

    Ummm, I don’t quite understand how this stat is being interpreted here.

    It seems to me that the slice of the Republican base that doesn’t like McCain is simply using the cost-free opportunity of the primaries (now that everything is finished on their side) to express their disapproval. The important point is that it risks nothing — McCain is the nominee, no matter what they do. To imply anything about what this means comes November seems a bit optimistic.

  96. And neither would someone voting for Clinton after she dropped out risk anything either. My point: No one gives a crap about meaningless gestures.

  97. By the way, in the spirit of combining Science Fiction with the nomination contest, a hilarious post from Jonathan Schwartz, slightly edited for profanity:

    It’s September 12, 2001. You’re sitting in front of a TV, watching footage of the World Trade Center collapse over and over and over again.

    All of a sudden, someone from seven years in the future walks out of a tiny temporal vortex, and tells you: George W. Bush is going to [foul] this up so badly that in 2008, the United States of America will likely elect as president a black man whose middle name is Hussein and whose father was Muslim. Oh, and he also admits he’s used cocaine.

    I think it would have been easier to convince me of the reality of time travel. “No, no, I believe you really are from the future. But the other stuff, that’s CRAZY.”

  98. Ahem.
    Remember when Bush won the 2004 election by a rather slim margin? In both the state of my birth and the state of my residence (both southern “red” states), the red/blue split was about 52-48. And while I expressed my sadness at Kerry’s step down, a number of yokels around me jeered “get over it, the majority has spoken!”

    That? Wasn’t democratic. And neither is this post. Sen. Clinton has many supporters, many of whom who would like to see her follow this thing through. I did not vote for her, but I think it is admirable, not stupid, that she continues to be a strong candidate. Where’s democracy if the supporters of the leading (by a little bit) nominee get to boo the other nominees out of the running?

  99. Well, the thing is, she doesn’t continue to be a strong candidate. She has no realistic chance of winning the nomination at this point.

  100. Additionally: there’s no way, in my mind, to not read this as a gendered issue. I’ve been talked over and asked to pipe down and step aside often enough that I admire Clinton for gracefully weathering these calls from various media voices to step down – which have been going on for months, before my current state even got to vote – and continuing to win strong support.

  101. What, Indiana doesn’t count? Pennsylvania doesn’t? She may not win the race – again, something various pundits have been “proving” mathematically for months – but she’s still winning votes and states.
    And everyone hasn’t voted yet. Let them. If Obama wins, let him win. If he doesn’t need Clinton to step down for that to be possible, why bother concern trolling on his behalf?

  102. I suspect that their positions were reversed, people would have told Obama to wrap it up, too.

    You can applaud her all you’d like, and I’ll note that I’ve previously mocked Obama supporters for being appalled she had the temerity to continue to run. But that was then, and this is now, and now she doesn’t have a chance to win.

    “She may not win the race – again, something various pundits have been ‘proving’ mathematically for months – but she’s still winning votes and states.”

    i.e., she’s still winning things that don’t actually matter vis-a-vis actually getting the nomination. She need to win delegates, and there’s no way she’s going to get enough anymore. Essentially what you’re saying is that she ought to keep on running for something she has no chance of winning, for what? Pride? This ain’t baseball. I mean, again, she’s welcome to waste as much of her own money as she likes at this point. But it’s not going to do her any good. She’s running for president, and she’s not going to get the gig.

  103. # tanglethison @ 111

    “Additionally: there’s no way, in my mind, to not read this as a gendered issue.”

    You have a right to your opinion. I, as a woman over 40, see it differently. I would love to see a woman on the ballot for President in November, just not that woman. I want the Democrats to WIN in November, from the White House, to the smallest local election.

    Ms. Clinton, being a CLINTON, will bring out the Republican base like nobody’s business. Why do you think they’re making nice with her over at FOX? Why do you think so many Republicans have crossed over to vote for her? They want her on the ballot in November. They know they can’t beat Mr. Obama.

  104. While there’s no likely way that Clinton can get the nomination, that doesn’t mean it’s over. There are still perceptions to manage. Clinton’s going to win by large margins in West Virginia and Kentucky (though the latter is the same day as Oregon, where Obama is favored). I figure it’s at least even odds that WV will be successfully spun as yet another comeback, because the media love a good story with lots of twists and turns whether it makes any sense or not.

    It may not even be the case that she should drop out for the good of the party. The great advantage of this campaign for the Democratic Party has been that it’s drawn out extraordinary interest; some places are getting more Democratic primary voters than Kerry got general election votes in ’04. I’m not sure we want to squelch that before it’s done. A great disadvantage has been the potential for perceived illegitimacy over Michigan, Florida and the superdelegates. The party needs all the legitimacy it can get. Clinton’s losing, but for a losing candidate she’s doing really well, well enough that it looks bad if she gets pushed out of the running before states with nonnegligible numbers of delegates even vote.

    I think I’m with Josh Marshall here: for the good of the party she should stay in for another month, dial back the negative rhetoric and ominous speculations about the credentials committee, enjoy her remaining wins and refrain from a floor fight over the legitimacy of the nominee.

    Clinton has said she’s in until there’s a nominee; that statement is, I think, a carefully crafted ambiguity that could mean that she plans to suspend her campaign when the primaries are over and her needed miracle hasn’t happened. Maybe this is naive of me, but for all the punches she’s thrown at Obama, I don’t think Clinton is preparing to sabotage his general election chances as some sort of plot to elect McCain and thereby make it more likely that she’ll be able to win in 2012. Moral arguments about damage to the country and world aside, that kind of long-range paradoxical switcheroo planning generally doesn’t work–there are just too many unknowns; anything could happen by 2012–and I’m sure she knows it.

    I hear a lot of people saying they’re weary of the primary campaign and just want it to stop. I think that if you (meaning any reader, not necessarily you-John-Scalzi) are feeling this, it’s probably because you have exposed yourself to way more political media, Obama/Clinton blog arguments, etc. than you can stand, and I suggest unplugging from it all for a while. The world’s not going to end because you stopped listening for a couple of weeks. I almost entirely missed the last five-day eruption of Obama-is-doomed speculation, and as far as I can tell I didn’t really miss anything.

  105. Matt – you’re exposing yourself. And really, I’m not falling for the ‘trust me the world won’t end if you stop listening’ spiel. What happens if I stop listening and the world does end? THE END OF THE WORLD, that’s what….

  106. Clinton, like Bush, believes in a strong, unitarian Executive.

    So does everybody who has ever been elected President.

    Is Obama any different in the way he’ll make decisions?

    No! He talks different now, but he hasn’t been elected President yet. Once he has been, he undoubtedly will take the same strong view on Executive privilege that every President does.

    I doubt he would be in “damn the torpedoes” mode if he were in Clinton’s position right now. That attitude of “stay the course no matter what happens” is the kind of thing she rips Bush for all the time.

    Dogged determination is not always a bad quality. Not even when it’s seemingly irrational and in support of a cause that has no chance to win based on objective examination of the evidence (e.g. Churchill 1940).

    I just can’t hold it against someone who is less than 200 delegates behind from staying the course. A lot can happen between now and the convention.

  107. Patrick M. @119: And really, I’m not falling for the ‘trust me the world won’t end if you stop listening’ spiel. What happens if I stop listening and the world does end? THE END OF THE WORLD, that’s what….

    I think the point is that while the world may or may not end if you stop listening, it won’t end just because you stopped listening. You’re not that powerful. None of us are.

  108. “A lot can happen between now and the convention.”

    Her only hope is for Obama to be caught in bed with a dead nun.

    However, she doesn’t need to campaign. She’ll still be on the remaining ballots. Romney and Huck were on the IN ballot, even though they haven’t campaigned in ages.

    All she needs to do is ‘suspend’ the campaign, as Romney did.

    If Obama gets caught in a nomination-killing scandal before the convention, she’d be the fallback.

  109. Fiona wrote: “I am in the same demographic. I have a son who will be old enough to draft in four years. McCain scares the hell out of me, but Ms. Clinton’s recent comments on the Middle East make me afraid of what she might be willing to to to “prove” her toughness.”

    Heck, she was willing to vote for the war without reading the NIE in 2002, and voted for Kyl-Lieberman’s ‘Iran casus belli’ bill.

    Note: she didn’t have time to read the NIE in 02, but did have time to attend Star Jones’ wedding in Nov. 2004.

  110. There’s this thing call a Convention. Its purpose is to select the party’s nomination. Sometimes we know in advance who the candidate will be based on the number of delegates lined up behind a particular candidate. Sometimes we don’t, and it gets decided at the convention. That’s why we have one.

    If it is numerically IMPOSSIBLE to win the nomination, then a candidate should ethically drop out and stop consuming resources. If, on the other hand, it is numerically POSSIBLE to win the nomination, then the candidate is morally obligated to continue the process. They don’t get to quit just because a bunch of journalists and bloggers say they should.

    A Clinton nomination is numerically possible. It needs to play out. It’s our process. Like it or lump it. What’s the rush? Have we got something more important coming up in the next 5 months? Blockbuster summer movies? American Idol results?

    The sooner Clinton drops out, the sooner we start seeing Republicans and Democrats lobbing mud nukes at each other, and that will be a LOT more annoying than the present situation.

  111. Her only hope is for Obama to be caught in bed with a dead nun.

    Please. Not until after the nomination.

    Then it would be quite amusing.

  112. Jon H @122: Her only hope is for Obama to be caught in bed with a dead nun.

    Now there’s a mental image I could have done without. ;-)

  113. John @ 104: These superdelegates are eventually going to go to Obama, I suspect. They just want someone else to go first.

    If the superdelegates won’t jump into Obama’s camp of their own accord, then the people who will be going first are voters. That’s pretty much the definition of “not over” as regards election campaigns.

  114. Josh Jasper @ 127: She went there. Vote for me because I’m appealing to uneducated red-state racists when compared to a black man.

    Don’t blame Clinton for opening that door — Obama kicked it wide when he decided to openly, and repeatedly, support a racist black pastor as his mentor. Lest we forget, there’s still a general election to win. Clinton can hardly be blamed for pointing out (correctly!) that Republicans will tear into Obama over that with rabid glee.

  115. gerrymander – Don’t blame Clinton for opening that door — Obama kicked it wide when he decided to openly, and repeatedly, support a racist black pastor as his mentor.

    Please, keep raising the race issues about Obama, because you’re only appealing to other folks who’re probably convinced that Obama is a secret Muslim anyhow.

    Lest we forget, there’s still a general election to win.

    Keep going after that white racist vote! And while you’re at it, make out Obama (who’s been seen standing next to an angry black person! Oh Noes!) to be a member of the Black Panthers!

    Pfft. First off, I’ll blame who I damn well like. If you’re trying to paint Obama as a racist for having a tie to Wright, you’re reading right out of the right-wing play book, including hyping the concept of black retribution. So I don’t think you’re all that concerned with race issues.

  116. Josh Jasper @ 130: If you’re trying to paint Obama as a racist for having a tie to Wright

    I’m not. I’m trying to paint Obama as a man not perceptive enough to understand that elevating a racist to an important personal and campaign position, however briefly, during a presidential election will have, and deserves to have, his judgment questioned.

  117. Incidently, the most recent Gallup poll analysis agrees with Clinton’s assessment of Obama’s support. The Gallup analysis shows that the voter breakdown between an Obama-McCain match almost exactly parallels the Kerry-Bush match in 2004 — and remember how that turned out.

  118. gerrymander I’m not. I’m trying to paint Obama as a man not perceptive enough to understand that elevating a racist to an important personal and campaign position, however briefly, during a presidential election will have, and deserves to have, his judgment questioned.

    I’ll go with egotistical asshole, and even idiot about the origins of HIV to describe Wright, but I’m fairly sure that being loud and angry at white people coming from a black person does not qualify him as a racist.

    If it did, I’d still only count it as a minor point of contention, because Wright’s position was not particularly important outside of the minds of people who wanted to pander to fear of angry black people.

  119. Unfogged quoted Chris Rock: “A 75-year-old black man who hates white people. Is there another type of 75-year-old black man? Do you realize his whole third grade class was lynched?”

    (Note for sticklers: Chris Rock was using the rhetorical device known as hyperbole. I think.)

  120. I’m fairly sure that being loud and angry at white people coming from a black person does not qualify him as a racist.

    Well, what would you say about a white person who was loud and angry about black people?

    That aside, there are certainly legitimate reasons to think Wright is a racist beyond merely his loudness and anger.

  121. Me: I’m fairly sure that being loud and angry at white people coming from a black person does not qualify him as a racist.

    JJ Well, what would you say about a white person who was loud and angry about black people?

    The same thing I’d say about a straight person who was loud and angry at gay people. That they have no *reason* to be loud or angry.

  122. JJ Well, what would you say about a white person who was loud and angry about black people?

    The same thing I’d say about a straight person who was loud and angry at gay people. That they have no *reason* to be loud or angry.

    Oh. Of course.

    How reasonable.

  123. Josh, racism doesn’t require a “reason”. That is why it is fundamentally irrational.

  124. JJ, So if you have a reason to be angry, you’re not really being racist when you express that anger?

  125. My point is that loud, angry, blanket denunciations of entire races are irrational, immoral and racist *even* when there is a supposed “reason” for the denunciations, and no matter which races the denouncer and the denounced are. Reason doesn’t enter into it, because racism is irrational. Racism is prejudice and discrimination based on race, period. There is no definition of racism that says, oh, by the way, it’s not racism if you have a good reason for your hate. After all, *every* racist – no matter what their race – will be able to provide you with what they view as “good reasons” for their hate. If you accept one set of blanket denunciations as “valid”, that opens the gate to accept all of them, and that way lies madness.

    Wright should not get a pass just because he is black and in the past, some whites have perpetrated injustices on some blacks. The idea of eternal collective guilt for the entire white race is absurd, unjust, and (yes) nothing less than racist.

  126. You’re all going to say I’m crazy but this race and these candidates have Supreme Court written all over them. Score another ‘D’ for democracy.

    Bemused Canadian. [ Go Obama ].

  127. Fiona: You should be proud to have your boy serve. Tell him “with your sheild or on it”. And mean it.

  128. You do realize that the whole draft thing is bunkum, yes? The military doesn’t want it (lesson of Vietnam), and anyone who does actually touch the issue is committing political suicide.

    Think with your brain, not your heart. That’s what the brain is for.

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