Thursday, July 17, 2008

Victory in Denver, Defeat in November

Some of my friends and former allies are working on a movement to convince superdelegates to support Hillary Clinton at the convention in November. Earlier this week, a front page diary at a well-known blog celebrated a rumor that eight Obama superdelegates indicated that they would vote for Hillary if a roll-call vote were held in Denver.

Now, they are technically correct that, under the rules of the party, Senator Obama does not officially become the nominee until the delegates cast their votes at the convention. It is possible that something could happen that would force him off the ticket. However, if they are correct, and Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee in Denver, she will be doomed in November.

The first problem is getting Barack Obama out of the way. An email campaign organized by a group of bloggers, not matter how dedicated, will not be enough. Barack Obama is the presumptive nominee. The superdelegates decided this race. They provided Senator Obama with his margin of victory. They have already decided that he is sufficiently experienced and electable. A flood of emails will not convince the superdelegates that they have made a mistake. A trickle of superdelegates that narrowly puts Hillary over the top is not a realistic scenario. It's going to require a large event outside the control of this dedicated group of Clinton supporters.

To that end, a lot of these Clinton supporters have been pointing to what they perceive as weak polling numbers. But a drop in poll numbers will not be enough. An extramarital affair or even an illegitimate child would not be enough. He would have to be caught engaging in (or having had engaged in) activity that borders on criminal and something for which a subordinate cannot take the fall. Although some in the PUMA movement claim to have highly damaging information against Michelle Obama, nothing has surfaced. In this day and age of information technology, if information of such a damaging nature existed, it would already have surfaced.

In the unlikely event that such information was uncovered, would the superdelegates hand the nomination to Hillary? The superdelegates are professional politicians and party loyalists. Replacing Senator Obama at the convention would come at a steep political price. His most die-hard supporters would certainly resist and his two core constituencies, the African-American community and his young voters, would be demoralized. The party would be ripped apart as some supporters cried fowl and others walked away crushed. African-American elected officials would be torn between the party and their constituents. It would open up a rift so huge that no politician could heal the wounds before the general election.

If Hillary were to suddenly emerge the victor in Denver, is it logistically possible for her to win the race? Even if Senator Obama walked away gracefully and his supporters lined up behind Hillary, she would find herself, on August 28, 2008, only 68 days away from the general election with no staff and no plans. She would have to build an organization, find a running mate (or settle for the running mate vetted by Obama), and create a strategy with almost no preparation. Remember, much of her primary campaign staff has already gone in different directions, some signing contracts that will employ them through the rest of the campaign. Even if everything else goes her way and she is able to integrate Obama's coalition into hers with no losses, mounting a nation-wide general election campaign in such a short period of time would be impossible.

If this great looming scandal did come to light, I would expect that the superdelegates would stand by Barack Obama, even if it does mean losing the general election. Because Hillary Clinton would certainly be defeated in November, Democrats would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by replacing Obama. The sudden demise of Obama's candidacy would likely cost Democrats the African-American vote and possibly even an entire generation of new, young voters, perhaps permanently.

The effects of this rift would not be limited to the top of the ticket. All of the projections for gains in the House and the Senate are based on the assumption that Obama would drive up turnout among African-Americans and young voters. If African-Americans and younger voters stay home, some of the tougher Senate races (North Carolina, Mississippi) will be put out of reach and many of the seats we have long expected to pick up (Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico) would likely be unwinnable. Mary Landrieu (LA) would certainly be defeated with a depressed African-American vote. With a Republican president and vice-president, that would hand control of the Senate back to the GOP. A similar scenario would certainly emerge in the House of Representatives.

Finally, the leaders of the "It's Not Over Yet" movement have forgotten one more essential detail. Under such a scenario, would Hillary even accept the nomination? I suspect that she would not. First, as outlined above, she would have no chance at winning. Second, she would forever be tainted in the African-American community for having replaced their historic nominee and Hillary values her relationship with the African-American community.

So my friends in the blogosphere are incorrect when they belittle this movement as "praying for a miracle." In reality, they aren't praying for a miracle. They are praying for a disaster of the highest order, one that would cost Democrats not only the White House, but possibly even the House and the Senate. It would be a setback to every single progressive cause that Hillary Clinton has dedicated her life to advancing.

This time, there will be no comeback for Hillary Clinton. The people have spoken. The party has spoken. For better or worse, Barack Obama is the nominee. The only alternative is defeat.

My friends, it's over.


atdnext said...

Sad, but true. Someone had to say it. Thanks, Drew.

Taylor Marsh said...

Hey you all. I've emailed again, but no response. Contact me when you can.

Taylor Marsh

DCDemocrat said...

Truth be told, the PUMA movement is irrelevant to the outcome of the election. In fact, it's irrelevant to everyone except the PUMAS. I think PUMA is more of a statement about emotional maturity than political integrity.

If Obama gets elected, I believe it clear that he will put his stamp on the party, and the party will reflect his stamp for at least a decade and perhaps a generation. This means that to be relevant as a person interested in liberal politics, one eventually will have to get with the program. Either that, or stand outside and howl at the moon. PUMAs seem to enjoy the nightlife, as far as I can tell.

Dizzy said...

Excellent Analysis! Thank you for setting the record straight.


Crian Padayachee said...

I think DC democrat says it the best regarding PUMA, it's truly great to see more Clinton folk backing the Senator and props to psychodrew for the post.

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