Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Obama in Iowa "We have returned with a majority of elected delegates"

Barack Obama is speaking in Iowa and getting very close to claiming victory in the Democratic Primary. It's a good strategy to make it much harder for the Clinton campaign to work the Florida and Michigan and Superdelegate angle - an incomprehensible mess left over from a poorly structured primary.

The Obama campaign is keeping up the "hey, we have won this now!" spin as he spoke today in Iowa. He's even cleverly throwing out kudos to Hillary Clinton, lauding her participation and saying he's grateful to her .... and now going on to suggest the party needs unity.

So has he won? Of course not. Obama however has a clear lead in elected delegates, and as we calculated earlier this week even if you assign a generous number of the Florida and Michigan delegates to Clinton she'd still have fewer than Obama. Therefore it's unlikely that the Clinton's will turn as many superdelegates as Obama. Superdelegates will want to go with a winner, so look for a large block of them to soon announce that they are pledging to put Obama over the number needed to win - this could happen as soon as this week. At that point Hillary will very likely drop out so the Democrats can have a unified convention.

Clinton Crushes Obama in Kentucky

As happened in the West Virginia primary Hillary Clinton soundly won today's Kentucky democratic primary with 65% of the vote to Obama's 30%. Clinton must be thinking "oh what a difference an Iowa makes" as she contemplates a strategy that now appears to have failed to gain enough support early in the primaries to carry her on to victory. Although it is not clear that Obama's 11 consecutive victories before Pennsylvania were the key factor in his probably primary victory, I think a combination of strategic errors cost Clinton an election she would have won with a different approach. The key mistakes:

1) Waiting *far* too long to gripe about Florida and Michigan's missing primary votes. Clinton's point is very valid that these states have been disenfranchised. In fact to any clear thinker this is an outrage. Yet I think the Clinton strategy was very foolish, waiting until she was the underdog to complain about this. Now the question is one of fairness to the states who had their votes voided vs fairness to the process of electing which was also seriously compromised here. A revote is the answer, and the Democratic party should fund a new vote unless it can be shown that the outcome would be very unlikely to have an effect on the outcome of the race.

2) Failing to name Obama as her choice for VP after Edwards dropped out of the race. This would have won her superdelegate support and might have turned the tide in some states - most importantly it would have stolen Obama's momentum at a critical time.