Friday, April 11, 2008

Obama & Clinton: "Demolition Derby"

"You cannot associate with an America-bashing preacher or invent a story about braving sniper fire while landing at a quiet airport in Tuzla without paying a price."

If you want to see the best material about the American political scene, stay away from CNN and MSNBC -- and instead go to a London-based publication, The Economist. There are several good political writers on the magazine's staff, but the best one goes by the name of "Lexington." Here's what he says in the April 5-11, 2008 issue (page 39):

"It looks as if Pat Robertson and his cohorts were right all along: God really is a Republican. The Democrats ought to have little problem retaking the White House this November, given the unpopular war, the weakening economy, and the anti-Republican backlash. But instead of measuring the White House drapes, they are engaged in what Bill Kristol, a Republican commentator, has gleefully dubbed a 'rollicking demolition derby.'"

In the essay, Lexington adds, "The Democrats are all too aware that their civil war [in the primaries] could spell disaster. A cavalcade of senior Democrats, including senators Patrick Leahy and Chris Dodd, have advised Mrs. Clinton to retire to her room with a glass of whisky and a loaded revolver." In his piece, Lexington gives some very good reasons why Mrs. Clinton should NOT withdraw from the race -- and provides some insights you haven't seen before.

Why you haven't seen such analysis in America -- and especially, why the Clinton campaign isn't heralding it -- are the big questions.You've heard that Obama has won the most pledged delegates, the most states, and the most popular votes. All that is true (although it doesn't include popular votes from Michigan and Florida, both of which Clinton won), but it is one of those truths that may contain a larger falsehood.

Here's "Lexington's" unique analysis of Senator Clinton's situation: "She can . . . make a plausible case that she is the stronger candidate."How? "She [can make the point that] she so far [has] won 14 states with 44% of the country's population (16 states with 53% of the population if you include Florida and Michigan) compared with [Obama's] 27 states with 34% of the population. She has won Florida and Ohio, two battleground states, and will almost certainly win [another,] Pennsylvania."

Steve adds: The main mistake the Clinton campaign made was to pay little attention to the caucus states, starting with Iowa and extending to places like Wyoming and Idaho. Obama wounded her with a thousand cuts in the smaller states, and that's a major reason he's ahead in pledged delegates. Another element that hurt her was the bloc voting by Blacks in states like South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Is Senator Obama going to win SC, GA, MS, and LA? He's not going to come close to winning any of them. In the general election, he's going to have real problems winning most of the large states Mrs. Clinton carried in the primaries (such as TX, OH, and PA). Obama will do better than Kerry in many of the "red states," but he looks unlikely to win any of them.

If Obama is the Democratic nominee, as looks likely, he will be a "sure thing" in three states: Illinois, Rhode Island, and Vermont. He's likely, though not a certainty, to win Maine, Connecticut, and perhaps Delaware. In every other state, McCain should be the favorite. As Lexington explains the poor position of Senators Obama and Clinton: "You cannot associate with an America-bashing preacher or invent a story about braving sniper fire while landing at a quiet airport in Tuzla without paying a price." Overall, things are looking very good for John McCain.

Over this weekend, I'll have additional material about how The Economist sees the emerging race for the presidency. A yearly subscription to the publication costs an imposing $99, but it's worth it.

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