On One Hand

March 4, 2008

Clinton Banks on a Brokered Convention

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:53 pm
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The Tina Fey factor is a real thing in 2008. It’s hard to say the entertainment media doesn’t have power, after one late-night comedy program was able to spark an onslaught of negative press that stalled a potential Obama upset in Texas that would have effectively ended the Clinton campaign.

Hillary Clinton won Texas and Ohio by a popular vote on March 4, in a near tie that represents a huge drop from the 15-point lead she saw three weeks ago but will be claimed as victory nonetheless. The timing of this contest serves to block Obama’s 12-win streak, and means that a brokered convention is more likely to occur. Obama won Vermont by a large margin, but as the smallest of 4 states voting on that day, it doesn’t prevent the psychological victory from going to Clinton with big wins in the hard-fought contest.

Yet Clinton’s victories failed to encroach on Obama’s lead in delegates. It’s almost mathematically impossible for Clinton to attain a delegate lead in the primary contest, and similarly unlikely – though not impossible – for her to become the Democratic nominee. But Clinton does position herself to stir things up in the party by playing with the Michigan-Florida deadlocks and by ensuring that intra-Democratic negative campaigning continues for months to come. This fight will almost certainly extend past Pennsylvania, which won’t vote for a whopping 7-week stretch on April 22.

Two weeks ago this contest result would have been considered a loss for Senator Clinton, who, as of February 12, needed to win 55 percent of all remaining delegates to win the nomination. By getting less than 55 in these states, she is now required to win that much more in all remaining contests; to become the de-facto nominee she would now need roughly 62 percent wins from now until the last states vote in June. Since Obama is nearly sure to win some of the remaining states, Clinton needs 75 percent wins in states that are in play for her just to be a contender in a brokered convention.

Pennsylvania’s demographics mean a probable win for Clinton, but Obama will have near guaranteed wins in two oft-overlooked states voting in the next week, Mississippi and Wyoming, that could tip by large margins. He is also going to win Montanna, South Dakota, and Oregon, which vote over the summer.

A recently leaked internal memo from the Obama campaign – which was printed in late January – predicted the huge 12-win streak that propelled Obama to where he is now. The memo also predicted losses in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, and a win in Vermont. With a 100 percent accuracy so far, it indicates an ultimate nomination for Barack Obama, but also predicts a loss in Penssylvania before subsequent wins put him over the top.

If that is true, it shows why Obama can brush these expected losses off with breezy confidence (and in spite of these losses he has a virtual lock on the nomination, though it won’t be without suffering a few more stinging blows from the Clintons), though few would deny it would have been the best thing for everyone to put this contest away once and for all. Clinton has angered many Democrats on all ends of the party by indicating that John McCain is “more prepared” to be President than Barack Obama, probably intended to position herself as a candidate who is more likely to beat McCain but effectively weakening the person who is most likely to be the Democratic nominee.

A brokered convention nominating Hillary Clinton with a weaker popular vote and fewer delegates would result in a likely Democratic loss in 2008, along with Democratic losses in the House and Senate, but there is some upside to the hard race if the contest ultimately lands on Barack Obama. It will spark an exciting press-frenzied convention that builds enthusiasm for democracy, even if it means Obama’s nearly sure-fire victory is weakened to a 50-50 chance or even less. It also increases the chances that Hillary Clinton will be the vice-presidential nominee, which means that the first African-American presidential nominee will be accompanied by the first woman vice-presidential candidate. It also strengthens Barack Obama as a politician, so that even if he loses, future elections let a stronger and more experienced candidate return to the national scene.



  1. Booby bear, we already had a first woman vice-president candidate. Geraldine Ferraro in ’84.

    Comment by erichowens — March 5, 2008 @ 9:46 am | Reply

    • It is my recollection that Gary Hart did not win the Democratic nomination. In fact, I am pretty much certain that he did not win the Democratic nomination.

      Comment by ononehand — March 5, 2008 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

      • Hi… what? No, Walter Mondale did. Walter Mondale did and named his running mate on the ticket one Geraldine Ferraro. What?

        Comment by erichowens — March 6, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

      • Seriously, what the hell did you just say?

        Comment by erichowens — March 6, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

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