Friday, February 15, 2008

How Hillary Intends to Climb Mt. Improbable

It would be difficult to outdo Rudy Giulliani in the "retarded election strategy" stakes, but Hillary Clinton certainly seems up for the challenge. A recent MyDD post describes this strategy:

The Clinton campaign made clear that it planned to win Super Tuesday based on a tight four-state strategy, focusing on California, New York, New Jersey, and Arkansas, which, they frequently cited, made up 40% of the delegates assigned --- a strange strategy in a system that isn't winner-take-all. Clinton's name recognition and her general support level across the country would have to hold her up in the vast swaths of the country that she had already conceded.


This strategy of focusing hard on winning the biggest states turned out to be one of this campaign season's great blunders, and it is one that the Clinton campaign seems to make repeatedly. The Obama campaign has repeatedly found ways to get ahead in the delegate count, out-organizing rural areas of Nevada to win an extra delegate while the Clinton campaign won Clark County, and then repeating that success to run a field campaign across 22 states that kept the delegate count close in states Clinton won and racked up the delegates in states Clinton did not bother to contest.


It was not a lack of funds that led the Clinton campaign to ignore rural areas, to write off multiple states. Rather, the Clinton campaign seemed oddly unprepared, clinging to a misjudgment, counting on national poll numbers, unwilling to run the expansive grassroots national campaign that the Obama campaign had been preparing for for months.

As if to underline this, Clinton strategist Mark Penn recently came out with the following argument:

""Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states -- outside of Illinois? That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.”

With that kind of arrogance, is it any wonder that Obama continues to destroy Hillary in the smaller and caucus states? Does she expect to get elected in the general with that kind of approach?

But of course, even if she fails to beat Obama in the delegate count (not such a stretch given she's prepared to cede half the country to him already) she has a backup plan:

Hillary Clinton will take the Democratic nomination even if she does not win the popular vote, but persuades enough superdelegates to vote for her at the convention, her campaign advisers say.


Clinton will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary, said Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson.

"I want to be clear about the fact that neither campaign is in a position to win this nomination without the support of the votes of the superdelegates,'' Wolfson told reporters in a conference call.

Surely not even the Democrats would be so stupid, so inclined to self-destruction as to nominate a candidate who lost the popular vote and delegate count in the primaries? Is this the sign, perhaps, of a once "inevitable" - now failing - cadidate clutching desperately at straws?

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