Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Powerplay and Full Court Press - the ripples of the Potomac

Sen. Obama's landslide wins in the Potomac primaries yesterday has increased his pledged delegate lead to over 100. According to many observations, amongst which NBC senior political editor Chuck Todd, Sen. Clinton needs to have a 55-45% win on average in all the remaining states. Although not insurmountable, it certainly isn't a place you want to be in.

The Clinton campaign thus set forth to sticking to the post-Super-Tuesday plan: to retreat to Ohio and Texas and to play Full Court Press on those delegate rich states. The Obama campaign however (or at least some of the execs in the team), presumably envigourated by the landslide margins, broad support amongst all possible population groups and absolute delegate lead (in all calculations), chose to embrace a bold, old strategy. That of inevitability. While the I-word was not mentioned, that's what Obama campaign manager David Plouffe implied, stating "the cold, hard reality of the math", in a statement today.

Personally, I think both campaigns are making mortal mistakes. Sen. Clinton should not be retreating, because Texas and Ohio isn't a Super Tuesday. The offset she can gain from these states is not as big as on Super Tuesday. Also, these primaries come late in the primary season, leaving very little options should this strategy fail.
David Plouffe's statement is however a huge blunder. Although intended as a rebuttal of the Clinton campaign's initial stance, a call-out to the DNC establishment and a strong, final argument for a cemented nomination, it beheads the grassroots strength of Obama's campaign, which is in danger of being labeled the inevitable establishment ticket. This might blow up horribly, and with a naturally divided Democratic electorate, could swing the vote right back to Sen. Clinton. In hockey, you have powerplay if your team has one man or more up. But Obama is nowhere near that, and the bodychecks could be brutal.

Note that many seem to agree, as the blogposts of David Plouffe's statement are heavily commented upon.

Judging from the latest reports (eg. link), Clinton has also decided to not concede Wisconsin. Although most polls point out a victory for Sen. Obama, the margins are slim, and the constituency's makeup projects a very close battle, with strengths and weaknesses of both candidates' electorate represented in America's Dairyland. Also, Maggie Williams stated (link) that the Clinton campaign admits underestimating small states' importance and will focus more on volunteer initiative in the remaining contests.

More than ever, the voter's steadfastness is tested. With spins going back and forth, future strategies being pre-tested, and a media that is wildly swinging about, the Democratic race is becoming hideously nervous. A nervosity that is actually wasted, and energy lost for the real battle to come. Who in the right mind wants a hundred year war, anyway? Ask the French. Ask the British. They tried, and it ruined the Middle Ages for them.

1 comment:

Davyd said...

As usual, Mr Erwin Ho has demonstrated an understanding of US politics far beyond that of many people of his age outside of the US.

The revelation of the Clinton campaign of their underestimation of the minor states perhaps could be an indication of a possible elitist view within the party, where, so to speak "only the strong survive", yet, what they forget is, as seen in the Sengoku Jidai of Japan, several minor areas can rival a major area in power if their input is concentrated into a particular area.

However, for now, it appears that all we can do is wait and see who will emerge victor from this swirling cacophony of political jargon, spin and counter spin, speech and counter speech, and political vote hording.

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