Saturday, April 26, 2008

Panic in the Obama camp?

If you want to see the real impact of the Pennsylvania primary, check out Team Obama's plea to the superdelegates, obtained by the Wall Street Journal:
Polling data from across the country, from large states and small, reflects the advantage Senator Obama would bring in a race this fall. His ability to expand the Democratic base, and his ability to capture the crucial Independent vote, make him a stronger candidate than Senator Clinton, who would enter the fall campaign with the highest unfavorable ratings of any nominee in half a century. . . .
This is an S.O.S. from a campaign that's hitting the panic button.

Hillary's negatives are old news, but she won Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- key swing states for the general election. Obama's much-ballyhooed edge in delegates is chiefly the result of (a) primary wins in the Deep South, and (b) his campaign's superior effort at organizing in caucus states. But nobody seriously argues that Obama could carry South Carolina, Alabama, or Mississippi in November, and organizing among Democratic state-caucus delegates has no real carryover value to the general election.

Of Obama's superdelegate memo, Democratic consultant Jerome Armstrong says:
I don't know that I've ever seen anything a campaign poll memo that so obviously cherry-picks polls over the last 4 months to make their case. It's almost satire.
As I pointed out Friday in responding to Reed Hundt's TPM post:
Recall that in late March, Obama took a vacation to the Virgin Islands while Hillary, Bill and Chelsea were stumping all over Pennsylvania. But now, with her double-digit Pennsylvania victory and fundraising windfall, Hillary's seized the momentum, and Team Obama has belatedly realized that the nomination -- which seemed so certain in late March -- is in jeopardy of slipping from their grasp.
If Obama hadn't taken that vacation -- and if his infamous "bitter" remarks to his San Francisco donors hadn't leaked -- he might have put Hillary away in Pennsylvania. She was clearly on the ropes, and if he had won Pennsylvania, that would have been it. But he missed that opportunity, and now it looks like she's going all the way to Denver.

Obama's campaign is stumbling and grasping at straws to try to re-establish its claim that he's got the nomination iced, but the available evidence shows he's slipping badly. Hillary trailed nationally by 10 points before the Pennsylvania primary, but the latest Gallup numbers show a dead heat. Meanwhile, Indiana's a toss-up and Obama's lead in North Carolina was just 9 points before Hillary won Pennsylvania and before the NC GOP's Jeremiah Wright ad.

As bad as things are going for Obama, I predict they're about to get much worse. If it was Team Obama's idea that Wright go on a press offensive, it was a very bad idea. The smart thing would have been to tell Wright to lay low and just let the furor fade -- then Obama could dismiss future questions as "old news." But every time Wright goes on TV, his self-defense only revives the storyline, giving networks a chance to recycle the original inflammatory video clips.

Rev. Wright is turning into Obama's Tom Eagleton. (Maybe part of the problem is that most of Obama's campaign staff are so young, they don't even get the Eagleton reference.) If Hillary wins Indiana, the question of Obama's electability becomes much harder to ignore. Can the Democrats afford to nominate a candidate who loses Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana?

1 comment:

  1. "Maybe part of the problem is that most of Obama's campaign staff are so young, they don't even get the Eagleton reference."

    Heh. What's that old saw about "those who don't learn from history..."?