Wednesday, April 23, 2008

After Pennsylvania - The Math - Plus Ça Change....

Well, the day after and nothing has changed. Obama's supporters and the media say that Hillary's win doesn't matter. She didn't pick up that many delegates and will lose them in North Carolina - which has many more delegates than Indiana and is owned by Obama. (38% of the registered Democrats are African American.) Hillary's forces don't deny that they will lose N.C. They just hope it will be a respectable loss.

Then, of course, there is "The Math". Some of the calculations, by supporters of both Hillary and Obama are wondrous in their complexity. After all, there is a lot to work with: Florida and Michigan - to count or not and if to count, how. Turning caucus votes into "real" votes. Even the pledged delegate votes have some wiggle room due to the multi-stage process of assigning them. Then there are the maps of electoral votes vs. primary & caucus wins. And so on and so on. The one constant amidst all of this complexity is that the method employed always ends up supporting the designer's preferred candidate. It is unlikely that any of them will impress a supporter of the opposite candidate, although the designers hope their models will influence the Super Delegates (SDs).

Will the SDs be impressed by these models? I doubt it. I've discussed my analysis of their decision making earlier, but will repeat and add a bit here.

The SDs want the Democrats to win in November. But they have a couple of perhaps insurmountable obstacles.

1. Supporters of one candidate who say they won't vote for the other candidate.
I think these percentages are overstated and represent the gulf that has opened up between the two camps in the past several months. I blame Obama's supporters for this gulf, but, then, I am a Hillary supporter. But, when the proverbial push comes to the proverbial shove, most will vote for the Democrat. There are, however, and unfortunately, a couple of exceptions.

Hillary's voters:
Certainly, some of Hillary's supporters will either sit on their hands next November or vote for McCain. I think this is most likely to happen in Florida if its votes are not counted in full, as voted. Who will switch from Hillary to McCain rather than to Obama? Most likely the older voters. They may not approve of many of McCain's ideas, but I suspect that given a choice between a man of their generation, a war hero and the guy (Obama) they think stole the nomination from Hillary by disenfranchising them, they will go for McCain and probably in large enough numbers (it doesn't take many in Florida) to swing the state to the Republicans.
Obama's voters:
Yes, some of the white elitists will sit on their hands, write in a name, or even vote for McCain. They have done this before (voting against their political interests) to disastrous effect going back to Nixon vs. Humphrey. But they are not the main problem the SDs must consider.

The main problem is the African American vote. It has gone 90% for Obama. Barring some major misstep on his part, it will take very little in the way of "math" to make an SD vote for Hillary appear to be racist. SDs are not dumb. They know this. For the Democratic Party to deprive an African American candidate of the nomination when even some, not to say most, of the numbers favor him will likely do to the Party a variation of what LBJ's Civil Rights movement did to the Party. LBJ knew he was turning over the South to the Republicans. The SDs may rightly believe that a majority of AAs will not vote for McCain. But they will also, rightly I think, assume that enough AAs will sit home to deprive Hillary of a win in November.

There are two ways to solve the Florida problem.
The first, of course, is to count Florida but not Michigan. (Michigan's voters might get just as mad, but most will admit that since Obama's name was not on the ballot, it wouldn't be fair to give the state to Hillary. True, it is Obama who refused to accept a revote, but relatively few of the Democratic voters, in my estimation, realize that.)

The second is for Hillary to drop out. And that is why there is such a clamor for her to do just that. There is simply no way to finesse the African American vote. Her voters will be disappointed if she drops out, but they will be furious if they think that Obama stole the nomination (by pressure on the SDs or some version of "The Math".)

Do I want Hillary to fight until the end? Yes. Do I think that Obama can win in November under any circumstance? No. Not because he is AA (think Colin Powell), but because he is so clearly unprepared for the job compared to McCain. However, I also think the odds are against Hillary's winning in November (the misogyny her campaign has exposed is greater than anything we could have anticipated.). Not so great that she couldn't pull out a victory, but it would be a victory that would leave an uncomfortably large segment of the Democratic Party unwilling to give her the support she would need as President.

I hope I am wrong, but I fear that we have backed ourselves into a corner from which there is no conceivable good way out.

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