Monday, April 14, 2008

The Real Reason They Want Her To Quit

After reading yet another hyperbolic demand that Hillary withdraw from the race before she destroys Obama, The Democratic Party, the Unites States of America and Western Civilization, I decided to sit down and work through my interpretation of these calls (which can be summarized as "She Can't Win and He Will Be The Nominee No Matter What She Does So She Should Quit"):

Their Reasons (my interpretation)
1. It will destroy Obama.
I don't see how. They assure us that he is the nominee already in all but name.

2. It hurts Obama's chances against McCain because Obama can't campaign against McCain.
Well, if Obama is not free to campaign against McCain (because Obama is not yet the nominee), McCain by that same token is not free to campaign against Obama because, of course, Obama is not yet the nominee. So, no advantage to either side. There is, however, nothing about the current situation to prevent Obama from campaigning against McCain (or vice versa). He certainly has enough money.

3. Hillary's attacks will hurt Obama in the Fall.
If they haven't been damaging enough to keep him from being the presumptive nominee, why should they hurt him against McCain? And it is hard to believe that, at this stage, she could say anything that McCain doesn't already know or can't find out on his own. I vaguely remember a Republican by the name of George H. W. Bush deriding his opponent Reagan's economic plan as "voodoo economics" in 1980. Now, who won the Republican nomination and the election? Hmmm, let me think, gee whiz, it was Reagan.

4. It is distracting Obama from his need to focus on McCain.
What's distracting? He is the presumptive nominee. Nothing she does can change that, so why are they worried? He knows this to be true, so he doesn't have to spend any of his valuable time on Hillary. He can focus on McCain if that is what he should do.

The REAL reason: Fear of Losing
All of the above reasons and their variations are rationalizations and, deep down, their supporters know this. You see: Obama has only two ways to win (unless Hillary really blows it in the remaining primaries): Hillary can drop out or he can get more Super Delegates than she can. And that is the problem. If Hillary does not drop out and if, this is key, she beats him soundly in most of the remaining primaries, his claim to the nomination will be weakened.

For the DNC:
If Hillary does not drop out, and Obama can't reach the magic number of delegates, the DNC has two problems it must face:
1. Florida and Michigan
2. Super Delegates choosing the nominee.
The DNC, of course, does not want to deal with either.

For Obama and his supporters:
Consider a worst-case scenario: Hillary wins most of the remaining primaries & soundly trounces him. Perhaps she comes out slightly ahead in the popular vote while significantly narrowing his lead in pledged delegates. NOTE: I am not predicting this will happen or even that it is likely. I'm simply posing a worst-case scenario for Obama as an explanation for the demand that Hillary withdraw.

Obama will then have to convince the Super Delegates that his wins mean more than Hillary's wins. There are lots of ways to do this. The one Obama's supporters use most often (in addition to pledged delegates & the popular vote) is that he has won more states. Hillary's supporters argue that she has won more of the larger & more important states.

On The Hillary 1000 (Mar. 8, 2008), Donna Darko argues that, based on turnout, results in caucus states should mean less than results in primary states.

Related to this argument by Darko are the arguments that winning a majority of the states that held primaries is more indicative of potential success in the Fall than winning a majority of the states that held caucuses.

The New Editor pointed out that (prior to the Pennsylvania primary) most of Obama's popular vote margin can be attributed to Cook County in Illinois.

Sean Wilentz points out that the results would be different if the Democratic Party used a winner-take-all system instead of the current system.

The Reclusive Leftist has maps comparing Obama's wins to electoral results in 1996 (the last time Democrats won the WH).

I am not suggesting that the Democratic Party change the rules ex post facto. I am simply arguing that, under the above stated circumstances, the Super Delegates who have not yet committed themselves will need some criteria other than the primary results to determine which candidate to support, and that looking at the results of the primary season in different ways may be one method they will use.

Obama and his supporters do not want to be in this position in June. The only ways they can avoid this scenario are for Hillary to fail miserably between now and June or for her to drop out.

The real reason they want her to quit? In one word: FEAR.

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