Thursday, May 01, 2008

Joseph Andrew concludes that a vote for Hillary is a vote for McCain-- and he's right.

Today, Joseph Andrew, a Democratic superdelegate from Indiana who was once named by President Bill Clinton as chair of the Democratic National Committee, announced that he has changed his support from Hillary Clinton, who he had supported early on, to Barack Obama. He made it clear that he wrestled with the decision, but today he wrote about why he made the decision.

Part of what he wrote is here:

Today I am announcing my support for Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. I am changing my support from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama, and calling for my fellow Democrats across my home State of Indiana, and my fellow super delegates across the nation, to heal the rift in our Party and unite behind Barack Obama....

I believe that Bill Clinton will be remembered as one of our nation's great Presidents, and Senator Clinton as one of our nation's great public servants. But as much as I respect and admire them both, it is clear that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain.

I ask Hoosiers to come together and vote for Barack Obama to be our next President. In an accident of timing, Indiana has been given the opportunity to truly make a difference. Hoosiers should grab that power and do what in their heart they know is right. They should reject the old negative politics and vote for true change. Don't settle for the tried and true and the simplistic slogans, but listen to your heart and dare to be inspired. Only a cynic would be critical of Barack Obama inspiring millions. Only the uninformed could forget that the candidate that wins in November is always the candidate that inspires millions.

I ask the leaders of our Party to come together after this Tuesday's primary to heal wounds and unite us around a single nominee. While I was hopeful that a long, contested primary season would invigorate our Party, the polls show that the tone and temperature of the race is now hurting us. John McCain, without doing much of anything, is now competitive against both of our remaining candidates. We are doing his work for him and distracting Americans from the issues that really affect all of our lives.

He's right too. About two months ago, most polls showed that John McCain was behind both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. Today many of the same polls show McCain virtually tied or in some cases leading either of them.

If the math was there for Hillary I wouldn't question her continuing onward. But to win she will have to convince not only a majority of the superdelegates remaining, but an overwhelming majority. I don't see that happening.

Here are some stark facts:

1. Obama has a lead of 156 pledged delegates, with so few remaining now that for Hillary to catch him she would have to win by amazing margins in all of the remaining primaries, something in the 70% plus range. She may be delusional in thinking that she can actually win, but she won't.

2. Both candidates have raised well over a hundred million dollars-- and spent it to beat up on each other. John McCain, despite having misjudged his fundraising abilities and constraints so badly that they have seriously jeopardized his campaign at least twice (proving how bad "Mr. campaign finance's" judgement is-- the first way you can judge a candidate's ability to manage is how well he or she runs their own campaign,) may well start out the fall campaign with more cash on hand than the Democratic nominee.

3. McCain should by all accounts be getting killed. He has stated in the past his complete agreement with some of the worst and most unpopular decisions by the Bush administration-- including to stay in Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and continuing to borrow to cover deficits and for Social Security privatization. If the race was being run strictly on the issues, McCain would be campaigning in Idaho trying to avoid a fifty state sweep.

4. The campaign has become quite nasty on both sides. McCain doesn't have to go negative. It is guaranteed that the winner of the Democratic nomination will already have high negatives. People don't just forget overnight.

5. Obama keeps saying the campaign is about 'judgement.' He's not just talking about Iraq. The truth is, Hillary's campaign focused only on large and early states, which let Obama's campaign pretty much organize uncontested in a slew of midsized states like Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin and Washington as well as a lot of small states until the last minute, and it is in these states where he won by lopsided margins and ran up his delegate lead. See what I said in #2 about management ability and what we can learn about it by watching how a candidate handles his or her campaign. Obama may have lost some races, but he didn't skip a bunch of states.

Of course there are those who want Hillary to keep on winning. For example, Ann Coulter earlier this year said she wanted Hillary for President, and talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have ordered their listeners to re-register as Democrats and vote for Hillary. This 'rush' of tens, or even of hundreds of thousands of 'dittoheads' to the polls certainly made the difference in Hillary's paper-thin margin in the Texas primary, and may well continue to inflate her vote total. But even with all the help she is getting from Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, Hillary still can only claim to be ahead if she counts votes from Florida, where she campaigned one day and Obama none because the DNC told everyone the votes wouldn't count and ask the candidates to pledge not to campaign there, and Michigan, where Obama signed a similar pledge and therefore took his name off the ballot. So I guess if you don't mind Rush Limbaugh choosing the Democratic nominee, then go ahead and vote for Hillary, right alongside his army of 'dittoheads.'

But let's make it clear. Hillary won't win the nomination. She'd have to win about 2/3 of the remaining pledged delegates (she won't) and then also convince the superdelegates to take it away from Obama and give it to her. She also won't do that. So at this point given the way Republicans are gleeful to see this race going on and getting more and more negative in the process, the only thing I can say is this: A vote for Hillary is a vote for John McCain.


Anonymous said...

I'd agree that Obama is in a much stronger position for the nomination right now, but he hasn't won it yet and Clinton is on a roll so just your assumption that "she won't win" is premature.

Even Barack Obama acknowlegd that a Clinton nomination is still possible in his remarks at a North Carolina dinner last night when he said that IF she is the nominee then he would work hard for her her and support her.

She is definitely behind so he will probably win but asking her to quit now is like telling a football team that is down by two touchdowns in the last two minutes that they should quit playing and walk off the field. A lot of games have featured a great comeback in the last two minutes, even though most often the team that is ahead at the two minute warning closes the deal and wins.

Eli Blake said...


She has every right to run. But the math is strongly against her. She will probably win most of the few remaining primaries but most of the pledged delegates have already been assigned, so she would have to convince about 3/4 of the remaining superdelegates to support her. Honestly, I don't see that happening.

Beyond that, Clinton, while she has energized some voters (especially older women) hasn't really brought any new voters into the party. Obama has done so, as younger people and people who are voting for the first time overwhelmingly support him. This means that Democrats are better off if he is the nominee because he will draw in more new people than she will-- and that could help down-ballot Democrats.

Another block in her way is that she chose to ignore a lot of smaller, redder states. Not only was that a strategic mistake because a lot of those states voted 2-1 or even 3-1 for Obama and allowed him to run up his delegate lead, but it was also stupid in terms of superdelegates-- if I'm a Democratic superdelegate from a red high plains or western state, for example, I'd rather have a nominee who is pledging to run a fifty state campaign. Realistically Obama won't compete in Idaho the way he competes in a real swing state (like, say, Missouri) but at least he isn't abandoning the state (vs. Clinton, who appears to have developed a '50 percent plus one' strategy and the other 49 can go and rot).

What really hurt western Democrats during the Clinton years was the perception that the White House didn't care at all what happened in those states (the epitome of that was when a scheduling secretary realized a few weeks before President Clinton left office that he had only visited 49 states since he became President, but not Nebraska. So a trip to speak at a high school in Nebraska was hurriedly arranged so he could leave saying he'd visited all 50 states.)

Democrats in states like that don't expect to get a lot of resources tossed their way by the national party but they like to at least get something to work with, and the truth of the matter is that Obama, not Clinton, paid attention to them when it mattered, and so superdelegates from those states (such as Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, a former Clinton-appointed U.S. attorney who recently endorsed Obama) are going to be a very hard sell for Clinton to convince them to support her.