Ah-YUP: Obama Wins Maine

I believe Clinton was slightly favored in today’s Maine caucuses, but Obama is the winner. They caucus votes are still being counted, but at the moment it isn’t even close.

The Virginia primary is Tuesday. Obama is heavily favored, for what that’s worth. Can’t trust polls.

Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to in the near future, courtesy of About.com:

February 12: District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia
February 19: Hawaii (D), Washington (R primary), Wisconsin
March 4: Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont

Conventional wisdom says that Virginia, Ohio and Texas are must-wins. Clinton is favored in Texas, and Obama in Virginia, but I’m not sure about Ohio.

The big worry is about the superdelegates. We’re hearing that a majority of them are committed to Clinton, which leaves us with the possibility that the will of a clear majority of voters will be overridden by party insiders. This would be a disaster for the Democratic Party and the nation, IMO. No less an activist than Chris Bowers says that if the superdelegates throw the nomination to the second-place vote-getter, he will quit the Democratic Party. Oh the other hand — well, see Digby.

Also, although a majority of superdelegates may have declared for Clinton, my understanding is that there’s no rule that says they can’t change their minds. My sense of this contest is that if the two candidates continue to split caucus and primary votes, Clinton will be the nominee. I believe Obama is going to have to crush Clinton in the next few primaries. If he does, I think the superdelegates might look at that and decide to go with the winner.

I also agree with Anonymous Liberal:

There’s this idea out there that the longer it takes the Democrats to choose a nominee, the more of a disadvantage it will be in the general election. Indeed, the primary calendar was front-loaded the way it was in hopes of having the nominee selected as early as possible. The idea is that the sooner the nominee is chosen, the more time the party has to rally around that person, to raise money, and to come up with a campaign strategy for winning the general election.

I think is completely wrong-headed, and what happened in 2004 illustrates this perfectly. John Kerry was at the height of his national popularity when he was winning primary contests in a hard-fought Democratic race. He was getting lots of free media attention. People were coming out and endorsing him. He was on television every week giving victory speeches and in the newspaper under headlines declaring his victory in one state after another. But once he wrapped up the nomination, all that positive, free media disappeared and the Republican party started launching attacks and building its anti-Kerry press narratives. By the time November rolled around, Kerry had been called a flip-flopper so many times, by so many people, over so many months that even many Democrats and independents had thoroughly internalized this criticism.

The Republican party is very good at demonizing and building negative press narratives about whomever the Democratic nominee turns out to be. The sooner a nominee is selected, the more time they have to demonize him (or her). And those attacks are all the press talks about because the primary race is effectively over and there’s not much else to talk about.

The same thing has occurred to me. The last primaries are on June 3. Maybe it’ll ride until then.

Finally, for a historical perspective on the superdelegates, see Tad Devine, “Superdelegates, Back Off” in today’s New York Times.

9 thoughts on “Ah-YUP: Obama Wins Maine

  1. I have also been thinking about the possibility of months of Republican attacks, once they know who to aim at. The later the better, in so many ways.

  2. I agree with you and anon. liberal, but for a slightly different reason– when either of the two political parties chooses it’s nominee way early, one of the consequences is that people in many states who only follow election politics somewhat casually(i.e., most people), will hear about how their state’s primary is next week, etc, and they’ll note that the nomination was wrapped up well before then- and the net effect is people come away with the impression of a hidebound party leadership deciding who gets the nomination in smoke-filled rooms, far from the gaze of ordinary folk, and this sours people on the process– and the resultant nominee.

    Also, Kerry was a lousy campaigner, and his refusal to fight back when he was attacked by the swift boaters only reinforced the sense many had that he was a stuffy patrician who couldn’t be bothered with the muck ordinary people have to wade through.

  3. I was watching The Washington Journal on C-Span and heard the next attack: Barack Hussein Obama’s middle name is “Hussein”!!! Don’t you think he is in league with Saddam Hussein?!

    This is just how stupid people are in this country. The focus will not be on just what a great story it is that someone of his background could emerge to lead America (and perhaps no – where else in the world). It will rather be: Obama’s father was a Muslim and all Muslims are in league with the “terrorists.” Reasonable people may think this type of accusation is patently absurd (The Audacity of Hope has a great chapter about Obama’s feelings on religion).

    Jonathan up there is correct in his critique of John Kerry. My impression is that Obama will be willing to reply to the stupid swift boaters and there oddly xenophobic accusations about Islam.

  4. I find it interesting that the right-wing of the Repug party hasn’t acknowledged that Obama could win. Coulter says “I’ll fund-raise for Hilary” and “I’ll campaign for Hilary.” And Limbaugh says, “I’ll vote for Hilary” and “I’ll endorse Hilary.” And during the Repug debates, every answer to every question drew a shot at Hilary in response.

    If it’s going to be Obama, and I hope and believe it is, better I think to hold it off so they keep wasting their animosity on the wrong candidate.

  5. Just a thought, but I think a good anti-GOP-smear-machine TV ad could be a take off of Toto pulling back the curtain and revealing the pathetic Wizard of Oz working all the levers. It wouldn’t be pro any particular candidate, just anti-smear, and probably damn funny. Could go viral on YouTube.

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  7. I realize that the super delegates may not vote for the person who wins the most primaries and caucuses. The reason why I don’t think they should is because the caucus vote to me is not a true vote. The true vote is one where you vote in private. Our founding fathers did not want undue influence or pressure put on anyone when exercising the right to vote. The only states I pay attention to are those states that have a private vote.

  8. Obama has taken something old (the values of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK) and put them into a new package, something I also tried with the following song.

    Obama is beginning to unite black and white, something I also tried to do in this song.

    Obama is gaining momentum, just like this song, the Squeezebox duet, a cover of the Who’s…

    Dr BLT featuring mystery guest (Not Beyounce)

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