Is Obama Actually In The Driver's Seat?
My thought when I woke up this morning was that Obama needed a win in Texas or Ohio on March 4 or he was done. But that could be just as true on the flip side. This is good, because it raises the likelihood of an ending by March 4 unless there's a plit decision.
Turns out that Hillary is broke, so broke that she's not only thought about self-financing, she's already done it:
Now the Clinton campaign has finally answered: Yes, they are. Hillary spokesperson Howard Wolfson sends over the following:
"Late last month Senator Clinton loaned her campaign $5 million.The loan illustrates Sen. Clinton’s commitment to this effort and to ensuring that our campaign has the resources it needs to compete and win across this nation. We have had one of our best fundraising efforts ever on the web today and our Super Tuesday victories will only help in bringing more support for her candidacy."
The revelation suggests another emerging dynamic in the race: Now that the campaigns are committed to grinding it out for weeks and weeks, perhaps all the way until the convention. The Hillary camp faces the prospect of being dramatically outspent by the Obama campaign, which has enjoyed huge fundraising success.
So Obama has the lead in pledged delegates. He won on delegates last night and basically tied on votes. Overall, the vote race is probably a tie, taking out Michigan when only one was on the ballot, of course. And he has a huge cash advantage. And he has a definitive advantage in the primaries leading up to Ohio and Texas:
Feb. 8: Washington (caucus), Nebraska (caucus), Louisiana
Feb. 9: Maine (caucus)
Feb. 12: Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia
Feb. 19: Wisconsin, Hawaii
There are a few more insignificant ones in there (if anyone wants to hire me to cover the Virgin Islands primary, give me a call), but these are the biggies. Washington state has shown an Obama lead in the polls. Nebraska, as a Plains state caucus, favors Obama given current trends. The Chesapeake primaries and Louisiana have substantial African-American populations, and Virginia has Governor Tim Kaine's support and a big netroots community (Jim Webb's support could be key). Hawaii is a home state for Obama. Wisconsin is a toss-up, but there'll be a lot of momentum.
There's a fear that Clinton or Obama will go negative but I don't think so. It hurt both candidates to go negative, however slightly or however misinterpreted, in the past. That which doesn't kill Clinton or Obama can only make them stronger, and both sides know it.
So there's a plausible scenario here that Clinton goes into March 4 behind on total delegates (even with superdelegates), seeing the narrative go away from her, maybe losing endorsements to Obama as he is perceived as a worthy candidate (superdelegates are fickle and will move to power like flies to a lamp), and short on cash facing a massive burst of ads in two big states where the air war will be crucial.
Incidentally, this attack mailer is very interesting, because it goes after the Clinton's past record of losing House seats, Senate seats and the Governorship, and even without spelling it out, it's still a progressive argument that may appeal to progressives.
The flip side of this is that the Clinton campaign successfully (and pretty much rightly) pushes the argument that they won the big states like New Jersey, California and Massachusetts last night, they play in Virginia and try to make it a draw, win among low-information voters in Wisconsin and go into Ohio and Texas, where they have some built-in advantages, on an upswing. And Obama has to prove that he can win a big state.
I think it's up in the air how this will go over the next week or two.