April
22nd 2008
Clinton locks up the keystone state

Posted under: American history, women's history

UPDATED BELOW

Well, that was interesting.  Senatorella rides again–despite being outspent 3:1, despite her high negatives, despite the fact that Obama really worked hard for votes in Pennsylvania, and despite the cheerleading of the mass media.  As of my press deadline, she’s sitting on a 10-point win, 55-45, with 90% of the vote reported.  Cue the screams for her to drop out for the good of the party.  Cue the shouts that the primary is divisive and must end now.  (H/t to commenter David for pointing me to this New York Times editorial published tonight that begins, “The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.”)  Cue the demands to “take her boobs and go home.”  She only beat him by ten points!  The math!  The math!  Thhhheee mmaaattthhh!

UPDATE, 4/23/08:  Well, that didn’t take long.  Check out this hateful commentary at The Nation by Tom Hayden.  (He calls it “Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream,” compares her to Lady MacBeth, and claims that “Going negative doesn’t begin to describe what has happened. Hillary is going over the edge.”  Shorter Tom Hayden:  “Women hate her too, so it’s not like I’m a misogynist.  I tried to like her, but she’s just such a bitch!  Waaaaaaaahhhhh!”)  Or, try this new math for competing against girls, where a 10% margin of victory for a girl is really only about 8%, which is really kind of a tie, so it’s not like Hillary actually won, and we’re back where we started.  And take the New York Times–pleaseLe Somerby explains it all so I don’t have to:  “Those million-plus Democrats [in Pennsylvania] don’t exist in [Maureen] Dowd’s world. In Dowd’s world, Dowd wants Clinton to quit. And so, by the laws of childish dreams, ‘the Democrats” must want that too.’”  Maureen Dowd actually published these sentences at the end of her column today:  “The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. … I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. … You can go in an old blue shoe.  Just go, go, GO!”

All teasing aside:  if he’s the clear front-runner and the presumtive nominee, why can’t he just win a big, juicy state and wrap this puppy up for the history books?  All of the money he’s raised, the estimable enthusiasm of his voters, and the undeniable media bias in his favor, and he can only play it to a draw?  Even if he pulls out the nomination in the end, he’s got to face John McCain, who is beloved by the Washington press corps (and who doesn’t have the high negatives that Clinton has.)

Clinton looked radiant in turquoise tonight, eloquent, confident, and energized–and her audience was pumped up and ready to fight along with her.  (Even the toads on MSNBC gave her that.)  Her victory speech was long–it reminded me of Amy Poehler’s impersonation of Clinton on Saturday Night Live from a few months ago, mocking her relentlessness and determination.  (It was funny because it’s true!)  I had a phone call less than halfway through and so missed most of the speech, but I did catch this nice comment:  Tonight was for all the people “who lift their little girls on their shoulders and whisper in their ears, ‘See, you can be anything you want.’”

Yeah, well, we’ll see.  There’s still a long way to go for both campaigns.

24 Comments »

24 Responses to “Clinton locks up the keystone state”

  1. David on 22 Apr 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    Reality check: there really isn’t a way for Clinton to get the nomination. The supers aren’t going to overturn the leader in pledged delegates. It’s not going to happen. Clinton can carry this on (and should) but it’s a losing cause. Why? Well, the “math” does matter. The “math” determines who gets the most delegates, and the “math” says that Obama will have more pledged delegates at the end of this. The party leaders (Dean and Pelosi, mainly) are pushing the uncommitted superdelegates to make a decision soon, and her advantage in that category will disappear shortly.

    I’m not saying this to be combative. I just don’t want you to get your hopes up. She effectively lost this race when she blew the Potomac primary.

    Also, as for why Obama can’t put her away: the answer is that he has major problems with working class white people. That’s why he loses in places like Scranton and Allentown and so forth, and why he had problems in Pittsburgh. The Alleghenies are pretty racist places, and Clinton has benefited from that. They clearly prefer a white woman to a black man. It sucks but it’s true.

    Finally, let’s please put to rest the “media is screwing her over” line. Obama got hit pretty hard by the media for the last month, and the last debate was pretty much 45 minutes straight of spurious attacks on his patriotism, religion, and everything else.

    I’d say Obama did about as well as he could have tonight. I was hoping he’d get within five or six points, but it looks like it will end up being about nine points. C’est la vie. He should clean up in North Carolina and that will effectively end the nomination process.

  2. Historiann on 22 Apr 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    Sorry, David: it’s still a race. Repeat after me: NEITHER CLINTON NOR OBAMA WINS THE NOMINATION WITHOUT THE SUPERDELEGATES. You can talk about “the math” all you like, but the supers are going to swing this. They could swoop in tonight and end it, if they were really confident that Obama’s win was clean and if they felt good about his chances in November. Maybe they’ll come out tomorrow and end it–who knows? But it ain’t over by a long shot.

    Your guy has major, major trouble if he spent $20 M to lose by 10 points, while having six weeks to focus on only one state. (Sounds like Howard Dean boasting of his third place “win” in Iowa in 2004). That doesn’t bode well for a general election, where he’ll need to win Pennsylvania and at least 19 other states, too.

    My gal has major trouble, too, no doubt. It’s neck and neck now, and she’s got to leverage this win into more money and more wins.

  3. ej on 22 Apr 2008 at 10:54 pm #

    I’m not being partisan, I’m just confused. I’m wondering what Hillary’s endgame is, and I don’t know where to go to find an answer. I know its not the talking heads on MSNBC, or people in either camp. My main concern is that Dems win the election in the fall, and I want to know how we get us a candidate! So what is the universal equation? Some say according to the rules of the DNC, its delegates, either elected or super. Others say its popular vote. Or is it a smoke-filled room at the convention (which I don’t really see, considering the two potential nominees have been traditionally disadvantaged by deals that happen in smoke-filled rooms)?

    If math doesn’t count, what does? Hillary certainly is making a strong case that its not over, but what is she fighting for? I’m not asking to be contrary, I really want an honest and accurate answer. What needs to happen for Hillary to win the nomination?

  4. ej on 22 Apr 2008 at 10:56 pm #

    Ok-looks like I was posting at the same time as Historiann. So its all about the supers? That seems kind of back room to me, but if its the rules, its the rules.

  5. David on 22 Apr 2008 at 11:00 pm #

    I agree with what you are saying, Historiann. It is all up to the supers. I’m just saying that I’m pretty confident they aren’t going to defect to Clinton in large enough numbers to offset Obama’s advantage in pledged delegates. They’ve been moving towards Obama even amidst all the controversy of the recent weeks.

    This 10-pt loss shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Clinton’s coalition is very strong, and PA is perfect for her. He spent all that money and campaigned as hard as he did so that he could get this 9 or 10 point result. If he hadn’t done that, he would have lost by 20.

    As I said above, I agree he has major problems, and they have to do with his race.

  6. Historiann on 22 Apr 2008 at 11:05 pm #

    ej–Because of our party’s “proportional” rather than winner-take-all way of distributing pledged delegates, neither Obama nor Clinton can get to 2025 (or whatever the magic number is) without the superdelegates. Yes, it is all about the Supers, and they can do whatever they want to do. They’re not bound to throw their support to the winner of the pledged delegates, nor are they bound to vote for the person who won their district or state (although surely they’re going to take that into consideration for purely selfish reasons.) The “Democratic” party has contrived to create this completely un-democratic way of selecting a nominee.

    Clinton’s game now is to even the tally in the popular vote (and if you count MI and FL, she’s ahead by 100K+ tonight) and to point to the electoral college vote-rich states that she’s won handily (CA, OH, PA, FL, and NJ, for example.) Obama’s going to pound on “the math,” since he’ll surely have a lead in pledged delegates goiing into the Convention, and he’s got to try to swing the spotlight back onto his campaign and seize the momentum back from Clinton.

    When you ask, “what is she fighting for?” I don’t understand. I think it’s obvious that she wants to be the Democratic nominee and the next President. She thinks she’s best for the job. And after Kerry rolled over and died the day after the election in 2004, I think a lot of democrats want to see a fighter. (And, I’ll reiterate my point about Obama’s failure to land a major swing state, or even to make it a close margin of victory.)

  7. Historiann on 22 Apr 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    David–I’m sure part of this is about race, although I think it’s probably at work in very complex ways. I went through this with Hillary (in my head) a few weeks ago: yes, she’s subjected to a double-standard constantly. But, that’s the real world and she has to figure out a way to govern in it. Either that, or the country really isn’t ready for a Madame President, which stinks from my point of view, but if people won’t vote for her, then she wouldn’t be an effective leader for them anyway.

    There’s no question that the Muslim manchurian candidate rumors/e-mails persist and persuade people because of his ethnicity. A white Congregationalist man or woman candidate would never have to deal with that. Also, I think people who say they “don’t know him,” or “don’t know much about him” are also reacting to him in a way they probably wouldn’t react to a white candidate. Like Clinton, he has to go a longer distance than a white male candidate to establish himself as a credible candidate and authority figure. But, that’s the country he’s got to win over and find a way to govern.

    He’s got to find a way to reach out to Clinton voters to win the nomination and the election. Democrats need Latinos and white working-class people. (There’s not that much of a party left if they leave.) The good news is that he’s a great campaigner and a persuasive guy–the more people see of him, the more they like him, even if in Pennsylvania it wasn’t enough to put him over the top. He’s not Rudy Guiliani, whose numbers plummeted when he actually campaigned anywhere.

  8. David on 23 Apr 2008 at 12:57 am #

    Looks like Clinton is only going to net somewhere between 10 and 12 delegates from this win. She’s going to be trailing him by well over a hundred, and now the biggest prizes are all off the board.

  9. ej on 23 Apr 2008 at 7:17 am #

    Thanks for the clarification on process Historiann.

    I certainly understand what she’s fighting for in terms of the ultimate prize-the nomination. I just wasn’t sure how they were evaluating her progress towards it.

    And call me naive (which is probably why I’m an Obama supporter) but I think its precisely the way they’ve been presenting her as a fighter that won Pennsylvania. This is the way they should have been campaigning all along, though as always, hindsight is 20/20.

    Though I’m not sure I agree with the choice of the suit-I would have gone with something more muted.

  10. Delilah on 23 Apr 2008 at 8:41 am #

    In his “concession speech” which conceded…um, nothing, Obama took every opportunity to bash Democrats and the “small politics” of the Democratic party. (Click my name for the link to the transcript.)

    When people say that Clinton will do anything to win, I say, “Good. It’s about damned time.”

  11. GayProf on 23 Apr 2008 at 8:45 am #

    Have I mentioned that I am still pissed off about Michigan not having a real voice in this? I am slow to forgive and, to my mind, suggests a lot about both Clinton and Obama that they went along with it (back when nobody thought that Michigan mattered).

  12. Historiann on 23 Apr 2008 at 9:38 am #

    Right on, Delilah. The thing is that it’s unladylike and unseemly to fight to win!

    And Gayprof: um, Clinton left her name on the ballot, so you had the opportunity to vote for her (and Chris Dodd too, and maybe Mike Gravel?) Obama and Edwards are the only major candidates who “went along with” the erasure of the MI primary, and took their names off the ballot to pander to IA and NH. Clinton never thought Michigan didn’t matter, especially because she looked good there and won the majority of votes (on an admittedly skewed ballot). She sure as heck knows that it will matter big-time in November, and her campaign and its surrogates were all for working out a fair compromise involving a re-vote. Obama is the only candidate standing who has behaved as though Michigan Democrats didn’t exist.

  13. David on 23 Apr 2008 at 11:18 am #

    C’mon Ann, Clinton agreed not to campaign in the state, not to “contest” it, so to speak. This post-facto spin is really kind of pathetic.

  14. David on 23 Apr 2008 at 11:19 am #

    I’m also wondering how, after last week’s debate, anyone can with a straight face suggest that Obama was being propped up by the media.

    His ability to outraise Clinton time after time is a strength, not a weakness. You’re going to need moolah to go after the Republicans in the fall, and Clinton doesn’t have as many donors to tap as Obama does.

  15. Historiann on 23 Apr 2008 at 11:29 am #

    David, I’ll ask you not to insult me or anyone else here (use of the word “pathetic.”) I’ve never deleted a single one of your comments, but you’ve got to keep it civil.

    I was correcting GayProf’s implication that HRC and BO are equally to blame for the erasure of the Michigan votes. She kept her name on the ballot and won, and it’s only in BO’s interest not to seat her delegates (and not to agree to a re-vote).

  16. Historiann on 23 Apr 2008 at 11:37 am #

    I agree that it’s a great advantage of Obama’s that he’s so flush with cash, but I disagree that Clinton is running out of donors. Already she’s raised as much as she spent in PA in the 17 hours since the polls closed there ($3M or $3.5), and in the money race, nothing succeeds like success. But, it’s true that her supporters aren’t as wealthy on the whole as Obama’s are. Her supporters are the ones for whom it’s really going to matter whether or not John McCain or a Democrat is the next president. Her supporters are people who really need universal health care, social security, and student loans for their kids. Her supporters include more people for whom a $10 or $25 pledge is a meaningful amount, and might mean that they trim something from their budgets next week to pay for it.

    Speaking of which, I’m off to make a donation!

  17. Indyanna on 23 Apr 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Too many sub-threads to keep track of here, much less weave them all into a short comment. I’ll just address the money thing. Obama’s agreement a year ago to accept public financing for the general election and subsequent construction of the bizarre concept of a “parallel public finance system” from netroot internet solicitations is no less disingenuous than the classic Clinton “what the meaning of the word IS is…” Too much money for one candidate is a bad thing no matter where it’s from or how it’s raised; even if it comes from a dime from every school kid in the country. It distorts the civil debate and I think it even hurt Obama in the end in “his” parts of Pennsylvania (the Philly exurbs, for example). What the heck was the guy even *doing* at a fundraiser in Marin County if he’s raising $41 million a month on the web, while his poll workers in Philly don’t even get donuts and coffee money, to say nothing of cheesesteaks? The “bitter” flap was but an accidental byproduct of such a greedy approach.

    While glib generalizations like “the Alleghenies are pretty racist places” would never come out of the Obama morning conference call, people on the bituminous flats around where I’m typing from can pretty much read the coded equivalences in phrases like “bitter,” and thus you have your electoral map last night. (I guess that talking point effectively writes off West Virginia, Kentucky, and maybe even southern Indiana, depending on what the “Alleghenies” are?) No Democrat who can’t even win Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) in the primary is going to beat McCain this November or any November.

  18. GayProf on 23 Apr 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    Clinton keeping her name on the ballot, but never setting her foot in the state seems to me to be pretty disingenuous. So, she wanted to win without actually addressing the concerns of the state (which is why Michigan moved its primary up in the first place). She could have rejected the plan from the get go, demanded that votes count, etc..

    Sorry — I see it as indefensible.

  19. Historiann on 23 Apr 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Fair enough, GayProf. This pandering to IA and NH has to stop! Let’s make Michigan and Florida the FIRST primaries, held a week apart (and abolish caucuses held before April 1).

  20. David on 23 Apr 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    Excuse me, but what I said was that this post-facto spin is pathetic. And it is. That’s not an insult. That is addressing an argument, not a person.

    Whatever. If I want Clinton spin I can go to her website. Your rehashing of campaign talking points has gotten really tiresome. I’m out.

  21. Rad readr on 23 Apr 2008 at 2:08 pm #

    It’s fairly tight — delegates, super or not, and popular vote. Obama is up only by 2-300,000 or so in the popular. And who knows how many delegates he has through the freaky caucus process.

    Hillary won the popular vote in Texas, but it’s being colored as both because he won the come-back-and-vote-again-even-though-you-have-work-and/or-kids caucus.

    As far as number of states won — my home state of California is worth a dozen of those dakota type places.

    Unlike most pundits, I think Pennsylvania did clear up something — Obama draws big with Af-Ams and new, younger voters and idealistic types but has trouble with the white working-class. Hillary does better with the working-class but could probably still pull in good Af-Am votes unless there is a total meltdown in the nomination process. She inspires women. Given their similarities in positions, the question now becomes not about who wins more delgates/popular votes (it’s clear this is not a democratic process) — it’s a question of strategy — do you bet on the new voters and those Obama inspires or do you bet on Hill’s ability to draw older voters and those she inspires?

    I say we push an Obama/Hillary ticket with the younger person on top — 46 is inspirationally young. New generation, etc. And don’t even say it’s not going to happen because that’s the Republican line. Young guy/first woman vp versus that ghostly looking fellow seeking the next 100-year war.

  22. Historiann on 23 Apr 2008 at 3:22 pm #

    Hey Rad–I agree with your analysis, except the conclusion. Why should Hillary, who’s shown more success and more durability with people who actually vote Democratic (i.e. older rather than younger voters, who don’t always show up, and the women who are voting in higher numbers than men) step aside and let “the younger person” take the top spot? Although I’m much, much, much younger than Obama, I don’t see the appeal of youth this time around. Many faithful dems (that MAJORITY of women showing up at the polls this year) don’t like the appearance of the young guy getting promoted ahead of the more experienced, more knowledgeable woman.

    If he beats her fair and square, then fine, but I don’t think he’ll want her on his ticket.

  23. Rad Readr on 23 Apr 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    Well, while I don’t think the primary/caucus system is democratic in the sense that all voters are represented equally, the delegate count does affect the way people view the reality of the vote. The popular vote, a bit closer to reality, still favors him slightly. Some people would say even if he won by one vote, right? I don’t think “durability” with certain voters would or should win out over real numbers (popular vote) and certainly a lot of people will stick by the fabricated numbers (delegates at present). That’s why he should be on top of the ticket.

  24. Historiann on 24 Apr 2008 at 6:48 am #

    Maybe–but the primaries aren’t over yet. There are still 8 more (and 6 weeks) to go. We’ll see what happens!