Fall of the "House of Clinton"

Obama’s Path to Victory


On Tuesday Obama is expected to prevail in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. So around 9 p.m. Tuesday night, television networks probably will be announcing, for the first time, that Barack Obama holds an unambiguous delegate lead.

His lead in votes — which is already in the neighborhood of 200,000 — will probably have widened. And Obama should be able to increase those delegate and popular vote totals on Feb. 19, when Wisconsin and Hawaii go to the polls.

Next comes March 4, when Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island vote. Clinton’s campaign believes Ohio and Texas will constitute her firewall. Will it hold?

I suspect not. Obama will have momentum. He will likely have more money than Clinton for advertising. His ballot performance among Hispanics and working-class whites has generally been improving as the primary season has gone on. He intends to push a more robust economic message that could help him further narrow the gap among lower-income voters. And an interesting regression analysis at the Daily Kos Web site (poblano.dailykos.com) of the determinants of the Democratic vote so far, applied to the demographics of the Ohio electorate, suggests that Obama has a better chance than is generally realized in Ohio.

As for Texas, look for a couple of possible endorsements to help Obama there. If John Edwards campaigns for Obama in East Texas, and Bill Richardson defies the pleas of Bill Clinton and travels across the border from New Mexico to help out, Obama could prevail.

If Obama wins Ohio and Texas — or even wins one — he’ll be in good shape. He should take Wyoming on March 8 and Mississippi on March 11. Then there’s over a month until the next contest, in Pennsylvania on April 22. That stretch of time could be key. It could be the moment for many of the uncommitted superdelegates to begin ratifying the choice of Democratic primary voters, and to start moving en masse to Obama.

Many of these superdelegates are elected officials. They tend to care about winning in November. The polls suggest Obama matches up better with John McCain. And the polls are merely echoing the judgment of almost every Democratic elected official from a competitive district or a swing state with whom I’ve spoken. They would virtually all prefer Obama at the top of the ticket.

All of this will move the superdelegates to Obama — perhaps as early as just after March 4, or perhaps not until April 22, or perhaps not even until the last match-up on June 7. But the superdelegates will want to avoid a situation in which they could be in the position of seeming to override the popular vote, or of resolving a bitter battle over whether and how to count votes from Florida and Michigan, at the convention.

And there are, as a final resort, two super-superdelegates (so to speak) who would have the clout to help Democrats achieve closure: Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi.

If they stepped forward at the right time, they would earn the gratitude of their party. And they might also enjoy contemplating a derivative effect of their good deed — the fall of the house of Clinton.

Comment: I've been wrong before, but I predict that Obama will beat Hillary 3-0 in today's Potomac primaries! Re the 1960 film "House of Usher", the whole film was made in 15 days for around $250,000.

Updated: Something must give — or will the fight be stopped?

Re: Nancy Pelosi

Ms Pelosi says that she is “torn” and that “the people will speak — that’s the beauty of a democracy,” before adding: “My focus is on re-electing a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.”

Her voice would carry great authority among uncommitted super-delegates on Capitol Hill — and she is said to be “leaning” towards Mr Obama. “The party Establishment is not going to turn its back on a candidate who is generating this tremendous excitement and bringing all these new voters into the political process,” said a source close to her.

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