Man Without Qualities

Friday, December 12, 2003

Gored Again VI: Hillary Clinton Has Already Won The Most Important Democratic Primary

John Ellis again cogently replies by e-mail:

Again, recent (Nixon '72, Reagan '84, Bush '88) crack-ups did not produce huge down-ballot shifts (Reagan '80 did, but the "incumbent" was being tossed, not retained). I suspect the GOP will make significant gains in the Southern Senate races that will outnumber their defeats elsewhere for a net Senate gain of 2-3 seats. The House has now been through three software-perfect re-districtings and thus is all but impervious to up-ballot wind shifts. The governors are, mostly, elected in presidential off-year and mid-term elections. So I don't think there were will something as spectacular as airliner-meets-Mt. Fuji down ballot.

There are to my mind three key indicators of the President's political health (any president's health) going into a re-election campaign. They are: rising right track/wrong direction numbers, rising consumer confidence and improving "re-elect" numbers. If he (or she, someday) has those three at his (her) back, then re-election is all but assured. If those numbers are going South, time to call United Van Lines.

These indicators are far more reliable than, say, an ARG poll of New Hampshire. Presently, the President has rising right track/wrong direction, improving consumer confidence and indifferent re-elect numbers. As the re-elect number generally lags the other two, I would agree that President Bush should be favored to win re-election. But predictions of a Reagan '84 blow-out seem premature, at best.

Frankly, just because the Dems were heading south in the South before the Rise of the Deanies doesn't mean the Rise hasn't made things worse for them in the South and almost everywhere else. That is: I agree with John's point, but it doesn't move the main issue: Will a Dean nomination substantially increase the risk of a big Congressional Democratic loss?

I think the answer is clearly "yes."

For one thing, a big Dean loss will seriously erode the ability of Democrats to win OPEN SEATS in Congress - especially the Senate. In a big Dean loss Illinois could move from "likely-Dem" to "likely-Rep" all at once - that's not the South. Here in California a REALLY BIG Dean loss could be real trouble for Senator Boxer. This is a state in which OVER SIXTY PERCENT of voters voted Republican in the recent recall election, including very substantial blocs of Hispanics and African-Americans. If that can happen here in Lotus Land, focusing on the absence of coat tails effects in '72 and '88 isn't that much comfort for the Dems.

And I think they know that.

What can the Dems do? Some people suggest Hillary! is their salvation, but Maguire thinks not.

I agree with Maguire. Hillary! is poison in the South - and for her to snatch the nomination from Dean at this point would risk a fissure in the Democratic Party that might create a disaster even bigger than the coming likely Deanerdammerung.

But she still might be able to work the snatch - because she would be snatching from within the Democratic Party, whose mechanisms and institutions she for the moment largely controls (read "superdelegates" and "proportional representation").

The Democratic delegates that are chosen in primaries and caucuses are awarded to candidates proportionally to the total number of votes each receives in state primaries and caucuses. As long as a candidate earns more votes than a threshold level, the candidate receives a certain number of delegates. If no clear front-runner emerges, several candidates could go into the Boston convention with relatively equal numbers of delegates. Even with the ominous Rise of the Deanies - now abetted by the Gorebot - polls suggest that multiple candidates are a real possibility.

What happens then? Well, the proportional representation system does not apply to "superdelegates," who are obligated to no candidate and who include Democratic members of Congress, governors and state party chairmen. Superdelegates will account for nearly 40 percent of the votes needed to clinch the nomination.

And Hillary! leads the Democratic establishment that provides those superdelegates. So tell me again who's leading in the primaries?

Yes, for Hillary! it's just Fun, Fun, Fun until Deanies takes the T-Bird away!!!!

If she's going to let that happen, that is. I'd say look for her to limber up her sock puppet, Wesley Clark, as an early warning sign of her intent to move in 2004.

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