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Considering Obama’s Loss in Pennsylvania

AV columnist Bruce Fisher writes:

What’s a super-delegate to do?

1. Pay attention to Pennsylvania

2. Just say No to a repeat of 1972

Democrats should worry that 1972 is going to happen all over again.

That was the year when Pat Caddell was the strategist and pollster for Senator George McGovern, the South Dakota war hero who wanted to end the Vietnam War.

Pat Caddell sold campaign manager Gary Hart on a fantasy—that they could put together a new coalition to defeat a very weird man named President Richard Nixon. The Pat Caddell fantasy was that young people, racial minorities and newly politicized women would join with union men to defeat an incumbent Republican who was tough on Communism, tough on crime, and tough on social discord. The Pat Caddell fantasy turned out to be just that.

That history should be in mind as folks consider Hillary Clinton’s 10-point victory in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. That contest was more than a win for Hillary Clinton—it was a signal that the Clinton coalition is an enduring phenomenon, and not a flavor-of-the-month. She really does connect with the Democratic base.

Democrats voting in a primary open only to registered Democrats chose a combative, class-oriented appeal based on a very forceful assertion of the federal government’s role in changing policy. This should be music to the ears of progressives everywhere.

Why? Because Democrats seem to be coming home—if only to Hillary. Republicans since Richard Nixon not only made inroads into but actually relied upon those key Democratic constituencies—older voters, white males of every age, women, Jews, and Catholics—who this week chose Clinton over Obama.

They chose Clinton notwithstanding Obama’s enormous advantage in funds and campaign competence. That doesn’t mean, though, that Clinton will be able to overcome the rules of the Democratic National Committee, which currently favor an Obama nomination.

The Cadell-like theory of the Obama candidacy has resulted in a tremendous excitement in “open” primaries. But Obama’s candidacy has failed to attract much support from the swing voters who could just swing back to the Republicans, the way they have since 1968—except when they voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

Western New York, outside of Buffalo, voted for George Bush in 2000 and again in 2004. Western New York is full of Nixon Democrats, Reagan Democrats, Bush Democrats, and Clinton Democrats.

But given the way Pennsylvania went, Democrats here may be more likely to support McCain if they can’t have Hillary.


  • Deward Bowles

    100s of thousands of average Americans are voting right now by sending money to Senator Obama in donations of 200 dollars are less and they are all not just Democrats nor Republicans. Let’s look at the Federal Election Commission data.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/donordems.asp?filter=A&sortby=S

    Senator Clinton’s campaign for example is 75% funded by donations of 2,300 or 4,600 dollars.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/donordems.asp?filter=A&sortby=X

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/donordems.asp?filter=A&sortby=P

    Senator Clinton and Senator McCain are primarily being funded by wealthy individuals and special interest groups (lobbyist). Here is a graph that shows individual contributions from people who work for lobbyist or as lobbyist.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/select.asp?cycle=2008

    It takes a lot of small donations of 200 dollars or less to raise two and three times the money the other candidates are receiving for their campaigns. If how a campaign is run is any indication of how the candidate will run the country the chose is fairly clear. Both Senator McCain’s and Senator Clinton’s campaigns have periodically gone broke and in to debt having to borrow money to stay afloat.

    The politics of fear are dead, some simply do not realize it yet.

    My only fear is what the candidates will do for the people who financed their campaign once they take office.

    Senator Clinton “won” PA however it has done little to dent Senator Obama’s lead. The next two contests will be either close or she will lose significantly, there is simply not enough road left for her to get to the nomination.

    One of two things will happen in my opinion.

    1) Senator Clinton will lose the next two contests run out of money (and the ability to borrow money) and be forced to concede.

    2) Senator Clinton somehow continues to hang in there until the convention and cause a “brokered” convention (Al Gore?).

    Senator Clinton should have dropped out gracefully a long time ago. As for McCain, once the spot light hits him he will become unelectable in my opinion (Hagee and the others, savings and loan scandal, new scandals regarding favoritism, campaign exposed as financed mostly by lobbyist, gaffs on the economy and war, etc.).

  • jamie moses

    Then there is the question of super-delagates. The Obama camp loudly insists that because Obama won a this-or-that state that those super-delagates should be obligated to follow the will of the people and pledge to Obama. However, it is interesting to point out that Clinton won Massachusetts overwhelmingly and yet Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, both super-delegates, have publicly pledged to Obama. And both have appeared with Obama on the campaign trail. If Obama really believes the will of the people should rule then he why is he embracing two famous pols who are going against the will of their consituents?