March 03, 2008

My Two Cents: Hillary has to win Ohio and Texas tomorrow. Losses in either state, and Barack is the presumptive nominee. That's obvious, and I don't think there's any credible way the junior Senator from New York can maintain a viable campaign without a sweep.

That said, what happens if Clinton does win the Buckeye and Lone Star States, along with Rhode Island, where she has a clear lead in the polls? It's unlikely she will make much of a gain in the pledged delegate gap, regardless of how well she does tomorrow night. Moreover, due to the byzantine structure of the Texas delegate selection, it is almost certain that Obama will win a majority of delegates in that state, even if he loses the primary. Aren't we talking about a race that is already a foregone conclusion in favor of Barack Obama?

My counterintuitive take is that a pair of primary wins tomorrow trumps any delegate math, and for that reason, Clinton still has a shot if she wins. It's already pretty certain she isn't going to catch Obama in terms of the delegates elected in primaries and caucuses, no matter how well she does tomorrow or in the remaining contests. When all is said and done, Obama will have won more delegates in the contested battles after the last primary on June 2, but will not likely have a majority unless he has a breakthrough win in one of the four large states left, in Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. So it then goes to the SuperDelegates.

Since she won't have the mandate of the voters in Democratic contests, she has to have another argument. And I think that argument is going to be that the arcane rules the party has for delegate selection are undemocratic and anti-majoritarian, and that the SuperDelegates have to intervene to ensure that the true interests of the party are served.

That's where the potential for mischief in Texas will enter into the equation. If, as I suspect, Hillary Clinton wins the primary but fails to capture the lion's share of delegates tomorrow night in Texas, she has a perfect argument to illustrate the screwy manner in which the delegates have been chosen in this campaign. If the will of the Democratic voters in Texas isn't reflected in the delegate allocation, how can it be less fair for SuperDelegates, many of whom actually have to win a majority of votes to earn public office, to craft a more equitable solution? Since, in all likelihood, Hillary will not significantly reduce Barack's lead in the delegates even if she somehow wins a plurality of delegates from Texas, winning the vote but losing the delegates tomorrow night may be win-win for her, since it underlines the one good argument she has left.

But she has to win both states....

No comments: