Beyond Shakeup Tuesday

Posted by Mike Merritt in Election 2008, Politics on

I call it “Shakeup Tuesday” partially because Obama took the lead, and partially because it comes after Hillary Clinton shook up her campaign.

So, everybody is going ga-ga that Obama has finally overtaken Clinton in total number of delegates. That he has all kinds of momentum that will lead him into next Tuesday’s Wisconsin and Hawaii races, and change up the election entirely.

Well, I’m going to put the brakes on outlandish predictions, particularly after making some of my own yesterday. I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but Obama only has 25 more delegates. I say only because of the fact that Wisconsin has 74 more coming up. If Clinton were to make a clean sweep in that state, she’d be back in the lead.

Now, I know Obama has a lot going for him. Clean sweeps of last weekend’s races, and yesterday’s. So, yes, he does have momentum going forward. Yet, keep in mind that between him and Clinton, in terms of delegates, they’re nearly tied. Between Wisconsin and Hawaii next Tuesday, they could end up tied again. Or Clinton could take the lead, or Obama could take the lead. The fact is, we don’t really know.

And even if we had a good idea, lets keep in mind that up until recently, Clinton had the total delegate lead, and for a long time. Obama could potentially get the lead for the next couple of Tuesdays, and then be surpassed by Clinton again. Or, that might not happen.

This is a very interesting race, even more so than the Republicans, which has become kind of boring with the withdrawal of Romney (and anyone who says Huckabee is mathematically out is forgetting how many delegates that really still are over there). Anybody who’s saying someone is out for the count just because of momentum is a bit misguided, I think. The cable news channels were saying things like this as far back as Iowa, and yet here we a month and a half later, with about as much of a tie as you can get.

Some would say it sucks, but I think it’s pretty interesting that so many Democrats are excited over two popular candidates. However, I will say this: I won’t be carrying this tune forever. I do think that eventually one candidate will need to show up as a clear leader. I’m not in favor of superdelegates (more on them in another entry), and don’t like the idea of them deciding this race. This is a democracy, and the idea that people who were never elected to represent the people could be a deciding factor in the nomination is a little scary. It would also go to show disunity in the Democratic party, which I think the Republican nominee could play on, claiming the other candidate can’t even unite their own party, so how can they unite the country?

So, if momentum helps one or the other candidate, so be it. If they take a lead in pledged delegates, they can claim a mandate to be their party’s candidate. On the topic of pledged delegates, I will say this: Obama has been in the position of having more of them for a long time now. The cable news channels always liked to point at Clinton’s position in total delegates, but when you strip away the superdelegates, Obama’s been leading for some time. If I were his campaign manager, I might suggest he try to incorporate this fact into his speeches or slogans.

So, while I’d be excited to see a battle between the two candidates for a little while longer, I think that after March 4th, there’d better start to be some idea of who’s going to get the nomination. Now, I’m not talking about claiming someone as the nominee at that point, I’m just talking about getting direction as to who it might end up being.

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