Tag Archives: democratic presidential primary

Barack Obama: The Democratic Nominee for President (But You Knew that Already)

Cross-posted on the California Majority Report and the Daily Kos.

Under the collective denial mentality that has hijacked media-types and political observers since the February 5th contests, Senator Barack Obama’s decisive 56-42 win in North Carolina juxtaposed with Senator Hillary Clinton’s narrow 51-49 win in Indiana shows Senator Obama has successfully rebounded from the Rev. Wright controversy and whatever other manufactured non-policy outrages that he’s been forced to address. After all, Obama increased his popular vote lead by over 200,000 votes, and more importantly, his 95 new pledged delegates put him 12 delegates further ahead of Clinton. To borrow a catchphrase from former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, Obama’s got O-mentum. However, while O-mentum plays a role at the margins, a few points here or there, the reality is this contest is already over, and these outcomes were largely predetermined.

The Democratic presidential primary is over. Senator Barack Obama is our nominee. It didn’t end last night, although many of the pundits that dragged us along for this performance will try and tell us differently. This race has been over for weeks. Obama successfully cemented an impossible to overcome coalition at some point along his 11-state sweep. By the time of the Ohio primary, it was clear that no amount of delegates in Clinton’s remaining geographical strongholds would come close to overcoming Obama’s delegate lead. Today, you will see the superdelegates continue to publicly and privately align with Obama. Any scenario for victory left in the Clinton playbook would have to, by definition, shred party unity through divisive procedural maneuvers that would alienate voters we’ll need in elections for decades to come. I’m not the least bit concerned, because the party elders see the same polls, the same election returns, and the same voter registration numbers I see, and they aren’t going to permit civil war, not this election year.  

The voters in the remaining states and Puerto Rico, even if they could somehow change the outcome of this race (and they can’t), probably have already made up their minds. Exit polls in Indiana showed that 75 percent of primary voters made up their minds sometime before the week of the primary. That number was 79 percent in North Carolina and 76 percent in Pennsylvania. Enough voters feel sufficiently informed in their voting decisions that there just aren’t many late deciders left in this fight. After 21 debates, thousands of campaign stops, and endless 24-hour coverage, apparently enough voters are confident in their decisions that they don’t need to see the gas tax holiday gimmick mocked endlessly on television, and maybe, just maybe, they don’t need to be convinced that senators Obama and Clinton really do at the bottoms of their hearts love cans of really awful beer.

I will say this: Senator Clinton’s “victory” speech last night was gracious and largely respectful to our nominee. If that is how she conducts herself for the duration of this campaign, she’s more than welcome to stay in the race through June 3rd. The state-to-territory-to-state campaigning has done wonders for Democratic registration everywhere. This will pay dividends for presidential candidate Obama and all the Democrats facing competitive down ballot races. In California, the enthusiasm generated by this presidential race will bring new loyal Democrats into an election that could enable us to achieve a two-thirds majority in the state legislature so we can sanely craft budgets, throw us up to three more Congressional seats, and decide the fate of marriage equality and the more humane treatment of millions of farm animals. These are big deals for our state, and senators Obama and Clinton deserve credit for helping plant the seeds that make these efforts possible.

A positive Democratic primary, largely free of negativity between the candidates, would be good for our party in the remaining states. If Clinton retains the tone from last night’s speech, I say stick around, Senator, and thank you. But forgive me if I use my crystal ball for a moment. It doesn’t matter how much “momentum” Obama generates from his impressive 14-point win in North Carolina; he will lose West Virginia. And it doesn’t matter how much “momentum” Clinton will generate from her impressive win in West Virginia; she will lose Oregon. While Obama basks in the glow of victory in Oregon, Clinton will stake camp in victorious Kentucky, priming Puerto Ricans into thinking they can still swing this race for her. They can’t. She’s not our nominee. But so long as Clinton plays nice and wants to keep this theatre production acceptable for all audiences, with dulled blades, she’s welcome to continue playing the part of a viable presidential candidate. When done right, this road show is good for the party.