5.12.2008

As supers endorse, focus switches to general: Obama travels to MI and MO and MoveOn channels Unity08

4 more superdelegates got off the fence today, and all endorsed Obama, getting the Illinois Senator that much closer to effectively and mathematically wrapping up the Democratic nomination and diminishing that much more the pool of uncommitted superdelegates. Today's endorsers are:

  • Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, increasing Obama's sizable advantage among Democratic Senators
  • Rep. Tom Allen of Maine, who is running for Senate and who emphasized , that the race is over
  • Idaho state party chairman Keith Roark (Roark was upset at President Clinton for declaring about a statement in a stump speech that "You can drop me in the middle of Idaho where there's not a Democrat in 200 miles and an elk would applaud me on that." Roark responded: "If Bill Clinton had done for elk in Idaho everything he did for Democrats, we'd have far fewer elk.")
  • Dolly Strazar, a superdelegate from Hawaii
If my calculations are correct, this means Obama picked up a net 15 superdelegates since Friday while Clinton only gained a net 1. With the Democratic primary getting ever so close to being resolved (though Obama should expect a wave of bad press after tomorrow's West Virginia primary and renewed questions about his ability to win the white working-class), the Illinois Senator is turning to the general election. [Note: Commenters seem to think that I am blaming Obama for skipping West Virginia here. Not at all! In fact, Obama is in the state today and I am not even sure why he chose to do that. The results are likely to be very bad for him and it allows the Clinton campaign to say that he tried. Given that the media is now largely portraying the primary as a done deal, Obama is looking away from Clinton and given that WV is a small and uncompetitive state it makes sense for him to skip it. And as to the comparison to Mississippi, I agree and made the same this morning; WV is May's MS. Note that Clinton did make some minor effort to minimize the margin there though she didn't really succeed.]

Tomorrow, he will be traveling to rural Missouri; on Wednesday, he will be in Michigan. Neither state has a primary coming up, indicating that Obama is now switching his campaign schedule to reflect the general election campaign -- not just the primary's. Of the 6 remaining states, only Oregon could be tight in the general election so the Obama campaign can't even reason that it would be good in the long term to campaign in primary states (as it was in, say, Pennsylvania and North Carolina).

The Michigan trip is particularly interesting, as Obama is going to meet with Democratic leaders of the state to talk about the issue of delegates. His campaign -- which was quite clearly responsible for MI and FL not holding re-votes, as you might remember -- is now pushing for the plan that would attribute 54% of delegates to Clinton and 46% to Obama -- a 9% margin instead of the 18% difference between Clinton's total on election day and the "uncommitted vote." Clinton is refusing this arrangement for now. At this point, this is very much related to the general election as well: The GOP has made no secret that they will criticize Obama in the fall in those rogue states for having been nominated without FL and MI's participation, and Obama would like to put that issue off the table, especially as polls show a surprisingly tight race in Michigan.

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Meanwhile, Move On is also getting organized for the general election. Today, the group that is supposedly at the Left of the spectrum announced the winner of its Obama in 30 second ad contest, in which people were invited to submit their own ad in support of Obama. The selected ad (which you can watch here) features a veteran, "life long Republican" who served under Reagan and George Bush I, who wants a president who represents both the Left and the Right and thus supports Obama. By choosing this ad, MoveOn embraces postpolitical discourse in its purest form: The desire to transcend left and right is quite literally the ad's only theme -- making MoveOn the newest (and most unlikely) proponent of Third Way politics.

While I am sure a lot of you will disagree about my criticism of it, the ad is explicit in painting Obama as a president who is neither at the left nor the right, taking a centrist third-way route in words that are even cruder than those the Obama campaign employs. This is even more so in another ad that was chosen among the finalists, "Purple" (you can watch it here), in which a Democratic voter paints the election map entirely purple in order to "work together" and leaves a Republican voter dismayed at the disappearance of the red and the blue. This ad takes Obama's postpolitical message to its caricature by making it as explicit and as un-nuanced as it could possibly be. And just like that, MoveOn (of all groups) is channeling Unity 08.

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12 Comments:

  • Some people will criticize the media and Obama for ignoring the WV result but Mississippi was ignored and some pundits have recently said that there were no primaries in the six weeks between OH/TX and PA! So there is a precedent for ignoring small red states.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 12 May, 2008 18:45  

  • Taniel,

    I don't blame Obama whatsoever for avoiding West Virginia for the simple fact that there are few delegates up for grabs. Obama has major problems with working class Dems, but so did Al Gore and John Kerry. Obama needs to make sure the American people look at the election as an interview--do you want a 72 year old man or would you like someone 25 years his junior? McCain looks his age: Obama looks young for his age.

    Remember 1992!

    By Anonymous Jim West, At 12 May, 2008 18:57  

  • Obama has gained 23 Supers since last week, thats twice as many as Clinton will net from WV, he is using his time as he should.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 May, 2008 19:04  

  • If I was an advisor to Obama, I'd tell him to concentrate on:

    (1) Florida--winning this state would relieve a lot of stress. However, Florida will be hard to win with Charlie C. as the governor supporting McCain.

    (2) Pennsylvania--must hold on to this state--this will be hard because of his difficulties with the blue collared workers.

    (3) Ohio--I think he has a better chance of winning Ohio than PA. Definitely focus on this state.

    (4) Michigan--McCain is looking good here, so I think Obama needs to straighten out the delegate issue along with connecting with the blue collar workers.

    (5) Virginia--Need to make McCain defend this area. May want to consider NC, but VA is a tad more suitable to Obama.

    I would also concentrate on Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana (believe he could connect with Montanans), Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. I have almost written off New Hampshire because I think those people have a mutual admiration society with McCain.

    By Anonymous Jim West, At 12 May, 2008 19:14  

  • I find it strange that Moveon would turn into Unity08. Perhaps the controversy they gotten in recent years culminated in the "Betray us ad" has led them to going for this route?

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 12 May, 2008 19:27  

  • jaxx raxor,

    I was wondering the same thing. I don't know if there are any other changes with the former "Moveon" besides the name.

    I think if that's the only reason why they changed names, it will make no difference.

    By Anonymous Jim West, At 12 May, 2008 19:32  

  • Jim West,

    Apparently my phrasing was confusing. Unity08 is a centrist advocacy group (that self-dissolved a few months ago) that advocates for a non-partisan approach to solving problems and a bi-partisan ticket. I was suggesting that MoveOn, supposedly a leftist group, was using rhetoric that Unity 08 would be proud of.

    By Blogger Taniel, At 12 May, 2008 19:51  

  • Taniel - thanks for updating this article. Glad you are not criticizing Obama for weakly contesting WV.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 12 May, 2008 19:55  

  • It hasn't changed it's name. It is still called moveon.org. What I meant in my comment is that moveon.org is mirroring the message of Unity08, which recently died because of lack of funds, in support of Obama.

    While I did think that moveon.org's Betray us ad was reprehensible, this new center movement to me is dissappointed. There is a good need for an organization that proports strong progressive leadership that isn't mirroring the message of the Green party. On the other hand, Moveon.org did begin as in a centrist-type way, as a petition for congress to censure Bill Clinton for the Lewinsky scandal and then "move on". Maybe Move-one is going back to its roots? Or maybe its doing this just for Obama who claims a post partisan message? Or maybe it is doing this so it won't be seen as far left organizaiton that would hurt Obama in the fall? As a proud liberal I sure hope it isn't the last option.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 12 May, 2008 20:00  

  • jaxx raxor and taniel,

    Thanks for the clarification. I got confused, which is natural for me, I guess.

    By Anonymous Jim West, At 12 May, 2008 20:07  

  • Smart to skip WV. It will be a Clinton blowout and my analysis of the trends in this what used to be my neighbor state could even become a 70-30 Clinton win, mark my words, which means Clinton: 20 PD, Obama 8 PD.

    However, he has time to reduce her lead in KY, to increase his lead in OR, and above all else, to land on the ground in PR and turn on the hispanic hyper-majority there.

    As I once thought that Clinton was going to enjoy a massive landslide in IN and almost lost the state, I am no longer sure that she will win PR by any large margin. And her entire hope of pulling ahead in the PV must come from PR and PR alone. With 2,000,000 registered voters, the vast a majority of them DEMS, a 60% turnout would mean 1,000,000 votes, and a 60-40 win would mean a 200,000 vote plurality.


    or you can look at it this way:

    Obamas wins in MT and SD will completely negate WV, both in the PDs and in the PV.

    A large win by him in OR will negate most all of KY.

    That leaves PR as the "state" that could tip the PV balance, if at all.

    I've already done a workup at my blog on this theme, called Can Clinton pull ahead in the PV?

    Answer: yes and no. Depends on turnout, and where.

    And MT is registering record registrations for a primary season and MT is the only OPEN primary of the bunch. So, Obama can pull a PV margin here that would surprise most of the electorate.

    Wait and see.

    And my best guess is that she can cut into his PD lead by a maximum of 35 PDS, assuming she wins astounding landslides and he has mediocre wins.

    By Blogger Mark, At 13 May, 2008 05:53  

  • Puerto Rico is Hillary's only chance to get a PV lead (even though that is an unofficial metric). She lambasted Obama for winning small, red states but yet she is basing her hopes of getting the nomination on a territory that cannot vote in the GE. Talk about lack of consistency.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 13 May, 2008 08:13  

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