Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Post-Penna Posturing

Emails to supporters after the Pennsylvania primary. First Barack:


    Votes are still being counted in Pennsylvania, but one thing is already clear.

    In a state where we trailed by more than 25 points just a couple weeks ago, you helped close the gap to a slimmer margin than most thought possible.

    Thanks to your support, with just 9 contests remaining, we've won more delegates, more votes, and twice as many contests.

    We hold a commanding position, but there are two crucial contests coming up -- voters will head to the polls in North Carolina and Indiana in exactly two weeks. And we're already building our organization in the other remaining states.

    But it's clear the attacks are going to continue, and we're going to continue fighting a two-front battle against John McCain and Hillary Clinton.
And Hillary:
    Dear Pho:

    Thanks to you, we won a critically important victory tonight in Pennsylvania. It's a giant step forward that will transform the landscape of the presidential race. And it couldn't have happened without you.

    There will be much more to do beginning tomorrow. But tonight, let's just celebrate the fact that you and I are part of a remarkable community of people tough enough, passionate enough, and determined enough to win big when everything is on the line.

    Thanks so much for all you do.
FWIW Barack makes a donation request and hillary does not.

Hmm. Barack's right about closing the gap, which he did in New Hampshire, Ohio and Texas as well. But he didn't close the deal. And in at least a couple of those states, it was in part due to some late-in-the-contest missteps.

Hillary on the other hand sounds like she's not just looking at a new landscape, but an entirely different planet. Here's what Slate's Delegate Calculator says:
    Coming into today, the odds that Clinton would catch Obama in pledged delegates were very small. Now they're zero. Before Pennsylvania, Clinton needed to win each remaining primary with 65 percent of the vote to close the gap. Even though she won Pennsylvania, that figure is now just over 68 percent. . . Furthermore, the state with the most remaining delegates is North Carolina, where Obama leads in the polls by about 20 points. Assuming he nets at least 20 more of the state's 115 delegates, Clinton needs 80 percent of the vote in each of the other eight remaining primaries to catch up.
But of course, Hillary is not talking about the pledged delegate landscape, she's talking the virtual landscape of superdelegate psychology. Her strategy for the endgame is 1) mitigate losses in pledged delegates, 2) make a putatively democracy-based argument for including the Florida and Michigan delegates so that 3) it gets her in shouting range of Obama's pledged delegate count and 4) she can make the anti-democratic argument that superdelegates should overturn the primary results and slot her in.

We'll try to flesh out Hillary's intellectually vacuous argument in a later post. For now, know this -- new landscape or not, it's still a steep uphill for Hillary.

Oh, and I should acknowledge being butt-licking wrong on my predictions. The triumph of hope over experience.