Thursday, April 10, 2008

THE POLITICS OF PRIMARIES

Reuters had this story about how Obama is trying to knock Clinton out of the race in Pennsylvania. It is basically the same story everyone wrote when Ohio and Texas were voting. Personally I don't think Clinton will stop until/unless she runs out of money.

Anyway, I have been seeing this argument for Clinton's candidacy, and it makes no sense to me. It goes Clinton's "wins in Ohio, California, New Jersey and elsewhere proved her strength in big states critical to beating McCain." Maybe I don't understand how primaries in other states work. Clinton's wins in Ohio, California, New Jersey and elsewhere were (a) generally among Democrats, and (b) were versus Obama. They don't translate into how the general populace would vote in Clinton versus McCain. In fact, they are pretty close to irrelevant to that question.

Am I missing something? Is it a complete misuse of data and perhaps logic to say:
(1) More Democrats in Ohio voted for Clinton than Obama
(2) Ohio is a bellweather state
Therefore, Clinton will win the bellweather state of Ohio in a general
election.

Maybe the conclusion states less, i.e.:
(1) More Democrats in Ohio voted for Clinton than Obama
(2) Ohio is a bellweather state
Therefore, Clinton is more likely than Obama to win the bellweather state
of Ohio in a general election.

In either case, the conclusion seems unwarranted to me. It seems to me that first the Democrats all need to get together on a state-by-state (Florida and Michigan excluded) basis and agree on a candidate. Then that person has to, separate and apart from the primaries, win the general election. I guess I would point out to the Clinton campaign that winning big states does not guarantee success in the general election. For instance, in the last five primaries New Jersey was won by Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. Two presidential terms, three losers. McGovern won the California primary in 1972 and got beat silly in the general election.

Maybe instead of trying to weasel out reasons Clinton should be nominated without getting more delegates or votes than Obama, the Clinton people could devote their energies to making sure she doesn't lie about sniper fire anymore.

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