Saturday, February 09, 2008

Advantage: Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

1) Obama has the lead and the momentum coming out of Super Tuesday.

2) Obama is raising astonishing amounts of money. Clinton is lagging behind.

3) With McCain as the almost certain opponent, Obama is more electable than Clinton.

4) Obama leads in the polls in key states like Washington and Virginia. He should also win Louisiana, Nebraska, and Maryland.

5) Obama could win all four votes today: Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and the Virgin Islands. He could have even more momentum heading into Maine on Sunday and Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. next Tuesday.


Let's look more closely at #5:

Simply put, the calendar favours Obama. The media may have called Super Tuesday a draw, but Obama won not just by taking more states and more delegates but by blocking Clinton and by putting himself in a position to win the nomination.

Slate's Trailhead blog examines the upcoming primaries and caucuses. Here are the predictions:

-- Louisiana (2/9): Obama
-- Nebraska (2/9): Obama
-- Washington (2/9): Obama
-- Virgin Islands (2/9): Clinton
-- Maine (2/10): Obama
-- D.C. (2/12): Obama
-- Maryland (2/12): Obama
-- Virginia (2/12): Obama

Then there are Wisconsin and Hawaii on 2/19, both of which could go to Obama.

Look at that list. It's pretty impressive. And the impression you get is that Obama is indeed in a very good position at the moment.

Of course, nothing is certain. Far from it.

Washington could go for Clinton, as could Maine, Virginia, and Wisconsin. (Although the Virgin Islands could go to Obama.) On 3/4, Clinton could win two of the most important prizes of all, Ohio and Texas. And, along the way, something could come up that shifts the race in Clinton's favour. For example, Obama could fail to live up to expectations, which are now quite lofty (such as my own). Or Clinton could beat Obama handily in the debates. Or the media could for whatever reason turn against Obama. In general, too, it is unwise to count out the Clintons, Bill and Hillary alike. They have been counted out many times before, only to emerge stronger than ever. Clinton was counted out after Iowa, after all, but then came New Hampshire. Obama may be the narrow frontrunner, but Clinton is fighting hard.

Still, right now, Obama has the advantage, in my view, and over the next few weeks he could take a commanding lead -- if not so much in terms of delegates and the popular vote but in terms of states won and momentum. It's all about the delegates, I know, but wins in most of the upcoming votes could give him significant momentum going into Ohio and Texas -- both of which have been looking good for Clinton -- and then into the key states to follow, such as Pennsylvania. In other words, winning will lead to more winning, and Obama will look more and more not just like the frontrunner but like the presumptive nominee. Even the Clinton boosters in the Democratic establishment wouldn't be able to deny it, at least not with any credibility.

It could all go wrong -- and it very well might -- but for Obama there is at least now a much clearer path to victory than there was before Super Tuesday -- not to mention, further back, when the race looked like Clinton's to lose.

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