Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bluegrass Beaver Bedlam

By Michael J.W. Stickings


My apologies. Something came up and I'm just now sitting down at the computer. I'll have some belated live-blogging of the Kentucky and Oregon results shortly.


9:00 pm - No surprise (of course). Hillary wins big in Kentucky. The final RCP Average was Clinton +29.0, and she's up by 36 points, 66-30, with over 90 percent of precincts reporting. (The results for both states are here.)

9:04 pm - Hillary communications flack Howard Wolfson was on with Wolf Blitzer a few minutes ago, talking up all the money the Clinton campaign has raised -- for what purpose? one ought to ask -- and how Hillary keeps beating Obama in state after state even though he outspends her. Really? In state after state? Last time I checked, Obama has won many more states than Hillary has. I realize she's won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and now Kentucky, but what about all the states he's won? Oh, right. The states he's won don't count (too small, too many blacks, etc.). Isn't it amusing how the Clinton mouthpieces (and Hillary herself) are basing so much of their enthusiasm on West Virginia and Kentucky, two relatively small states deep in the heart of Appalachia?

9:08 pm - Hillary has spoken. What are the "pretty tough odds" of which she speaks? She was expected to win Kentucky easily. It's like she's morphed into a 16-seed in the NCAA basketball tournament or something, the underdog going up against Duke or North Carolina. I would call this phenomenon, now so characteristic of her campaign, self-condescension. It's like she thinks so poorly of herself and her chances that every victory is like the U.S. hockey gold medal win over the Soviets at Lake Placid. (Sorry, too many sports metaphors? There will be more.)

9:12 pm - "Tonight we have achieved an important victory," she said. Right -- in Kentucky. How is it any more important than any of Obama's many victories? If anything, Obama's expected victory in Oregon will be far more important: It will give him a majority of the pledged delegates. (Of course, Hillary probably doesn't think that's all that important. She plays by all sorts of different metrics, or rather by whichever metric, however distorted, gives her the edge.)

9:41 pm - Sure, Hillary continues to raise a lot of money, just not as much as Obama, who raised $31.9 million in April. Hillary raised about $22 million, McCain (who, admittedly, isn't really running against anyone yet) about $18 million. As Jake Tapper notes: "Obama has an mighty $37.3 million on hand with $9.2 million tucked away for the general election." That's impressive. As is this: "1.475 million total donors overall making 2.93 million contributions. The average contribution is $91. The clicks come in small waves: 94% of the contributions to Obama's effort were under $200, 93% of contributions were $100 or less, 77% were $50 or less, and 52% were $25 or less." There's a word for this: democracy.

9:47 pm - Working-class whites go for Hillary! Working-class whites go for Hillary! (In other words, and to be more precise, Hillary has the support of poorly educated whites in backwards Appalachia, some (many?) of whom may be racist (that is to say, Hillary or any other white candidate over Obama).)

9:51 pm - OBAMA HAS PASSED THE THRESHOLD. HE NOW HAS A MAJORITY OF PLEDGED DELEGATES. (Based on CNN estimates.) The state that put him over the top? KENTUCKY!

10:40 pm - Sorry, just watching a bit of the Celtics-Pistons game after Obama's speech. I missed American Idol earlier, but, you know, I just don't care. It's been such a lousy season. (Okay, it's a lousy show, but I've been watching it anyway.)

10:42 pm - Speaking of Obama's speech in Iowa... well, it was another brilliant one, wasn't it? No, not his best, not like the ones back in February and March, but it was strong and focused. He noted that he now has a majority of pledged delegates, but he didn't go so far as to declare victory (which, as I argued yesterday, would have been presumptuous and risky). He said some very nice things -- some true and genuine things -- about Hillary. She has been a strong and historic candidate. (Although, I would add, what she has done -- that is, what she has said and how she has campaigned -- since well before Pennsylvania has made her look really bad and turned many of us against her, including many of us who once liked her and defended her.) It has been a long and sometimes bitter campaign, but hopefully her supporters will embrace Obama when it matters. He went through the highlights of his positions on key issues like Iraq, health care, education, and energy. And he went after McCain and the Republicans, setting an aggressive yet uplifting tone for the general election campaign.

10:52 pm - And I agree with Obama on this: The fact that two candidates have each done so well, each receiving millions and millions of votes, and that the race has been so close and at times quite contentious, is not a sign of weakness and division in the party but rather of strength and unity. Yes, yes, I know, there is anger and resentment on both sides, especially on Hillary's side, and there is a need for much healing once the race is over, but, in the end, what matters is electing the Democrat (Obama) and defeating McCain and the Republicans. Democrats will come together, will remain engaged, and will continue what has been a historic campaign for hope and change.

10:56 pm - 65-30 for Hillary in Kentucky, with all precincts reporting. On the other side, McCain only -- yes, only (shouldn't he have won more?) -- won 72 percent of the vote. Huckabee seems to have won the battle for second 8-7 over Paul. Awesome.

10:58 pm - Oregon's up in a couple of minutes. The final RCP Average is Obama +12.0. I'll say Obama by 11. (I underestimated Hillary's win in Kentucky, by the way. I thought it would have been Hillary by 28.)

11:00 pm - Obama is ahead in Oregon, says Wolf. No results yet, though, so no prediction.

11:13 pm - And, yes, Obama wins Oregon. He's currently up 61-39, with 17 percent of precints reporting. (The gap will narrow. Much of the vote so far is coming in from populous Multnomah County (i.e., Portland's country), where Obama, according to expectations, is doing extremely well. He's also doing very well in Lane County (i.e., Eugene's county).

11:17 pm - Oh, great, Idol on time-shifting, one of our western channels. Archuleta is so awkwardly annoying. Cook at least shows he has some marketable talent. And, of course, the judges love David A. So ridiculous.

11:56 pm - Not much new to report. Obama's lead in Oregon is now 58-42, with over half of precincts reporting. So let's turn to the latest Gallup daily tracking poll for something interesting: "The only major demographic group still supporting Clinton to the tune of 51% or more is women aged 50 and older... Having previously captured nearly the maximum level of support from black voters, Obama's latest gains have come from a broad spectrum of rank-and-file Democrats. At least for now, he has expanded his position as the preferred candidate of men, young adults, and highly educated Democrats, and has erased Clinton's advantages with most of her prior core constituency groups, including women, the less well-educated, and whites." In other words, Obama is winning over Hillary's core constituencies to the point where she no longer has much of a lead anywhere. For all the talk about how divisive the race has been and how divided the Democratic Party is, this is all hugely significant. As I put it above, the party will unite behind Obama. It is true that he has had some difficulties with some demographic groups, but that has had a lot to do with Hillary's strengths (not just his own weaknesses). As the race is coming to an end, as Obama's victory is virtually inevitable, the shift in his direction is clear.

12:05 am - The Hillarylanders like the insufferable Terry McAuliffe are still at it, though, arguing, as McAuliffe did on MSNBC, that the superdelegates will put Hillary over the top. Honestly, will this shameless nonsense ever stop? They continue to attack Obama while utterly denying reality. I mean, what superdelegates? It is Obama, not Hillary, who has picked up the vast majority of them since Super Tuesday, including John Edwards. And would the superdelegates actually overturn the will of the voters -- that is, put Hillary over the top even though Obama won a majority of the pledged delegates? No. That would tear the party apart.

12:24 am - John Dickerson sums it up well: "The race for the Democratic nomination -- "race" is hardly the right word, is it? -- now feels like a quantum physics problem: How long can a body exist in a state approximating motionlessness without actually stopping? Tuesday night, Barack Obama took the majority of delegates selected through primaries and caucuses, meaning that a race that was already all but over is now a little more so. Superdelegates are not likely to deny him the nomination by reversing the pledged delegates. They have been moving steadily in his direction despite recent losses. Obama needs to win fewer than 30 percent of the remaining delegates to reach the finish line." And she'll continue to try to destroy Obama, making the (false) case that "he wants to win the nomination by disenfranchising the [Florida]'s Democratic primary voters" -- and Michigan's. He was gracious towards her in his speech in Iowa tonight. In response, she slams him. Nice. Maybe she'll get out if there's another surge of superdelegates to Obama this week and next. Or maybe she's in in to the end, or at least through the final primaries on June 3. Either way, it's time for this to come to an end. And that means it's time for Hillary to stop denying reality, helping the Republicans with their smear campaign against Obama, and dragging this on to the detriment of the party and its presumptive presidential nominee.

1:29 am - Well, that's it for me. With about two-thirds of precincts reporting in Oregon, Obama is up 58-42. More on this, and all of this, later today and in the days ahead.

Good night, everyone.

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  • Michael, my apologies for the long lapse in participation these past months. Recently, I moved to a new condo by the beach followed immediately thereupon by a flood of visitors and freeloaders. Soon to be out from under this deluge, I'll be back ... flailing away at McBush lunacies.

    With respect to last night's results, I am more than annoyed about Clinton's insistence on prolonging this contest at a time when the party must unify for the next campaign. I no longer view the Clintons as party loyalists but merely as narcissists with an overreaching sense of dynastic entitlement. They deserve no more consideration from this point forward.

    By Blogger Swampcracker, at 9:52 AM  

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