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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The spin so far

With no clear winner on the Dem side, I'm trying to watch the spin because I think that is going to create the conventional wisdom and the perception of winner.

My general sense is that the Obama campaign is winning the spin war thus far with the "more states, more delegates" argument backed by the idea of "Obama friendly primaries and better fundraising ahead."

Thus far, the main Clinton point seems to be that they won Massachusetts despite Kennedy, Kerry, and Deval Patrick (pretty weak,) but if this holds up, they may soon be claiming more popular vote. (Yes, I know this ignores the caucuses where Obama was rampant, but popular vote is a powerful argument.)

The thing to watch for now is which spin bits are picked up by the "neutrals," your Chris Matthews/Tim Russert figures and the questions posed by interviewers.

Their presentation will shape the conventional wisdom and hence coverage and the campaign going forward.

(PS. This is a beauty. Clinton Campaign Director Mark Penn claiming Obama is the establishment candidate.

(AP) "Obama sought to claim the permanent underdog's role in the race, saying the New York senator is backed by a "political machine honed over two decades.")

Also, Looking at the next few states, the Clinton campaign is trying to buy time, (Politico) "Her team is girding for trench warfare, telling reporters that the nomination will not be decided until at least the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, if then."

And, the Mark Penn official Clinton spin memo titled "A New Day."


  • Obama has the momentum and has narrowed the gap (to zero?) with Clinton. But he's done this by winning the undecideds and (probably) a large number of supporters of candidates no longer in the race, not by eroding Clinton's base. Clinton doesn't seem to be losing any support. Her base seems committed and intractable.

    Does this mean there's a ceiling for Obama? That he has to start pealing away Clinton supporters in order to lock this up before the convention? Likewise, Hillary has to start adding to her establishment base in order to do the same. I think we're going to see some "negative" campaigning in the next few weeks.

    By Blogger -epm, at 8:43 PM  

  • You need to add in that he's picking up most of the Edwards supporters. That's alot of the catchup.

    I'm not so sure about the ceiling arguments either way because, broadly, Dems are reasonably happy with either choice. So, I'd argue that it's tussle, not ceiling.

    And, as I said in a post a bit below, after SC, the Clinton campaign is on kind of a probation after SC, so they can't be too attributably dirty. Obama might, but does he monkey with the system when he's got the mo?

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:32 PM  

  • Wow, that is just ridiculously close. I saw an interesting post somewhere about the math of the thing. It claimed that with some 40-50% already split down the middle, and 8-10% off the table (Michigan, Florida, and Edwards delegates), the margin needed in the remaining contests to reach 50%+1 is not likely to be achieved by either candidate.

    So...if the candidates have reached their ceilings and are just fighting over a few percentage points, then it's the Doomsday Scenario. I tend to think, though, that a lot of support on both sides is soft.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 AM  

  • Tom, I saw that, too. Part of the reason it can't be reached in that 20% (?) of the total delegates are super delegates.

    In other words, you gotta win 60% to lock it up before the convention.

    (Is that math right?)

    But, yeah, damn close.

    I have a feeling that after Texas/Ohio, or maybe as late as Penn, we're going to have the sense of a clear winner, and at that point, there's going to be pressure for someone to step back.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 7:18 AM  

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