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Author Topic: Obama has a math problem (or considerations for superdelagates)
Kent
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Much is being made of how Hillary can't get enough votes to be the nominee, but little is being made of how Obama has mainly won states he won't win in the general election. From Real Clear Politics
quote:
Hillary Clinton is not the only Democrat with a math problem. But the arithmetical difficulty that Barack Obama faces is fundamentally different from Clinton's: She doesn't have the numbers that plot a clear path to the nomination. He doesn't have the numbers that plot a clear path to a Democratic victory in the fall.

The spin-of-the-day from the Obama campaign on the morning after Clinton's victories in three of the four states holding primaries on Tuesday is that the New York senator cannot possibly overtake her rival's lead in "pledged" delegates -- that is, those won in primaries and caucuses -- and therefore has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

The arithmetic conveniently leaves out an essential part of the equation: Neither Obama nor Clinton can secure through the primaries and caucuses the 2,025 delegates necessary to win at the Denver convention without the votes of the superdelegates. And Clinton's stunning performance on Tuesday, particularly in Ohio, makes Obama's argument that superdelegates should automatically back the will of the voters -- and not use independent political judgment about who can best compete against Republican John McCain in November -- look like an awfully simplistic calculus.

quote:
So how has Obama fared in those states that are the crucial building blocks of a Democratic general election strategy? He's won his home state of Illinois, plus Wisconsin, Washington and Minnesota. Together, these states account for 51 electoral votes. Clinton has won her home state of New York, as well as California, New Jersey and Michigan, representing a total of 118 electoral votes. This sum deliberately leaves out Ohio and Florida, which will be hotly contested in the fall.
So my question to you all is, which is more important for the Democratic super delagates to consider: Hillary's wins in "must-win" states in the general election, or Obama's lead in the delegate count despite his weakness in the big states?

[ March 06, 2008, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: Kent ]

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TomDavidson
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Obama.
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Jesse
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Carter was the last Democrat to win Ohio.

It may be in play with Clinton as nominee, but she's still not likely to win it. Bill couldn't win it against Dole.

The idea that either of them would lose CA or NY is laughable. Michigan hasn't had anything resembling a vote.

So, Clintons claim boils down to New Jersey, which will probably break Democratic this year regardless of who is the Nominee, and Ohio, which probably won't break for the Democrats either way.

[ March 06, 2008, 02:53 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Kent
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But what about Florida? Not that Hillary proved anything there necessarily, but she would likely do better than Obama there.
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RickyB
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Obama can get votes in all states. He can win classic swing states Hillary can't. And I think that in the end, if he and his backers among the superdelegates keep it relatively clean, far less hillary backers will refrain from voting Obama than vice versa. Especially if he's the delegate and popular vote leader and the supers decide for her. A lot of black folks be staying home if that happens. If she wins Pensylvania big and makes it to the convention within 10-15 pledged, it may go down. If it stays 85-100 and they give it to Hillary behind doors, not only black folks, but a lot of young people, a lot of the anti-war vote.

Also, one must remember that Hillary has only won once in states where republicans and independents were allowed to vote.

[ March 06, 2008, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Jesse
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Three times, actually. Ohio, Nevada, and Texas.

Two of those are battleground in theory, one of them is off the Democratic Electoral map.

The thing everyone tends to forget is that the General election will not have a 20 point gender gap like so many of the Primaries have had.

McCain won't be treating Clinton with the kid gloves Obama has. He's not going to be worried about alienating core Democrats, and she is enough of a doof to go negative first and give him the excuse.

[ March 06, 2008, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Paladine
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quote:
The thing everyone tends to forget is that the General election will not have a 20 point gender gap like so many of the Primaries have had.

McCain won't be treating Clinton with the kid gloves Obama has. He's not going to be worried about alienating core Democrats, and she is enough of a doof to go negative first and give him the excuse.

Yeah, well, blacks also won't represent 25%ish of the vote in the general election, so his built in 80-90% edge there is going to count for much, much less.

I'd say that in order to make a case to superdelegates, winning the big states isn't enough. I think she needs to win the popular vote. If she does that, Obama's contention that "the will of the people" is behind his candidacy will be laughable since more people turned out and voted for her.

Then she'll be in a position to say that superdelegates should obey the will of the majority of Americans. It's a powerful argument to a Democratic audience which largely still resents Bush's electoral college victory trumping Gore's popular vote.

What she'll have a hard time doing is turning the superdelegates around if she's behind in delegates and the popular vote. Then we need to look for Florida and Michigan to come into play. I think she's going to pull this one out of the fire though (and actually have been of that opinion from the beginning).

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RickyB
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It isn't for him against McCain, though you forget turnout [Smile]

The point is that if Obama has more pledged and more votes, and hillary is the nominee, a lot of blacks (plus white folks like Jesse) will stay home or actually vote McCain. She can't win like that. He won't lose her voters like that. If he's the leader, they'll accept and vote for him.

[ March 06, 2008, 06:02 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Jesse
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Well, she's still behind in the ol' popular vote even after Tuesday, and is likely to remain there.

She'll tell you she's ahead, but she's counting Michigan, which is insane, and Florida which is a little silly. Even with Florida included, she still trails though.

His "built in" (Did you see pre-Iowa polls of likely African-American voters?) edge there still holds up for as much as 10% of the vote in the general, maybe a little more depending on turn out.

Only in a very few States have black voters representing that much of the total, but women have been a clear majority in every Democratic primary and caucus. Just because the Obama campaign doesn't stomp feet and blame losses on "too many women" doesn't mean that the gender divide isn't real.

She's already irreparably damaged herself in terms of black voters, although if she somehow manages to win pledged delegates and the popular vote it's not lethal. If she doesn't get both, it will be.

Democrats literally cannot win without them, especially in the "battle ground" states she's so proud of winning.

Oh, and Ricky, I'll be voting for McCain if she's the nominee. I make no bones about it. He'll be easy to replace with a Democrat in four years, she won't be.

[ March 06, 2008, 06:10 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Paladine
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quote:
Well, she's still behind in the ol' popular vote even after Tuesday, and is likely to remain there.
She's behind by a very, very thin margin and is going to do well in the upcoming states, including the big one: PA. Florida and Michigan are also going to come back into play, probably through a redo. He needs to hope to heaven they caucus instead of primary, and I'm not even sure that'll save him there.

quote:
His "built in" (Did you see pre-Iowa polls of likely African-American voters?) edge there still holds up for as much as 10% of the vote in the general, maybe a little more depending on turn out.
Pre-Iowa polls are meaningless. All he needed to do to win overwhelmingly in the black community was to show that he was a viable candidate. As soon as he did that, ne'er was there a doubt as to where the black vote would be.

And no, it's not insignificant in the general election. But it's also not much more of an advantage than any white Democratic nominee would enjoy, and far less important in the general than it's been in the primary. When you own 90% of 20-30% of an electorate, it's very different from owning 90% of 10%.

quote:
Only in a very few States have black voters representing that much of the total, but women have been a clear majority in every Democratic primary and caucus. Just because the Obama campaign doesn't stomp feet and blame losses on "too many women" doesn't mean that the gender divide isn't real.
This is true, but blacks are going to vote Democrat even if the Democrats nominate David Duke. The wool's been pulled so far over their eyes for so long that I don't know if they'll ever see the truth of how little Democrats care about their issues.

White women are probably the most electorally important constituency out there, and Hillary's advantage among women is much more important than Obama's advantage among blacks come the general election.

quote:
She's already irreparably damaged herself in terms of black voters, although if she somehow manages to win pledged delegates and the popular vote it's not lethal. If she doesn't get both, it will be.
There's a chance you're right about this; I just wish it were a bigger one. I think it's a sad thing to have any racial group completely under the control of one political party.
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Kent
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Even though John Edwards has only 26 delegates, his endorsement of Clinton could really help her with the super delegates and help her win North Carolina. If you put John Edwards' numbers with Hillary's, she could claim that she wins the popular vote.
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LetterRip
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Paladine,

quote:
White women are probably the most electorally important constituency out there, and Hillary's advantage among women is much more important than Obama's advantage among blacks come the general election.
Except it is only Democratic women voters who are likely to vote for her. Obama can probably win almost the same percentage of Democratic women, as Hillary. However, he can also win independent voters of all genders, and ethnicities. He can also win a reasonable percentage of moderate Republican voters.

He might lose some percentage of voters to his ethinicity. Some additional percentage he might lose due to his age.

LetterRip

[ March 06, 2008, 07:50 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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RickyB
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"She's behind by a very, very thin margin"

85-100, last I saw. That's a lot, when you think how big the swing needs to be.

"nd is going to do well in the upcoming states,"

Like, um, Mississippi? Really? She's not expected to taked Wyoming either.

"including the big one: PA."

She's losing her margin there. If she wins, it'll be single digits. Unless she picks up totally new mo' somewhere.

"Florida and Michigan are also going to come back into play, probably through a redo. He needs to hope to heaven they caucus instead of primary, and I'm not even sure that'll save him there."

You do know he basically got... what was it, 40, 45% in Michigan without being on the ballot? 33% in Fla without setting foot? She can't expect to win those by more than Ohio at the very very most. Michigan I expect him to win.

Her lead is shrinking, and she's not gonna pick up anything near 85 there.

[ March 06, 2008, 07:46 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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RickyB
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Wait, Edwards endorsed Hillary??
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RickyB
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I don't see that he did. His top adviser endorsed Obama.

" WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton won't catch Barack Obama in the race for Democratic delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses, even if she wins every remaining contest.
ADVERTISEMENT

But Obama cannot win the nomination with just his pledged primary and caucus delegates either, according to an analysis by The Associated Press."

He will arrive at convention as the delegate and most likely popular vote leader. Unless something serious, the likes of which hasn't happened all campaign, happens to him.

[ March 06, 2008, 07:50 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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LetterRip
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RickyB,

I think Kent was doing a 'what if Edwards endorsed Clinton', not claiming that she had.

LetterRip

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Kent
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Sorry, my post should be read as a hypothetical endorsement, not that Edwards has already done so. The English language syntax can be ambiguous sometimes.
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TCB
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quote:
...blacks are going to vote Democrat even if the Democrats nominate David Duke. The wool's been pulled so far over their eyes for so long that I don't know if they'll ever see the truth of how little Democrats care about their issues.
Off topic, but I see this attitude as condescending. You believe blacks vote against their interests because they've been duped. But blacks have have different interests and priorities than you, and you might be unable to see them.
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drewmie
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The article is wishful thinking. It takes Obama's nomination state wins versus Clinton's, and ridiculously assumes it has any effect on Obama's wins in those states versus McCain. But we're talking about completely different opponents and completely different voters, making a completely different choice.

Most of "the numbers" that actually apply to the general election are well in Obama's favor. First, he does better than Clinton against McCain in national polls. Second, Clinton has a far higher percentage of Republicans who strongly dislike her. Third, he does better in polls of independent voters.

There are some good arguments about his weaknesses in the general election, namely lack of experience and a far more liberal voting record than Clinton. However, these are only things that MIGHT have a negative effect later on. But as of now, they haven't changed the math. And the math favors Obama.

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drewmie
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By the way, an article with even more blatant wishful thinking linked on the Real Clear Politics site is They must go for Hillary Clinton. It's laughable. He talks about how people SHOULD feel, and then pretends that it represents how people DO feel. An especially embarrassing example:
quote:
Gloria Steinem, the iconic intellectual leader of the 1970s feminist movement, crystallised this reaction in a passionate call to arms that she issued to women voters after Mrs Clinton's defeat in Iowa: "Why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? Obama is seen as unifying by his race, while Clinton is seen as divisive by her sex. She is accused of playing the gender card when citing the Old Boys' Club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations. We have to be able to say: 'I am supporting Hillary because she'll be a great president and because she's a woman'."
If you believe that Gloria Steinem represents any significant block of swing-voting women in a general election, you've guzzled the Kool-Aid.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Jesse:
McCain won't be treating Clinton with the kid gloves Obama has. He's not going to be worried about alienating core Democrats, and she is enough of a doof to go negative first and give him the excuse.

Oh, I think Hillary would kick McCain sideways on negatives. Kid gloves is the best move that Obama's made. That's precisely WHY women haven't come out in droves for Clinton -- because Obama's treated her with such respect. Get McCain on the attack against Hillary, and the dynamic will change FAST.

quote:
Gloria Steinem, the iconic intellectual leader of the 1970s feminist movement, crystallised this reaction in a passionate call to arms that she issued to women voters after Mrs Clinton's defeat in Iowa: "Why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one?
Oh, it's taken as seriously, WHEN it's taken seriously. It just doesn't come into play as often as race; it needs a trigger.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
She is accused of playing the gender card when citing the Old Boys' Club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.
Good night what a dumb prick GS is. Does she really not grasp that "civil rights confrontations" of the past are a glowing uniting experience in retrospect for most Americans, as a challenge that we perceive ourselves to have overcome, while "the Old Boys' Club" is a negative attack?
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drewmie
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Not to mention the fact that we slaughtered each other by the millions over the issue of race. Did she skip the Civil War in school? And second, let's not forget the Civil Rights Movement, against which the ERA movement looks like a passing fad. Third, most of the country is comfortable thinking of men and women very differently. Such a thing for race is not socially or politically acceptable in comparison.

The left wing can try to conflate gender issues with race issues, but they have to ignore the realities of history and genetics to do it.

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RickyB
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Well, it's a different dynamic, but disenfranchisement on many different levels. It's not clicking because nobody isn't voting for Hillary because she's a woman. People either specifically dislike her, or really like Obama more. If there was a gender undertone Steinem's call to arms would've made sense. But I think most women feel they've come far enough that they can afford to pick the best candidate. I think that even the majority of women who support her honestly think she's the better candidate. Of course there's a team pride like Obama has with the black community, but less of it.
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Jesse
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This is Gloria "Black men got the vote two generations before women" Steinam.

Don't expect reason from her.

Pete, however, hit the nail on the head.

Obama talks about Jewish kids dead in a swamp in Mississipi, and white catholics beaten to death in bus stations, but I've heard nary a whisper from Clinton about men who marched for the ERA.

A young black feminist absolutely demolished Steinam on this issue on Democracy Now a while back. It was fun listening.

Ricky, my wife has been repeatedly approached because of her bumper sticker or t-shirt, and asked by older white woman "how she can vote against a woman". Ussualy with snarls.

I've been called a "sexist @hole" for wearing an Obama shirt in public.

I've had my own Aunt try to tell me my mother would be "disgusted that you are trying to stop a woman President"...although I know for a fact my mother didn't vote for Ferraro, and would have been campaigning for Kucinich untill the day he dropped out.

There is a core group of women who are firmly convinced that the only reason anyone is voting against Clinton is her gender, and a much larger group who "just want to see a woman President before they die".

I've been calling people for two months, and have litteraly spoken to thousands of people. Most of them are women, and they are disproportionately older. Old ladies have land-lines and don't screen their calls, and they're ussually bored [Wink]

I have heard that line, or some variant of it, well over a hundred times. "I just want a woman to be President in my lifetime."

[ March 06, 2008, 09:11 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Jesse
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Obamas "math problem" just got a little easier to overcome.


Naughty Clinton, no Biscuit

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Rallan
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Y'know, the premise of the original article seems fundamentally flawed. So Obama's doing better in states that will be red on election day, and Clinton's doing better in states that will be blue and have more electoral college votes. Whoop de doo. Does anyone seriously think that, come election day, Obama would perform poorly in the states that are supporting Clinton at the moment?
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Jesse
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That, and I don't hear the Clinton camp complaining about how her Oklahoma landslide or Arizona victory or Texas win won't mean squat in the General.

He won several States that are clearly in play this year, like Colorado, and Iowa, and stayed extremely competative in others like New Mexico and Nevada.

His most likely VP pick can probably deliver Kansas. He won Missouri, which is competative this year.

Spending the primary saying a bunch of states don't matter is a sure-fire way to lose them in the General.

We saw how the "Big State" strategy worked for Kerry and Gore. The counter argument, which is pretty valid, is that Clinton won most of her delegates and votes in States that will be in the Blue or Red no matter who the nominee is.

[ March 06, 2008, 10:26 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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Jesse
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SurveyUSA breakdown as of today in an Obama McCain race -

Obama V McCain

Survey USA breakdown as of today in a Clinton McCain Race -

Clinton V McCain

Some striking things.

Clinton loses Texas by 7%. Obama loses by 1%.

They both beat him in Ohio by 10 points.

Clinton Carries Florida by 9, Obama loses by two, but then, he hasn't campaigned there yet.

It's interesting reading, anyway, and SurveyUSA has been one of the least wrong over the last nine weeks I've been obsessing. Regardless, they are all within the margin of error on so many big states that it certainly isn't anything like destiny.

Key thing to me, is that I think if Clinton ate a little crow and campaigned hard for Obama, He'd sweep the iffy ones. If the reverse happened, a lot of people would consider Obama a sell out, and he'd just be ending his future hopes.

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The Drake
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Yep. And they predicted that Kerry was the safe candidate to win in 2004. Oops.

There has to be a campaign before you know who wins. Obama has shown that he can inspire, and once he starts campaigning and debating I think you'll see those numbers shift.

McCain is going to have a hard time looking or sounding energetic or exciting on a stage next to Obama. My guess is, McCain would be as haggard as Bob Dole by the end of a campaign against Obama.

It won't help that he'll seem three shades paler than usual, especially in two-shots he'll seem very flat compared to the expression and contrast on Obama. Shades of Nixon v. Kennedy!

Polls can't tell you that, because the sound bites, clips, and full debates haven't happened yet. Even likely voters aren't imagining the debates or the news coverage of the same.

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TaoJeannes
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Another reason the conservative talkyhead idiots are making a big mistake in telling people to go vote for Hillary (Aside from the basic appalling ethics of it).
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Jesse
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Oh, I agree Drake. The polls only tell us today what they tell us today.

The thing is, building a majority of Electors in small states, anchored by the Dem gimmes like NY and CA, is more viable because an upset in one of them doesn't cost the whole election.

All he has to do is handle McCain in pretty much the same way President Clinton handled Dole.

Respect his service, both in the military and in the Senate, and treat him like a nice old uncle whose ideas are out of date.

Kerry wasn't the *worst* bet in '04. He tanked himself when he didn't respond to the swiftboat ads, he had the problem of being for the war before he was against it, and he was so mind-bogglingly stupid that he even turned down Kucinichs offer to campaign for him in the Ohio 10th.

Kerry had a piss-poor ground game. His people weren't out in front of the problems in Ohio, making sure every precinct had enough ballots and machines. Obama will not have that problem.

What got me, reviewing these polls, is that who wins a Primary isn't a great indicator of who can carry a State in the General.

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RickyB
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Likeliest VP pick? Kansas? (btw, I saw about Clinton and Canada, thanks) I think his best bet is Gullialmo.
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Jesse
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Kansas.

He keeps running video of Sebelius on his website.

Number two - Jim Webb.

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RickyB
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Jim Webb would be a big mistake. Two guys with less than ten years combined in national office? Plus Webb has footinmouthitis.

I'd recommend Richardson, as I said. Brian Schweitzer is also an intriguing choice.

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Jesse
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Wow, you don't know a lot about Richardson if you think Webb suffers from foot in mouth by comparison [Smile]

Webb was Reagans Secretary of the Navy, and Assistant SecDef for Reserve affairs. He has a lot more to offer than just Senate experience.

Served in 'Nam as a front line Marine, very highly decorated, former Republican, worked as a lawyer taking pro-bono VA cases for four years in the late 70's, while also working on the staff of the House Comittee on Veterans Affairs.

Guy has lots of pretty scars from his second Purple Heart, when he shoved a dude away from a grenade. He was hospitalized, there's no calling that one a scratch.

That, and he never chucked any ribbons over a fence.

Oh, and he repeatedly punched Ollie North 40 years ago, which I happen to dig. [Wink]

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RickyB
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Yeah, Richardson has that problem too, but at least he has a constituency.

Punching Ollie does recommend one, I agree. [Smile]

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Jesse
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Vets aren't a constituency in the US? One Obama needs serious help to challenge McCain with?

Lots more to this stuff than race and gender.

He and North both lettered in Boxing. North won the fight on points, but Webb knocked him to the mat twice.

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RickyB
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Hmmmm. Good point. I do know Webb's got cred with the vet community. How many vets are there?

Oh, bummer. I hoped he punched him for being a dickwad.

[ March 08, 2008, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Jesse
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Millions, especially among older male voters.

Hard to find a complete number. Just the VFW has 2 million members, and the American Legion has 3 million, and most Vets don't belong to either of these.

I would figure somewhere around 30 million total, but I'm pulling that number right out of my kiester.

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