The People's Choice?


What Jay Cost said yesterday looks exactly right today: Hillary has a chance at victory, but only if she can pull ahead in the overall popular vote, including Florida (she's already ahead if you include Michigan, but of course Obama wasn't on the ballot there), and then argue, to the superdelegates but also to the public, that as the choice of the majority of voters in the Democratic nominating process she has a "moral claim" on the nomination. (There's also the possibility of a "re-vote" in Michigan and Florida, as Marc points out today.) To a political junkie like myself, weaned on delegate counts and caucus regulations and all the rest, this argument sounds moderately far-fetched: The nominating process has rules, arbitrary and inconsistent as they may be, that both candidates are obliged to play by, and by the rules Obama's almost certainly going to come out with more delegates. But to a public that isn't steeped in the arcana of the process, that probably doesn't really understand the difference between a primary and a caucus and that's going to wake up today to grapple with the weirdness of being told that Obama won more delegates in Texas even though Hillary won the primary - well, you can see how if Hillary wins Pennsylvania convincingly and pulls ahead in the popular vote, a "people's choice," "let the majority rule" argument might find some traction. And you can bet that the superdelegates will have their fingers in the wind.

In this vein, Cost's point today seems spot-on:

The Obama campaign is proclaiming they won the Texas caucus by double digits. Indeed, that seems to be the case. Nevertheless, they need to be careful not to proclaim this too loudly. How will it look if Clinton wins a majority of the more than 2.5 million Texans who voted in the primary, but Obama wins the caucus in which about 100,000 people participated? That might help Clinton because it is evidence that the caucuses are not a good gauge of voter preferences. Obama needs to talk up his pledged delegate lead, without reminding people of how it is heavily dependent upon the caucuses. The Clinton camp is going to start attacking these caucuses.

Now of course, there's a simple way for Obama to take care of this: He just need to stay ahead of Hillary in the popular vote, where even with Florida included he currently leads by almost 300,000 votes. And if he really is the liberal Reagan, the change we can believe in, and all the rest of it, that shouldn't be too hard.

Photo by Flickr user Daniella Zalcman used under a Creative Commons license.