The Electability Campaign

Taylor Marsh says:

Tumulty, like so many others, are ignoring Clinton's only goal, which is to make the case to SuperDs that she would be the best nominee against John McCain, the traditional media, as well as the Obama blogs, are missing one of the greatest political dramas ever to unfold, second only to the 2000 election.

Clinton is campaigning on counting every single vote. But also that every Democratic delegate should be focused on who can win in November.

Now, I just disagree with Marsh on the Florida/Michigan issue. But it's quite true -- and indeed quite striking -- that the Clinton campaign has now shifted to a pretty single-minded focus on electability. The reason, of course, is that they know Obama will win a majority of delegates and they think the electability argument is most appealing to Democrats. The trouble is that the electability argument they really need is an absolutely electability argument which holds that it's almost inconceivable that Obama will beat McCain in November. That, however, isn't at all plausible and I was on a call yesterday where Howard Wolfson was at some pains to clarify that he wasn't making that argument.

Instead, she's leaning on the relative electability argument which holds that she's simply more likely to beat McCain. This is much more plausible as an argument. But unfortunately, it's also much less persuasive. Nobody ever really wants to say that they're backing the less electable horse in a nominating contest, but it's also true that nobody ever really wants to say they're passing up a superior candidate in favor of a more electable one. Thus, by convenient coincidence, in essentially every hotly contested primary fight, the people who think Candidate A would be better on the merits also deem Candidate A more electable. The reality is just that nobody knows who's more electable and nobody ever really knows or even knows how we might find out. Consequently, with a clear majority of self-IDed Democrats now backing Obama it's inconceivable that the superdelegates will do what Clinton wants.