How Low Can He Go?

There’s no doubt about it, this is about the worst it has been for the Obama campaign.

There are a slew of polls out today, and in them there has been precious little good news for Team Obama. Before I discuss them, though, it bears mentioning that these polls don’t bother me in relation to how Obama will fare against McCain. I have every bit of confidence that Obama can still beat McCain handily, despite his poor performance in polls right now.

No, I must admit that the shape of the polls today bother me completely because they don’t bode well for Obama’s campaign against Hillary.

First we turn to Indiana where both Rasmussen and TeleResearch have Obama down by varying margins. The disturbing thing about Indiana is that I keep hearing it being referred to as the most important contest left in the primaries; a narrative that has sprung up from the fact that it was the only contest that didn’t appear to plainly be in one camp or another.

This unfortunately carries with it the potential to be something of an indicator contest, or a “tie breaker” or whatever you want to call it that will be seen be heavily flogged as the state that should decide who the nominee will be. This despite the fact that of the two states going on May 6th, Indiana has the lower delegate yield.

Not that news in North Carolina is much better. While Obama had hoped to be able to erase the minimal net delegate pick up that Clinton was awarded in Pennsylvania by blowing her out in North Carolina, recent polling in the state has Clinton greatly narrowing the gap, and in a few data points that may or may not be outliers, even pulling ahead.

Nor do Obama’s woes end in state polling either. For the first time in a very long time, Hillary Clinton is establishing a lead in the Gallup Daily Tracker, the trends here almost pomising even more troubles over the next few days. RCP’s data still has Obama on top, for the time being, but much like the Pew Research Center’s data, Obama’s once impressive leads have been whittled down to next to nothing.

If you’ll remember, I look at the national data at this point to determine whether or not Clinton can pull off an alternative method to winning the nomination than through winning pledged delegates. My running theory is that without broad party support in major polling, Clinton will fail to woo necessary Super Delegates to her camp who will resist out of fear of upsetting the Democratic electorate.

While I still don’t think that Clinton has achieved the necessary public support to pull this off yet, the trends are definitely going in her direction.

Indeed, to her benefit, the next primaries are fast approaching, possibly too fast for Obama to recover, and if the polling data we have at this point is fairly accurate, she may be in a unique position to declare wins in both Indiana and North Carolina.

If this happens, look for Obama to suffer a MAJOR blow to his candidacy which won’t find much solace in the fact that he is fated to lose in the following Primaries of West Virginia and Kentucky.

In other words, if things don’t start turning around very quickly for Team Obama, something may manifest itself for Hillary Clinton that has not been around for a very long time; an actual path to victory.

So is Obama done for? Not necessarily.

For one, he still has math on his side. Indeed, the interesting thing about watching this campaign is that while Clinton fights like a boxer, Obama is much more a Judo guy. That’s to say, Clinton is great at scoring the big hits and getting the crowd to go ooh and aah, but Obama works the techniques that may not be as exciting to watch, but whittles an opponent down a little bit at a time.

In fact, much of the discussion about this primary has been about Clinton, her campaign, and her most ardent supporters, trying to convince the judges that her heavy blows should count for more than they have. But the judo stylings of Obama has largely minimized a great deal of these blows mathematically.

Take Pennsylvania, for instance, huge win for Hillary, but at the end of the day, she picked up a net delegate gain from 10-17, a pittance compared to the 150 deficit that she continues to face.

And this is what Obama has done in just about every state, preventing her from accruing a true blow out in any of her victories and thus preventing her from ever making some major net delegate gains.

Also, there is some hope that this is as bad as it gets for Obama, and while Clinton may be capitalizing in relative gains nationally, and real gains locally, one thing that strikes me as interesting is that when you look at the GDTP, and other national polls, her numbers are still remaining fairly static.

Now, with Wright in the rear view (again), Obama has an opportunity to drag himself back up, and he doesn’t have to drag himself up all that far.

Remember, delegates remain the metric, pledged and Super, and in that one arena Obama is now doing significantly better than Clinton, keeping endorsements at a 1-1 ratio on a bad day.

For all the bluster, that’s still what is going to decide the nominee, delegates, and in order for Clinton to win, she has to not only vastly outperform Obama in all remaining contests, she must do significantly better than 1-1 ratios of SD pickups.

Where does that leave us? Obama is still likely to be the nominee, but without any kind of appreciable momentum, and badly wounded by the Clinton campaign. Clinton can feasibly still win the nomination, but I have a feeling that while she may go into the General Election with some momentum, unless she takes the lead in pledged delegates (virtually impossible), or Obama turns out to be a mass murderer in the off season, Clinton’s nomination will likely create more animosity than enthusiasm.

Either way, things don’t look very good.

About the only way I can imagine this going well is after the final contest, all delegates get tallied up, and the loser of the delegate count cedes immediately. Then, and believe me, I really don’t want to say this, but then the winner offers the number 2 spot on the ticket to the loser.

For me the dream ticket is a nightmare, but at this point this is the ONLY way I can imagine us getting through this process without the Democratic party split in two.

More at Memeorandum: Washington Wire, PewResearch.org, Hot Air, Fox News, The Page, TPM Election Central, Boston Globe and Wake up America. protein wisdom, Weekly Standard Blog, Marc Ambinder, Political Machine, Sister Toldjah, The Moderate Voice, NO QUARTER, Donklephant, WRAL-TV, TPM Election Central, The Campaign Spot and Southern Political Report. Agence France Presse, Tennessee Guerilla Women, MyDD, Taylor Marsh, Open Left, The Moderate Voice, Buck Naked Politics, The Other McCain and The Democratic Daily

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