True to her never give up, never surrender persona, Mrs. Clinton affirms that the Democratic primary isn’t over, and that by some metrics she is winning. Both of these may be questionable assertions, but politics isn’t about giving in.
Indeed, much of politics is about building a narrative, and then selling that narrative, and in the waning days of the Democratic primaries, Clinton, whose messaging and packaging have suffered greatly, has finally settled on a formula that, regardless of its likelihood of success, at least she can maintain consistently.
This is of course as the populist warrior, an underdog challenger to the establishment. Nevermind that she began the race as the establishment candidate, that is hardly even relevant now as the establishment has most decidedly shifted towards Obama.
But will it work? Can it even work?
Since Pennsylvania, at the very latest, the primary audience in the primaries has ceased to be Democratic voters. They are still incredibly important, mind you, but the key thing about the post Pennsylvania primaries is that no states, alone or in congregate, have the capability to swing enough delegates in Clinton’s direction to make her the Democratic nominee, or even elevate her to front runner status.
Only Super Delegates hold it in their ability to deliver to Clinton that for which she continues to fight for.
But here there are quite a few opposing forces.
First, there is Hillary herself, and the case she makes to the Super Delegates both directly, and indirectly through her performance in the final primary states. With her shrinking mathematical chances at the nomination, though, also come shrinking arguments to make to the Super Delegates. Specifically, with Obama looking increasingly to be the party’s nominee, there has been a drop in tolerance for direct attacks leveled at Obama, and indeed, we have seen that Clinton has essentially dropped all pretense of doing so. This because if the party sees Clinton as too severe of a liability in the fall, it naturally will move to defend itself by doing what it takes to end her campaign for her.
Which directly impacts another significant force; that being buyer’s remorse. The greatest chance that Clinton ever had of winning the nomination following the February primaries was for the Democratic party to engage in mass buyer’s remorse. If this impact was great enough against Obama’s favor, than Clinton could make her case that she is the better alternative, and so long as Super Delegates didn’t feel as though moving to nominate her was political suicide, Clinton would be in the clear.
But directly opposing that force is the force that moves party members at all levels to coalesce around the likely nominee. This force, at this time, is perhaps at its greatest when many within the party are unsure as to whether prolonging this nomination contest much further will hurt or help the chances of the nominee in the fall. Also, with nearly all of the contests completed, and no states left with major popular vote or delegate yields, even the wildest of election results will hardly affect the mathematics as they currently stand. Finally, there is the concern that time and resources are being wasted in the Democratic primaries as opposed to using them against the Republican nominee.
The last two forces discussed are exactly the reasons why the national polls of the Democratic primaries are still important. Such indicators act as a guage of the struggle between the buyer’s remorse force, and the coalesce behind the victor force. To this end, I believe we have finally crossed a threshold, at least in the Gallup Daily Tracker, that shows that in the battle between the two forces, that which dictates the party coalesces around the winner has won.
According to the GDT, Obama has now established a sixteen point lead over Hillary. Such a margin is still prone to fluctuation, and tomorrow’s primaries could provide a vehicle for such fluctuation to exist. However it is unlikely that there will be any fluctuation wide enough to put Clinton back in the hunt.
Further, this shows Clinton dropping below forty percent for the first time since January 8th which will only feed the concept that Obama is the presumptive nominee and it is time to rally around him.
For the record, in order for Clinton to effectively woo enough Super Delegates to nominate her as opposed to Obama, she would have to put up a 60-40 split at the minimum, nationally, in her favor in order to be able to point to enough buyer’s remorse to justify such a move. This would also alleviate pressure on Super Delegates, providing a signal that overturning the leader in pledged delegates would not be an act of political suicide.
Thus, while polls are no means a guiding metric in who becomes the nominee and who does not, that they show what they show makes it pretty clear that the path to the nomination for Hillary Clinton is, without question, effectively closed.