Saving Myself the Effort

When the entirety of what you do relies upon what other people are saying and writing, things can get real dull when everyone is writing about the same thing. Which is what blogging has been like this morning where even some of the aggregators I turn to that aren’t so Democratic primary-centric have nothing but stories about the Democratic primaries today.

At least then I would be able to squeeze out my own prediction, but I already did that yesterday. So, instead of a prediction as to how North Carolina and Indiana will turn out, I’m going to save myself the effort of debunking spin later by just going ahead and getting it right out of the way now.

Clinton Spin (HIGHLY LIKELY):

-Indiana. The Clinton campaign will attempt to sell everyone that Indiana was Obama’s to lose and he lost it, that Clinton was the underdog in the state, and the fact that she managed to win in the state after the deck was stacked against her is a sure signal that the tide is turning, and Democrats have soured on the current frontrunner. This will likely get chalked up to the fact that Obama is grossly out of touch with Middle America, and there will likely be another jab in there about what has become a pet target of mine as of late; the gas tax holiday (read: stupid ass proposal that no self respecting Democrat should even show the light of day to).

Unspun; the idea that Clinton was an underdog in Indiana is utterly ridiculous. At one point in time Obama did enjoy an advantage there, but it was long ago, and likely due to its proximity to his home state. But weeks ago Clinton pulled out in front of Obama and while some polls have shown the race neck and neck, all things taken into consideration she’s maintained an edge there pretty consistently. Any allusions to the idea that Clinton was some how the underdog there are bald-faced lies.

Nor is this consistent with the idea that the tide is turning against Obama; to make such a claim would be premature at best. Indeed, an aggregation of the polls show that Obama continues to lead Hillary Clinton nationally, and while RCP’s average shows a much closer race, the thing that has to be understood is that the very nature of the trending between these two is highly prone to oscillation, and there has been no indication as of yet that would lead any responsible analyst to assume that Hillary Clinton is on the verge of skyrocketing in Democratic support. There are some early indicators at this juncture, but the national leader has changed hands so many times during the course of this race that one can’t say the tide is necessarily turning until some heavy trending has been established to support that.

The Clinton campaign is also likely to redouble its efforts to point out Obama’s problem amongst Rust Belt voters and blue collar voters, which isn’t spin, but there are two aspects to this argument that will be. The first is the out of touch meme which, if we were being intellectually honest, it’s not a matter of who is more in touch as much as it is a matter of who panders more.

The other spin that will likely need unspinning is the same ridiculous assertion that a state’s performance in the primaries is directly analagous to that state’s performance in the General Election. Why this is gross spin as opposed to reasonable fact is because it assumes too much. It assumes that Democratic voters will ditch the Democratic nominee en masse to vote for McCain, and to this effect, I’m talking about a much higher number than those polled who have claimed they will defect. To this extent, it also goes without saying that all of those who say they will defect actually must defect in order for this bit of spin to be true, which, I think at least a portion of those voters will cool off once a nominee is selected.

It also assumes that there is absolutely nothing Obama can do to raise his standings amongst voters in this region between now and November, it also assumes that McCain will be exceptionally effective in wooing these voters, and there are a slew of other assumptions all of which involve General Election dynamics as opposed to primary dynamics.

-North Carolina. Likely, there’s not going to be a whole bunch of spin in this region. If North Carolina goes the way I think it will go, Hillary Clinton will be more than justified to claim that she performed better than she was expected to perform, and, credit where credit is due, I cede that to her. There is, if NC becomes a blowout, the possibility that Team Clinton will either pretend North Carolina never existed, or that they didn’t really campaign hard.

Neither narrative, of course, would be true. As it stands, North Carolina has the bigger yield of the two states going to vote today, and marks the largest state left in the primary contest, so it does in fact exist. And the Clinton campaign has had a considerable presence there since the Pennsylvania primary.

-General spin. The big deal here is that the Clinton campaign will ignore, yet again, the mathematical reality of the situation. When all is said and done, it will be Obama, not Hillary Clinton, that should pick up a net gain in delegates, and a net gain in the popular vote. There will be an absolute onrush of various goal posts shifted, and arguments floated all of which will try and make the claim that Hillary Clinton got a lot closer to the Democratic party’s nomination. The unspun fact of the matter is, barring miraculous double digit wins in both states, Hillary Clinton will have slipped even further behind in her quest for the Democratic nomination.

Possible Obama spin (unlikely).

One thing that continues to impress me personally about the Obama campaign is its avoidance of spinning election results and playing the game of expectations. Pennsylvania was the first time they noticeably lowered expectations, and in truth, not by that much. In just about everything else, Team Obama runs the spin machine one way or another, but when it comes to votes, the campaign has played it amazingly straight.

Still, there is some spinning that we may see. I doubt there will be much spinning in North Carolina; either he wins big, and his team makes it known, or he doesn’t win big, but wins by a little and calls a W a W. In either case, that would be about right. Given the math involved, Obama doesn’t need any big wins, he doesn’t technically have to win any states at all from here on out, he just has to keep Hillary from rolling up blowouts in every state, and to this effect, a win of any margin in North Carolina is good enough.

Indiana, where most polls predict Obama will lose by a single digit margin, it is possible that he will say that they never expected to win in the state, which would be a little disingenuous given that following Pennsylvania Obama and Clinton were effectively tied. He could have won Indiana, but he didn’t. Granted that may not all have been within his control, the media’s relentless flogging of the Jeremiah Wright story coming at the worst possible moment for him, but that’s not an excuse either.

-general. I think team Obama’s going to play it pretty straight. After all, there is little motivation for them to try and spin things, and they don’t have a history of spinning things anyway. They’re likely to point to the delegate math, and popular vote totals, and say that they are still in the lead and they’re off to West Virginia (where they will lose magnificently).

And that should take care of just about everything. As a side note, I feel it necessary to point out that because things have gotten this predictable, political analysis has grown very… very… boring. Yet another reason why I’m anxious for this primary to be over.

2 Responses to “Saving Myself the Effort”

  1. PSoTD says:

    As a Hoosier, with family remaining in state still, I have to say that it is laughable that Clinton was ever *REALLY* the underdog there. C’mon, the state can only go as far as Evan Bayh, and that’s only because of name recognition.

  2. No doubt. Like I said, I think the early lead that Obama may have had was probably because, from what I hear anyway, lots of folks in Indiana treat Chicago local; kinda like we in Virginia treat North cArolina and DC as local.

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