The Important Audience

As I’ve stated several times over the past few weeks, the important audience at this point in the primaries is that of the Super Delegates.  Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations rest among the remaining field of less than three hundred Super Delegates, and so, if you really want to know who’s looking good to be the Democratic nominee, they’re the ones you should be looking at.

And as of right now, the march of the Super Delegates is not leading them down Hillary Clinton’s path.  Over the weekend Obama picked up one Maryland Super Delegate in former governor Parris Glendening, while today two more MD Super Dels, Michael Cryor and Lauren Glover announced their support for his candidacy.

On top of that, Kalyn Free, who is not only a Super Delegate but also the founder and president of INDN’s List (think Emily’s List for Native Americans), also announced her support for Obama’s bid for the nomination.

But what perhaps should worry the Clinton campaign the most is news that some of her committed Super Delegates have signaled that they could switch their support once all of the primaries have been completed.  This is not to say that Obama coming out of the process with the lead in pledged delegates would “mandate” a switch as one of the CA Super Dels put it, but it does signify that even as Clinton’s success on the road is looking up, her success amongst the current important audience is not looking so good.

With Joe Andrew’s defection last week, Clinton finds herself potentially going the wrong direction amongst the small group of people who effectively hold the fate of the nomination in their hands.

Indeed, as Steve Benen points out, Clinton’s recent performance in this campaign appears to be deaf and blind in relation to the Super Delegate audience.  Currently, her pandering is focused upon low information voters with the push of the gas tax holiday as well as the wild claim that she’s actually leading in the popular vote.

The only logical play that her campaign can be making, as Steve further elaborates upon, is to appeal to the Super Delegates by way of pandering to low information voters, “Step One: win over voters with sketchy arguments. Step Two: win over superdelegates by pointing to Step One.”

Will it work?  It’s hard to say, and only time will tell, but I think the current rates of Super Delegate endorsements is an important early indicator, and this because Super Delegates are high information voters.  They know politics, and they likely have a pretty good idea as to how the final primary contests are going to play out.

Hillary Clinton will win Kentucky and West Virginia, should win Indiana tomorrow, narrow her deficit in North Carolina to less than what was originally projected, maybe lose Oregon, and while Montana and South Dakota initially seemed to be prime Obama country, those two states may shift over to Clinton if the Archie Bunker effect is up and running full speed ahead.

Shorter: Hillary is very much likely to finish strong, math, polls, and previous states be damned.  I know this, and who am I but an armchair political analyst?  The Super Delegates know this as well, and under these conditions I find it incredibly interesting that they still are going towards Obama at a greater rate than they are for Clinton.  More interesting is that even if Obama and Clinton were picking up Super Delegates at the exact same rate, that still wouldn’t bode well for Hillary.

She has to pick up, according to Benen’s count, two Super Delegates to every one that Obama picks up.  That’s simply not happening, and the two step that Benen is predicting I don’t think will work because it’s not working now.  Most of these Super Delegates already know that Hillary will accomplish step one, they’re just not following through on step two.

And in all of this comes the great irony of this primary season.  Super Delegates were supposed to be the major lock that was to guarantee Clinton’s nomination, and now, at the end of the jouney, that support seems to be going to Obama.

Funny how things work out sometimes.


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