Thursday, May 8, 2008

Near-tie in the Indiana Tiebreaker

Barack Obama is now cruising towards clinching the nomination, with a big win over Hillary Clinton in North Carolina (62% to 46%) and a near-tie in Indiana (49.4% to 50.6%), which he had called the tiebreaker state. In total delegates, Barack is leading by 159 delegates 1,845 to 1,686. Hillary now needs to win over 66% of the remaining uncommitted delegates and superdelegates, and that number gets higher with every primary that falls short of that very high margin of victory. There are just 4 weeks left until the last two states, Montana and South Dakota, vote on Tuesday, June 3.

Hillary shows no signs of dropping out, and why should she?

(1) She keeps winning primaries, and she is expected to win West Virginia on May 13 and Kentucky on May 20.

(2) Hillary trails by only by 30 delegates if the disputed Michigan and Florida delegates are counted in the manner most favorable to her. By that unlikely to be adopted measure, Hillary needs only 53% of the remaining uncommitted delegates and superdelegates.

(3) She has an outside chance to win if she runs the board - wins West Virginia and Kentucky as expected, scores a surprise victory over Barack in Oregon on May 20, mops up Puerto Rico on June 1, sweeps South Dakota and Montana on June 3, and scoops up the uncommitted superdelegates. (The Democrats have quietly and wisely moved the Puerto Rico primary up from June 7 to June 1, saving the embarrassment of this being the last contest that decides the race.)

(4) She also has a chance to score a tie. Barack still needs 180 delegates to clinch the nomination. Only 164 delegates are up for grabs in the next 2 weeks. That gets her to June 1. Superdelegates can always change their minds.

(5) Rush Limbaugh just endorsed Barack Obama. Don’t want to be a dittohead.

(6) Trial of Chicago fixer Tony Rezko goes to the jury on Monday.

(7) The Republicans can’t use their best dirt on Barack until Hillary drops out. For example, in his 1995 memoir Barack admits to smoking marijuana and doing cocaine when he was younger (“pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it”). But maybe they won’t go there. John McCain’s wife Cindy has admitted to stealing drugs from the pharmacy of one of her own charities to feed a percocet and vicodin addiction.

(8) If Hillary gets through the next 3 or 4 weeks, her campaign can go into quiet mode. Hillary keeps control of her delegates at the convention if she stays in the race.

(9) Hillary can wait all summer for Barack to offer her the VP slot. (If Barack is smart, he will offer the VP job to Evan Bayh, Indiana Senator and former Governor.)

(10) Daughter Chelsea is getting a great learning experience and introduction to the public. If Hillary stayed married for the kid, she can certainly keep campaigning for another 4 weeks. Under the Constitution, Chelsea will be eligible to run for Senate in 2010 (when Barack’s U.S. Senate seat in Illinois will be available) and to run for President in 2016. (The Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, are also eligible in 2016. This coming weekend, Jenna is marrying the scion of a Virginia political family who is also a former aide to Bush strategist Karl Rove.)

Still, one must congratulate Barack Obama; he has pretty much wrapped it up.

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