Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Of course Clinton stays

To hear the talking heads on TV last night, they were putting the nails in Clinton's presidential-nomination-battle coffin. Almost all were saying that she couldn't go on. That losing North Carolina big and only barely sneaking by in Indiana were surely a sign that she couldn't win the nomination.

But she hasn't been able to win the nomination by any metric for weeks and the pundits have been humoring her since March. I'm not sure why they turned last night.

But let's look at what has changed: NOTHING

Obama is still ahead by all the metrics, even with the changing goal posts of the Clinton camp. Clinton can still win rustbelt states. Obama has a hard time with the working white vote. Obama wins states with large numbers of African-Americans. Obama isn't a mudslinging politician and will be hurt by RNC ads in the fall.

As much as I'd like to see this, Hillary will be able to complete the primary season through June 4th. Some pundits mentioned that she loaned herself a lot of money. This isn't illegal and it isn't a problem. The Clintons (champions of the working poor) are worth about $100 million. Hillary can loan herself more money, knowing full well that she'll eventually get repaid.

As a federal office holder, money raised for one federal office can be transferred to accounts for other federal offices. So if she ends up $20 million in debt, she can raise money for her Senate seat and transfer it over to her presidential campaign to cover her debts. There is little doubt that HRC will have a long senatorial career and be able to raise 20-30 million more than she needs for her re-election bids.

But what about the remaining votes? Most of them are in cheap media markets and many of them look like places that HRC should win. Next Tuesday, West Virginia should be a win for her. She should also win Kentucky and Puerto Rico (43 delegates!) Obama probably wins Oregon, Montana and South Dakota.

I agree with Gloria Borger:
She's clearly going to continue. She is clearly making the argument that we said all along that she was going to make, which was that you need to count Florida and Michigan. She doesn't have that many options left."
And the reason she does this is the principled stance for Democratic voters in Michigan and Florida. It will add to her delegate total (look out for May 31st meeting of the DNC rules committee to hear the MI and FL challenge), but more importantly it will add to her "I fight for the little guy" persona she has begun to grow.

If HRC cuts back on the negative ads, she could be standing in the wings if Obama loses his footing (he's never had a tough race, until this one, so skeletons may still exist) or if Obama loses in November, she'll be the front runner for 2012 with a strong "I told you so" in her back pocket.