For Mrs. Clinton, the big story today has been about her latest rout in the Wisconsin Presidential Primary.
But, for Mr. Obama, there is little left to say other than he keeps winning. His victories have grown almost commonplace and his demographic disadvantages have become progressively slimmer.
This week, Mrs. Clinton arrogantly accused Mr. Obama of plagiarism. However, what she REALLY ought to have been accusing him of is theft. That’s because he’s been stealing massive blocks of voters that have traditionally formed the basis of her (now withering) support. According to the exit polls in Wisconsin, Mr. Obama fought Mrs. Clinton to a draw among women. He also won among whites and he outpaced her among every income group. His was an across-the-board victory…startling in its depth and completeness.
However, in the process, he has not become a “much better candidate”. His advantages…charisma, eloquence, a crackling mix of audacity and hope…have remained relatively constant, as have his weaknesses. Without a doubt, he’s now gaining some strength from the simple momentum of his 10 latest wins in a row. But, with Mrs. Clinton still favored to beat him in Texas and Ohio, momentum is, at best, a partial explanation for his sudden strength.
These latest results, in fact, have less to say about Mr. Obama than they do about Mrs. Clinton…particularly about the massive collapse of her campaign. Her aura of inevitability has given way to a fight for relevance. She is no longer the “default candidate” and her losses can no longer be explained away as losses in demographically unfriendly electorates or surprise upsets. Such losses have now become the norm for her campaign to the point that they are now undermining the very foundations of her candidacy.
In short, Mrs. Clinton was supposed to be the “shoe-in” candidate. But a funny thing happened on the way to the nomination.
Mr. Obama’s campaign, in Iowa, South Carolina, and elsewhere, made good on their promises to excite new voters. And new voters are now flocking to his campaign in droves.
Additionally, the Obama campaign has been running a disciplined, forward-looking operation. It methodically organized…and, as a direct result, has since dominated…the caucus states. It also foresaw and predicted early on that the contest would drag beyond the so-called “Super Tuesday” primaries on Feb. 5. As a result, Mr. Obama’s handlers were much better prepared for the recent primaries in Virginia, Maryland, DC, and Washington State (and now, in Wisconsin and Hawaii). What’s more, up to now, the Obama campaign has run a relatively tight ship with few gaffes and damaging leaks.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, on the other hand, has done exactly the opposite. Aside from an important win (which was actually a statistical “dead heat”) in New Hampshire, she has not overperformed in any state. But, tactically, her strategists have made a series of massive errors, the biggest of which happened immediately after they were stung by her loss in Iowa. That was when they largely turned away from caucuses, which has now proven to have been a disastrous mistake as the race has since became more and more dependent on delegates.
As I’ve said in other posts, Mrs. Clinton’s handlers were also woefully unprepared to go beyond February 5th as they thought Mrs. Clinton would be “coronated” by then. This is probably why her organizing in post-Super Tuesday states has been so horrifically poor.
For example, one report notes that Mrs. Clinton’s handlers are only now coming to grips with the full implications of Texas’ hybrid caucus/primary system even though Texas is a “must-win” state for her. Apparently, up to now, nobody in her campaign has given any thought to simply picking up the telephone to ask the state’s Democratic Party how the March 5th operation actually works.
This is simply one more indication that, politically, the Clinton campaign has been nothing short of a disaster. Her campaign has repeatedly squandered advantages by overreaching on the attack and presenting surrogates that they’ve been unable to control.
Specifically, former President Clinton’s frequent (and highly controversial) “eruptions” have NOT been strong indicators of a disciplined campaign operation. And her publicly televised promise on the eve of the Potomac primaries that there would be “no new scandals” involving her husband was telling. The fact that she was even asked the question speaks volumes.
Some of the mistakes, some of the leaks, some of the reported infighting in her camp, and some of the desperation she is now showing are the inevitable outcome of a campaign falling farther and farther behind the eight ball. Clearly, Mrs. Clinton’s operation looked a lot more disciplined when she was the prohibitive front-runner.
But explanations are not excuses, and it’s growing increasingly hard for Mrs. Clinton to argue that her “experience” and “electoral discipline” set her apart when the largest organization she’s ever run…her Presidential campaign…is listing so badly and exhibiting a reality so far from its high-sounding rhetoric.
In her speech in Ohio last evening, Mrs. Clinton launched yet another broadside against Mr. Obama by saying that “while words matter, the best words in the world aren’t enough unless you match them with action.”
The problem for Mrs. Clinton is that Mr. Obama HAS matched his words with actions and has been rewarded with votes. It’s HER campaign that rests on an increasingly precarious foundation of empty words. It’s HER campaign that needs to start demonstrating results to match its rhetoric.
So far, that hasn’t happened.
In short, to borrow the “all hat and no cattle” phrase she uttered last week in El Paso, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has since proven to be “all hat and not enough delegates”.