Here’s a statement you’re hearing all over the place: one of the Democratic presidential candidates should drop out of the race. Here’s a suggestion you’ll hear nowhere else: Why shouldn’t that person be Sen. Barack Obama?
Before the sky collapses on top of me under the weight of livid Obama supporters who’ve propelled themselves into outer space fueled by uncontained fury, let me explain I’m not suggesting Sen. Obama drop out. I am instead making the point that spinning the math in Sen. Clinton’s favor is just about equally plausible as spinning it in Sen. Obama’s favor. Most media outlets have done the former while giving nothing like equal time to the latter.
The most sophisticated analysis in Clinton’s favor comes from Michael Barone of U.S. News and World report. He points to the Clinton campaign’s boast it has won more electoral college votes than Sen. Obama, with the follow on that means her chances for winning the general election are better than his. Obama’s supporters (Leahy, Dodd, etc.) claim Clinton should drop out, because Sen. Obama has a larger tally of delegates and of popular votes.
But Barone posits an even better counter-argument for the Clinton campaign would be, “…to use population rather than electoral votes, since smaller states are overrepresented in the Electoral College. By my count, based on the 2007 Census estimates, Clinton’s states have 132,214,460 people (160,537,525 if you include Florida and Michigan), and Obama’s states have 101,689,480 people. States with 39,394,152 people have yet to vote. In percentage terms this means Clinton’s states have 44 percent of the nation’s population (53 percent if you include Florida and Michigan) and Obama’s states have 34 percent of the nation’s population. The yet-to-vote states have 13 percent of the nation’s population.”
Here is yet another theory that spins the math in her favor.
It is based on figures from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey taken right after the November 2004 elections. That year some 125 million Americans told Census-takers they voted. Of those, 14 million plus were African-Americans (including 8.2 million African-American women) and 67 million plus were women of all races.
Let us assume for the moment that current schisms in the Democratic Party take their most extreme forms and all African-Americans refuse to vote if Sen. Clinton wins the nomination and/or all white, Asian-American and Hispanic women refuse to vote in November if Sen. Obama becomes the democratic nominee. Sen. Obama loses many more votes than Sen. Clinton under this scenario.
Of course some if not many white, Asian American and Hispanic women would vote for Obama if he wins, as would some African Americans for Clinton if she wins the nomination. But this proposition sets up the question of electability: If the two Senators extend their fight to the convention, which is more likely to be able to retain the support of more Democrats? Sen. Clinton could easily be the more electable of the two.
Meanwhile, mainstream media are making the case not so subliminally that this bruising dust-up between the two Senators is a reenactment of primaries past, which caused the Democratic Party irreparable damage in the general election. The New York Times, for example, reminded us this week that in 1980, “The Carter administration challenged Mr. Kennedy’s patriotism and refused to debate, while Mr. Kennedy dragged out their fight for nine months, all the way to the Democratic convention. A weakened Mr. Carter prevailed and won the nomination, but he went on to lose in November.”
Memo to Sen. Clinton: If you don’t drop out now, the same fate will befall Sen. Obama in November as did Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Apparently the Times has forgotten Ted Kennedy was not Jimmy Carter’s biggest problem in 1980. Carter left office as one of the least popular presidents in recent history after fumbling the Iran Hostage Crisis and bungling a surprise military raid set up to rescue the hostages.
So next time you see a call for Sen. Clinton to drop out of the race, remember there are two sides to that story and you’re only being given one.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)