Re-defining Electability

Obama leads in votes and delegates, but Clinton has won the tougher contests

By Jamie Miller

Democrats have found the person who is most likely to win the general election – but they refuse to realize that it is Hillary Clinton.

Pressure mounts on Sen. Clinton to quit for the sake of party unity. The argument is that “the math” is too great for Hillary to overcome “the will of the people.”

The truth of the matter is that the math is too great for Sen. Barack Obama if you use his own campaign’s logic – that the superdelegates should represent the will of the people.

What the Clinton campaign has proven is that she can win big-state primaries while the Obama campaign has shown strength in winning caucuses, which are held primarily in smaller states. But caucuses tend to favor the most loyal Democratic Party faithful – elitists, liberals, youth, African-Americans and those with graduate and post-graduate degrees – who are but a minority of the voting population.

In a recent speech to the Hillsborough County, Fla., Republican Executive Committee, political science professor Dr. Susan McManus noted that the major problem facing the Democratic Party is that caucuses tend to nominate the most liberal candidate. In this year’s race, that has been overwhelmingly Sen. Obama.

Those who attend caucuses do not represent Democratic general election voters, McManus said. Caucuses tend to exclude the elderly, members of unions, those who work out of town (like truck drivers) or those who work shifts (like nurses, police, fire fighters, and restaurant employees). Sen. Clinton has won in states where a broader appeal is required while Sen. Obama has won in states where the electorate is more narrowly defined.

Does Sen. Clinton deserve the nomination? This writer is not convinced she does. But Sen. Obama has not made the case, either. The nomination process should play out with voters because Sen. Clinton has proven that she can win the states that can lead to a general election victory while Sen. Obama has convinced the party faithful that he will carry their liberal ideals to the White House.

Sen. Obama declares that he wants to represent all the people and that the superdelegates should follow the will of voters. If that indeed is the case, then the math should favor Sen. Clinton.

Sen. Clinton has proven during the primary season that she will likely be more competitive in large states in the general election. Meanwhile, Sen. Obama has yet to prove that he can compete in large states outside of his home state of Illinois.

The population of states that Sen. Clinton has won totals slightly more than 151 million Americans, while the population of states that Sen. Obama has won totals nearly 106 million Americans. The combined population of states in remaining contests is nearly 38 million. If Sen. Obama were to win each of them, he would only have won states representing 144 million Americans. How does this represent the will of the people?

These numbers do include wins for Sen. Clinton in both Florida (population 17 million) and Michigan (population 10 million). One could argue that neither of these states should be included. Even if that is the case, Sen. Clinton currently leads Sen. Obama 124 million to 106 million with 38 million in population yet to be represented by a Democratic primary or caucus. Regardless, the only thing that has been proven is that the nominating process should definitely continue through the cycle of the states that are still waiting to be heard.

By the way, has anyone asked John Edwards lately what he plans to tell the more than 100 delegates who are committed to him? He made the biggest mistake of the campaign season by withdrawing prior to Super Tuesday. If he had stayed in those contests, it would be Sen. Edwards with a potential 200 delegates who would be the convention kingmaker. Is about 100 delegates enough for him to have an influence? It appears Sen. Edwards could be the kingmaker.

Nevertheless, I’m not suggesting that either Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton should drop out of the race. Why would either withdraw from the race when both have the potential to become President of the United States? No, both will stay in and should.

Jamie Miller is a political consultant specializing in political campaign management, strategic planning, public relations and crisis communications. He has been involved with running and managing political campaigns since 1994. E-mail him at: ?

2 thoughts on “Re-defining Electability”

  1. Keep beating each other up. It will make things easier for McCain. He’s going to need a lot of help after the big pile of poop George Bush is leaving at the White House steps.


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