Friday, February 15, 2008

Deserting a Sinking Ship

One of the ways you can tell if a ship is going down is to watch the reaction of people who have been riding that ship, if they start looking for ways to get out, you can be sure that they think teh ship is sinking, even if on the outside it doesn't look that way. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), endorsed Hillary Clinton in October of last year is now reporting that he will do something very different:
Representative John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, said Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Senator Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

“In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”

Mr. Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision in an interview in which he said that as a superdelegate he could “never, ever do anything to reverse the action” of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.
This last statement is particularly important. While Superdelegates are technically free to cast their votes in any way they choose in the convention, the truth is that many are politically savvy enough to vote with their constituents, like Lewis. As I said before, abandoning the voters would likely result in the immolation of the Democratic party, in one way or another.

It is interesting that the once willing passengers on the Clinton supertanker are starting to jump ship like it is the Exxon Valdez or the Titanic.

Hillary Clinton herself is getting desperate. She is changing tactics, with sharp attacks and a new populist tone previously unseen in an attempt to stop the bleeding among blue collar Democrats, largely white men and women. Yesterday the United Food and Commercial Workers Union endorsed Obama. The massive Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is set to endorse Obama today. With Ohio on the horizon, the endorsements means that UFCW and SEIU will unlease its political operations in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. Wisconsin's SEIU has already endorsed Obama. Clinton is on the ropes as union households look more and more to Obama.

Black voters have already abandoned Hillary. White voters are leaving. With the SEIU and UFCW endorsements, Hispanic voters (many of them belong to these two unions) are probably leaving as well. Obama doesn't have to win Hispanics outright, he just has to stay even, but he might win that constituency as well. The exit polls in Wisconsin are going to tell teh tale about union households.

Lewis' change of heart, or rather desire to stay in office, may be the biggest problem for Hillary as it indicates that superdelegates are going to take good hard long look at how their constituents are voting and will likely vote in that manner. Since the overwhelming number of superdelegates are indeed elected officials, it would be political suicide for them to abandon the desires of the constituents in favor of someone else. Here is where Obama's many wins in the smaller states is going to help him out. The Superdelegates who decide to follow their constituents' lead are going to start moving to the Obama column, both out of a desire to avoid a convention fight and to save their own political hides. Look for more and more superdelegates who are elected officials to make similar pronouncements in the next couple of weeks. The defections will increase the pressure on Hillary Clinton to get out of the race.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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