Editorial: Eye on delegates a winning strategy
Squabbling over a handful of Michigan delegates won’t endear the public to Hillary Clinton, but that’s what happened (squabbling, that is) Saturday as Clinton supporters and senior campaign adviser Harold Ickes argued that the DNC stole delegates from Clinton and gave them to Barack Obama.
It’s a little late for Clinton and her campaign advisers to worry about delegates. The problem is, Obama has more, and it’s not because he got more than he should have in the voided Michigan primary. It’s because his campaign learned the systems of primaries and caucuses that varied from state to state and used a superior strategy to gain a delegate lead that Clinton could not overcome. Obama’s was a smarter campaign. Just as an NBA playoff game is determined by points, not applause, delegates decide the nomination. However, unlike an NBA championship series, the loser’s points count. And therein lies Obama’s strategy edge. By keeping races close in big Clinton states — focusing on districts where he could win delegates — and steam rolling small states, Obama was able to minimize delegate losses and maximize wins.
As former DNC Chairman Don Fowler, a Clinton superdelegate from South Carolina, put it: “The Obama campaign was very good at targeting districts in areas where they could do well. They were very conscious and aware of these nuances.”
The fight for the Democratic nomination race between Clinton and Obama is often referred to as back and forth and neck and neck. Maybe it was in early January when Obama took Iowa and Clinton won New Hampshire. But in reality, the race for delegates has been mostly Obama, who actually took more pledged delegates from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the first “big four” contests than Clinton.
And, remember Super Tuesday? Clinton won the biggest prizes of the campaign, California and New York. Yet, at the end of the day, Obama came away with 17 more delegates. And then he reeled off 11 straight wins, building a delegate lead that will soon make him the Democratic nominee.
Sure, since March 4 Clinton has won some 40 more delegates than Obama, which speaks to his stumbles with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his “clinging” to guns and religion remark and his inability to gain the confidence of blue collar voters.
Still, Obama needs only 48 more delegates to reach the 2,118 needed to clinch the nomination. He certainly won’t clinch with the 31 pledged delegates available Tuesday in the South Dakota and Montana elections. But superdelegates have been streaming to Obama since Feb. 5 and will most certainly rush to him after Tuesday’s vote.
The race is over. It matters not whether Clinton is ready to give up and stop fighting over Michigan delegates, other than the damage it could do to her political reputation. She has proven she’s a fighter. Now she must prove she can lose with grace.