obama is toast


As a long time Obama observer, I’ve always thought he would make a huge splash, and recent events bear me out. I always knew that the knocks against him (“no experience,” “all fluff,” “not willing to hit hard”) were offered by people who simply didn’t know, or care to know, how he rose in the rough and tumble world of Chicago urban politics.

However, I also thought that Hillary is the 800 pound gorilla of the Democratic party. Except for 2004, the Clintonites have dominated every Democratic election since 1992 and they were prominent players in the 1984 and 1988 cycles as well. Thus, I always felt that Obama had a legitimate shot at the White House, but not until the Democratic party had “worked out” its Clinton issues. My hunch is that Obama would have a good shot at being Hillary’s successor in the party.

Now my hunch is playing out – Obama is doing exceptionally well, but he’s showing the signs of a candidate who runs a great second place finish.

  1. Nationally, he’s polling well, but consistently behind Hillary. He’s polling well among college educated Democrats, but badly among working class Democrats – the sign of someone who comes in 2nd a la Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart or Bill Bradley.
  2. Intense fund raising characteristic of a candidate appealing to a particularly unhappy wing of the party, but not from the whole party or its elites. (See Steve Forbes 1996, Howie Dean 2004 or Bill Bradley 2000).
  3. Until the present time, Hillary has beat Obama in almost every poll of Democratic voters in individual states, except in Iowa, North Carolina and Illinois. Click here to see them all.

But here’s the killer: The State of New York has announced that their primary will be held on Feb 5, 2008. That essentially kills off both Obama and Edwards, barring a self-imposed Hillary meltdown. And if it’s one thing Hillary has, it’s nerves of steel – she won’t blink and won’t make blunders. Even if Hillary comes in 2nd or 3rd in Iowa, which is plausible, she will most certainly do well in New Hampshire and then be saved by a “landslide” provided by New York and New Jersey.

My spin: Hillary probably knows she is not as charismatic or personally compelling as either Edwards or Obama, but she is really a savvy bureaucratic operator. By bundling New York and New Jersey together so close after New Hampshire, she an easy bunch of delegates, which will trigger the final collapse of the Obama/Edwards campaigns. Most Democratic elites, by that time, will probably realize that it is nearly impossible for Obama or Edwards to overcome that gap. You will see people bail on Obama and Edwards, much in the same way that Kerry’s Super Tuesday 2004  win allowed people to bail on Dean. Unless there’s a complete Hillary blow out in Iowa (she polls less than 20%), I don’t see any way for Obama to win the nomination.


Written by fabiorojas

April 10, 2007 at 7:03 pm

15 Responses

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  1. This is seems as good of a quick analysis as any. Still, it seems so early to imagine this being over.

    Do you know if Hillary polls well with white, working class Dems?

    Where does her nerves of steel reputation come from? My admittedly very rough memory is that her 2000 opponent self-destructed and her 2006 opponent was a sacrificial lamb. Of course, Obama has the same knock (only beat Alan Keyes for his senate seat). The point is, she is not as tested as many assume. Is it fair to assume every political experience fo Bill Clinton transfers to her?



    April 11, 2007 at 3:10 am

  2. Steve Forbes, intense fundraising?

    I don’t think the NY primary will get much press despite the size of NY, since it’s Clinton’s home state. I don’t know why Edwards or Obama would spend money there.

    If Clinton finishes third in Iowa, that will cost her lots of votes in New Hampshire. I don’t think Edwards will be able to hold on to his early showing in Iowa, though.



    April 11, 2007 at 5:53 am

  3. Jordi: According to an LA Times column about three weeks ago, Obama is doing relatively well among college educated dems, but hasn’t picked up traction yet among the white collar voters. Of course, as you say, that could change. So far, Obama hasn’t yet done something to really crack that segment. But he’s probably seen the same results and is working on it.

    Jeremy: Remember that Forbes did have, for the time, an unusual spike in fund raising, due mainly to his connections in the business world. IIRC, he was not a self funded candidate a la Perot.


    Fabio Rojas

    April 11, 2007 at 1:18 pm

  4. Jordi: Also, here’s how I figure Hillary has good nerves – she’s been through every scandal imaginable, she’s been grilled by the press and she’s put up with Bill. And while she’s said the occasional awkward comment, she’s never, ever, really had a melt down. Emotionally, this campaign should be a cake walk compared to the Clinton White House circa 1998.

    Also, regarding the toughness of opponents, I would say Obama has had a way tougher time. Hillary has never had any serious opposition in an election (either primary or general). Her strategy for the presidency has been to choose a reliably democratic state and scare off challengers. And it almost worked for the Presidential nomination (she scared off Warner, Bayh and Vilsack, and she probably knew Edwards can’t go the mileage).

    In contrast, Obama has had to beat lots of challengers in both primaries and generals. He’s also had one devastating defeat at the hands of Bobby Rush. Alan Keyes was just a gift in a long strong of tough and often strange contests.


    Fabio Rojas

    April 11, 2007 at 2:57 pm

  5. Fabio: I buy that Hillary has demonstrated nerves in the White House. I wonder what she learned form Health Care debate of 1992-1994. One of the big questions is how much of her experiences with Bill transfer to her own campaigns. The Bill=Hillary notion is prevalent in discussions and media coverage. Can we assume transfer of all of Bill’s acumen and resiliency to her?

    Maureen Dowd, who I think is heavily snarky to Hillary, pointed out that her reliance on Bill may at some level undercut her image as the liberated woman/practical feminist.

    I have glancingly seen that she poll swell in this field and nationally. It continues to produce cognitive dissonance for me. I know many activists and likely primary voters and few like her. I will be interest to see local results. Maybe people say one thing and do another (and if the didn’t, where would sociology be?)



    April 11, 2007 at 3:43 pm

  6. Fabio: obama is toast

    I know you’re trying to drum up page views, Fabkat, but does the title need to be so sensationalistic this early in the primary campaign season?



    April 11, 2007 at 4:21 pm

  7. The second tier candidates are like raw egg. The Obama bread will soak up all of the money they might have gotten. The frying pan will be heated too hot. All the elites will be promised elegant French Toast, but the Obama toast will be burned and no scraping of the char will prevent Hilary’s undeserved Coronation by elimination. It’s all pre-ordained by the masses of cooks spoiling the pudding…



    July 4, 2007 at 5:37 pm

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