Hello Everyone,

On the eve of over-hyped “Super Tuesday,” I’d like to offer my perspective. I think Super Tuesday is not about how many states Barack “wins” (remember my previous analogy to “innings” in baseball), but about how many Pledged Delegates he collects (how many “runs” he scores.)

But, upon closer examination, I think I see Barack pursuing an even more savvy strategy on Tuesday. I think he realizes that there is another “game” being simultaneously played here – one that’s more akin to gymnastics than to baseball. Where judges assign points based on subjective assessments.

It seems to me that Barack is trying to both win Pledged Delegates (score runs) and influence Super Delegates (impress the judges.) More on Super Delegates in a minute.

Note that Barack is personally campaigning, has more offices, and is advertising in more states than Senator Clinton. Why did he go to “red state” Idaho on Saturday and tiny Delaware on Sunday, for instance?

By doing well in the small states which have few delegates, and in red states, I believe that he is trying to:

  • demonstrate that he has wide appeal across the country, to independents and Republicans, as well as Democrats.
  • be true to his famous assertion that he sees “not just red states or blue states, but the United States of America.”
  • set a tone for the general election: by campaigning across the country, not just in a few “battleground” states, he seeks to unify the electorate and create a broad mandate for change once in office

This strategy, in turn, could fortify his argument – to voters in the states with primaries and caucuses still to come – but, most importantly, to Super Delegates (the “judges”) – that he is more electable than Senator Clinton.

For those of us new to this complicated nominating process, a few words about Super Delegates. I have avoided this complexity until now but it’s worth a few words.

Of the 4,049 total delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August, only 3,253 (or about 80%) are selected by the voters. The other 796 (almost 20%) are so-called Super Delegates – party leaders and elected officials (governors, mayors, members of congress, etc.) who are appointed, not elected. Super Delegates can decide for themselves who they will vote for at the national convention, and could ultimately hold sway in an extremely close contest.

Some Super Delegates have already declared their preferences, but they are not at all bound by such declarations. These are people who are highly knowledgeable about politics and deeply committed to the Democratic Party. They want the party nominee to win in November. But, they are also motivated by self-interest. Those who are on the ballot themselves in November want the “top of the ticket” to be as strong as possible – they need those coattails. So, they will probably back the nominee who they think is most likely to win in November.

Remember that only 1,681 Pledged Delegates (about 42% of the 4,049 total delegates) are up for grabs on Tuesday. Even if one of the two candidates were to win 60% of all those delegates – which seems unlikely – on top of the delegates already won, he or she would still have only about one-half of the 2,025 delegates needed to lock up the nomination.

So, post-February 5 states will matter. Electability will matter. And, Super Delegates may matter if this contest goes all the way to the convention – which it may do. Watch the results like you would both a baseball game and a gymnastics meet.

Two final notes. First, having raised more “primary” money (the only money useable prior to the August convention) than Senator Clinton has to date – and over $32mm in January alone – Barack has plenty of staying power. And, lastly, even though we’ve seen that polls are pretty unreliable, Gallup’s most recent National poll shows Obama and Clinton in a statistical dead heat.

I am attaching two pieces for those glutton enough for further reading. The first one is from my friend, Prof. Danielle Allen, who has taken a leave to work for Barack in her native California. Her last couple of paragraphs are particularly incisive – about how Barack is already reminding us Americans about how to use our complex democratic institutions. The second is a thoughtful piece by Frank Rich from yesterday’s New York Times, in case you missed it.

I continue to trust that the voters will “have the courage to choose change.”

As always, please pass it on.

Chuck

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adobe pdf file Attachment: Obamagram from Bakersfield

 

adobe pdf file Attachment: Ask Not What J.F.K. Can Do for Obama

 

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