Hello Everyone,

As we approach what may prove to be the real Super Tuesday, I am groping to find a perspective with a wider angle than the professional pundits have provided. As I’ve said before, short-term analysis of the stock market is of little value. Markets are too complex. Primaries are, too.

Nonetheless, I sense that something extraordinary is going on here. It will be some time before we can fully grasp what is happening, if ever. But, we Americans are an impatient people who seek instant understanding. I have some theories, but let’s start with some startling, and hopeful, facts.

  • Barack Obama is leading in Pledged Delegates – 1,193 to 1,034, according to RealClearPolitics.com.
  • Barack is leading in Total Delegates (including Super Delegates) – 1,374 to 1,275, using the same source.
  • Barack is leading in the popular vote – approximately 10.3 million to 9.4 million, even excluding the 12 caucuses held so far, 11 of which he’s won.
  • Overall, Barack has won 26 contests to Sen. Clinton’s 11.
    • Phase I (the Early States) – before the first Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, Barack won 2 of the first 4 contests (IA and SC) and lost NH and NV, but wound up leading in Pledged Delegates anyway.
    • Phase II (the first Super Tuesday) – Barack won 13 states to Sen. Clinton’s 9, and Pledged Delegates counts were very close.
    • Phase III (the month between the two Super Tuesdays) – Barack won all 11 contests and opened up a sizeable lead in Pledged Delegates.
  • Enthusiasm Gap – Barack has won 16 contests with 60% or more of the vote. Sen. Clinton has reached that mark only 1 time – in Arkansas. Most observers say that she would have to get 60-65% of the vote in each of TX, OH and PA to tie Barack in Pledged Delegates by the end of the primary process.
  • Barack probably raised at least 10% to 15% more “primary” dollars in 2007 than Sen. Clinton did. He set an all-time one-month record in January 2008 (after his victory in Iowa), out-raising Sen. Clinton by more than 2.5 to 1.
  • The Obama campaign is approaching the 1 million donor mark. It probably has several times the number of donors than Sen. Clinton’s has.
  • Fun fact – Barack’s two books are once again on the New York Times paperback best seller list, now # 3 and # 6.
  • Another fun fact – I got an email from the Obama campaign last night saying that it cannot accommodate additional volunteers in the 4 largest Texas cities; too many people are volunteering.

The Enthusiasm Gap was first evident in the caucus results: 11 to 1 for Obama. Upon closer examination, the size of the gap is even more startling.

  • The first 3 contests (IA, NH and NV) seem to have been a feeling out period. Sen. Clinton won 2 of 3, but her margins of victory were small – 6 and 2 percentage points, respectively.
  • Then came South Carolina and the first blowout. Barack won by 28 percentage points.
  • In hindsight, the first Super Tuesday foreshadowed what was to follow. Barack won 13 states and lost 9. But, it is even more interesting to look at how he won. Barack won 8 states by more than 20 percentage points, 7 of them by more than 30 percentage points.
  • During his 11-contest winning streak since Feb. 5, Barack’s narrowest victory was 17 percentage points. He won one other by 19 points. His margin in the other 9 contests exceeded 20 points, with 3 of those exceeding 50 points. Extreme blowouts.

While none of us should be counting our chickens, this set of facts is impressive.

So, why is this happening? I haven’t a clue. But, I do know something big is going on.

Is it perhaps that voters are tired of politics as a spectator sport. A pugilistic spectator sport at that. Maybe they want to participate. Volunteer. Give $25, again and again.

Perhaps I’m my own best evidence. Why have I bothered to bug you with my musings over the past year? I’m no pro. I’m in pursuit of no personal gain. I write my Obamagrams without authority or permission. Why?

Why are many of you doing what you do? Why did you go to Iowa or South Carolina or wherever? In the last 24 hours, why have half a dozen people in Illinois and Washington, D.C., told me they were going to Ohio or Texas?

Something’s going on.

One last observation. Why is Sen. Clinton acting in a seemingly erratic way lately?

I must say I empathize. If ultimately, she is not the candidate, I don’t think it will be entirely or predominately her fault.

Some of it is. There is ample evidence that the most “experienced” candidate has proven to be the least effective “chief executive” of her campaign. She overspent on her easy senate re-election campaign, leaving less money to transfer to her presidential coffers. She has raised substantially less money for this campaign than her opponent, from many fewer donors. She pursued, as Frank Rich observed, an ill-fated “shock and awe” strategy, expecting to declare “mission accomplished” on Feb. 5. So much for experience and judgment.

As Danielle Allen and others have pointed out, the Obama campaign seems to have outworked and out-smarted the Clinton campaign so far. You can be assured that the Obama campaign is on the ground in Wyoming and Mississippi preparing for their respective March 8 and 11 caucus and primary. Then, a month later, Pennsylvania votes on April 22, with the handful of remaining contests spread out thereafter and into June. We should all remember that after the polls proved imperfect in New Hampshire, the Obama campaign did the hard work that produced its 25 to 10 record since.

I think Sen. Clinton is seeking to win in an environment that she misread and can not adapt to. A hopeful Barack Obama perfectly suits this moment, much like an optimistic Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Hayes of the conservative The Weekly Standard quoted Reagan’s speech accepting the nomination:

More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country, to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values…For those who have
abandoned hope, we’ll restore hope and we’ll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again!

Hayes went on to say, “Throughout his campaign, Reagan fought off charges that his candidacy was built more on optimism than policies.”

I believe that Reagan’s brand of optimism was right for that time and Barack’s is even better suited for this one.

Perhaps Sen. Clinton is in the process of coming to grips with that reality, too. The
multiple moods that she has demonstrated over the recent past bring to mind Kubler-
Ross’s famous “five stages of death and dying”: denial, anger, bargaining, depression
and acceptance. Although not displayed in sequence, one can understand how seeming
acceptance can be exhibited by Sen. Clinton one day (“I’m honored…”) and anger
(“shame on you…”) can be in evidence the next.

We can only imagine how difficult it must be to see a long-held dream slip away after years of hot pursuit and after having paid such a steep price for admission.

One week until the next Super Tuesday. Will this one prove decisive? Will we march on? What is going on here? I don’t know. But, I’m hopeful. And, I know that we won’t be out-smarted or out-worked.

Please pass it on.

Chuck

adobe pdf file Click here to download this article in PDF format.

 

adobe pdf file Attachment: Media and Candidate Methods of Counting Delegates Vary and So Do Totals

 

adobe pdf file Attachment: Delegate Counts for the Democrats

 

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