Saturday, January 26, 2008

SC: Don't Get Excited Yet

I'm listening to Obama speak now as I start this post, and I've been skimming some of the blogospheric reaction. Lots of good, happy feelings now. Obama makes people feel good, and everyone seems to get it. But before we start breaking out the champagne, let's remember that this is an election, not a reality show. Everyone knew Obama was going to win in SC and while the margin was surprising, this doesn't change anything.

Everyone has the same data: California (Hillary up by 15%), NY (+25%), and NJ (+22%) are looming in Tsunami Tuesday. Hillary won't have to break a sweat to win the lion(ess)'s share of the delegates there. And, much as Iowa is a distant memory, so too will be this glowing moment in South Carolina. The meme will change course faster than a school of fish (but in no less synchronicity).

Neither candidate has the money or time to campaign in all the states, so they'll choose the ones they think they can win and depend on surrogates to do the campaigning for them in states they can't visit/place ads in. And since surrogates--elected governors, mayors, congresspeople--will be looking to curry favor with the ultimate nominee, they'll blanch at the feel-good story of '08. HIllary and Bill are the Democratic Party. They will have the juice to flip surrogates, in large part because everyone will see the same numbers I do for Feb 5. And those surrogates will be important and effective. I'll look at the numbers tomorrow or Monday so you can see why I'm alarmed.

Obama has some cards left to play. But South Carolina is no "game changer" (as Sullivan calls it). This is business as usual.

1 comment:

Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

I'll agree with you to some extent. However, Obama's larger than expected win will help a little to close the gap in every upcoming Super Tuesday state. Furthermore, this election has been about momentum and expectations. It is now Clinton's turn to be expected to win contests, and if she loses one or two that will be a possible sign that her support is eroding and Obama is on the rise. Then there is the delegate count which will probably be mostly shared between the two candidates. So while SC answers few questions, Obama beat expectations, if only a little, and comes out with some momentum he can try to capitalize on.

It is a far better outcome for him than had he lost - which would have been cause for serious concern on his part.