Tuesday May 20 features another pimary contest between Clinton and Obama. The State of Oregon's contest features a prize of 65 delegates, and Kentucky features a total of 60. Obama expects to win in Oregon, and Clinton is definitely going to win in Kentucky. Depending on which poll you look at, Obama in Oregon can expect to gain 50 to 55% of the total. In Kentucky, it looks like Clinton will harvest from 55 to 65% of the vote, an even more convincing win.
As we know, the Democratic Party primaries differ from the Republican by virtue of being proportional to the vote totals, rather than winner-take-all. As a result of that reality, a split decision in Kentucky/Oregon does not figure to give either candidate a knockout punch. It is harder on Clinton simply because Obama currently holds a delegate lead of almost 200. Yes, Obama's delegate total is currently 1904, and Clinton can lay claim to 1717. So let's guess that each of them picks up around 60 delegates on Tuesday. Obviously that gets Obama to 1964, which is only 60 short of the 2026 number needed for the nomination. Clinton on the other hand, ends up with 1777, which is around 250 short of victory.
It is possible then that Obama could fail to close the deal once again on Tuesday. But he will certainly be in the driver's seat, and there will be considerable pressure put upon the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to face the facts and award him their votes in order to elimate the PR black eye of a public tussle at the approaching convention. Of course, that used to be the whole point of actually having a political convention, but times change and now we think it has to be resolved before then so everybody can be friendly and positive when the cameras start running.
If we make the assumption that Obama soon becomes the nominee, then we move on to the next phase of election 2008. Several elements of this future phase are already taking shape. Republican strategists clearly have concluded that one potent weapon against Obama is his sympathy for terrorists, his softness on military matters, and his disloyalty to our nation. By the way, I am typing that sentence in the Republican voice- I do not personally think any of those things about Obama. Bush's unusual step of raising this issue in front of the Israeli Knesset (on behalf of his heir apparent)telegraphs this punch, but it was obvious from the 2004 campaign that the fear card remains the trump in the Republican hand.
It is equally obvious that money will remain an issue in the campaign. Obama's powerful weapon of internet fundraising in small individual amounts so far has dwarfed McCain's ability to obtain large hunks of money from a much smaller pool of wealthy donors. If this trend should continue, McCain will face a challenge to getting his message out on television.
What else can we expect? Well, we can expect the unexpected. Each side will make efforts to ambush the other, each side will spin news events and campaign revelations. McCain will continue to wrestle with the issue of having campaign higher-ups who have been lobbyists, and who will jump back through the revolving door into even bigger money, should McCain win. There may be efforts to pander, or to avoid pandering, similar to that gas tax thing. Obama will continue to be accused of making inspirational speeches that are short on detail. My spin on that is that we probably cannot handle the truth and it may be therefore best for Obama to keep it to himself. Do I feel that way about McCain? Good question. McCain's position on climate change, which I consider truthful, seems to have cost him some support among Republicans, due to the existence of a large denial bloc in that political party on that topic.
Anyway, enjoy the primary on Tuesday, since there may not be much more drama within the Dems. We can however, look forward to plenty of drama in the general election. You might even get tired of it before November.