Last night, I argued that the winner of the Democratic nomination will be determined by events that take place many weeks from now, and hence not necessarily by the current state of play. The key events, I thought, would be the Pennsylvania primary, developments regarding Florida and Michigan, and the head-to-head polls with McCain. I also said that it would be unwise to speculate about the state of play this far down the road, and thus about how these future events will play out.
The temptation is hard to resist, though, so let’s look ahead. Pennsylvania could be a good state for Clinton. It’s pretty similar to Ohio and, as in Ohio, the Democratic governor is on her side. If anything, Ed Rendell is probably an even more powerful figure than Ted Strickland.
It’s hard to imagine that Clinton’s “victories” in Florida and Michigan will stand — rules tend to count for something even when we’re talking about Democrats. But not seating delegates from Florida and Michigan also seems like a poor idea. Thus, the conventional wisdom suggests there may be do-overs. In that scenario, Clinton probably has the edge in Florida, but Obama might be the favorite in Michigan, given the large number of African-American voters there.
The head-to-head polls with McCain may be the most important factor in the thinking of super-delegates; above all, they want to win in November. This may also be the toughest nut for Clinton to crack. Even if Obama continues to fade, he seems likely to remain more attractive than Clinton to moderates and independents (though it’s far from clear that he should be).
But again, this analysis is all based to some degree on the current state of play. Two months, as we’ve seen, can be an eternity in presidential politics.
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