Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is Hillary doomed?

Right now, the Intrade Prediction Market indicates that Hillary has only a 30.5% chance of capturing the Democratic nomination while Barack has a 69.0% chance. That certainly looks gloomy for Hillary and very bright for Barack, but sentiment can change at a moment's notice.

Barack claimed the lion's share of votes and delegates this weekend, but it was expected that he would be the winner and that he will win in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. It was not expected that he would win by such wide margins. Since the Democratic primary rules allot delegates proportionally to votes, Hillary doesn't come out totally at a loss.

Certainly "momentum" is now in Barack's favor, but that can also change at a moment's notice. We all saw what happened going from Iowa to New Hampshire

The good news is that the pressure of being an underdog will push Hillary to carefully rethink her campaign strategy and style and refocus on what it takes to win. What such a re-shape of strategy might take remains to be seen. And whether such a re-shape of strategy can succeed remains to be seen.

If I were advising Hillary, I would advise her to campaign very heavily and publicly in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas, skip the other states in between other than minor rallies with surrogates, go very light on ad spending, and rely on the heavy media coverage she will get by focusing on big rallies in the big states with plenty of criticism of Bush/McCain policies and the "impracticality" of Barack's hope/change-based campaign. Voters may even thank her for doing less advertising. She should focus almost 100% on middle class "woes" and health care issues, "taking care of the American people" and "restoring the middle class" that has been "gutted by the policies of Bush/McCain." As far as her "attitude" towards Barack, she should be moderately generous but modestly condescending: "He means well and is filled with youthful energy and charm and wit, but he just doesn't understand..." Every "Yes we can!" should be answered with "Well, maybe, but he hasn't convinced us that he has what it takes to go the distance in the real world..."

That said, I have to disclose that I do not have a dog in this fight. Even though there was a Democratic caucus here in Washington state yesterday, I am an independent, so I did not participate. I usually vote the Democratic party line, but if Barack wins the nomination and doesn't do a better job of speaking to me about his centrist credentials I may reluctantly be forced to consider McCain. I think that Barack could be a legitimate centrist, but his campaign rhetoric does not convince me.

It will be interesting to see what happens a month from now. Until the March 4th primaries in Texas and Ohio, Barack will own the nominal "lead" and Hillary will experience the underdog's pressure to outperform.

-- Jack Krupansky

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