Canada has managed to insert itself into the Democratic campaign this week. At issue is a private assurance from one of Obama’s associates to Canada, saying that Obama doesn’t have serious issues with NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), contrary to Obama’s public statements.
Bob Rae, an MP for the Liberal Party of Canada, has accused the Prime Minister of interfering with the USA’s political process (i.e., by leaking information that should have remained private):
This is Republican International in action. The Harper government is so ideological and so tied to the Republicans that they will use any opportunity to throw a wrench into the Obama campaign.
There’s even a Youtube video of Jack Layton (leader of the also-ran New Democratic Party) challenging the Prime Minister on this issue in the House of Commons.
Canadian politics can be exciting after all: albeit by piggybacking on American politics.
In any event, Obama has been on the defensive over this issue for several days now. It seems to have sunk his prospects in Ohio, where times are hard and NAFTA is a convenient target for people’s anger.
In Texas, Obama had caught Clinton and taken a small lead, but Clinton is now slightly ahead again (statistically, I’m sure this constitutes a tie):
Don’t uncork the champagne yet! Clinton may stay in the race through Pennsylvania, which is a big state with 188 delegates up for grabs. (Table adapted from the New York Times)
|Sat. Mar. 8||Wyoming||caucus||18|
|Tue. Mar. 11||Mississippi||primary||40|
|Tue. Apr. 22||Pennsylvania||primary||188|
What’s depressing is the six-week gap between the Mississippi primary and the Pennsylvania primary. The nomination process could drag on for a long time! If Clinton carries Pennsylvania, we’re back to my original scenario of a struggle all the way to the Democratic convention in late August.
Here’s what to watch for tonight.
(a) How big is Clinton’s win in Ohio?
I think 10% is a big psychological barrier here. If Clinton wins by 9%, it’s still a decisive victory. But if she wins by 10%, it becomes a blowout.
(b) Who wins the popular vote in Texas?
Obama will probably win the overall delegate count because Texas chooses one third of its delegates by caucus. (Yes, it’s bizarre to utilize a hybrid primary/caucus system. But why make things simple when they could be complicated?)
If Obama does win more delegates than Clinton, arguably that seals the deal for him. After all, he’s already ahead by close to 150 pledged delegates. (Not including superdelegates. Though Obama is now closing the gap, Clinton is still ahead in superdelegates.)
It’s also noteworthy that Obama was behind by 30 points in these states just a couple of weeks ago. A close result is still a heck of an achievement for him. But Clinton will spin it as a victory if she possibly can. She’s banking on the popular vote at this point.
What does it mean if Clinton wins the popular vote in Texas but loses in terms of delegates because of the caucus process? That’s enough to taint the result, according to her twisted logic. After all, she has been arguing for weeks that the caucus process isn’t democratic.
It’s still possible that Clinton will drop out of the race in the next couple of days. In terms of delegates — which is what really counts — it still looks like an impossible uphill climb for her.
Nonetheless, her strategy is to close the gap in pledged delegates, and appeal to the superdelegates to put her over the top. And demand that those delegates from Michigan and Florida are counted — to hell with the decision of the Democratic National Committee.
To stop Clinton now, Obama has to keep it relatively close in Ohio and win not merely the delegate count in Texas, but also the popular vote. Otherwise, the prospect of a big delegate haul in Pennsylvania is enough to keep Clinton in the hunt.
It won’t be good for the Democratic Party if this process continues to drag on until August 25. But why would Clinton let that stop her?