Post Tuesday Thoughts

ObamaLast night I went to bed a little sad. Woke up today feeling the same way. And a lot tired. I don’t feel bad, though. I’ve survived seven years of King George 43rd. I can survive losing California.

It’s been an amazing journey since joining the Obama campaign last July. There are plenty of people who worked harder than I. Obama had 499 precinct captains just in Orange County! They smiled and dialed. They walked until their feet hurt. I wonder if they’re feeling a little empty today, too. Because the campaign’s moved on, now, to Louisiana and Washington and Nebraska and wherever. Most of what we can do is phone bank for other states and no doubt many will do that.

Also contributing to my outlook today was the easing of Santa Ana term limits. What had started out as an attempt to put term limits on the mayor morphed into lengthening the time members of the council may serve and being completely mute on the mayor. It was billed as enabling the city to free itself of developer influence and yet took $80,000 from mostly developers to promote it. This topic is ripe for another discussion later – and indeed occurs elsewhere on this site.

Anyone who gets involved in elections has to understand that there is always the possibility of losing. Death and taxes being the only sure things, they say. So I’ve been walking around last night and today feeling as if that’s what happened to the Obama campaign. But it isn’t. That’s not at all what happened. To be sure, Obama lost California. By nine points. A month ago, he was behind by nearly 30. All summer long, he had been trailing everywhere by significant margins. Two weeks before New Hampshire, he was 20 points behind and lost by three. Nevada, he was down by 20 and lost the popular vote by six but won more delegates. By the time of Super Tuesday, he was supposed fish wrap – yesterday’s news. Tossed out and forgotten. A footnote in the campaign. This was supposed to be a Clinton coronation. But it isn’t. Obama won Iowa by a vote count larger than Bush’s 2004 victory over Kerry, enough to put the state in play for 2008. In South Carolina, Obama beat Clinton by slightly better than two to one. Apparently, by design or luck, the Obama campaign has managed to walk away from Super Tuesday with a pledged delegate count nearly equal to Clinton’s (look here and here). I didn’t know that last night or when I woke up today. Yesterday, the Obama campaign said that they wanted today to be within 100 delegates and apparently they (we?) are.

And I learned something else this morning. When I looked at California’s statewide results, I saw Obama actually won several in several areas, including Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, Mendocino, Humboldt, and some other counties. I was quite surprised.

A funny thing happened on the way to Super Tuesday. Without any major directed effort, Obama raised $32 million in January. Clinton raised $13.5. Apparently, that also includes $5 million she loaned herself. I heard reports last night she wants to debate Obama once a week for some period of time. Hmmm, free media. Could Clinton be in a recession?

A co-worker today, undecided about whom to support, used that word, recession, but in a slightly different context. He made the following comparison. He said there are economists and other s saying the nation is headed into a recession. There are others who say we’re already in one and we just don’t recognize it yet. Similarly, he went on, one could assert that the Clinton campaign is headed to a loss. Or maybe it’s already lost and we just don’t recognize it yet. See, that fits entirely with what I understand the Obama strategy to be. Pace the campaign for a marathon. Each state is a milepost on a 50 mile race. Slow and steady. Pace yourself for the long-haul. Don’t peak too early and thus run out of energy. Save up for a sprint at the end, if needed.

Obama’s going to the convention in a strong position. That’s the worst that will happen. The chat among various of the Obama groups is that large numbers of people from Super Tuesday states are already phone banking for this weekend’s elections – without travelling from home. Last night when there were problems in Alameda county with polling places running out of ballots, being restocked, and staying open until 10 pm, there were people at the Orange County Obama office making GOTV calls to Alameda. At 9:30 pm there were 28 eager people on the phone. It was electric. We missed Obama’s speech because we were on the phone.

This morning I read somewhere, and I’ve lost track of where, that going into Super Tuesday, Clinton and Obama were essentially tied in the national polls and coming out of Super Tuesday, were still essentially tied.

The Obama campaign has accomplished a great deal. Coming from nowhere a year ago to a virtual tie (be it delegates or national polls) at this point is huge. The people who are running Obama’s campaign are either very smart or really, really lucky. Maybe a bit of both? I think they’ve still got a few tricks up their sleeve like the one they pulled at the UCLA rally on Sunday. There’s no way to count Obama out now. He’s definitely going to the convention. You know, he just might go as the nominee.

All in all, Obama’s in good shape. So there’s no reason to feel sad. No reason to feel bad. Well OK, tired, yes. But there’s no shame in anything that’s happened. Barack Obama and all the people who have worked for his campaign have every reason to be pleased with where the campaign is right now. The race for the Democratic nomination is not won. Neither is it lost. No one has it sewn up.

In the words of another volunteer, We’ve got the MO….We’ve got the DOUGH…and to the nomination, WE SHALL GO!!!!!

  3 comments for “Post Tuesday Thoughts

  1. the sunkenroad
    February 6, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Bill! Awesome job! The gap did not close much in California in the end. I think maybe that’s because some of the polling was ignorant of the mail-in vote, which was heavily Clinton. Who knows? But remember this: California was supposed to be a lock for Hillary. She had much larger leads here than what she ended up with. You and the other captains made her fight for this state, which cost her money and time in the other states, some of which she lost (think CT). Others will disagree, I’ll bet, but in my view Obama was the big winner nationally last night, and you helped that. The longer this campaign goes, the less likely it is Hillary wins. I’m more confident now than ever that Obama will be the nominee. He’s the better candidate and people are beginning to see it. Cheers, j

  2. February 6, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    I think absentee ballots really did have a huge impact on Clinton’s outcome. And right now, she’s hurting badly financially. I heard that senior staffers are going without salaries and the Clinton’s have put in 5 million dollars of their own money, that’s never a good sign.

    Sadly, as an Edwards supporter, I’m still torn between the two, but would support either if they became the nominee.

    Thanks for all your hard work. If I do decided to get involved in Obama’s campaign, I’m sure you will be happy to help me out.

  3. Northcountystorm
    February 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Spinmeister Spaulding:

    You are good at this and I suspect you have some Irish in you somewhere, if ye catch me drift.

    But you can spare us all the expectations spin about how Tuesday was supposed to be a Clinton coronation. That hasn’t been on any serious observers’ talking points since Iowa. It’s one of the collateral benefits of the information age that the half life of spin and perceptions is much shorter then that of years past when we relied on the fish rags to guide our analysis. In truth, the Obama campaign forced Clinton to take a mandatory 8 count in Iowa and was expecting to drive the stake through the triangulated heart in New Hampshire. After all, even James of Sunken Road commented then that it was a two person race–Obama and Edwards.

    There is no doubt that Obama overcame some big name recognition driven polling numbers to pull into a dead heat and maybe a hair ahead. but since Iowa its been a pretty even game and Tuesday went pretty much as I expected except Missouri which was a nice, albeit it close, win for Barack..

    In California you did get spanked (closer to 10 points than 9, even your link says 10) and while you’re right the lead was 20 some time before, some serious pollsters and commentators had Obama passing Clinton (poor Zogby, wrong in new Hampshire and wrong in California). What did we see here: Clinton won the OC so live with that. Clinton won 39 of 58 counties. After Nevada, Obama said that he could get rural votes that Clinton could not. Put that canard to rest. She won most of the rural vote although Obama did take the Trinity Alps and some other far northern counties.

    Your spin of being surprised by victories along the Hemp Coast (Mendocino and Humboldt), and those fiery right wing counties of San Francisco, Alameda and Marin got a laugh out of me. Heck, Mendocino is so much left Coast that Kucinich ran 300% ahead of his statewide average there! Most of Barack’s victories were in counties with large student, white wine, upper income, African American and liberal constituencies. But you have to like Sacramento. I thought that it would go Clinton. We’ll have to wait on the final counts for all the delegate splits but when the entire delegation is seated it will be a boost for Clinton if the race goes to the Convention.

    But ultimately you’re right, no shame in Tuesday. Obama is a fighter for sure and kicked some butt, especially in caucus states where the demographics and ideological makeup work better for him than Clinton (New Mexico and Nevada being exceptions). It’s definitely too close to call although the next couple of weeks should be very good for Obama, leading to more spin (not necessarily from you) about Clinton being on the ropes, down to a 2 person race–Obama and McCain– and be a good girl and exit gracefuly like a lady. And how Texas will be her Alamo.
    It’s all such good theatre.

    I like the action. Two great candidates who are for the most part keeping their punches up and getting each other ready to face the GOP swiftboating machine.

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