Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hillary's bad week continues

By Rick Morris

Sports gamblers don't care about the ultimate outcome of games; they only care about who covered. Likewise, for politicians and the entire political chattering class, pointspreads are also the end-all, be-all. Except they're known in that realm as "expectations."

History will record that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each went 1-1 on Tuesday night, with Obama pocketing North Carolina and Hil-Rod (ultimately, after a long wait) clinching Indiana. Frankly, the straightforward historical record is also meaningless, because the key difference in the outcomes came in the expectations: Obama "beat the spread" in North Carolina and also managed to "cover" in Indiana, coming tantalizingly close to an outright win that would have ended the process already via superdelegate stampede on Wednesday. On a completely different topic, anyone wondering why the Democratic machine in Gary, Indiana held back results until the wee hours of the morning would do well to read the epic book "Will" by G. Gordon Liddy for an explanation of how Lake County REALLY operates.

But back to the topic at hand: Obama, already the frontrunner, was able to consolidate his delegate lead by whipping Hillary all over Tobacco Road and by holding her to a near-tie among Hoosiers. The shock of Obama's turnaround Tuesday (especially in light of a tough few weeks in terms of primary results and headlines about his personal associations) was such that it triggered the primary season version of the election night "call" by networks. Tim Russert of NBC News set off a mass media stampede by proclaiming the race over and Barack Obama the winner. The conventional wisdom of the moment is that Obama's coronation in Denver at the convention is a done deal because of the way the numbers have materialized.

While media organizations, campaigns, and participants at every level of the process all have metrics that point in that direction, it's likely that none of them have anything quite as solid as what we're about to unveil here.

I've recently become acquainted with an excellent writer named Jacob Rosen, who writes about many different topics just like those of us here at The FDH Lounge. He's a busy, busy man and a man of many talents so I don't know when it will be feasible on his end, but it seems likely that we'll be able to feature him in some form through the FDH media family in the days ahead. When you read what we've got here, you'll understand why that thought causes us such enthusiasm.

Jacob sent us an email that he gave us permission to quote liberally here and we will. This is excerpted from his excellent email newsletter. He performed a statistical analysis on the Democratic race for president -- and found it quite uphill to say the least for Hillary at the moment. In short, he devised a metric he called the "glorious, magical number" that calculated her overall chances in the race.

"This number represents the break-even percentage point in which a) Hillary Clinton must win a difference over Obama for the overall super delegates, and b) the difference she must win in the remaining primaries.

Before the Pennsylvania primaries on April 22nd, the glorious, magical number stood at about 12.24% -- meaning that if Clinton were to win the remaining primaries by this number, and eventually increase her lead over Obama in terms of super delegates to this number, the overall delegate race would be tied in the end. Since Clinton did not win by 12.24%, but came awfully close to a 10% victory over the 158 pledged delegates, the glorious, magical number increased to 12.90% (which includes Guam results.)

In North Carolina and Indiana, Obama netted a total of 12 delegates (97 to 85) according to the most recent numbers available on With these numbers, the glorious, magical number has increased to an astounding 16.40%. The number is now so large because North Carolina and Indiana represented just under half of the remaining pledged delegates remaining after Guam and Pennsylvania. This number may even seem quite irrelevant, because Clinton's super delegate lead is now only at 2.07% (down from 9.54% pre-OH/TX, 4.90% pre-PA and 2.65% pre-NC/IND.). So in order to catch her break-even point of pledged and super delegates, Clinton would have to exponentially increase her lead of super delegate supporters.

According to numbers on, the unofficial delegate totals from Michigan (with Obama as the uncommitted) and Florida for Obama and Clinton are 122 to 178. Including this into the total of overall pledged delegates, and the glorious, magical number at this point in time becomes 10.87%. Thus, if Clinton is to have any logical chance at winning this thing, or even making a point to seat these delegates in the first place, she must increase her overall super delegate lead to 10%. That should be the initial goal for the Clinton campaign, as the number of undecided super delegates out-weighs the number of remaining pledged delegates (264 to 217).

I have not seen very good polls just yet from upcoming primaries spots of West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon. Once I do, however, I will be able to predict what the glorious, magical number will become like I did pre-NC/IND. According to poll averages from NC and IND (which I then formulated around 100% total), I had predicted the glorious, magical number to increase to 15.90%. The change of 0.5% is noted because of the impressive performance by Obama against the pre-primary polls (the first time since before OH/TX)."

Again, that's excellent work by Jacob right there in terms of breaking down the race with cold, hard numbers. Is there anybody out there not named Bill, Hillary or Chelsea who still thinks a win is possible? Actually, Chelsea seems pretty sharp to me; I wouldn't even necessarily count her with the believers at this point!

This race is done even if the Clintons don't realize it yet. As the Democratic party and their element in the left-wing blogosphere gets ever more angry about Obama still having to work for the nomination while John McCain gets a free ride, look for the recriminations directed at the Clintons to skyrocket. One wonders what Keith Olbermann's next misogynistic call for somebody to deal forcibly with Hillary will entail and whether this time he'll be getting waterboarded by the Secret Service. Then again, since the Secret Service doesn't look kindly on objects of their protection throwing lamps at people, they probably won't lift a finger and Olbermann, Kos and everyone else on that side will be able to keep spewing their impotent, murderous rage at Hillary.

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