The Black Ned Lamont
That's the picture of Obama I get from Super Tuesday -- a specialty candidate who can't claim broad-based victories in any state.
Two things are striking: One, the caucus states broke conspicuously away from the primary states. Why would Obama win bigger in Minnesota than in Illinois?
Here's the caucus numbers (%) from Politico.: Minnesota/Colorado: 67/32. Alaska: 75/25. Idaho: 80/17. Kansas: 74/26. North Dakota: 61/37 (all Obama). The caucus system suppresses and skews turnout, that's clear.
I'm not suggesting Obama's caucus wins are not legitimate--not at all. He won those states. But a caucus win does not prove general election strength. A caucus win does not generate 'momentum'.
Two, primary momentum is an illusion. There's no such thing, at least not for Obama in 2008 against Hillary Clinton. Sweeping black support in Georgia, 'Ned Lamonters' in Connecticut, or a distorted caucus turnout in Idaho, gives Obama wins in the contests for those states delegates. But a narrowcast victory does not infuence voters in other states. Voters are making up their own minds -- there is no state-to-state effect. I think that's partly because of his stark demographics. And it's due to the Clintons' unique immunity to press hostility. A win is a win--that's true in delegate counts. But a win is just a win, and nothing more, if it doesn't sway voters in other states--or the media attention that win generates doesn't sway. The 'February map' may favor Obama, but it won't mean much if it plays out the existing pattern.
I don't know how, but the Clintons have the ability to bypass the mass media. Al Gore and John Kerry needed the media's cooperation to fight back against smears. The Clintons do not need a fair and balanced media to fight back. They don't need Chuck Matthews or Tom Russert or Brian whatshisname, or any of these other heads I read about on blogs but never watch. The pundits can spin Super Tuesday all they want. Nobody cares. Everybody knows they are lying assholes.
Obama the symbolic orator has widespread appeal--what's not to like? But Obama the candidate is narrowcasting. He talks about winning 'Obama Republicans.' He's not even winning Reagan Democrats.
The narrowcast nature of his wins (blacks voting with racial pride, blog lemmings, anti-Hillaryites, Ned Lamonters) pressures Howard Dean to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. (I'm not interested in technicalities about convention committees -- this fiasco is Howard Dean's fault.) Not seating those delegates is a divisive slur and a punch in the nose to the broad Democratic base that is wholehandedly rejecting Obama. As Dean recognizes, 8 weeks between a convention horror show and the November election is not enough time to heal -- especially with McCain pouring acid into those wounds.