Topics
Administration
Congress
Democrats
Elections
Ethics
Governor -- Alabama
Governor -- Alaska
Governor -- Arizona
Governor -- California
Governor -- Colorado
Governor -- Connecticut
Governor -- Delaware
Governor -- Florida
Governor -- Georgia
Governor -- Hawaii
Governor -- Illinois
Governor -- Indiana
Governor -- Iowa
Governor -- Kentucky
Governor -- Louisiana
Governor -- Maryland
Governor -- Massachusetts
Governor -- Michigan
Governor -- Minnesota
Governor -- Missouri
Governor -- Montana
Governor -- Nevada
Governor -- New Hampshire
Governor -- New Jersey
Governor -- New Mexico
Governor -- New York
Governor -- North Carolina
Governor -- North Dakota
Governor -- Ohio
Governor -- Oregon
Governor -- Pennsylvania
Governor -- Rhode Island
Governor -- South Carolina
Governor -- Texas
Governor -- Utah
Governor -- Vermont
Governor -- Virginia
Governor -- Washington
Governor -- Wyoming
Governors
Health Care
House
House -- Alabama -- 02
House -- Alabama -- 03
House -- Alabama -- 05
House -- Alaska
House -- Arizona -- 01
House -- Arizona -- 03
House -- Arizona -- 05
House -- Arizona -- 08
House -- Arkansas -- 01
House -- Arkansas -- 02
House -- California -- 04
House -- California -- 12
House -- California -- 26
House -- California -- 32
House -- California -- 50
House -- Colorado -- 02
House -- Colorado -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 05
House -- Florida -- 06
House -- Florida -- 08
House -- Florida -- 13
House -- Florida -- 15
House -- Florida -- 16
House -- Florida -- 18
House -- Florida -- 19
House -- Florida -- 21
House -- Florida -- 24
House -- Florida -- 25
House -- Georgia -- 05
House -- Georgia -- 10
House -- Georgia -- 12
House -- Idaho -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 03
House -- Illinois -- 05
House -- Illinois -- 06
House -- Illinois -- 10
House -- Illinois -- 11
House -- Illinois -- 14
House -- Illinois -- 18
House -- Indiana -- 03
House -- Indiana -- 07
House -- Indiana -- 09
House -- Iowa -- 03
House -- Iowa -- 04
House -- Kansas -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 03
House -- Louisiana -- 01
House -- Louisiana -- 02
House -- Louisiana -- 04
House -- Louisiana -- 06
House -- Maine -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 04
House -- Massachusetts -- 05
House -- Michigan -- 01
House -- Michigan -- 07
House -- Michigan -- 09
House -- Michigan -- 13
House -- Minnesota -- 01
House -- Minnesota -- 03
House -- Minnesota -- 06
House -- Mississippi -- 01
House -- Mississippi -- 03
House -- Missouri -- 09
House -- Nevada -- 02
House -- Nevada -- 03
House -- New Hampshire -- 01
House -- New Hampshire -- 02
House -- New Jersey -- 03
House -- New Jersey -- 05
House -- New Jersey -- 07
House -- New Mexico -- 01
House -- New Mexico -- 02
House -- New York -- 13
House -- New York -- 15
House -- New York -- 20
House -- New York -- 21
House -- New York -- 23
House -- New York -- 24
House -- New York -- 25
House -- New York -- 26
House -- New York -- 29
House -- North Carolina -- 03
House -- North Carolina -- 08
House -- North Carolina -- 10
House -- North Dakota
House -- Ohio -- 01
House -- Ohio -- 02
House -- Ohio -- 05
House -- Ohio -- 07
House -- Ohio -- 10
House -- Ohio -- 15
House -- Ohio -- 16
House -- Oklahoma -- 05
House -- Oregon -- 05
House -- Pennsylvania -- 03
House -- Pennsylvania -- 04
House -- Pennsylvania -- 06
House -- Pennsylvania -- 10
House -- Pennsylvania -- 11
House -- Pennsylvania -- 12
House -- Pennsylvania -- 15
House -- South Carolina -- 01
House -- South Carolina -- 02
House -- South Carolina -- 05
House -- South Dakota
House -- Tennessee -- 07
House -- Tennessee -- 08
House -- Tennessee -- 09
House -- Texas -- 07
House -- Texas -- 10
House -- Texas -- 14
House -- Texas -- 22
House -- Utah -- 03
House -- Virginia -- 01
House -- Virginia -- 05
House -- Virginia -- 09
House -- Virginia -- 11
House -- Washington -- 08
House -- West Virginia -- 02
House -- Wisconsin -- 08
House -- Wyoming
Inauguration 2009
International
Issues
Judiciary
Local Elections
Media
Miscellaneous
Morning Thoughts
Politics Weekly
Polls
Rankings
Republicans
Senate
Senate -- Alaska
Senate -- Arizona
Senate -- Arkansas
Senate -- California
Senate -- Colorado
Senate -- Connecticut
Senate -- Delaware
Senate -- Florida
Senate -- Georgia
Senate -- Idaho
Senate -- Illinois
Senate -- Indiana
Senate -- Iowa
Senate -- Kansas
Senate -- Kentucky
Senate -- Louisiana
Senate -- Maine
Senate -- Massachusetts
Senate -- Minnesota
Senate -- Mississippi
Senate -- Missouri
Senate -- Montana
Senate -- Nebraska
Senate -- Nevada
Senate -- New Hampshire
Senate -- New Jersey
Senate -- New Mexico
Senate -- New York
Senate -- North Carolina
Senate -- North Dakota
Senate -- Ohio
Senate -- Oklahoma
Senate -- Oregon
Senate -- Pennsylvania
Senate -- South Carolina
Senate -- South Dakota
Senate -- Tennessee
Senate -- Texas
Senate -- Utah
Senate -- Virginia
Senate -- Wisconsin
Senate -- Wyoming
Sports
Supreme Court
WH 08
WH 08 -- Democrats
WH 08 -- Republicans
WH 12
WH 12 -- Republicans
White House

 

« Landrieu Leads LA | Blog Home Page | Dem Debate Lacks Clear Winner »

Dems' Purgatory Of Nomentum

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton meet on stage tonight for their first and only debate in Pennsylvania since early November, and their last before Keystone State voters head to the polls on Tuesday, both candidates will try and gain crucial and much-needed momentum. Since their last meeting, before the March 4 primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, the Democratic race has devolved into a chaos of mudslinging, and neither candidate has been able to seize a permanent and crushing upper hand. At the moment, the Democratic race is a contest of no-mentum.

For Clinton, that lack of positive movement has been excruciating, approaching the death of her candidacy by a thousand cuts. Since the March 4 primaries, Clinton, whose rationale for staying in the race hinges on convincing super delegates to give her the nomination at the convention in Denver, has picked up just nine party leaders with automatic votes at a convention. Obama has picked up at least twenty-two in the same period, including such big names as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and North Carolina Reps. Mel Watt and David Price, who endorsed the Illinois Senator today.

Too, while Clinton's strategy of convincing those super delegates that Obama would lose to Republican nominee John McCain in the Fall is gaining some traction, the Clinton campaign is the wrong messenger, and because of her attacks on Obama's record and rhetoric, the New York Senator has seen her unfavorable ratings jump through the roof. An ABC News/Washington Post poll out today shows Clinton's favorable rating at just 44%, down fourteen points since January; her unfavorable marks are up a corresponding fourteen points, to 54%. Both numbers are significantly worse than those of McCain or Obama.

Obama has not had an easy time closing the deal, either. To be sure, Obama leads the race for pledged delegates to the Democratic convention by a wide and virtually insurmountable margin. After a month and a half of stories involving Obama's relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, one tinged with racial overtones with which the candidate would rather not deal, and almost a week of non-stop talk of his controversial comments at a San Francisco fundraiser, some Democrats have voiced concern that Clinton might be right, and that the candidate who seemed above reproach is in fact as flawed as any other politician.

The Obama team has made its mistakes as well. An advertisement that was running on Pennsylvania stations as late as yesterday claimed that Obama is the only candidate who doesn't take money from oil companies, which allowed the Clinton campaign to point out, correctly, that no candidate can take money from corporations -- a political point scored, albeit a minor one, but it gave Clinton the opportunity to once again play the victim, a role to which she is uniquely suited and experienced. Obama's campaign has also failed to show it can slam the door on harmful stories, whether they involve Wright or the comments in which Obama seemed to imply that small-town bitterness leads to citizens lower on the economic totem pole clinging to their guns, their god and their prejudices.

Both fiascoes were spread around as quickly and as widely as possible by the Clinton campaign, to be sure, and Obama answered both with reasonable explanations. On Wright's comments, a well-received speech in Philadelphia seemed to fully explain his thoughts on the Reverend's comments that many found offensive; and though he has largely stuck to the general point of his remarks in San Francisco, which Clinton and McCain labeled as elitist comments, Obama has apologized for his word choice and sought to more fully explain what he meant. But here we are, weeks (in one case) and days (in the other) later, still talking about Jeremiah Wright and bitter Pennsylvanians.

Clinton, who should have been poised to capitalize on the stumbles of a rookie candidate, had troubles of her own, and like Obama's, her campaign has been unable to get out from under the weight of a foolish comment. Clinton's claim that she landed in a war zone in Bosnia under sniper fire -- a tale quickly exposed as false, complete with footage of a young girl greeting her at the airport -- continues to crop up, no thanks to her husband, who brought the topic up unexpectedly at a series of rallies in Indiana last week.

That scene, news footage of the girl meeting Clinton at the airport, brings to mind a surprisingly apropos metaphor: In "Wag the Dog," a fake war in Albania is launched to divert attention from a presidential sex scandal. One scene depicts the duplicitous president meeting an Albanian grandmother and her granddaughter, both refugees, at an airport. The parallel is telling of Clinton's larger problem: She is seen as just as conniving as many felt her husband was, and in fact she takes the blame that some thought wouldn't stick to him, but she gets none of the breaks he ever did. Americans who trusted Bill Clinton do not now trust his wife. The same Washington Post poll shows just 39% say they think Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy, while 58% disagree.

Again, though, Obama has been unable to seal the deal. Despite a strong comeback in Pennsylvania -- he cut Clinton's lead in the RCP Pennsylvania Average from nearly 17 points in mid-March to just six points last week -- his last-minute charge has stalled as he reached what looks like his ceiling in the Democratic primary. Just one polling firm used in RCP Averages has shown Obama reaching 45%. Clinton, meanwhile, has peaked at 56% in several polls going back several weeks. Obama has been unable to break through his apex despite outspending Clinton in television advertising by a factor of at least four.

Tonight, Democratic voters in Pennsylvania will see two candidates who have stalled and are looking for something to get them started again. Keystoners will have the opportunity to move the contest to other states and give Clinton a boost with a big win, or to end the primary by delivering a majority of their votes to Obama. But if voters are faced with two choices who can't seem to avoid a serious gaffe on what seems like a weekly basis, they may do neither. If Clinton wins a narrow victory, the purgatory of no-mentum will slouch unbroken toward May 6 contests in North Carolina and Indiana.