Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who's Bitter Now?

Barack Obama has a 95% chance of being the Democrats' nominee for president, writes Charlie Cook in the National Journal.

That's precisely what Cook said last week, before the furor over Obama's "bitter" remark. And, even though Cook concedes that Obama can be kept from winning the nomination, it will take regular setbacks like that for another month or so to do so.

"Alone, this incident is hardly enough to derail Obama's nomination," says Cook. "It would take much more than that. While Obama's delegate lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is not large, it is very difficult to overcome given how few states are left to vote, how hard it is to close a gap under the Democrats' proportional representation system and that the remaining undecided superdelegates hardly seem ready to march lock step into the Clinton column."

Currently, Cook's estimates indicate the nomination is not in jeopardy. But winning the nomination is only part of the battle.

"Even a cursory look at the national and state-by-state polling shows that voters are predisposed to vote Democratic and vote for change this year," Cook writes. "But swing voters have to be comfortable with the change they are asked to make. For undecided voters being asked to support a 46-year-old black man with a relatively thin résumé on the national or statewide level, this kind of story does not make them comfortable."

John Judis contends, in The New Republic, that Obama may well be the one who's bitter when the drama finishses playing itself out.

"Along with the revelations about Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright," writes Judis, "his remarks in San Francisco will haunt him not only in the upcoming primaries in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia, but also in the general election against John McCain, assuming he gets the Democratic nomination."

The problems that have been plaguing Obama are of his own making.

"Obama does have an astounding eloquence and an ability to put a position across," says a clearly concerned Judis, "but that eloquence has been reserved largely for anti-war and good-government positions. ... [W]here McCain is most vulnerable and where voters are most likely to smile on a Democrat -- on everyday economic issues -- Obama's heart doesn't appear to be in it."

The Democrats debate in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. If I were you, I'd watch.

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