Monday, May 12, 2008

Hillary's Rovian Strategy: Divide and Conquer

“I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,” Hillary Clinton said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

The implication of these comments is that working class, white voters are more significant than other Democratic constituencies because of their likelihood to be swing voters in the Presidential election. However, the subtext is eerily similar to the Bush campaigns of 2000 and 2004, to stir divisions in the up coming primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky, where Clinton needs to win by huge margins to keep the race going. Her only hope is to have a party that remains bitterly divided, rather than rallying around a presumptive nominee in Barack Obama.

Firstly, I find myself wishing to echo Donna Brazile's sentiments that the very last thing Democratic leaders should be doing is dividing the electorate further, while suggesting that certain types of voters are more important than others. It is so insulting to the many millions of people that have voted for Obama, that somehow super-delegates should consider their votes less important because they are either African American, or college educated, and these are constituencies that the DNC can take for granted in the Fall.

Secondly, yes, Obama has his weaknesses electorally, but so does Hillary. If anything her weaknesses have far graver implications because she directly compensates for McCain's principal weakness, his inability to motivate the Conservative base in his own party.

I can just imagine the headlines on Drudge and the non stop anti-Hillary barrage on talk radio from August through November if she was the nominee. This will make a huge difference in motivating hardcore Republicans who have problems with McCain on issues like immigration.

The issue for super-delegates should not be who votes for whom, but rather how many vote for whom, and the indisputable reality remains:

Obama is just as competitive as Hillary in national polls against McCain, while he has considerably more room for improvement than she does. He has, so far, won the pledged delegate race, super delegate race, popular vote race, and more states than Hillary. In fact, he has won more votes in a Democratic primary than anyone else in the history of the party.

It is impossible for Hillary to close the gap in pledged delegates. Reports suggest that Obama will at least equal her super-delegate support. And finally, with an 800,000 popular vote margin, and even counting Florida (300,000 votes NET for Clinton) it's almost impossible to see where she can make up that gap.

It is clear that Hillary is willing to utilize any possible metric to establish victory, however, it's incredulous to argue that Obama's electability is any worse than hers. But, the intention of her campaign is not to make a fair assessment of the reality of this race. The intention of her campaign is to inflame the bitterness amongst the electorate and augment her support as a consequence. It's the only way that she can make it to the convention in August.

So as you watch the news over the coming weeks and digest the latest antagonisms from Hillary Clinton keep in mind she has only one objective right now:

Prevent the party unifying around Barack Obama by feeding into and perpetuating the division amongst the voters. It's a strategy right out of the Karl Rove playbook, and ironically, it's a strategy that Dick Morris would probably be proud to call his own.

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