is clinton winning by losing

Hillary Clinton’s best chance lay in Barack Obama’s immense popularity. At first blush, that seems a bit absurd.

Hillary Clinton’s best chance lay in Barack Obama’s immense popularity.

At first blush, that seems a bit absurd. After all, it is Obama’s wave of popular support that has him in the frontrunner position and on the cusp of snatching the nomination away from Clinton after years as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

And yet, here we are, less than two weeks from the Pennsylvania primary, and it is Obama’s popularity that is creating a huge opportunity for Clinton.

After squeaking out a popular vote win in Texas and posting a double-digit win in Ohio, Clinton was poised to win Pennsylvania by as much as 25 percentage points.

The outcome was such a foregone conclusion, that the media started pointing to the Indiana and North Carolina primaries as the real storyline.

Then, a funny thing happened.

Obama started closing the gap in Pennsylvania. Despite the Rev. Wright YouTube fracas and helped by the admission that Clinton “misspoke” about sniper fire in Bosnia, that 26-point lead collapsed.

Polls over the past two weeks have shown the gap narrowing to an average of about six points, with many polls showing Obama in a statistical dead heat.

The Keystone State is suddenly a race.

And that’s where the problem lies for Obama — he has raised expectations in Pennsylvania and made it a state that he can win. And because of the perception of his upward momentum, he has made it a state that some feel he should win.

It’s the Ohio scenario all over again.

In that state, Clinton had a huge lead, only to see it evaporate as Obama wracked up his 11 straight primary wins. But by the time the actual primary rolled around, she managed a double-digit victory and was propelled forward on a wave of improbable momentum.

As recently as February 2nd, there were numerous polls showing Clinton with a 21-point lead in Ohio. Yet, only a month later, she wins by 10 per cent and it’s seen as a huge victory.

In Pennsylvania, the cycle is repeating itself.

Obama has closed the gap in Pennsylvania and raised expectations that he can finish Clinton off on April 22nd. All sides tend to agree (even though Clinton won’t say it) that if Obama wins Pennsylvania, he will be the nominee. Either Clinton will drop out or the superdelegates will flood towards Obama, putting him over the top for the nomination.

But folks, including myself, may have been getting ahead of themselves.

After all, polls tend to catch people at a particular moment, and that moment is not in the voting booth. It is, by necessity, before a voter makes a final decision.

Even more maddening is that polls are out of date the moment they are taken. That is, polls tend to capture moments that make up a larger trend, and as such, no particular poll can be relied on. They need to be viewed on a continuum over time.

And the continuum isn’t good for Obama. He started way behind, closed the gap to a tie but is now falling back again. Insider Advantage shows Clinton with a 10-point lead, while Time shows a six-point lead and Strategic Vision shows a five-point lead.

Once again, these are just snapshots and there are other polls showing different results, but recent numbers do suggest the beginning of a trend back towards Clinton.

There is still plenty of time for Obama to close the deal and bury Clinton, but if he doesn’t and if she ends up winning by double-digits, he could face some uncomfortable questions.

The Obama camp will be forced to make the argument that she should have won by more, just as they did after Texas and Ohio.

And by extension, they will be feeding Clinton’s message that Obama can’t close the deal and win a big state.

A 10-point Clinton victory won’t change the numbers in any big way, but it will mean that he has lost his last chance to force her out. She will go on to win Indiana and he will be in a must-win situation in North Carolina.

In reality, we will be in the exact same position as we were on March 5th, after Clinton’s two wins in Ohio and Texas. But because the shift in expectations that his popularity spawned, it will look like a bit of a revival for Clinton.

I doubt Clinton will send him a thank-you note, if things work out this way. But she should.

Michael Hale is a former journalist and political hack who is starting to think of Hillary Clinton as one of those blow up punching dolls that you can never keep down.

You can read his blog at north60hale.blogspot.com

 

Just Posted

The Yukon has confirmed 33 active COVID-19 cases on June 15. (file photo)
A new study has discovered beaver castoreum on a 6,000-year-old Yukon atlatl-throwing dart. Photo courtesy of Yukon Government.
Beaver casotreum residue found on 6,000-year-old atlatl throwing dart

The discovery of beaver castoreum on a throwing dart could be the first instance where its use has been identified in an ancient archaeological context

The Yukon’s current outbreak of COVID-19 is driven by close contact between people at gatherings, such as graduation parties. (Black Press file)
Yukon logs 21 active cases as COVID-19 spreads through graduation parties

Anyone who attended a graduation party is being asked to monitor themselves for symptoms.

Yukon RCMP and other emergency responders were on the scene of a collision at Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway on June 12. (Black Press file)
June 12 collision sends several to hospital

The intersection at Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway was closed… Continue reading

The sun sets over Iqaluit on Oct. 26, 2020. Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle school came from household transmission and the risk to other students is low. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Iqaluit school’s contacts and classmates cleared after two COVID-19 cases

With an outbreak ongoing in Iqaluit, the Aqsarniit middle school has split students into two groups

An extended range impact weapon is a “less lethal” option that fires sponge or silicon-tipped rounds, according to RCMP. (File photo)
Whitehorse RCMP under investigation for use of “less lethal” projectile weapon during arrest

Police used the weapon to subdue a hatchet-wielding woman on June 4

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents.
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

The move comes in response to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015

Teslin Lake is one of two bodies of water the Yukon Government has place on flood watch. (Google Maps Image)
Flood watch issued for Teslin Lake, Yukon River at Carmacks

The bodies of water may soon burst their banks due to melting snow and rainfall

Kluane Adamek, AFN Yukon’s regional chief, has signalled a postponement to a graduation ceremony scheduled for today due to COVID-19. She is seen here in her Whitehorse office on March 17. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
AFN Yukon’s post-secondary grad celebration postponed

The event scheduled for June 14 will be rescheduled when deemed safe

(Alexandra Newbould/Canadian Press)
In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on.
Terror charges laid against man accused in London attack against Muslim family

Liam Casey Canadian Press A vehicle attack against a Muslim family in… Continue reading

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, poses for a portrait in the boardroom outside his office in Iqaluit, Nunavut, on Sept. 30, 2020. (Emma Tranter/Canadian Press)
Two cases of COVID-19 at Iqaluit school, 9 active in Nunavut

Nunavut’s chief public health officer says two COVID-19 cases at Iqaluit’s middle… Continue reading

The Village of Carmacks has received federal funding for an updated asset management plan. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Federal funding coming to Carmacks

The program is aimed at helping municipalities improve planning and decision-making around infrastructure

Most Read