One year ago it was a foregone conclusion. The 2008 Democratic nomination was New York Senator Hillary Clinton’s to win. Not only was she the favorite for her party’s nomination, she was considered a shoe in for the White House, given the unpopularity of the current republican president. What a difference a year has made! As we stand today, after the Indiana and North Carolina Primaries, the New York Senator needs a near miracle to capture that nomination. With her victory in Indiana and loss in North Carolina she broke less than even for the night, and could not cut into Barack Obama's delegate lead. Obama now seems destined to the prize. The contest between the two threatens to split the party and it is likely that Clinton's intention to fight to the end will keep the Republicans in the executive office. What once were happy visions of a sweeping November victory have turned to worries and fears of defeat for the Democrats..
Leading in the polls and having raised the most money, Mrs. Clinton had a huge advantage as we began this year. Once people began to cast votes in the first week of January, she was knocked off her front-runner status with the Iowa Caucuses, where Clinton finished a dismal third to Obama and John Edwards. Barack Obama’s campaign took off, and at one time, he won thirteen primaries/caucuses in a row.
Was the average democratic voter tired of the Clinton name? Where they attracted to a new and fresh face that offer hope in their eyes? To most Democratic voters, the answer was 'yes.' Obamamania knocked Hillary Clinton down to earth, and we found she had some real weaknesses. She misspoke often, for example at a campaign rally in March, she told the crowd she was under sniper fire during a 1996 visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Weeks after her speech video footage proved it to be untrue, and the New York Senator had to eat her words. Consistently at her rallies Clinton often cites her time as First Lady as political experience for seeking the oval office. That tune falls on deaf ears to many voters.
His Super Tuesday victories launched Barack Obama on his way to the democratic nomination. But like the lady who he replaced as the front runner, Obama proved to be human and make some mistakes that threatened to derail him. At the top of that list is the Reverend Wright controversy.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright was Barack Obama’s Pastor for twenty years. The reverend married the Illinois Senator and his wife, and baptized his two children. Obama even titled his book from one of Wright’s Sunday sermons. Some of Wright’s sermons have been video taped, and they show him as an angry black man, making all kinds of outlandish claims. Among the things the Reverend believes is that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks and created the aids virus to eliminate the black race. One easily concludes that he does not like the United States very much.
That miracle Hillary is hoping for may not be not much of a long shot. Obama has not been quick to condemn Wright’s comments. In the minds of many Americans, the choice of a spiritual guide, such as a pastor, is very important. Many are correct to wonder if he may share some of the same opinions he does as he has been a member of Wright's congregation for twenty years. Clinton gained a little traction with her opponent's slip up. Is it still possible she could win?
He answer could lie with the superdelegates. Superdelegates were created by the Democratic Party to ensure democratic leaders a choice in the nominating process. The 796 superdelegates are officials in the party, such as senators, congressman and state legislators. They are not selected by voters in the regular primary or caucus process, and need not be bound to vote in a particular way. By the end of June, when all the states have chosen their delegates, both candidates will not have the required number to win the nomination. It is up to the super 796 to make the final decision. This gives Clinton, the wife of a former president, a bit of an advantage since her connections run deeper than Obama's in the party. The wish is to have those party officials perceive that Clinton is the better choice for the Democrats.
Barack Obama will be leading in the delegate count before the convention. Would the party be so bold to choose Clinton by the superdelegates? Given his recent weaknesses and Clinton's successes in the latest primaries, that reality is not such a long shot. If that happens there are sure to be near riots. The Obama supporters and the black community would never vote for Clinton in November. By the same token, how likely are Clinton voters going to be Obama supporters in the fall, if he is chosen?
Another issue that must be addressed before the Democratic Convention is the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegation. Both states broke party rules and moved their primaries to February. As a penalty, the Democratic Party has banned them from the convention, and will not seat their delegates. The decision was made at the time when Clinton was the perceived nominee, and the New York Senator would not need those delegates to win. But once the year got going and the Obama express was rolling, the Clinton Campaign keeps mentioning these states since she could use those delegates to cut the margin. Clinton won both states. Obama’s name was not on the ballot in Michigan. Those voters should be heard and seating them would give Clinton more hope, however, clearly, that would be unfair to the Illinois Senator. This dilemma will have to be resolved before choosing the nominee. It could be another factor in Clinton's favor if they were allowed in the convention.
Historically when there is a fierce battle between two candidates within the party, a split occurs, and the party will lose the general election. The longer the Democratic Nomination remains undecided, the better the chance Republican John McCain will be the next president. Twelve months ago democrats would never imagine that they are destined to defeat in November.
With their superdelegate rules and the all the candidates weaknesses the overconfident Democrats have slit their throats. Their whole system is flawed. If the superdelegates select the candidate that did not receive the most votes, it would be like why even have all the Presidential Primaries in the first place? Both Obama and Clinton have shown that they will have trouble appealing to all voters. They appear to be much weaker candidates than the party hoped for. The Democrats must reconcile, compromise, chose a candidate and unite right this second. Fortunately for John McCain and the Republicans that is unlikely since, given their egos, both Clinton and Obama will fight to the end. The Democrats will only have to look in the mirror for blame when they lose in November.