Hillary’s lost – but will she concede?

by Stephen Tall on May 7, 2008

The results of the Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina look certain to end Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for the White House: Senator Barack Obama is now the presumptive nominee of his party.

Though Clinton won ‘blue-collar’ Indiana, the wafer-thin 51%-49% margin severely undermines her claim that only she can appeal to the voters who will likely decide this November’s general election match-up with the Republican’s Senator John McCain. That Obama cruised to victory in North Carolina by a larger-than-expected 14% will serve to pile further pressure on Clinton to withdraw her candidacy imminently and gracefully to allow the Democratic party to unite against McCain. It is now impossible for her to overhaul Obama’s lead, either in the popular vote or pledged delegates, as even her campaign team accepts. Over the next couple of days, more and more superdelegates are expected to declare for Obama.

Until now, Clinton has been able to justify staying in the contest on the grounds that all the American people deserve to have a say through the primary-process about who should be the Democratic nominee. Now they’ve made their choice, and opted for her opponent, she’ll need to turn that on its head, and argue that the superdelegates must overturn the popular verdict. It was a tough sell before the Indiana result was known: it’ll be next-to impossible now.

The question, then, is not if but when – and how. Will Clinton fight through the final remaining primaries in June? Would she be prepared to drag the process on into the Democratic party’s August convention? No-one can order her to stop (though a joint request from Jimmy Carter and Al Gore on behalf of the party has been mooted and would surely hammer in the final nail). The question she must be asking herself today is: where do I go from here? Because the answer to that will determine her next move.

Does she see her career now in the Senate? Does she want to pitch for the Vice-President ticket with Obama? Or does she want to run again, either in 2012 (if Obama loses) or even 2016 (if he wins)? In any of those eventualities, she’s going to need the goodwill, and money, of Democratic activists, voters and donors. It’s hard to see how they will gain a more favourable view of her if she prolongs the party’s primary process unnecessarily. The end-game is here.

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….And the fragmentation of the Democrat’s core vote continues apace. Exit polls have now flipped over with more Hillary supporters likely to vote McCain if Obama wins than the other way round but either way there is a significant minority of people who the Democrats are going to lose.

If she fights on (and she most likely will) then she has the prospect of two relatively easy wins coming-up. What will happen is that she will fight until the end of the primaries then she will have to decide whether to push the Michigan and Florida issue. The real question she needs to be asking is who does she care about more…herself or her party…every indication is that the answer is the former not the latter.

by Darrell on May 7, 2008 at 2:32 pm. Reply #

She’s flying back to Washington to consider her next moves with her advisors and, rather conspicuously, has failed to do the usual post-primary round of the morning US TV programmes.

And Billy boy looked very grim last night at her “victory” parade.

And apparently a very large promised donation was withdrawn overnight after the poor showing yesterday.

The penny may have finally dropped….or perhaps she hasn’t got a penny to drop due to her poor financial situation…..in which case it will drop metaphorically anyway….

by Paul Walter on May 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm. Reply #

I’m glad that the Democratic primaries aren’t decided in the UK.

by Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm. Reply #

Could the Democrats ever forgive Hillary for overturning the democratic will of the voters? I think not – think Florida in 2000!

by Ross Chmiel on May 7, 2008 at 3:22 pm. Reply #

What do people here see in Obama? He doesn’t have substance at all. I don’t agree with everything Hillary has said, but at least I know what I get. Obama is just about impressions, without any actual program.

by Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 3:26 pm. Reply #

The conspiracy theorist would say that Clinton will go all the way… as far as possible… so as to ensure that even if she cant get it via another Rev J Wright outburst then at least Obama will be crippled and will lose to McCain.

Personally I think she will go as far as necessary to force herself into the VP. I also think that would be a disaster!

by Mark Wright on May 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm. Reply #

I dont think saying she would wreck Obama is a ‘conspiracy theory’ it is grounded in her character and the wrecking ball attacks she has used on Obama thus far which have shown to be honest that she values her own career prospects higher than the premium she puts on getting a Democrat in the White House. This is the widespread feeling i think amoung Obama supporters and with some justification – she’s lashed out at just about everything including organisations like Move On which shows shes more than willing to attack the sections of her own party that dont support her.

by Darrell on May 7, 2008 at 5:52 pm. Reply #

I can’t see Clinton ever accepting the Veep spot, however if I was Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) I’d be looking over my shoulder.

by Ross Chmiel on May 7, 2008 at 9:42 pm. Reply #

She’s come this far – would it be so bad to go all the way to South Dakota and let the last six primaries have the chance to have their say? And then gracefully concede after the final vote?

by Tim Roll-Pickering on May 8, 2008 at 12:20 am. Reply #

It’s reached the end point for many in the Democratic party heirarchy.

Essentially because the only way for Hilary to win is to go to the convention and overturn the votes by engineering a majority from the superdelegates and pushing for Florida / Michigan to be allowed to vote (however unrepresentative they may be) its not going to be allopwed to happen that way.

The party leaders know that would certainly wreck the party and she still mightn’t win.

They will try and get her to exit now to at least give a chance for the convention and build up to be a reunifying process.

Wait for the weekend or latest next week’s primaries.

by Paul L on May 8, 2008 at 10:25 am. Reply #

The superdelegates appear to be steadily moving in Obama’s direction anyway. He will probably have overtaken her within a week.

by Neil on May 8, 2008 at 12:27 pm. Reply #

Counting Florida’s votes would be questionable, Counting Michigans would be unconscionable as Obama wasn’t even on the ballot there.

BTW on every measure now except delgate counts including both Florida and Michigan Obaman leads. Even if you take vote share, counting Hilary’s votes but not classing “unaligned” as Obama’s for Michigan.

The only thing missing now is Kenneth Wolstenholme 🙂

by Hywel Morgan on May 8, 2008 at 2:09 pm. Reply #

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