MR. RUSSERT: "He helped put Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House in 1992: Democrat James Carville. She worked for Bush 41, Bush 43 and Dick Cheney: Republican Mary Matalin. He worked for John McCain on his 2000 presidential campaign: Republican Mike Murphy. And he worked for Kerry, Gore and Barack Obama's key supporter Ted Kennedy: Democrat Bob Shrum. The very latest polls, strategies and issues. The race for the White House through the eyes of Carville, Matalin, Murphy and Shrum, only on MEET THE PRESS." - [Transcript]
While "Conventional Wisdom" has Obama pulling a victory out of Texas, if Texas turns into New Hampshire Redux - Mike Murphy knows the reason why:
"She's got one thing working for her, that is the near death experience phenomena this year - every time it looks like the perils of Pauline., the trains coming, she has a rescue." - Mike Murphy
Remember New Hampshire? - Obama up by 10 points in the polls the night before the primary, with Olbermann, Matthews and the media in general fawning and falling all over themselves waxing poetic about a new dawn for America and virtually conceding the primary and nomination to Obama - right up to the minute that the votes were counted and Clinton declared the winner. There was lot of speculation of what moved the voters and changed the votes those last days. Was it - The Clinton tears? The sympathetic woman vote? The humanization of Hillary? Hillary "finding her voice"? - I think it is none of these, but a variation of Murphy's observation. What moved the vote, was the specter of the nomination process ending in New Hampshire.
This is the dynamic - Clinton is such a polarizing personality, that if a primary is perceived by voters as a popularity contest, or even just a mechanism for allocating delegates, Obama wins. If, in the voting booth, the voter is simply answering the question "Who do I like better?" - they tend to vote for Obama. It is only when the voter clearly understands that they are voting for the end of the 2008 Democratic party selection process, that the dynamic changes. When a vote for Obama is a vote to end the Clinton campaign, the personality and likability preferences are swept away and voters face different, tougher questions:
- "Am I certain that Obama is the best choice to lead the party?"
- "Do I understand what an Obama presidency would actually be like?"
- "Are we really ready to decide or would we prefer the the process continue?"
- "Should we or should we not look at this choice a little longer?"
He was making sure they understood that a vote for Obama was a vote to stop looking and evaluating - the exact message that changed the vote in New Hampshire. James Carville then explained the significance if she does win both.
"If she wins Texas and Ohio, I think she will be the nominee. If you don’t deliver for her then I don’t think she can be. It’s all on you.”
Absolutely correct. This is what I have been saying here and in comments on other blogs. With a Clinton win in Ohio and Texas, the narrative, The Story, becomes more important than the elected delegate total. That said, it is appropriate to paraphrase an infamous Clintonian parsing and state: It depends on the what the definition of “win” is. What exactly does it mean to "win" in the byzantine undemocratic process that is the Texas primary/caucus?
"If she wins both, it changes the narrative, then she has a real case to make. She is coming back." - James Carville
In this context, the popular vote in Texas is the sole determinant of victory. Not delegates and not caucus results. As long as she wins the popular vote The Story stays intact. The Story is all that matters to her campaign now. The Story that Clinton wins all the big states except Illinois. The Story that momentum has shifted. The Story that Hillary Clinton is the new "comeback kid". That story is all that is needed to provide political cover for the superdelegates to vote for Clinton at the convention. Even a 200 elected delegate lead for Obama is the equivalent of a dead even tie, as long as The Story is intact.
Mary Matlin refines The Story with an interesting embellishment.
"If she wins both states, even fractionally, she can say he [Obama] can't close the deal." - Mary MatlinFinally, while Bob Shrum agrees this is the last stand, he puts the contest in the context of a generational transition:
Where have I heard this before? Ah - I remember - it was me. The generational nature of Obama's campaign is a theme I was pounding in my August 20,2007 post "Obama's core constituency - not racial, not geographic, but generational" and even earlier when he announced his campaign "Obama declares candidacy for Vice-President & launches pre-emptive strike on Boomers".
"...what we're really seeing is a generational struggle inside the Democratic Party. We've seen this before... And there's a huge fight going on inside the party, I think, between the old order and an emerging new order. And I don't know how it's going to be resolved. I think it's very, very close. I do believe Bill Clinton was right: She must win both of these." - Bob Shrum
Certainly if The Story unravels, and she loses the popular vote in Texas, the game is over. But I still find it hard to believe that Boomers are going to step into that voting booth and say - Bill Clinton and George W Bush will be the sole boomer representatives in the White House.
My view - If this is indeed a generational struggle, it is not yet time for the Boomers to pass the torch.