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Posted by on Jun 3, 2008 in Politics | 6 comments

Expected Parade Of Superdelegates To Obama Begins Amid Weak Finish

The long-predicted parade of Democratic party superdelegates to front-runner Senator Barack Obama has now begun — but it’s happening during a period when Obama’s campaign is ending its campaign with a relatively weak finish.

According to MSNBC’s First read, the line of superdelegates who are expected to either push Obama over the top by the end of the weak or very close to it began in earnest today:

Might this be the start of a potential flood. Water is under the door. The towels are down.

Obama’s picked up six in the superdelegate count so far today. He got 3.5 of those between 11:15 a.m. and noon — CA John A. Perez, MA John Olver, and three from Michigan — Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Debbie Dingell, and Rick Wiener. (Keep in mind, those Michigan delegates count for half.) Dingell’s husband, Rep. John Dingell, is a Clinton endorser.

We reported on 2.5 in First Thoughts — Rep. Jim Clyburn, who came out officially for Obama on TODAY, as well as Michigan superdelegate Joyce Lalonde (half vote) and Missouri’s Maria Chapelle-Nadal.

As far as those Edwards pledged delegates, the remaining two in Iowa will likely announce their choice today…..

According to The Politico,
the superdelegate flow is expected to be a virtual “tsunami” in coming days…

But Obama has a big problem: in recent weeks Obama has not been a political bulldozer at the polls but shown noted vulnerabilities (as has Clinton).
The Boston Globe notes:

But even as Hillary Clinton sends mixed signals about her willingness to leave the race, Obama, unlike his counterparts in recent presidential cycles, is not exactly sprinting across the finish line.

Over the last three months, the Illinois senator has won six of 14 contests, one less than the seven Clinton has won. (They essentially tied in Texas as she won the primary and he won the caucus.) A loss to Clinton in either primary today would underscore Obama’s relatively weak finish and make his narrow victory over the New York senator slimmer.

“Usually there’s this I-want-to-be-with-the-winner mentality, and you’re not seeing that this time,” said David Johnson, a Republican pollster who heads the firm Strategic Vision.

Obama and his supporters contend that victory is victory, and that the nomination contest has always been a race for delegates. But some analysts say his less-than-overwhelming recent showing signals trouble – or at least hurdles – as he begins a general election campaign against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.

“To me it indicates he’s weaker than people would hope,” said Harwood McClerking, a political scientist at Ohio State University. “I was surprised that he’s been regularly losing over the last month-and-a-half when people had given him the election.”

But the Globe’s piece also notes that both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan lost victories at the end of their primary seasons and both went on to win election to the White House.

The are several problems staring Obama — and the Democratic party — in the face:

1. He has shown to be vulnerable at the polls. He still has problems with blue collar workers.

2. He has shown a great weakness among Hispanic voters.

3. The Democratic party remains hideously divided with almost mirror-image accusatory fingers pointing at each respective political camp (“sexist..”….”racist…”).

4. There are continuing signs that Hillary Clinton’s campaign won’t just fold up within a few days but remain in the wings waiting for some event that would cause Obama to self-destruct such as a major gaffe, something unsavory coming out about his background or some new “bombshell”
(such continued rumors about a video tape showing his wife talking at their ex-church — but if such a tape surfaced before the Democratic convention many Democrats and the news media would attribute it to being from Clinton op research and it could backfire).

5. The Republicans are making repeated appeals to angry Clinton voters. GOP likely nominee John McCain pointedly praised Hillary Clinton yesterday. And Marc Ambinder reports that the GOP is about to send out a memo painting the Democratic party as a party in chaos with Clinton voters ready to vote for McCain. Ambinder adds that the Obama people are confident they party will unify once the nominee is clear.

Even so, if Clinton had been the nominee there would be another set of problems and other vulnerabilities, since both campaigns have their own coalitions.

The brutal fact:
although it is now a political cliche to say “the campaign has strengthened the party and its candidates” in fact the campaign has left both Obama and Clinton far weaker than they were in terms of broad party appeal and national imagery than they were when it started. And Republicans are breathing easier than they did months ago.

It’s all the more reason why the parade of superdelegates who want to shore up the party and get ready for what promises to be a tooth-and-nail battle with the GOP is likely to continue.

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