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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Convenient Omission in Mark Penn’s Analysis

posted by on February 14 at 3:20 AM

Mark Penn, chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has an article up at Real Clear Politics where he argues that Clinton is still on the way to winning the nomination.

However, there’s a major hang up with his analysis that unwittingly shows why Obama is better positioned to win.

He ends his argument like this:

As history shows, the Democratic nomination goes to the candidate who wins the most delegates – not the candidate who wins the most states. In 1992, Bill Clinton lost a string of primaries before clinching the nomination. He ceded Iowa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland, Arizona, Washington, Utah, Colorado, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Vermont and South Dakota. Similarly, in 1984, Walter Mondale also lost a series of major primaries before winning the nomination, including New Hampshire, Vermont, Florida, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Colorado, Ohio, and California. And in 1976, Jimmy Carter lost twenty-three states before winning the nomination, including: Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah.

Well, okay. Except in 1992, 1984, and 1976, a single opponent didn’t win all those other states—those wins were divvied up among a number of candidates. In ‘08, a single opponent is racking up all the states Clinton isn’t winning.

In ‘92, Tsongas, Harkin, Kerrey, and Brown scored wins. In ‘08 it’s just Obama. In ‘84, Hart and Jackson scored wins. In ‘08 it’s just Obama. In ‘76, Udall, Jackson, Church, Wallace, Byrd, and Brown registered wins. In ‘08 it’s only Obama.

This bit of info underscores the very thing on Obama’s side: momentum.

Note: ‘84 is Jesse Jackson. ‘76 is Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

RSS icon Comments


I wouldn't say that's a glaring error so much as an intentional ommission.

Posted by johnnie | February 14, 2008 5:03 AM

Good point Josh, but really, 3:20am? Get some sleep, the campaign will still be here in the morning.

Posted by Brooklyn Dave | February 14, 2008 5:07 AM

There is so much banner-waving masquerading as "reporting' going on here, it's ridiculous already. Not naming names, of course, you guys all know who she is.

(It's 2:47 PM here)

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | February 14, 2008 5:48 AM

Josh, spell check: "scored" not "socred"

Posted by Tony | February 14, 2008 7:31 AM

This is going to get interesting to see Hillary go negative against Obama. And trust me they will start to do that big time...

Posted by Andrew | February 14, 2008 7:40 AM
This does not even include Florida and Michigan (where Hillary won 178 delegates), whose votes we believe should be counted.

Of course. It's too bad Hillary can't arrange for a ballot without her opponents' names on it for the general as well - that might give her a fighting chance there, too.

Posted by tsm | February 14, 2008 7:49 AM

#6: Yes, I don't see how Clinton can make the case to "count those votes" when all the names weren't even on the ballot and when many groups were actively telling people not to bother to vote because those primaries wouldn't count.

Honestly, I didn't agree with the DNC on the "punishment" of FL and MI either....but you can't play along and then suddenly change course because you're losing. It could really hurt the party long term and squander this opportunity to take advantage of a splintered GOP.

Posted by Jason | February 14, 2008 8:24 AM

It also misses the point that many of us are sick and tired of business as usual in the Democratic party.

While Obama may be turning out many Independents and returning Reagan Democrats, he's also firing up many of us who are Democratic activists who have become fed up with what happened over the last 15 years in our Party.

Posted by Mickymse | February 14, 2008 8:39 AM

C'mon guys, @6, @7, are you deliberately putting out incorrect information?

All the names were on the ballot in Florida.
All the names were on the ballot in Florida.

REpeat the true, corrected information:
All the names were on the ballot in Florida.

So your posts are incorrect. disinformative. If fact as said by KA they are "banner-waving masquerading as 'reporting''s ridiculous."

And in Fl and MI: no candidate agreed to not try to seat delegates. And NO VOTER AGREED to not have delegates seated.

So there's no violation of a promise in trying to seat delegates, whether OBama tries it or Clinton tries it or the delegates themselves try it or other delegations try it.

LEt's not forget the huge crime that FL and MI committed, too:

they wanted to set their own primary date. They didn't want the 4 little tiny states chosen by the DNC to be all alone up at the front of the schedule.

Wow -- isn't that a horrible, nasty thing to do!

Punish the violators!! They broke the Establishment Insider Party Rules By Which the Insiders Tried to Control the Process.

And get this:

they didn't even come before the first four little tiny states. And in FL, it wasn't even the state party that did it, it was the GOP that deliberately set the primary date knowing this would create division and discord among the National Democratic Party and Florida Democrats.

Division and discord that MR. OBama is only too happy to seize upon and benefit from in an attempt to disenfranchise voters from FL and MI.

Change, hope & unity -- until it it is in his cold old-school political interest to be for Following the Establishment Insider Rules, Taking Away the Hopes of Floridians and Michigans to Be Allwed a Voice, and Creating Division and Discord to get the nomination to win Fame, power and Glory.

But mainly: Power.

Go ahead, call your names, bring out the GOP tar brush. But if you can't show us the agreement that says delegates are not to be seated and if you can't show us that all names were not on the ballot in Florida I would suggest that your principles of hope, unity and fairness would compel you to say:

"It's true that all names were on the Florida ballot and no one agreed to not try to seat the delegates. So, our mistake! We wuz wrong -- Sorry for misleading everybody!"

Posted by unPC | February 14, 2008 8:42 AM

Mark "Microtrends" Penn is just so much a part of the incestuous Washington lobbyist-political complex, it's scary. Here's a rundown of how deep the tentacles extend.

How Hillary can campaign on being the change candidate who takes on Washington when Mark Penn is her top strategist and she was the #2 recipient of health-insurance corporate $ (behind Rick "man-on-dog" Santorum) -- well, it's just beyond me.

Posted by cressona | February 14, 2008 8:49 AM

Good catch, Josh. Penn is a dishonest hack.

Posted by Anon | February 14, 2008 8:59 AM

@9 don't be an ass...

How bout, rephrase, wouldn't Clinton really benefit from a national race in which her opponents did not campaign? It would be wonderful, no? Like if they could be fooled to thinking that the vote didn't count, and then afterwards be like teehee just kidding it does!

Posted by john | February 14, 2008 8:59 AM
REpeat the true, corrected information: All the names were on the ballot in Florida.

And they weren't in Michigan. And you know that well. Honestly, unPC, do you think a single soul doesn't see that you're ready to collapse from the dizziness of all this spin?

Posted by tsm | February 14, 2008 9:16 AM

the more hillary loses the longer his posts are.

tldr sums up what happens.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | February 14, 2008 9:29 AM

UnPC, lots of states have Republicans and Democrats going at it on different days; your argument, and theirs, is specious. Unless you're arguing the Florida voters are easier to confuse than normal people; you might be right there.

Also you are forgetting to mention that Obama won some delegates in those states too, so it's not +183 for Clinton; it's more like +50, if you credit Obama with the very suspicious 40% "uncommitted" vote in Michigan, which seems likely. Obama wasn't even on the ballot! If that contest was held over again, with names, no rational observers think that it would turn out 55-40. And Florida is suspicious also.

You're grasping at straws, and frankly you sound hysterical. Yes, Clinton could still win, but she's going to have to do it herself, by WINNING SOME STATES soon, some big ones, by big margins. Get a grip.

Posted by Fnarf | February 14, 2008 9:34 AM

the thing that strikes me about the clinton campaign's latest strategies in general is just how stuck they seem in the worst kind of race and gender based demographic analysis. from a washington post article:

"Non-college whites are the key," one Democratic strategist noted Wednesday.

i mean who would ever describe themselves this way? and penn hammers the same type of "favorable demographics" in his piece.

i think/hope that, if obama is able to win this, it will mean the end of this kind of grossly simplistic race- and gender-based demographic campaigning and analysis. watching the exit poll breakdowns on cnn the other night seriously made my stomach turn. it seriously creeps me out and, just to note, it's something i have not heard come from the obama camp at all.

Posted by quilsone | February 14, 2008 9:50 AM

I love the part where he says the nomination goes to most delegates, not most states, and then cites examples of people who...won the most states. (Jimmy Carter may have lost 23 states, but, uh, that's not a majority.)

Posted by Cow | February 14, 2008 10:10 AM


It also seems like she gives up on states way too easily -- pretty ridiculous when it's not winner take all. Why didn't she campaign in Georgia? She couldn't have won the state but she could have picked up more delegates.

This is one of the primary reasons I support Obama. I don't see him just giving up large parts of the country to McCain. He might even campaign in all 50 states. Imagine that.

Posted by keshmeshi | February 14, 2008 10:49 AM

I also like how Mark Penn's analysis undercuts another of Hillary's arguments. They demonstrate that Bill won the nomination without winning Massachusetts, Mondale won without Massachusetts and California, and Carter won without Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and California. So their claim that Hillary's wins in the "important" "blue states" of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and California ought to trump Obama's wins in "red" or "purple" states (and small blue states) is a losing argument.

Posted by Erica Peters | February 14, 2008 11:26 AM

Yeah, their entire argument is to try and create a talking point that somehow Obama would not be able to carry those big blue states that she won in the upcoming General and that no Democrat could carry those red states anyway so, "they do not matter." It is also represents the basic DLC strategy of 50% +1 that has serverd us so poorly in the last two elections and makes it harder to elect congressional seats from all those "unimportant" states.

This is one of their many obtuse arguments of late that assumes the general public is stupid enough to believe it. I hope they are wrong.

Posted by ToM | February 16, 2008 6:57 AM

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