Thursday, March 6, 2008

Who Can You Trust? Chuck Todd.

This year, everyone is a political commentator, even fictional characters from 1980s sitcoms.

With all the blather out there, who can you trust for the straight scoop? My choice is MSNBC's Chuck Todd. His title is Political Director, but he is the numbers guy and, as a friend of mine likes to say, "without good data, you're just another asshole with an opinion."

As Todd points out, behind all the hysteria about Tuesday's Clinton comeback are some hard numbers. Hard, that is, for Senator Clinton to overcome.

Delegate totals have to be estimated because it's unclear which super delegates are committed to whom and because the final delegate allocation from Texas isn't known yet, due to the caucus system. But Todd estimates that the net gain for Senator Clinton from Tuesday is about eight delegates, which leaves her about 140 delegates behind Senator Obama. For her to overtake him, she not only has to win in the remaining primaries, she has to beat him like a drum. Unless his campaign collapses, that seems unlikely.

Which explains all of the spinning, especially in the Clinton camp. About all she can do at this point is prevent Obama from getting to the convention with 2,024 delegates (the magic number) already in his pocket. He most likely will finish the primary campaign with the lead in delegates, votes cast and states won. Which is why she is furiously selling the idea that she has done best in the key states Democrats have to win to prevail in November. True enough, but that argument depends on the assumption that large numbers of her supporters in those states won't support the Democratic nominee in the fall. That proposition is debatable, but it's all she has.

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