Thursday, June 05, 2008

Why the superdelegates broke for Obama

The NYTimes gives its establishment view of why Clinton lost support amongst superdelegates as the contest went on: The superdelegates warmed to Obama and were less enthralled by Clinton.

Conspicuously absent from the establishment view is the calculation that in my experience, politicians consider first and foremost: Their own self interest. Backing Clinton early on appeared to be a no-brainer, she appeared certain to be the nominee, Obama appeared to be running for Veep or to put down an marker for 2012 or 2016.

But backing Obama quickly became the cool choice for any politician wanting to definitively and unambiguously break with the Iraq war, to connect with the 18-35 demographic or demonstrate anti-racism street cred. Backing Clinton would only pay dividends if she won the nomination, backing Obama would bring dividends for the endorser whether he won the nomination or not.

Some folk are complaining about the long drawn out concession, unless they are GOP supporters they should not. The primary objective of the Democratic party over the past 6 weeks has been to deny McCain air time. They are in no hurry. Obama comes off best in set piece speeches, McCain is so bad even his supporters could not defend his Tuesday night performance. During the nomination race Obama and Hilary were both receiving at least twice as much exposure as McCain. From Sunday onwards the networks will have to give more or less equal exposure to both.

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