Obama’s Gamble

Carrie Budoff Brown via Ben Smith of Politico delivers Obama’s response to the notion of him filling up the bottom half of the ticket — it’s the White House or bust. But is this a truly wise move on Obama’s part? He correctly points out that Clinton is in no position to make such an offer, but Obama is not exactly in the position to turn the offer down either.
In order to lock up the nomination before the candidates arrive on the convention floor Obama needs to win roughly 75% of the delegates still in play. It’s a daunting task, but by no means impossible and is a road take us through March into April and possibly June. By declaring that he is interested in nothing less than the presidency Obama has committed himself, as well as the voters and more importantly the party, to this schedule. His refusal to compromise will allow the Clinton camp to frame him as the one who’s denying the voters what they really want — some variation of an Obama-Clinton ticket.

It is obvious that these two have mobilized the Democrats like few candidates in history. If anyone doubts this all they need to look at is the election results from the Texas primary last week. Obama received 1,358,785 votes. The entire turnout for the GOP primary that night was only 1,320,653.  Democrats have been outvoting Republicans 2:1 this primary season so this should come as no shock. The real story, however, is that the number of Democrats who voted last Tuesday (2,818,599) in Texas is only about 14,000 people fewer than the total number of Democrats who voted for John Kerry in Texas in the 2004 general election. Turnout for the Democratic primary may have only been 22% of registered voters, but it was over a three fold increase from four years earlier. Imagine what kind of turnout a general election could bring.

From a purely mathematical point of view there is no either/or, the best thing for the party would be a ticket that brings together Obama and Clinton regardless of who gets the briefcase with the nuclear codes and who gets the warm bucket of spit. Obama’s refusal to accept anything less than the nomination not only makes such an event unlikely but it allows Clinton to step into the role of unifier, of the one person who was willing to swallow her pride. Obama, on the other hand, sounds like a stubborn child.

Looks like we’ll have to make due with only one ticket that hates each other.

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