Friday, February 29, 2008

Texas: End of the Road For Hillary Clinton

It is doggoned poetic that the last stand in Hillary Clinton's botched quest for the White House will almost certainly be next Tuesday in Texas, a state that in all its crazy quilt hugeness gave us three presidents who presided in times of war and economic distress, took away one other president in his prime and is about to set the stage for a man who could become America's first black president.

Clinton is likely to lose Texas because there is no potentially controversial photograph of Barack Obama at this late date that could check the extraordinary momentum that he has kept building and building. Seriously folks, she has simply run out of effective talking points because she had too few to begin with in a campaign smugly predicated on the aura of experience and inevitability, while Obama will be able to outspend her for TV commercials and other advertising by a 2-1 margin.

In fact, Clinton may lose the delegate race by a wider margin than the popular vote because of what wags refer to as the "Texas Two-Step."

This is a system that her campaign had to acknowledge it didn't even understand until last week, much too late for it to try to change another set of rules that it found to be inconvenient. Some 126 delegates will be designated by primary vote results and 67 decided in caucus elections attended by people who enrolled for them when they voted. The remaining 35 are superdelegates.

Clinton's campaign never gave a prairie dog's ass about building grassroots organizations state by state as Obama has done to great effect in all 50 and this will hurt her in Texas.

The substantially larger Obama ground operations have repeatedly tripped her up as Obama has amassed 10 of his 11 straight victories by margins greater than 20 percent and by a mere 17 percent in Wisconsin, yet another state that had seemed tailor made for a candidate who was fitting herself for a tiara before the first primary vote was counted.

The Texas system will be especially cruel to Clinton because Obama is likely to pick up the lion's share of the 67 caucus delegates. With the exception of Nevada way back on January 19, Obama's hyper-committed supporters have killed Clinton at caucuses.

Wait! It gets worse for Clinton.

The delegate apportionment of the primary popular vote will be based on turnout in the 2004 and 2006 Democratic primaries. Turnout was highest in African-American areas of Dallas and Houston and in Austin and environs, home to the rich liberals who have turned out in droves for Obama in other states. Clinton is likely to pick up comparatively few delegates in areas heavy with the Latino voters who were going to be her firewall.

Finally, the increase in early voting in Texas has been astronomical, in some counties 600 percent higher than in 2006. Not coincidentally, these are the areas where Obama would appear to be the strongest.

With chickens coming home to roost every which way, Hillary Clinton can't win for losing in the Lone Star State. And lose she will. She has nothing to be ashamed of. But if she doesn't concede after Texas she may.
Image: "Surrender of Santa Ana" by William H. Huddle (1890).
Texas became an independent nation following the Mexican
general's 1836 surrender to Sam Houston and then a state in 1845.

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