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March 13, 2008


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It's a deliberate strategy of demoralization, so, no, it shouldn't. It's the bamboozlement of despair, and it should be mocked. "Vote for me and I'll make it stop!" Uh-huh.

I don't see many "undecided" superdelegates shifting _towards_ Clinton with her recent performance. What on Earth does it gain them? I think it's clear from the conduct of her campaign that Clinton is likely to be less than cordial towards those late backers who make her sweat (except for the very last few). At this point, Clinton is the higher risk candidate in the primary and in the general. And I'm not seeing Clinton's negatives going down; if anything, they've increased among black voters and voters with higher education.

It seems like a fairly easy calculation. What puzzles me is the delay. Is there a large shadow constituency of superdelegates which is already committed but held in reserve by the Obama campaign? Because if Clinton had them, she'd show them.

Also, Obama appears to be pursuing a big tent policy of clemency for potential defectors. I don't know whether Clinton would be punitive, but it wouldn't surprise me... and I remember her remarks about demonizing Democratic opponents during her failed health-care reform attempt.

Really, it makes you wonder where all this energy was when W was wiping his ass on the flag.

You know the other thing? Even when flush, Clinton has been notoriously stingy with her war chest. And she's far from flush now.

But most of the superdelegates are elected officials, and Obama has found a new golden ticket to fundraising. He's already demonstrated some coattail effect.

The problem is, this makes the calculation simpler, which makes the delay more unexplainable.

You know the paper I'm thinking of.

Actually, you're ahead of me. I'm sure I'll be embarrassed at the answer, but which paper?

Bikhchandani and Welch, on herding and informational cascades.

... and why can I remember to spell Bikhchandani's name properly here, but not on my hard drive?

Nut graf: "An early preponderance towards adoption or rejection causes all subsequent individuals to ignore their private signals, which thus never join the public pool of knowledge. Nor does the public pool of knowledge have to be very informative to cause individuals to disregard their private signals. As soon as the public pool becomes even modestly more informative than the signal of a single individual, individuals defer to the actions of predecessors and a cascade begins."

So, if the Obama campaign does have a shadow group of delegates in reserve, if B&W's analysis is correct, they'd be better off releasing them as soon as possible, to increase the public signals for the remainder of the superdelegates.

(Assuming that my previous analysis is correct too.)

Most likely explanation: he doesn't have them.

Second most likely: he's waiting for the best moment. That would be either just before or just after Pennsylvania, I'd think.

Depressing: depressing here in Yerevan is the government stealing the election, gunning down protestors who protest the stolen elections, and then slapping in jail anyone who suggests that this wasn't all hunky dory.

Not to bigfoot you, Noel. But Hell has many circles.

Doug M.

Doug, sir, that's good perspective.

The selective historical memory of the people who work in political life is always amusing.

"This is a post-9-11 world, and the foreign policy experience is important _now_; back when Bill Clinton was running for his first term it was a _very different_ world, when there was no Al-Qaeda and no threat posed by the terrorist cells"... and yada yada yada.

Foreign policy experience was not important for the U.S. President in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet collapse, at the time of the Iraq embargo and the intervention in Somalia? Okay.

Actually, the world isn't really that different from 1992, except that this time around, beating the incumbent is not an issue. But the present elections could still be run under the slogan "It's the Economy, stupid".


J. J.

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