May 19th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Analysis: Obama ready for fall fight

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama has been focusing lately on campaigning in general election states."]
WASHINGTON DC (CNN)– He’s not declaring victory in the Democratic primaries, but if you listen to Barack Obama, you get a clear sense he’s more than ready for a fall fight with John McCain.

“Everybody is surprised that I am standing here. Lets face it, nobody thought a 46 year old black guy named Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee. The reason this has worked is because of you. You decided you wanted to take your government back and that is what we are going to be fighting for all the way through November,” the Senator from Illinois told the crowd at a rally in Oregon Sunday.

An interesting choice of words from a candidate who lately has been careful to not proclaim victory in his long and bitter battle with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

But there’s more.

"Senator Clinton and I have had a terrific contest and she has been a formidable candidate,” Obama said Sunday while being questioned by reporters. The slip into the past tense is telling.

Obama’s choice of where he holds primary night campaign rallies is also a sign that he’s looking ahead to the general election.

Last Tuesday, as Clinton was racking up a landslide victory in the West Virginia primary, Obama held a campaign event in Missouri, which long ago held its primary. But Missouri is what’s known as a battleground or swing state, a state that could go either way in the general election. Tuesday Obama’s holds a rally in Iowa, which kicked off the primary season with its caucuses on January 3rd. Obama won that contest, helping to propel him to Democratic frontrunner status. Iowa is also another battleground state (President Bush took the state by 10,000 votes in 2004) that the Democrats would love to win this November.

Obama will also point out Tuesday night the he’s won half of the total number of pledged delegates. There are 3,253 pledged delegates and Obama, even if he has a poor showing in the Kentucky and Oregon primaries, he should easily top the 1,627 delegates needed to make that claim. Pledged delegates are those won by the candidates in the primary and caucus contests, as opposed to 795 super delegates, whose votes are not tied to any primary or caucus results. Super delegates are Democratic governors, members of Congress and party officials.

While winning half of the pledged delegates is nice, the number he needs to reach to clinch the nomination is 2,026.

Since neither candidate is expected to win that many delegates by the end of the primary season on June 3rd, it’s going to come down to the super delegates to put either Obama or Clinton over the top.

“You know, we thought it (Iowa) was a terrific way to kind of bring things full circle. We still have some contests left, but if Kentucky and Oregon go as we hope, then we think we will have a majority of pledged delegates at that point, and that's a pretty significant mark. That means that after contests in every state, or almost every state and the territories that we are we have received the majority of the delegates that are assigned by voters,” Obama told reporters Sunday.

But even though he leads Clinton in delegates won, states won, and the popular vote in the primary and caucus contests held so far this campaign season, Obama says Tuesday’s declaration in Iowa doesn’t mean the primary battle’s over.

"It doesn't mean we declare victory because I won't be the nominee until we have enough, a combination of both pledged delegates and super delegates to hit the mark. But what it does mean is that voters have given us the majority of delegates that they can assign. And obviously that is what this primary and caucus process is about,” said Obama.

And Obama’s campaign for the primaries continues. He’s spending Monday in Montana, which along with South Dakota, closes out the primary calendar on June third.

If the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination is almost over, no one’s telling Clinton.

Campaigning in Kentucky Monday, Clinton said “I’m going to make [my case] until we have a nominee, but we’re not going to have one today and we’re not going to have one tomorrow and we’re not going to have one the next day.”

She continues to make her argument that she leads in the popular vote, saying “right now, more people have voted for me than have voted for my opponent. More people have voted for me than for anybody ever running for president before. So we have a very close contest.”

But there’s some creative math at work here. For Clinton to have the lead in the popular vote, primary states but not caucus states are counted. And the popular vote totals in Florida and Michigan are also counted. And since Obama’s name wasn’t on the Michigan ballot, he would receive no votes in that state’s contest. The problem with this equation is that neither Florida nor Michigan’s results are being counted right now by the Democratic Party, since both states broke party rules by moving their primaries up to January.

Clinton’s other argument is that she’s won the states that matter and that she would stack up stronger against John McCain come November.

“The states I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. If we had the same rules as the Republicans I would be nominee right now. We have different rules so what we’ve got to figure out is who can win 270 electoral votes. My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes. Now we both have won some states that are going to be hard for us to win in the fall like TX and OK. But I still have a cushion if you look at all the states that I have won and take out those that may not be in our column come the fall. My opponent has 217 electoral votes from places like Alaska and Idaho and Utah and Kansas and Nebraska and many of his votes and his delegates come from caucus states which have a relatively low turnout,” Clinton told voters in Kentucky Monday.

So far both of Clinton’s arguments appear to be falling on deaf ears. And it’s doubtful that Tuesday’s results in Kentucky and Oregon will change the shape of the race.

soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. malia

    Obama supporters don't seem to get it are they so ignorant they cannot think for a moment, you cannot be bashing Hillary and her supporters , your savior Obama cannot win without them, you are going to need us, don't make us angry.

    Keep up the good hate

    May 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Desmond Sequeira

    Come on, Superdelegates. Bring closure.

    Even apart from the sheer math, OBAMA IS CLEARLY THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT IN 1009, on the basis of everything from Integrity and Intelligence to ELECTIBILITY.

    May 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  3. Patrick

    That's right... vote for McCain if Hillary doesn't win. Women no longer care about their right to choose. HAS ANYONE HEARD OF THE SUPREME COURT. Totally childish...get a clue! This is exactly why America is sick of this primary and Clinton.

    May 19, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. JC

    Obama needed land and sea to house the large number of supporters in Oregon, while Hillary could only show off a bunch of low-key seniors in a KY high school auditorium. The end is not just near. It has arrived a while ago, but Hillary decided every evidence of her defeat doesn't matter, because she refuses to step down from this side show.

    Obama is as graceful as anybody can be.
    This is what happens when a woman does not run a campaign on her own merit. New Yorkers may take note of their senator for what she really stands for them.

    May 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. TonyNJ

    I believe it will be the biggest landslide in United States history, but it will not be in Obama's favor, it's just an example of the cult of personality and thats it. He's but a shooting star, and will burn out faster than his rising. Obama does not have the answers for all of the worlds problems. Stop fooling yourselves. Get Real! A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote well spent. Your talking about the next four years here. She will guide us through this economic mess we are in. She will make a President which will make us proud. Hillary Clinton in 08! President Hillary Clinton in 2009. We cannot afford to take any chances. If you want to take chances, go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas.

    May 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. Patrick

    What kind of "FANTASY" do Clinton supporters live in? LOL Counting ALL of the popular votes in MI to his NONE? Like NO ONE IN MICHIGAN would have voted Obama. Just another example why the Clinton campaign is disgusting and why she should not even be considered as a vice president.

    May 19, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  7. Jerry Brown

    Going to vote for Hillary–even if I have to write her in if she is not on the ticket.

    I will not vote for Obama due to his lack of experience and the religious stuff. I am a white gay male, live in San Francisco, college degree, make a six figure salary in management–so I do not fit Hillarys profie voter–I beleive there are lots of others a lot like me. Good luck Democrats.

    May 19, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. David D Kollie

    Go for you Fall fight Obama.
    If Karl Rove is the reason Hillary is staying then it is over. How could she make such a statement? Doesn't she what Karl Rove did to the Bush's administration. Been a governor G. W. Bush totally relied on K Rove advice and brought him to the White House the end result is G.W. Bush has the worst of all worst presidency. I can't imagine she said that. Good bye HRC. No one wants Karl Rove to advice the next president.

    May 19, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  9. Momma for Obama

    He is our nominee no matter how Clinton national news portrays the news
    no matter how the clinton machine taints the truth
    no matter how the clinton machine uses fear and smear tactics, or how much they lie
    no matter what they do or say no,

    this is not about billary or Obama is about AMerica, its people and its future........

    billary's did not count on that.. they thought this is same old same old,we will follow your lies and be blind, be deaf, and ignorant..

    Obama 08

    May 19, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  10. Joe Reg

    Any win by Hillary is insignificant.

    It is over already.

    Obama is winning all the way now.

    May 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  11. Kevin from Texas

    You know, I just really can't figure out this obscene hate that Hillary supporters have for Obama and that Obama supporters have for Hillary. You guys realize that they have almost the EXACT same issue positions, right? I'm a Hillary supporter, but if Obama becomes the nominee – I will do everything I can to get him elected.

    Hillary and Obama both have strong arguments to make to the superdelegates, especially if Hillary can legitimately take the popular vote. The process is almost finished, what's so wrong about letting it take its course and then uniting behind the winner?

    May 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  12. one of the 25%

    Only once before have I voted for a Republican for President.
    That was for Reagan aganist Carter, now it will be McCain against Obama.

    May 19, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  13. seah

    Yes Obama is ready to do more whinning and squealing.

    He is ready to blame and blame and blame.

    I think that is why he never voted on much of anything so he could not be held accountable for anything. His present votes were a cope out then and now. He is a panty waste.

    It will be the same old script, the new blame game and woe is me for Obama.

    May 19, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. Billie in Tenn



    May 19, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. hillary for president

    nowhere near over – hillary
    nowhere near electable – barack

    If McCain/Obama ticket happens, then Hillary Clinton WILL win 2012 and third term for Bush awaits us!

    May 19, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  16. Shirley, Silicon Valley, CA

    It's about time to get ready for the fall race. I am just so sick and tired of watching this long drawn pointless race!

    It's really laughable to watch Hillary Clinton twists rules again and again!

    Your race is over, Hillary!

    May 19, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  17. steven

    Tennessee Republican Party Were you proud of America When
    Afican Americans were being Lych.

    Lynchings: By State and Race, 1882-1968 *


    State White Black Total


    Alabama 48 299 347
    Arizona 31 0 31
    Arkansas 58 226 284
    California 41 2 43
    Colorado 65 3 68
    Delaware 0 1 1
    Florida 25 257 282
    Georgia 39 492 531
    Idaho 20 0 20
    Illinois 15 19 34
    Indiana 33 14 47
    Iowa 17 2 19
    Kansas 35 19 54
    Kentucky 63 142 205
    Louisiana 56 335 391
    Maine 1 0 1
    Maryland 2 27 29
    Michigan 7 1 8
    Minnesota 5 4 9
    Mississippi 42 539 581
    Missouri 53 69 122
    Montana 82 2 84
    Nebraska 52 5 57
    Nevada 6 0 6
    New Jersey 1 1 2
    New Mexico 33 3 36
    New York 1 1 2
    North Carolina 15 86 101
    North Dakota 13 3 16
    Ohio 10 16 26
    Oklahoma 82 40 122
    Oregon 20 1 21
    Pennsylvania 2 6 8
    South Carolina 4 156 160
    South Dakota 27 0 27
    Tennessee 47 204 251
    Texas 141 352 493
    Utah 6 2 8
    Vermont 1 0 1
    Virginia 17 83 100
    Washington 25 1 26
    West Virginia 20 28 48
    Wisconsin 6 0 6
    Wyoming 30 5 35

    Total 1,297 3,446 4,743
    *Statistics provided by the Archives at Tuskegee Institute

    May 19, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  18. Kiran

    I'm a democrat, and I'm begging all democrats to not be part of the huge divide that's existent right now. Its awesome that you feel so strongly about your candidate, but whoever is chosen, Hillary OR Obama, support the democrat. Don't vote for McCain, one who stands for more of the same, and don't just not vote. Not only are you doing the country a disservice, and voting in more war, more of a bad economy, and more of a suppression of your rights, but giving up your vote is a disservice to all those who can't. So please, DEMOCRATS IN '08.

    May 19, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. David Thompson

    "have had" and "has been" are not the past tense. This reporter needs to go back to school and relearn English grammar.

    May 19, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  20. Rick in Oregon

    I'm nervous for the democrats. The electoral college is MUCH less forgiving than the confounded rules of the DNC primary. That concerns me. Hillary would be wiping the floor with Obama if they were going by those rules. I know that doesn't change where we are at, but it will make a difference in Nov. Let's hope he can pull in some of those big states!!!

    Oh, and Ed from Milwaukee who called Hillary supporters mostly uneducated and uniformed...Obama did NOT VOTE against the Iraq war. He wasn't in the senate when that vote took place. But he HAS voted for every budget supporting the war since. Get THAT through your thick skull.

    May 19, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. Billie in Tenn

    The moderators for CNN are surely biased for Obama on all these blogs.

    Any person with any smarts can just look at the blogs and see the bias.

    Racism is truly alive and being carried out by the moderators.

    OBAMA.............YEAH..........GUNG HO............08.......................NOT!

    May 19, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  22. Patrick, Lake Stevens, WA

    Obama should be looking ahead to November and his inevitable showdown with McCain because this primary is all but over. Clinton is sure to bow out June 3rd as sure as Big Brown is favorite to capture the triple crown for the first time in 30 years – however, it's also important for Obama to keep Clinton close – Hillary might need to float to the top of that VP list if Obama loses big to her on Tuesday in Kentucky. The older white vote is what Obama will need to have during his quest for the White House and Clinton has that attraction towards those voters. Never thought I'd say it, but an Obama-Clinton ticket looks plausible!

    May 19, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  23. Big Tex

    Clinton needs a reality check. Fuzzy math will never put anyone over the top. She started fading into irrelevance right after super tuesday and only lasted this long because of her family name. Bye Bye Hellary!

    SI SE PUEDE!!!

    May 19, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  24. KE

    Did Michelle Obama really said this?

    "Barack will not let you stay in your home and ignore him. He will make all come out of their comfort zone and participate with him."

    This sounded to me like intimidation to a certain constituency.

    May 19, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. Billie in Tenn

    Moderators at CNN are bias.

    You can tell who they are truly for, their boy OBAMA.

    HA HA HA , but we'll get the last laugh when we Hillary Dems/Independents now, will vote for McCain in November.

    May 19, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
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