US Election Thoughts: Hillary’s Uphill Battle

The Clinton campaign officials have recently been shuffled around. She has lent her campaign $5M. She wants to debate Obama, while he prefers to be on the stump instead (quite understandably). Bill Clinton’s race card attempt backfired and his core voting block of African Americans seem to be firmly in the Obama camp. Women and older folks seem to be gravitating towards him, white Americans clearly don’t seem averse to an Obama presidency, and Hispanics could be next in line to be swept by the Obama wave.

The Obama mania seems to have swept the country. His cries for change accompanying his impressive and powerful oratory has captured the imagination of many, especially the young. The Obama campaign is managing to raise huge amounts of money (approaching a record of 1M donors) while the Clinton campaign is clearly stretched.

In short, Senator Clinton faces an uphill battle. Can she start winning again after 10 straight loses?

Operational Failures

Senator Clinton has run a long and tough campaign but clearly the momentum has shifted to Obama. About a year back, Senator Clinton was widely believed to have a war chest of cash. Despite hordes of cash, a clear head start and plenty of name recognition the Clinton campaign has faltered. How It begs the question as to how Obama has a better ground operation (purportedly the reason for his caucus victories) than Senator Clinton does? Did they under estimate him or is he simply better on the organizational front?

It is hard to imagine that Senator Clinton can reverse the momentum when the campaign appears to have faltered on a fundamental aspect of operations resulting in lost caucuses and shortage of cash. It is commendable that a young, relatively unknown first time Senator has won a string of victories to challenge the front-runner who claims to have “experience”. It is arguable that given enough time Obama might have picked up California and possibly Massachusetts.

Experience vs Change

There is no question that she lost this argument for the most part partly due to poor campaign strategy. After 8 years of George Bush and a clear move to the right, the country is more than ready for change. Without a doubt, Obama has grabbed the right narrative so to speak and has run with it. His campaign themes of “turn the page”, “yes we can”, “fired up and ready to go” seem to have taken center stage and are starting to resonate both with the people and the media. In fact, John McCain used it the other day when he said “I am fired up and ready to go!”

Interestingly, Senator Obama has been able to achieve this despite the fact that some (I suspect “many”) of his supporters have little insight into his legislative accomplishments! (If you are wondering the same, click here for a brief!)

Never Say Never. So What Next?

Though it does appear a hard road ahead for Senator Clinton, she could still stage a comeback like she did in New Hampshire. The victory there was possibly influenced by the teary-eyed moment. It appeared genuine and it certainly worked for her. So don’t be surprised if an encore is being planned by her political consultants as a last ditch effort to turn the tide.

The upcoming debates should give Senator Clinton a chance to regain some ground. In general, Obama seems to do better when giving speeches. On the other hand, Senator Clinton seems especially more comfortable in a relaxed table and chair setting than he is. If she succeeds in raising some doubts in the minds of the people about Obama in the debates and subsequently holds on to Ohio and Texas, then there could be an outside chance for her to claim the nomination. If not, it appears to be game over for Senator Clinton.

Obama vs. McCain

A defeat for Hillary Clinton will please many, especially the Hillary-haters. But it is bound to make many in the Republican camp nervous because Obama might prove to be harder to beat in the general election. While its easy to brush aside Obama as “all oratory and no substance”, if Obama were to be the Democratic candidate, it is impossible to ignore the contrast with Senator McCain (with all due respect), who comes across as absolutely low on energy, hope and inspiration. This could be a tired Bob Dole-Bill Clinton-like match up all over again. Unfortunately for the Republicans, there wasn’t much to chose between an erstwhile Senator McCain, a slippery Romney and the smooth-talking Huckabee.

The Protracted Primary

The long primary is likely to favor the Democrats than hurt them. Firstly, it gives them an opportunity to raise more cash. Secondly, they get to remain in the news and grab “mind-share” of the public, unlike the Republican race which is more or less settled and lacks the glamor. Besides, if Obama were to be the candidate, a long primary helps him gain name recognition across the country.

p.s: If want to know were the candidates stand with regard to your own views on various issues try this or this.

Author: Pran Kurup

Pran Kurup is founder and CEO of Vitalect, Inc.

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