Rudy Redux?


A number of readers have brought up the fact that Hillary Clinton’s strategy is starting to look a bit like Rudy Giuliani’s.

I tend to agree with the Hillary camp that party caucuses are kind of bogus. They tend to cut out folks without a lot of time and/or enthusiasm. What you get is a more politically engaged, wealthier, more time-on-their-hands type of crowd. But whatever you think about caucuses in the abstract, the real issue to me is that they’re not how we run actual elections in this country — which is to say, actual elections, where people go to a polling station and cast a vote rather than chilling with a bunch of people in a room in civic-ing it up. So winning caucuses doesn’t give me a huge amount of confidence in the ability to win elections.

The counter to this argument is that a lot of these caucuses have had historically high turnouts, even unprecedented ones. And that suggests that many more people are showing up than the normal mix of committed activists and party regulars.

But in terms of this nomination contest I think the relevant point is, who cares?

Those are the rules. It doesn’t really matter what you think of caucuses in the abstract; they choose delegates.

My understanding of the Clinton strategy at this point is that they’re conceding that most or all of the contests this month aren’t favorable for them. As we go forward they’re writing them off as not surprising since she wasn’t favored to start with. And she’s planning to camp out in Texas and Ohio, which hold their contests on March 4th, to try come back in a big way in those contests. (Of course, a failure by Obama to do well in tomorrow’s Potomac primary could seriously upset the applecart again.)

The problem is that it’s not clear to me that wins in those two states are going to be enough even in terms of delegates if Obama really keeps doing well in the contests this month. But more to the point, this strategy seems to seriously understate the dynamic toll of a month of losses on Hillary’s candidacy.

Of course, some strategies are born of necessity.