Maine Surprise


Both the Clinton and Obama camps expected Hillary Clinton to take Maine — but thus far with 44% of precincts in, Obama is leading by 15 points. (AP has now called Maine a win for Obama)
I think the Clinton camp has huge strengths out there in big states — but these small state losses are at minimum psychologically seductive.
I think that the shake-up in Hillary Clinton’s camp in which Patti Solis Doyle has “stepped down” (I’ve heard two different terms today from senior Hillaryland citizens to describe her departure and have decided to go with the one that implies “free will”) is about a month overdue.

— Steve Clemons


24 comments on “Maine Surprise

  1. pauline says:

    Kathleen wrote:
    “certainly doesn’t have the balls of a”
    Apparently the Senate, as a body, doesn’t either. Here’s the sad Greenwald story on the FISA bill.
    “The Senate today — led by Jay Rockefeller, enabled by Harry Reid, and with the active support of at least 12 (and probably more) Democrats, in conjunction with an as-always lockstep GOP caucus — will vote to legalize warrantless spying on the telephone calls and emails of Americans, and will also provide full retroactive amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, thus forever putting an end to any efforts to investigate and obtain a judicial ruling regarding the Bush administration’s years-long illegal spying programs aimed at Americans. The long, hard efforts by AT&T, Verizon and their all-star, bipartisan cast of lobbyists to grease the wheels of the Senate — led by former Bush 41 Attorney General William Barr and former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick — are about to pay huge dividends, as such noble efforts invariably do with our political establishment.”
    see —


  2. Kathleen says:

    What has Obama done that qualifies him to be President? Enlighten me. I don’t dislike him, but after his speech in 04, I expected more from him in the Senate, but nada. He certainly doesn’t have the balls of a Kucinich or a Feingold.


  3. stephens says:

    Dear PissedOffAmerican,
    I agree that it is important to be specific, and talk about the issues, not just the horse race.
    Detailled proposals for the future don’t persuade me as much as 1) past actions by the candidate 2) past actions by the candidates’ advisors 3) my perception of the values the candidate will use in making future decisions.
    1) I count against Hillary her decision to give Bush authorization for Iraq; I felt there were many reasons to distrust the administrations’ justifications (e.g. British dossier of Sep ’02, hyped by Bush as justification which was quickly revealed at the time to be shoddy and part plagiarized). Meanwhile Barak said to a major Chicago peace rally on Oct 2, 2002,
    “I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”
    Barak made a better decision than Hillary did, in my opinion, and he echoed my position at the time.
    2) The candidates’ choices of advisors speaks volumes about what course their admin will take. See for example.
    There are a lot of details here which people can use to make decisions. In particular I have been impressed by Zbig’s accuracy in perceiving the failure in Iraq and his free thinking about new policy directions (this has been detailed by Steve in the Note pretty extensively.) Contrast this to Hillary’s studied support of the surge (latest: state of union applause), and Obama’s apt description “the bar has been placed so low it’s in the sand.”
    3) Listening to Barak and Michelle, I see them as personally invested in recent grass-roots efforts. This is reflected in the Obama campaign, which has a more effective local organization, and has more small donor support. I have better hope that they will make decisions as individuals (contrast to the very often poll-tested appearance, to me, of Hillary’s words and actions) — and in particular that they will be more independent of large monied interests and powerful lobbies (cf. Hillary’s pretty close adherence to AIPAC policies, which I find not in U.S. or actually even Israel’s interst.) Hillary is more connected in power — I see this in their records, and I trust less in her future decisions.
    Again a practical note: regarding healthcare I feel what matters most is the ability to push against extremely well-funded interests to do good for average Americans. I see Obama as arriving at the oval office with far more political capital to do this.
    These reasons are meaningful to me; hopefully they can contribute to further discussion.


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Try as I might, I cannot seem to find any posts from Obama supporters that actually outline what it is they think he will do as President that warrants their support. I see campaign strategy being discussed, and I see airhead testimonials that say absolutely NOTHING, but I do not see ANY posts that actually outline and endorse any SPECIFIC policies or actions they expect him to pursue as President. Further, every time someone posts anything specifically critical of Obama, it stands unrebutted.


  5. stephens says:

    Dear Steve, I have read the Note for some years now, and I appreciate the knowledgeable enthusiasm you bring to policy debates, as well as insider insight. While you have not endorsed, and you try to say somewhat positive things about both candidates, I’ve detected a pretty clear preference for Hillary in your posts, approximately since you contributed a question to her online videoconference. In some ways I wonder why she wins this from you … Obama reportedly has Zbig in his circle, whom you clearly admire and who seems to bring a lot of good fresh thinking to international relations. Hillary, to my eyes, is overly tied to Bush-style, Lieberman-style hawkishness. She is more vague about leaving Iraq, and seems (to me) less likely to broker progress in Palestine.
    To me the most convincing thing (more than “psychologically seductive”) part about Obama’s campaign is that he has the ability to draw a lot of popular support. Actual presidential accomplishments are much more a function of public leverage, political capital, and successful negotiation than heavily detailed campaign proposals.
    I look forward to more of your commentary on this important and substantive Dem party decision.


  6. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf says:

    I second the Reveren’s call for hope in the Giuliani battle plan.
    NEWS FLASH: Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, formerly the Iraqi Minister of Information, has joined the Billary campaign. Borrowing a line from 2003 he was quoted as saying: “Now even the Obama command is under siege. We are hitting it from the north, east, south and west. We chase them here and they chase us there. But at the end we are the people who are laying siege to them. And it is not them who are besieging us.”


  7. MarkL says:

    I don’t believe the storyline that Obama gains where he campaigns. I have read the reverse.
    In fact, Clinton is the one who definitely gains by direct exposure to the voters.
    al175, your comment about K-L is just plain silly.
    Obama backed a similar proposal, yet he skipped the K-L vote; Hillary worked to get the worst elements out of K-l; K-L has no force, unlike the AUMF.
    By the way, Obama is the one who has said we might bomb Iran.


  8. al75 says:

    Here in Westchester NY (Hillary’s backyard), Obama supporters were out in force on Super Tuesday – even a crowd of about 10 holding signs on Sunday prior in downtown Chappaqua (to the extent that there is a downtown). Many similar but larger Obama rallies in Bedford, White Plains, other nearby towns.
    Hillary supporters I saw on the streets? Zero.
    I did talk with one young man who has close personal and family loyalty to HRC. he confessed his secret: he thinks Obama’s the better candidate.
    This isn’t an I-Hate-HRC post. That will only come if she attempts to steal the nomination through a super delegate grab, or a Rove/Delay-like ploy to seat the Florida/Michigan delegates.
    Obama is the candidate who has captured the imagination of the hour. HRC is the heir of Big Bill’s accommodations to Project for a New American Century (resolution for regime change in Iraq) in 1998, and her famous 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war .
    HRC’s most troubling vote, IMO, was her 2006 accomodation to the Bushies, voting to brand a branch of the Iranian army a “terrorist” organization – a step that could easily serve W. as all the authorization he needs to start what he refers to as “WW III”.
    Obama represents a break with the Clinton triangulation strategies. Maybe that was the only way in the 90’s — not sure. It sure isn’t the way now.
    I know and respect many HRC supporters. But it’s long past time for a new approach.


  9. TonyForesta says:

    “There’s a big
    a big hard sun
    beating on the big people
    in the big hard world.”
    Eddie Vedder. From Sean Penns film, (Into the Wild)
    The bigstates have power and influence, but they do not determine elections. This is not to diminish in any way the intelligence and significance of the bigstates, but the elections process, right or wrong, valdid or not, allows for the influence of the rest of America, and those numbers bode ill for the Clinton campaign.
    This is what democracy looks like. Democrats should debate, examine, analyse, and determine who should be our candidate and hopefully the next president. Democrats cannot allow the media to determine who will be that candidate, and must in the end choose after thorough debate and examinatin who will be the individual to represent the democratic party and the American people.
    Voting for any gop offering is a vote for the fascists and a perpetuation of the deceptive, abusive, and failed policies and activities of the of the fascist in the Bush government.
    “Deliver us from evil!”


  10. calling all toasters says:

    Hillary’s ‘advantage’ in big states is mostly an illusion:
    1) He won Illinois much more easily than she won New York.
    2) Florida and Michigan were never contested.
    3) That leaves California. The Obama campaign relied on surrogates there while he went to Kansas, Idaho, Alaska, etc. Given the short run-up to Super Tuesday, that was a necessary trade-off.
    4) He won’t fail to campaign in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Like everywhere else he campaigns, he’s going to gain rapidly on Clinton.


  11. Kent from Waco says:

    I know nothing of Ohio but I don’t see Clinton winning Texas. She is setting up camp in San Antonio and will do well in south Texas and the border region to El Paso where the towns and cities are 90+% Hispanic. But the simple fact is that over half the state lives within the greater Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth metro areas. I don’t see Clinton taking either Houston or DFW with their black central cities and upscale white suburbs like Plano and Katy. Austin is tailor-made for Obama. And the Republican heartland smaller towns and cities? Hillary-hatred is just to deep seated within the Republican areas that a lot of it has rubbed off on the local Dems.
    I think Obama wins by at least 5 points.


  12. jim miller says:

    1. Obama has won 20 contests….
    2. HRC has won ten contests
    3. Obama has won double the contests….she wins one, then he wins 2.
    4. Of his 20 wins 15 were decisive, with a winning margin of greater than 15%. Of her 10 wins 3 were decisive with a winning margin greater than fifteen….
    5. he is 2-1 on states and significantly 5 to 1 on decisive landslide whuppin’s. WOW
    6. originally “Hillaryland” projected to their supporters that the nomination would be in hand by the finish of Super Tuesday….it was…just not the projected hand!!
    7. Mr. Steve—-what would constitue a knockout?
    8. Has McCain scored a knockout in your opinion?
    9. Spin/Supporter loyalty aside…do you honestly believe they are STILL in a tight race?


  13. TonyForesta says:

    Archaic and needlessly complex electoral issues aside, Obama is carrying the momentum.
    The Clinton camp has three problems that are going to weigh heavily on the next election. First, the Iraq war and her voting record over these long seven years with regard to the Iraq war, – second, she bears the name Clinton which is toxic (right or wrong, justified or not) many Americans mostly on theright, and partly on theleft, – and lastly – Obama is (right or wrong, justified or not) the percieved instrument of the “change” the majority of Americans are hopinig and praying will become a reality.
    The contest is not over, but the trends favor Obama, not Clinton. Either way, democrat on democrat tussles are fruitless and moot, and only give fodder to the fascists in the gop, (McCain is a vote for the fascists and a perpetuation of the costly, bloody, and odious policies of the Bush government.) Focus on the issues, dethroning the fascists, and unifying the democratic party.
    The next president will inherit several daunting problems and a few crisis on day one. The people need to rally around a single leader and a unified party that will advance the best interests of the American people, right the terrible wrongs of the fascists in the Bush government, – and attempt to pilot America through what are certain to tumultuous waters.
    “Deliver us from evil!”


  14. Robert Morrow says:

    Another thing to point out about Hillary in Texas. I see NONE of her organization here in Austin, TX. None, none, none – zippo.
    Compare this to California, where Hillary hired the best people, had the best endorsements, and spent a lot of time and MONEY on organization in California … in the failed hopes of a knock out blow to Obama.
    Obama spoke to 15,000 people last year in Austin and has had a devoted core of volunteers and an active Meet up group. I’ve been doing a LOT of canvassing for Ron Paul and I sure am running into a LOT more Obama folks than Hillary. And they sure are nicer, too. The Hillary folks are like her: bitter, old, angry, noxious, nasty.
    Hillary and her supporters want a political fight. Well, folks like me are more than happy to accomodate them. Hillary says when her opponents attacks her, she will “deck” them. Hey, whose butt is lying on the floor now and who face is feeling cold, hard linoleum?
    Just wondering. The bottom line is I don’t see any organization down in Texas for Hillary. Maybe it is in the Valley among the Hispanics, but I doubt it. I think team Clinton never dreamed they would even have to campaign after Feb 5th, much less in March, 2008.


  15. T.J. Pempel says:

    Don’t forget that Hawaii and Wisconsin come up a week after the Crabcake primaries this Tuesday. And if Obama wins both of these–as he probably will–the momentum on his side for fundraising, defecting super delegates, and media attention, will make it even tougher for Hillary to dominate in Ohio and Texas
    T.J. Pempel


  16. Some dude says:

    “Psychologically seductive”? He’s running up huge margins of victory and taking a large delegate advantage. She’ll have to just crush him in the big states just to get back to parity.
    You talk a lot about wanting to see creative thinking in foreign policy. You don’t think that coming up with a strategy that makes it look like he’s playing chess to CLinton’s checkers is creative? You can just sense the sinking feeling coming from Clintonland as they realize that the votes in flyover country, like, count. They didn’t even see it coming.


  17. Robert Morrow says:

    I am down in Austin, and let me tell you what buddy, I am doing EVERYTHING I can do defeat Hillary, when I am not campaigning for Ron Paul of course.
    And as far as Austin, TX goes – this is the bluest county in Texas pretty much, besides the valley, it is all Obama all the time. Except for that huge and fired up Ron Paul contigent that is definitely going to be heard from on March 4th.
    Hillary could win both Texas and Ohio and still NOT win the Democratic nomination. How does that grab you? Hillary lead Obama 51-17% in a Texas poll in December; the latest one was 48-38%. By March 4th they will be 45-45%.
    In reality Obama, after a month of dismantling Hillary all over the nation in February, Obama will probably win Texas; all he has to do is get 40% + of the Hispanic vote, which is doable.
    Won’t it be nice to NOT have a Clinton or a Bush in the White House?


  18. Reveren Hope says:



  19. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    The Huge Advantage In Big States
    The Clinton advantage in big states like Texas is a rotten party establishment — a decrepit patronage-chain — where a real party should be.
    The good new is that, in Texas at least, that establishment has eroded after consistently losing elections. They were solidly “behind” John EDWARDS, in the sense of seeking to exploit his candidacy but actually did him no good at all.
    Now, they are scrambling to support CLINTON — who they do not like, but where they can fit, easily enough, into a baggage-train of pimp-consultants and other hangers-on.
    Beneath the duel for the top-slot, there is actually a constructive and necessary transformation of the Democratic Party in process, I hope.
    Obama now has in Texas (a) a crack team from South Carolina — good choice, we are an ex-confederate state with a cornpone party right out of John GRISHAM’s latest novel, The Appeal, as well as (b) a grass-roots coalition for change that seeks to dump our “inclusive” version of Jim Crow and build a real party.
    Today, our most respected Hispanic office-holder, Pete GALLEGOS, endorsed OBAMA. And, at least one legendary union organizer has defected from the DLC/AFL-CIA zombies here.


  20. Anonymous says:

    Steve, you and the Clinton spinners are starting to sound like Rudy Giuliani’s advisors in January.
    “Wait until Ohio” is going to have just as much credibility as “Wait until Florida.”
    This nomination is slipping away at an alarming rate now for the Clintons. Obama’s margins in these states are building him quite a significant pledged delegate lead. After Maine, the pledged delegate race stands at Obama-1,030, Clinton-947. By Tuesday this 83 delegate lead could be more like 130-140.
    At this rate, she won’t just have to win Ohio and Texas, she’ll need to win them convincingly. Considering she only got 57% of the vote in New York, it’s starting to look more and more like a pipe dream.
    And then if Obama is still significantly ahead, will rank and file Democrats sit back and allow the super-delegates to overturn their choice? If they try to, I’d suggest the Denver police get ready for a not too pretty site, and the rest of the country get ready for President John McCain.


  21. JohnH says:

    At this rate, Clinton will need BIG wins in Texas and Ohio. Simply winning may not be enough–unless she can convince her friends at the DNC to seat the delegates from FL and MI, which would indeed mean civil war at the convention.
    Her biggest problem is that she has been willing to sacrifice her political career to the Occupation of Iraq. Give her credit for being steadfast, if not stubborn. (What sitting President does that remind you of?)


  22. Seeya says:

    This landslide sweep is the tidal wave acomin’ and he never looked backed.


  23. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s not just psychological. Obama just stretched out his pledged delegate lead further. But it’s true there is also a psychological effect. Maine was supposed to provide the one momentum brake in the middle of a run of Obama victories. Now if the polls hold up in Maryland, DC and Virginia, Obama will have strung together seven consecutive wins (eight, counting the Virgin Islands.) The added momentum may also help to determine margins of victory on Tuesday, which will have some influence on the delegate counts.


  24. susan says:

    “I think the Clinton camp has huge strengths out there in big states — but these small state losses are at minimum psychologically seductive..”
    Whistling past the graveyard?


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