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Obama Campaign: Stress Cracks are Showing

With six long weeks to go before the next primary, Barack Obama's campaign will be making an effort to stem the steady slippage which began a few days before the Ohio and Texas primaries. This Op-Ed piece from U.S. News and World Reports seems particularly pessimistic.

The opening line of an Associated Press report posted online last night was not pretty:

Whites largely shunned Barack Obama in Mississippi 's Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday as the Deep South showed once again its reluctance to embrace him across racial lines.

Is this the beginning of the end for Obama? As I posted earlier this week, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jonathan Last wrote that Obama's victories have come mainly in states unlikely to be won by the Democrats in November in any event: states like Idaho, Utah, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Now there are questions about Obama's ability to win over white southern Democrats. Finally other writers are agreeing with what I referred to weeks ago as the Obama "phenom": That it is starting to show cracks. Consider this online Seattle Times op-ed by one John Carlson in which he tracks the excitement over Obama's campaign as trending down from a previously high arc:

But excitement is closely tied to momentum and the Obama campaign is losing both. The affection for him is genuine, but it's less a long-term romance than a crush.

Six days ago, Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing: "In Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton has opened a fifteen percentage point lead over Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows Clinton attracting 52% of the vote while Obama earns 37%."

The Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton race for the Democratic nod has been harder to follow than a ping-pong match. It sure looks as though heading into Pennsylvania, a very long six weeks from now, Obama faces the toughest phase of his historic campaign thus far.

For a few weeks now it's been Clinton setting the daily agenda, with Obama in reaction mode, but the next month and a half will give both of the campaigns plenty of time to position and message their candidate going into the all-important Pennsylvania primary. With Clinton trailing the incentive is on her to make the right moves, and Obama probably continuing to play it safe.

I wouldn't expect to see any daring moves from the Obama camp, but watch for Clinton to pull some stunts over the next several weeks.

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Comments (1)

Obama's trying to use the old Dean Smith "Four Corners Offense," made famous by the UNC basketball coach.

The difference between the Smith "spread" offense and the way most teams play it is that the Tar Heels were always looking to score from it, not just kill time and hold the ball (although they didn't mind the clock ticking, since they were usually in the lead when they employed the strategy).

Obama's just trying to kill the clock, trying not to lose by doing something stupid, and hoping his lead will stand up in the end. The problem for him is that the nomination isn't determined by who is "ahead" at the end: a MAJORITY of the delegates is required to nominate.

Will the Super Delegates go to a candidate who uses the "duck and cover" strategy? Will it work in the two full months of the general election campaign?

Doubt it - on both counts . . .


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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