Notwithstanding the nightmarish situations in Florida and Michigan, where Democrats may re-vote after their delegates were originally stripped by the Democratic National Committee as punishment for the states moving up their primary dates against party rules, the question of the campaign has shifted from raw numbers to opinionated measures of competitiveness.
Obama says he is the most competitive candidate to face presumptive GOP nominee John McCain because he has won the most contested races (26 states plus Washington, D.C., the Texas caucus, the Virgin Islands and Democrats Abroad to Clinton’s 14 states and American Samoa), the most pledged delegates (approximately 1,404 to 1,283) and perhaps most importantly, has fared much better than Clinton in states traditionally won by Republicans in the general election.
Obama’s strong showings and massive crowds in smaller-population states (Wyoming, Idaho) and midsized western and southern states (Colorado, South Carolina, Louisiana) make the case that he could attract independent and independently-minded voters who might expand the Democratic electorate in November.
Clinton, though having lost more contests and trailing in delegates, believes that she is more competitive because of her sway with traditional Democratic voters and her victories in large, influential states, including New York, California, Texas, Ohio and Florida, though her significant win in the Sunshine State’s “beauty pageant,” delegate-less vote has netted nothing substantive.
The value of victory, therefore, as a quality more subjective than objective, will define the Democratic nominee in the minds of voters and superdelegates as the campaign moves through Denver’s convention and beyond.