Jewish Journal

Nobody knows anything

by Pol Observer

March 3, 2008 | 11:06 am

I want to go on record today with a bold prediction:

I don’t have a clue what is going to happen tomorrow in the Ohio and Texas primaries.

We keep learning the hard way that when it comes to the 2008 election, nobody knows anything.  This year, we are much better at figuring at how what it all means after each event happens than we are at knowing what will happen.

A month ago, Clinton owned Ohio and Texas.  Obama began to gain and moved into a tie in both.  It looked as if he would keep going and knock her out.  But now polls are showing Hillary gaining in Ohio while Texas remains close.  The uncertainty is so great that both camps are already posturing on the post-election interpretation. 

Obama’s turnout machine could win both states, and effectively end the race.  Or Clinton could win both.  I could easily see a result that is so ambiguous that the race goes on at least until the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

That brings Jewish voters back into the story since unlike Texas and Ohio, the Keystone State has a large Jewish population.  But wait, remind me to remind myself: nobody knows anything.

This delicious uncertainty is turning 2008 into the most extraordinary election year.  We are all spectators.

Clinton’s campaign at this stage reminds me of the agent played by Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire, whose client played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., says, “You’re hanging on by a very thin thread, Jerry.  And i dig that about you!” 

The staff and consultants are jumping ship, saying they played no role in the campaign (e.g., Mark Penn), others are blaming others in the campaign, everybody’s blaming Bill, superdelegates are deserting, and the end seems nigh.  Yet Clinton raised $35 million in February with 200,000 new donors, and is scoring punches on Obama. 

The Clinton campaign is bleeding, fighting against getting knocked out, and may yet throw a winning haymaker.  The pre-primary pressure on Clinton to pull out after tomorrow has undoubtedly backfired by steeling the Clinton spine.

Meanwhile, Obama is facing test after test, including the dreaded “red phone” commercial, and finding himself challenged both by Clinton and by John McCain.  He’s raising money like there is no tomorrow, and hoping to pull out a win in Texas with a high turnout from his enthusiastic supporters. 

We will leave for another day the question about whether this incredible, unprecedented nomination campaign between two popular, well funded Democrats is good or bad for the party.  There are good arguments on both sides. 

Right now, it’s time to get out the popcorn and see what happens next.

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Raphael J. Sonenshein (born 1949 in Nutley, New Jersey) was a political science professor at California State University, Fullerton. He is also served as chairman of the...

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