Knowing Where the Battleground Is: Hillary and Obama

People commonly make strategic mistakes by fighting on the wrong battleground. For example, assuming neither Democratic candidate blows it completely, neither can win enough votes in the primaries to secure the nomination. This means that the real battleground is now in the political back-rooms. The Democratic super-delegates have a problem and Hillary is trying to solve it for them by clever positioning. Though Obama will likely be the leader in the delegates count, he has shown weakness in all the battleground states. This means the super-delegates have a job that they don’t want, picking the nominee, and a choice that is impossible: choosing between popularity and electability. What’s worse is that any choice will alienate an important segment of the party and the super-delegates themselves will get the blame. Understanding their situation, the Clinton campaign is adroitly offering alternatives that just happen to favor Hillary’s nomination: re-dos in Michigan and Florida and having Obama as Veep. Since Michigan and Florida are large, important states that would likely swing the delegate balance to Hillary, the “re-do” option addresses the issue of the popular vote. The Obama as VP issue is a way of addressing the resulting divisions in the party. Obama doesn’t seem yet to realize that he has to get his own positions for addressing the super-delegate’s dilemma on the table. It isn’t about just winning primaries any more.