In hushed tones, we spoke of bewilderment at our peer group's wholesale ingestion of the Obama Kool-Aid, of our of bafflement at what "change" we were supposed to "believe in," and of our distaste for the calculation of an obviously brilliant man to run an anti-intellectual campaign of revival meetings. We grumbled over the media's penchant to spin any Clinton statement, however self-evident or innocuous, into coded race-baiting -- while laughing off (or participating in) the myriad, explicitly gendered attacks on Clinton's persona. Mostly, we lamented that the woman we think would make the more electable candidate and better President will not likely get to be either. All the while, I suspected eavesdropping diners of incredulity that a respectable establishment would serve such class traitors as ourselves.
Why have I been afraid to admit publicly that I want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States? Have I been worried that my friends would desert me as an irretrievably racist war-monger? Anyone who knows me can't believe those things. Maybe it's just been easier not to correct the innumerable friends who have assumed in their emails ("we won Iowa!"), online status messages ("10,000 Grave Diggers for Hillary Clinton"), and general conversation that my ticket for the bandwagon was stamped long ago.
But Sunday's brunch has brought me to a critical mass of comings-out, and given me courage to think that there are other Clintonophiles lurking among the denizens of our over-educated demographic. So now I'm outing myself to the world. The Holy Prepuce is an Ivy League educated, East Coast urban professional, and he voted for Hillary Clinton. So there.
Now, as the only Clinton supporter you know, Dear Reader, I'm going to answer your question: should Clinton drop out of the race? Here's what I have to say about that:
Neither candidate will have enough pledged delegates to win, so the nomination is up to the superdelegates. The incessant suggestions that the superdelegates must "honor the popular vote" are nonsensical -- if superdelegates are supposed to rubber stamp the popular vote, what is the point of having superdelegates?
Despite media reports of x superdelegates for Clinton and y superdelegates for Obama, interviews and press releases are not the same as actual votes at the convention. When it comes time to cast their votes, superdelegates will have to ask themselves four questions: (1) Who would make the better President; (2)Who is more likely to beat John McCain; (3) Who is it publicly expedient -- e.g. to honor the primary popular vote -- to support; and (4) Who is it personally expedient to support? (While we may question the legitimacy of #4, this is politics, and politicians are a necessary evil thereof.)
Statements of support right now are probably based on a combination of #1 and #4, with increasing bits of #3 thrown in. But as the convention draws nearer, responsible superdelegates will need to take a hard look at #2. To do this, they will need to examine the polling data on electoral vote outcomes. As we learned in 2000 (and 1824, 1876, and 1888), it's electoral, not popular votes that matter. If either Democrat can beat McCain handily, then #2 is of little importance. But if the margins are small, or if one or both candidates actually trail McCain in the data, it's pretty hard to deny that #2 trumps the other factors. A losing ticket honoring the primary popular vote will not do the Democrats much good.
Indeed, elevating factor #2 above the primary popular vote is arguably the key purpose of superdelegates. They are intended as a countermajoritarian check on primary voters' penchant for selecting George McGoverns -- candidates pleasing to Democrats but unelectable in November. Is Obama the next McGovern? And could the superdelegates deliver a winning ticket by handing the nomination to Clinton? Take a look at the current (May 22) Obama vs. McCain and Clinton vs. McCain match-ups on Electoral-Vote.com. Obama trails McCain by 43 electoral votes; Clinton leads McCain by 99.
Will these numbers be the same in August? Will the superdelegates have the courage to overturn the popular vote? It's too early to say at this point. Which is exactly why Hillary Clinton should stay in the race.