In the aftermath of the Reverend Wright tornado, many of Barack Obama's most ardent supporters have begun to feel a bit of trepidation, a kind of uncertainty that is deeply unsettling. What was easily the most trying week for the Obama campaign appeared to follow a week that was nearly as bad. With the Clinton campaign on the war path, pressing their message that Obama's candidacy would be doomed in November, and with a hungry media, happy to oblige in repetition, it has become difficult for some to wade through the spin to the truth. Is November really slipping from Obama's grasp? Is the nomination?
The answer to both is a resounding no.
As the race for the Democratic nomination nears its end, the Clinton campaign is entirely dependent on superdelegates overturning the pledged delegate count. Her best -- and only -- argument to the superdelegates is to paint Obama as unelectable, and to have that message echoed through the mainstream media. But were there any inclination among superdelegates to lean toward Obama, what better time than now? Coming off so many lost news cycles, a disappointing loss in Pennsylvania, and a pastor out of control, Obama's candidacy has hit its low point.
Yet there is no indication whatsoever that superdelegates are inching toward Clinton. Quite the contrary, Obama has picked up more superdelegates than Clinton since his loss in Pennsylvania and Reverend Wright's reemergence. Among them were Joe Andrew, former DNC chair and former Clinton supporter. In an open letter to other superdelegates, Andrew warned:
"No amount of spin or sleight of hand can deny the fact that where there has been competition, Senator Obama has won more votes, more States and more delegates than any other candidate. Only the superdelegates can award the nomination to Senator Clinton, but to do so risks doing to our Party in 2008 what Republicans did to our country in 2000. Let us be intellectually consistent and unite behind Barack Obama."
It seems clear that other superdelegates will agree. Paul Kirk, another former DNC chair, is expected to announce for Obama today, as well. And Senator Claire McCaskill, one of Obama's most vocal advocates, reported that among remaining undeclared elected superdelegates on Capitol Hill, the vast majority are actually unannounced rather than uncommitted. Her whip count has Obama with the lead, enough for her to quote James Brown's "I feel good."
With no shred of evidence to suggest that superdelegates would even contemplate overturning the pledged delegate winner, it is possible, but extraordinarily unlikely, that Clinton will be handed the nomination.
Campaigns so often fail when those running them lose sight of the goal line. David Axelrod, David Plouffe, and Barack Obama have their eye clearly on the ball. The ball is John McCain, the goal line, November. Even as Hillary speaks of Obama's inability to win in the general those states he lost in the primary, a new Quinnipiac poll shows him with a nine point lead over McCain in Pennsylvania.
At a time that is clearly Obama's lowest point and easily McCain's highest, McCain still can't move beyond the margin of error. Once Obama can pivot to the general election, and spend his money and efforts defining McCain as he should be defined -- an extension of the Bush presidency in every respect -- McCain's numbers are guaranteed to drop. With 81% of the country looking for a new direction, they simply need to be convinced that McCain is nothing new. What easier sale could there be?
Throughout the election, the Obama campaign has consistently demonstrated a keen ability to stay on message, on target, and in striking distance. They have earned a credibility that cannot be so easily squandered by Reverend Wright's ranting and a media itching for a new storyline. They will weather this storm, because we will weather this storm. The movement that Obama has built, the new kind of politics that grows from it, has not been diminished or quieted. We are still here. We are still strong.
Will Obama win this election? Yes he will. Because yes, we can.