Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress yesterday that the
country is probably already in a recession.
This announcement is likely to have serious political ramifications. First, it
will put the economy squarely in the middle of the election debate and cause the
candidates to be peppered with more questions about the economy than about Iraq and
other topics. Second, bad economic times generally help the Democrats as they
are viewed as the party willing to actively take measures to create jobs
(Obama has already proposed spending a lot of money on rebuilding the nation's
infrastructure, for example). Republicans generally prefer to let market forces
solve the problem (if many people are unemployed, wages will be forced down and
companies will find it attractive to hire these new cheap workers, thus creating
more jobs). Third, when someone gets laid off, he or she tends to look for someone
to blame and more often than not it is the President and his party. You don't
have to be Herbert Hoover to suffer political damage from a recession. This year
all three factors help the Democrats in part because John McCain has never claimed
economics as his forte. His strength is national security and to the extent people
are worried about being fired rather than worried about a terrorist attack, they will
look to the Democrats for answers.
Talking Points Memo has more on the Sirota
race chasm story discussed here Tuesday.
One noteworthy item that has been under the radar is the slow but steady movement
of the superdelegates towards Obama. The table below shows the estimates of various
news sources of Barack Obama's lead over Hillary Clinton on March 6 (thus after
the Texas and Ohio elections) and today. Two things stand out. First, the spread
is much less. The various sources are beginning to converge on the same numbers as
more and more superdelegates announce their positions. Second, Obama's lead is
slowly but inexorably growing. His lead has grown by 30 in the past month.
After Pennsylvania and North Carolina vote, it will probably still be something around
120-130 because Clinton's expected win in Pennsylvania is likely to be cancelled by
Obama's expected win in North Carolina.
CQPolitics has a story on the math.
Bottom line: Obama has the holy trinity on his side: most delegates, most states,
and most popular votes. To convince the remaining superdelegates to go for her, she
has to take the lead in at least one of the categories by doing very well in the
remaining primaries and caucuses.
New York Times
No new primary polls today but one new general election poll shows
both Clinton and Obama beating McCain in Pennsylvania, she 48% to 40%
and he 43% to 39%.
Here are the delegate totals from various news sources rounded to integers
(Democrats Abroad has 22 delegates, each with 1/2 vote).
The sources differ because in most caucus states, no delegates to the national conventions have
been chosen yet, just delegates to the district, county, or state convention so there is some
guesswork involved. Furthermore, some of the unpledged delegates are elected at state conventions in May or June.
Finally, the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) sometimes waver and may tell different reporters
slightly different stories that they interpret differently.