Monday, August 25, 2008

Catch and Release

The Associated Press reports that Hillary Clinton will release her delegates from their pledge to vote for her for the presidential nomination at the Democratic convention that opens today in Denver.

That means that Barack Obama will get more votes than would otherwise have been the case. But I think this scenario is more dangerous for him.

If Clinton had held her delegates to their pledges, Obama would have won the nomination in a close vote. No one would have attributed any particular significance to that, because everyone knows that the primaries and the caucuses earlier this year produced such a result.

But the number of delegates who still vote for Clinton, even after being released, will give some indication of how many Clinton supporters might withhold their support from Obama in the November election. If, say, 25% or more of the Clinton delegates vote for her, that might put a damper on Obama's Rocky Mountain celebration.

If the general election is close (it may or may not be, but current polls so indicate), then it will be impossible to say that this factor or that factor "made the difference". The pundits will still say that, of course, but any number of factors could have changed the outcome. It seems to me that one of those factors will be the percentage of Clinton supporters who do, or do not, support Obama.

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