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Rashamon Wednesday

Everyone is still digesting and spinning last night’s results, but here’s Matt Stoller:

The consensus seems to be that Obama took a slight edge last night, and has something of a path to the the nomination. It’s worthwhile to note that both candidates must still compete with each other for votes, which is excellent from a progressive perspective. It’s extremely tempting for a candidate to ‘move to the center’ once the Democrats are locked up behind them, and to forget about fights like FISA and simply focus on the large poll-tested themes, field campaigns, and big media personalities.

But the campaign will go on, which will put renewed pressure on smaller bore fare, like Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of a Fox News debate, Barack Obama’s discussion of health care mandates, or any of the innumerable policy fights going on over the next administration on global warming, farm policy, lobbying disclosure, or foreign policy. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton must now compete over multiple types of Democratic voters, activists, and elites. And this is good for those activists and voters, who will have more of a say over the next nominee, and possibly, the next President.

I respect Matt but disagree on almost everything. Obama’s California defeat was devastating; both campaigns made it ground zero for all their firepower, pulling out all the stops and Clinton won decisively in groups she’s had a hard time competing with before — everything but African Americans and young white men, atheists and people who make between 159-400k a year. Gays broke huge for her, so did Asians and Latinos, churchgoers, married people seniors — as did young people 18-24 in both Massachusetts and California. As Dave Dayden said at Calitics, "Clinton SMOKED Obama in the hard-to-reach areas of SoCal and the Central Valley." It was a heavily contested battle where we got to see everything they’ve got, and Clinton scored a decisive victory.

The Obama campaign won every media cycle in the days before Super Tuesday largely based on the Kennedy endorsements, and despite this he took a 14 point drubbing in Massachusetts. The boost he was supposed to get among Latinos based on the Teddy factor never materialized. If I was the Obama campaign I’d be scratching my head this morning going "what do we do for an encore?"

I imagine they’ll accept the Fox News debate challenge and don’t think netroots opposition to it will play a factor in the decision. And in the battle for superdelegates, the messaging of both campaigns will be tuned toward party establishment, not progressives. Obama has to be happy that the upcoming caucuses heavily favor him. And that he’s got a lot more money than Clinton does. Going forward the ability to outspend Hillary is going to mean more than what activists might think.

But I do agree with mat that going forward we will probably get a lot of policy discussion, which is a plus. Clinton definitely thinks that worked for her. Obama’s strength last night was the supermajorities he achieved from superior field. His decision to run an establishment campaign based on endorsements in the final days may have created some momentum, but it undermined his message of "change" and shifted the debate onto more wonkish territory where Clinton probably has a bit of an advantage. Her successful debate performance the other night, and her ability to drill down into policy specifics may have had quite an impact.

Like others, though, I don’t see how this doesn’t go all the way to the convention.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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