How Can Hillary Win the Nomination With Fewer Votes and Pledged Delegates?

The question is: At what cost to the rest of the Democratic party, and the nation?
EDITOR's NOTE: This post was written before the March 4 results were in. Hillary's wins were not large enough for her to make any significant gains in the overall delegate count and she still trails by several hundred thousand in the overall popular vote.


When a top Hillary Clinton advisor predicted on February 16 that his candidate would "lock down" the Democratic nomination, called the number of elections and delegates won by Barack Obama "irrelevant," and later characterized the race as "wide open," it occurred to me that in the homestretch to March 4th, and what could be the decisive primaries, Clinton's campaign is relying heavily on magical thinking.

These bold statements, from longtime Clinton cohort Harold Ickes, demand subscription to the notions that if superdelegates are willing to flout what is currently Obama's lead in the popular vote and pledged delegates, and Clinton manages to get the renegade Michigan and Florida delegates seated at the convention--and wins either Texas or Ohio, then she will land the nomination for the presidency.

This reasoning is pinned at present on diaphanous evidence, threatened lawsuits and some audacious fear-mongering. It is rooted in the Clinton campaign's emotional investment in a host of great expectations--to finish what Clinton started on the health care front in the 90s, to restore the Clinton legacy, and to elect the first woman president in U.S. history-- ideas which have lost their luster in the Democratic, and perhaps American psyche, since those golden days of inevitability.

As Joan Didion wrote in her memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, about her mental and emotional state after her husband's sudden death, this kind of thinking can set in when grief is too great to bear, and one cannot deal with the reality of death. "I had entered at the moment it happened a kind of shock in which the only thought I allowed myself was that there must be certain things I needed to do."

With Clinton's inevitability turned to dust and her losses in eleven straight contests pointing to the likely end of her campaign, the candidate and her staffers are busying themselves with ominous tasks to fend off the shock.

The question is: At what cost to the rest of the Democratic party, and the nation?
A former National Public Radio producer (”On the Media”) and staff writer for Variety, Jen’s also written for New York, The New York Observer, The Nation, Village Voice, National Law Journal, Salon, AlterNet, FireDogLake, DailyKos and other media outlets and blogs