Sunday, March 09, 2008

Did I Really Say That?

The other day I agreed to do an interview with a reporter from the Ithacan, the student newspaper at Ithaca College, on the state of the presidential race after Super Tuesday II. Here is the portion of the interview that ran in the paper. Some interesting edits, and at least one transcription error, but it captures the general gist of what I said.

Political expert evaluates race after Ohio and Texas primaries

Contributing Writer |

Sen. Hillary Clinton walked away from Tuesday’s primaries with wins in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island. She had previously lost 11 consecutive state primaries to Sen. Barack Obama.

Contributing Writer Tim McQuade spoke with Steven J. Balla, associate professor of political science, of public policy and public administration, and of international affairs at George Washington University, about Tuesday’s results and the future of the campaign.

Tim McQuade: Do you see a clear front-runner between the two Democrats?

Steven Balla: There is clearly a frontrunner, and it’s Barack Obama. He has an overall lead in pledge delegates of about a hundred and that math didn’t change all that much as a result of last night’s primaries. … There are still a few more to be allocated both in Ohio and in Texas, but essentially the overall math did not change at all. Clinton made modest, at best, ground up on Obama. So the math is basically the same as it was [Tuesday], and there are 370 fewer delegates in play, which in essence means Obama is closer to the nomination today than he was yesterday.

TM: So you see Obama as clearly having the lead, even though the race is still very close.

SB: It is close. Does this mean that Obama is without a doubt the Democratic nominee? No, it doesn’t mean that. Does it mean that he is way more likely to be the nominee than Clinton? Yeah. That’s what it does mean.

TM: People have said super-delegates may play an important role in deciding this race for the Democrats. What exactly are super-delegates, and how can they decide the election?

SB: These are party leaders. I think in fact one super-delegate is Bill Clinton. … They will officially cast their ballot at the Democratic Convention. … The super-delegates could still change their support for Clinton or Obama. However, they are already having their say now in the heat of the primary season, in that, early on, they broke clearly for Clinton; of late there’s movement back towards Obama.

TM: Change has been a big concept for candidates. Do you see Clinton and Obama truly offering our country a legitimate change?

SB: That is especially relevant to ask of Obama because he is the one campaigning the platform of change. If you look at [Obama’s] voting record in the Senate, it’s a pretty standard, fair, liberal voting record that would make Ted Kennedy proud. … If change is measured in a state of mind, where people are changing their attitudes towards politics and becoming more excited, well, he certainly carries that rock-star quality with him, and there certainly has been that element of change. But if we are talking about policy change, I don’t think that label fits him very well.

TM: There are not a lot of important primaries left. What do you see as the important factors left for the Democratic presidential nominee?

SB: The assumption is that Obama will do pretty well in the upcoming small state primaries: Wyoming, Mississippi, North Carolina, Montana … What I think Hillary’s victories last night did for her was gave her an argument that she could make to the Democratic party about why she should continue on. How long she will actually continue on? I think it’s uncertain at this point.



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