As the punditocracy, blogosphere and, well, anyone following the race pondered when Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) will gracefully or not-so-gracefully end her campaign and coverage shifted to what will be Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) general election strategies, the Los Angeles Times raised an interesting point Sunday. Tad Devine, the Democratic strategist who helped formulate the current nominating process and has not endorsed a candidate, said that most are overlooking: If Clinton bowed out now, it would look bad for Obama to lose West Virginia and Kentucky to a candidate that is no longer running. Here are the key grafs:
How would that look if at the end of the Democratic race the winning candidate with clearly the most delegates and popular votes went down to defeat against a candidate who isn't in the contest anymore? Ouch! That would tend to overshadow his expected wins in Oregon and Montana.
'If [Obama] lost to a candidate who's withdrawn, that would hurt him a lot,' says Devine. 'And there's a good chance that could happen.'
The Times wisely points out that 27 percent of Republicans in the Pennsylvania primary voted for someone other than McCain, a fact that deserves more coverage. Under this theory, Clinton would actually be doing Obama a favor by staying in the race through June 3, when the primaries end, as long as she focusing on attacking McCain and not Obama. Based on her campaign stops over the weekend, it appears Clinton is doing exactly that.
Crossposted at The Streak.