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What Went Wrong: My Take

By David

Plenty of URL’s have already been spilled on "what went wrong," but before Hillary Clinton’s presidential run is ushered off the stage of history, my take is that it comes down to one thing: The Delegate Hunt.

In the days before Super Tuesday, at a visit to a state Obama campaign office, a couple of local campaign coordinators pointed to a computer with grassroots campaign events like "Dogwalking for Obama" and "Yoga for Obama" and "Salsa for Obama" and said to me, “This is a hunt for delegates.”

How right they were. Some very bright person in the Obama office obviously figured out that you could nickel-and-dime a victory in this thing by organizing in usually overlooked places and piece by piece amount enough delegates to keep the race competitive.

This was a bold strategy. Every previous primary campaign had ended before people were even able to find out how many delegates states like North Carolina and Montana even apportioned, as media and momentum crowned a winner, or at least frontrunner, early on. Why the Clinton team never figured out a way to counteract this, even after Super Tuesday, is a mystery.

As tempting as it is to lay blame at the Clinton’s feat, it’s worth pausing to note that they got in the way of whirlwind. Faced with Obama-mania, all they could really do was cower (and of course, make a dramatic turn to the populist right.)

In hindsight, it is worth remembering how flat-footed everybody was by this phenomenon. To wit, can anyone remember when the last time there was a primary upset in American presidential primaries, a time when the anointed frontrunner from the start wasn’t crowned the nominee at the convention?

The answer, at least since the modern primary process began in 1972, is never.

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