Meet the man who made it happen for Obama

Meet the man who made it happen for Obama


    Was it Mark Penn’s strategic failure that sunk Hillary?

Lesson 101 of any course on political gambling would surely be “before risking money on an election make sure that you understand how the electoral process works”

What’s fairly obvious for a punter should also apply many times over if you are devising and implementing the strategy for a multi-million dollar campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for a major figure such as Hillary Clinton.

Yet if reports of his thinking are to be believed then the blame for Hillary’s failure, finally confirmed overnight, must be put on Mark Penn – the boss of one of the world’s leading PR firms who until a couple of months ago was running the show. Quite simply he didn’t understand the rules – Barack Obama did.

Just read this from Time: “…. As aides looked over the campaign calendar, chief strategist Mark Penn confidently predicted that an early win in California would put her over the top because she would pick up all the state’s 370 delegates. It sounded smart, but as every high school civics student now knows, Penn was wrong: Democrats, unlike the Republicans, apportion their delegates according to vote totals, rather than allowing any state to award them winner-take-all. Sitting nearby, veteran Democratic insider Harold M. Ickes, who had helped write those rules, was horrified — and let Penn know it. “How can it possibly be,” Ickes asked, “that the much vaunted chief strategist doesn’t understand proportional allocation?”

Now the attention will be on Obama’s V-P choice and whether or not he goes for Hillary. This one is going to run because the defeat of Hillary who came within a whisker in the popular vote is going to lead to massive pressure for her to be put on the ticket.

Does Barack show that he’s his own man by rejecting this – or will it be better for party unity to bring Hillary on board? It’s a hard call and, technically it’s not for him to make. The decision on who should be the V-P nominee will, like the President slot, be made by the delegates to the party convention in Denver – a large proportion of whom are fierce supporters of Hillary.

Punters betting in the V-P market need to understand the rules. I am long on Hillary because I believe that party pressure will be such that it’s going to be difficult for him not to offer it to her. Some others disagree strongly.

But that’s what political betting is all about.

Mike Smithson

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