The Tudor-Era Fall in the English Standard of Living
101b Exam After-Action Report

Good Horse-Race Journalism from Jackie Calmes

If you are going to cover politics as a horse-race, here is how to do it:

Clinton Bets Big on Ohio and Texas: Hillary Clinton's public bet that Ohio and Texas will be the firewall that salvages her presidential hopes from immolation is shaping up to be the biggest gamble of her campaign -- and perhaps the decisive one.... Before last week's near draw with Democratic rival Barack Obama in Super Tuesday's 22 state contests, her campaign had foreseen trouble ahead for the rest of February. That rough patch is shaping up to be 10 straight defeats. Sen. Clinton needed to signal to supporters -- and, more important, to donors -- that there would be a place to stop the Obama momentum. The March 4 votes in Ohio and Texas, with 389 total convention delegates between them, offered the first realistic prospect for Sen. Clinton to make her comeback. "We expect change to begin March 4," chief strategist Mark Penn reiterated this week....

Texas Democrats include many Hispanics, while working-class voters dominate in Ohio -- the two groups that have been among the most supportive of Sen. Clinton in recent contests. Yet... both primaries are open to independent voters and even Republicans, who have supported Sen. Obama elsewhere. He arrives with momentum from his string of wins, all by wide margins, and more money for the airwave wars that began this week. In nearly every state that has voted to date, Sen. Clinton has led by double digits weeks before, only to see her leads melt by primary or caucus day....

Her elevation of Ohio and Texas to must-win status may well turn out to be a game-changer for the Democratic race.... [T]heir rivalry may be decided much as nominations have been in past years' contests -- based on perceptions: If Sen. Clinton doesn't win both states, she will be widely perceived to have lost.... "Momentum is a real phenomenon in the nominating process, and I think Obama has a real shot at beating her in both places," which would be "devastating," says Democratic consultant Tad Devine, a veteran of five presidential campaigns, who is neutral. Ohio Democratic consultant Dale Butland adds, "If she loses both, how does she justify going on?" Even a split decision could be a mortal wound, some Democratic strategists say.

But the Clinton campaign is planning to compete to the last contest: June 7 in Puerto Rico. Sen. Clinton continues to court the several hundred superdelegates -- party and elected officials -- who remain uncommitted, and to fight to overturn previously agreed-to penalties against Michigan and Florida so their pro-Clinton delegations can vote.

That seems to me to be a very bad move: talking about changing the rules costs you now--among superdelegates and among the informed observers whose discussions help to shape primary voters' opinions.