By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

As goes Maine …

Despite the current conventional wisdom that the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton race will go all the way to the end of the primaries, I keep thinking that, at some point, the familiar dynamic will kick in. That is, one of them will be perceived to have gained an edge, and will start to roll.

Could the Maine caucuses have been a harbinger of that moment? Isn’t this the first time since Iowa that Obama has won a state he wasn’t supposed to win?

RealClearPolitics now has Obama ahead in delegates. He’s beating Clinton in the popular vote by a margin of 8.2 million to 8 million. He’s primed to win Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Clinton’s campaign is hurting for money and in disarray at the top. And — let’s be honest — the national press is openly rooting for Obama, with David Shuster’s sleazy comment about Chelsea Clinton only the most recent manifestation. (Although that could spark a protest vote in Clinton’s favor, as it may have in New Hampshire.)

No predictions — there are many scenarios. But one of the more plausible of those scenarios is that Clinton’s wobbly campaign will topple over sometime after Tuesday. Even though the March schedule supposedly favors her, it’s not going to matter if there’s a stampede in Obama’s direction as he keeps winning state after state.

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  1. mike_b1

    Joe Klein at Time (and subsequently someone at the NYT) has pointed out recently that throughout the race Obama has cleaned up in caucuses while Clinton has scored in primaries, and this owes to the differing natures of the two processes.

  2. —Larz

    I went to the caucus in Boothbay, Maine and could hardly get in the door. There was incredible enthusiasm for Obama. The tally for Boothbay was 94 Obama, 34 Clinton. The numbers may not seem large, but consider the ratio. Two other towns, Boothbay Harbor and Southport also held caucuses in the same hall, so it was absolute mayhem — 550 people.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: That’s true, but Clinton was supposed to win these particular caucuses. Maine is in her wheelhouse — nearly all white, a lot of working-class and poor people, lower income, lower education. And Obama cleaned up.

  4. Michael Pahre

    There is obviously a lot of confusion in the public about the two kinds of delegates (pledged and super), as well as who is leading in what category.The Boston Globe today screwed up on page A1 by incorrectly stating that Obama does not have the “outright lead in pledged delegates nationwide.”While you quote RealClearPolitics as putting Obama ahead in total delegates (pledged and super), most sources still put Clinton ahead by a bit (25-35) in that combined category.But all sources seem to agree that Obama is leading in pledged delegates, a distinction that the Globe appears to have missed on their front page.

  5. The Scoop

    David Shuster’s comment wasn’t “sleazy” or anything like that at all. “Pimping out” is a pretty common phrase that my younger generation uses, with no sexual or demeaning context, to describe when one person is using another for their own gain. I can’t believe how bad the backlash has been over Shuster’s comment, and I was shocked to hear he’s being punished.

  6. Sean Roche

    Obama’s momentum and the emotional nature of his appeal seems to serve him better for the caucuses than regular primaries, so Klein has not been alone in predicting victories for him in the caucuses. (Of course, those victories will probably improve his chances in regular primaries.)The Scoop,Find one instance of Mitt Romney being accused of “pimping out” his five adult boys or Mike Huckabee “pimping out” his adult daughter and I’ll buy your it’s-just-talking argument. Until then, it’s just sleazy.

  7. man who knows chelsea is a sharp cookie

    I think a lot of people liked Kerry “pimping” out Vanessa & Alexandra back in 2004…wowza! 🙂

  8. The Scoop

    Sean, I think you missed my point. It is unfair that people are accusing Hillary of using her daughter for political gain, while the other candidates don’t face similar scrutiny.But the term “pimping out” itself is not sleazy at all. That’s what people say all the time today. I can almost guarantee that Shuster didn’t mean it in a demeaning or sexual way and never even thought that anyone would interpret it that way, because that’s how accepted it is.

  9. Anonymous

    I still think the demographics in Ohio and Texas fair well for Clinton. It will take some serious campaigning for Obama to pull those states off.

  10. Brian F.

    Keith Olberman used the term “pimped out” to describe Gen. Petraus. Surprise, surprise…no outcry then.

  11. Anonymous

    Sorry Scoop standards are different when you’re talking to friends and when you’re writing to a general public. Your friends may understand it one way — but my grandmother’s going to understand it quite differently.

  12. Anonymous

    The term “pimping out” is slang and should not be used in professional communication, because not everyone will understand that it is slang. The misunderstanding is magnified because Chelsea is female. (Would Shuster have even thought to use it if the Clintons had a son? Quite frankly, I think he said that because he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton.)

  13. Sean Roche

    Brian F.,One difference: methinks that Mr. Olbermann actually meant the unseemly connotation.

  14. The Scoop

    Anonymous 12:14: So, just because your grandmother understands a term differently than in the way it was meant, that means the person who spoke it deserves a suspension from his job? I don’t think that should exactly be the standard for how we judge these things. That’s the way people talk these days, and if you’re not up with the times, that’s your fault.

  15. Steve

    Off-topic, or rather on a previous topic: Kevin Drum has a pollster report card here.Not great as far as methodology, but as a coarse-level compilation of data, it’s interesting.SurveyUSA comes out on top, for what it’s worth.

  16. Powdworker

    I too agree that the slang was too new-ish to be used in professional communication.Some years ago, I was working on a Bay State copy desk when a reporter about 10 years younger than I submitted a restaurant review that included the phrase “a killer lobster salad.” I had to explain to him that for some people, especially the older ones, would have taken that to mean exactly the OPPOSITE of what he had intended. 🙂

  17. Anonymous

    If Shuster didn’t mean it when he ised the term ‘pimped out’ then what was he doing, using it just to be cool and hip? Why doesn’t he try this on for size, report and comment on the news, and leave the entertainment value at the pub.

  18. Anonymous

    Scoop,This is anonymous 12:14. Clearly based on the response more people than my Grandmother would have trouble understanding pimping out. (I frankly agree that it’s insulting to women because of the origin of the term in spite of what it’s so called intention might be.) But even if it was just my Grandmother who had the problem it’s still inappropriate because of just how likely it is to be misinterpreted — and it’s not her job to stay on top of the latest teen slang and what they think it means.

  19. MeTheSheeple

    He needs about 900 more delegates to win. She needs about 900 more delegates to win.The race is barely half over.Could Clinton drop out soon? Sure. And Putin could renounce his ways and start working full-time for Habitat affiliates, Richard Nixon could be reincarnated and become Buddha, and there’ll be a free turkey in every driveway. Sure.Regardless of which way the numbers are barely leaning, I think it’d be a mistake to think for an instant that Clinton’s going to throw in the towel unless it’s clear she’s been not just beat by numbers, but -beat-. That’s one determined person there; you don’t go this far in a presidential race without a lot of ambition.I believe the reverse, for Obama, is also very much true.

  20. The Scoop

    I just think it’s ridiculous that more and more in this country, all it takes is one person to speak up and say they were offended by a certain comment, and all of a a sudden the person who made the comment’s job is in jeopardy. Especially when that person clearly meant nothing harmful.They’re just words. If you misunderstand them or don’t like them or are even — God forbid — offended by them, it’s not the end of the world. If people got as worked up about curing disease and helping the poor as they do about what some talking head says on TV or some DJ says on the radio, this would be a much better country.

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