(Cross-posted at BareNaked Pundits)
I'm a Barack Obama supporter. I have been since the DraftObama.org days of 2006. I want him to be the next president. And that's exactly why I want Hillary Clinton to stay in this race.
Let me be clear -- I realize it's a painful race. I realize we're losing the chance to go after McCain. And I'm frankly beside myself that Democrats are raising $90 million a month -- and using it to go after each other. I mean, that's a whole other level of pain. It's like getting a wisdom tooth pulled... by a proctologist (sorry).
And realistically, if I were Hillary, I would drop out at this point. She's got virtually no chance of beating Obama in pledged delegates, nor in the popular vote. And even the long-shot scenario -- superdelegates voting to give her the nomination anyway -- has become a really long shot. At this point, she'd need 2/3 of superdelegates to overturn the popular will, and that's a tall order.
But here's the thing...
...if she still thinks she can win it, and if her supporters do, she needs to stay in until she comes to the conclusion herself that she has no chance. I hate to use an AA analogy, but unless she moves beyond the "Denial" stage to the "Acceptance" one, the post-exit Hillary would be an embittered one who feels she was "robbed" of her chance at the nation's highest office.
And that would suck. She, and her supporters, would almost certainly have a lot less enthusiasm for the general election. Oh sure, they'd vote for Obama. But would they donate? Would they volunteer? Would they exude an enthusiasm likely to prove infectious to friends, family, co-workers, etc.? No. At least not to the extent they could.
Most of them would still be lingering in that bitter stage of "denial."
Frankly, I wish this race were over. I wish it had ended that night in New Hampshire. But it didn't. And as painful as it will be to keep it going until PA on 4/22 or Indiana and NC on 5/6, that pain will be a lot less than 5 or 6 months of resentment and withdrawl from millions of otherwise incredibly impassioned Democrats.
Hillary needs to lose in a way that even her supporters agree is a game-ender. A surprise loss in PA would do that. A double loss in Indiana and NC would arguably do that. But short of that, we're likely looking at something that lasts well into May, and possibly June 3rd (Montana).
Somewhere during that time frame, Hillary will be mathematically eliminated from both a pledged delege victory, and a popular vote victory. At that point, there simply will be no more room for denial. At that point, the pressure will become overwhelming for her to drop out -- both from others, and most likely, from herself as well.
And at that point, I believe she and the sizable bulk of her supporters will go through the typical stages of any primary campaign loss -- disappointment, frustration that the "best" candidate didn't win, but... a grudging realization that they were beat fair and square, and that it's time to line up behind the winner.
In the meantime, again, I realize it's a painful race. I wish it were over. I wish we were united against McCain. I wish we were not spending $90 million (ouch!!!) a month to go after each other.
But that's the situation we're in. It is what it is. And as painful as it is now, I'd rather go through some "pain" right now, to have a much better chance of "gain" in the general election