Last week, Iowa State political science professor, Steffen Schmidt (aka "Dr. Politics"), lectured in Waco. During that visit and in subsequent conversations, Schmidt pointed out that the much-trumpeted Latino loyalty toward Clinton seems much more a function of familiarity (or lack of familiarity with Obama) rather than a deep-seated personal affinity for Hillary. Moreover, based on the most recent polling, Mrs. Clinton's two firewalls (Hispanics and white women) both seem to be crumbling.

Things are tough in Clinton-land at the moment.

Having said that, and keeping in mind the above analysis, here is the equation as I see it:

The nomination is coming down to the super delegates. If they voted today, they would vote for Obama because he seems unstoppable. The good news for Clinton: they are not voting today. She has time to punch a hole in his balloon.


It will be very tough, but Clinton must sweep the upcoming final big three states (very difficult but not impossible). For all that has gone sour in her campaign, Hillary has consistently excelled in these upscale high-stakes contests. Then, most importantly, she must somehow break the "spell" of Obama by casting doubt on him in some way between now and the day of decision.

One promising development: Republicans are warming to the prospect of running against Obama. The smart guys are starting to see some very appealing flaws in his defenses. There are ways to hit him. The most liberal senator. "Cut and run" in a moment where it finally looks like we might get things turned around in Iraq. Al Sharpton. His Black Nationalist church. Some oldies but goodies: taxes, gun control, abortion, etc.

I have always seen Obama as a big gamble: he could prevail in a huge way ("painting the map blue" as he says). Or we could wake up from our trance midway through the coming fall election season and suddenly look at this guy and say: "what in the hell are we doing?"

An aside: An Election Day repudiation of Obama would be a national disaster. If this great hope for and emblem of reconciliation (racial and otherwise) gets that close and loses, the collective disillusionment will be colossal. As a people, we would be loath to deny this candidacy--but, on the other hand, shall we elect a president about whom we know almost nothing simply because we desire some sort of symbolic closure to our tortured racial history?

When not caught up in the fantasy, all of this gets fairly serious, precarious, and frightening.

Between now and this summer, I can certainly envision a moment in which strategically minded Democratic Party big-wigs entertain grave doubts about Obama's electability. In that scenario, three for the price of one (Obama as VP) may emerge as a much safer bet.

And, once again, I continue to wonder if Obama himself really believes in his heart of hearts that he is truly ready for this dance. He might find the second slot a welcome relief, finding a face-saving exit from a daunting task exacerbated by unreasonable expectations he has done so much to help create.