“We [the Clinton campaign] basically ceded every one of these small red states that he has racked up victories in. And the reason that he has racked up victories at this level isn’t because he was so much more well received, or because his message was any better; it was because we didn’t put any resources in there. We weren’t campaigning there. We didn’t have anybody in Utah, in Idaho, in the Dakotas. In Alaska.” ~New York Observer

It’s been interesting to watch as reporters and bloggers (including myself) concluded that there was something deficient in Romney’s campaign because he kept winning uncontested races, caucuses and primaries in states where he had natural advantages or personal connections, but many of the same people treat Obama’s rather similar pattern of wins as meaningful evidence of his campaign’s increasing strength and proof that Clinton is slipping and on the verge of collapse.  One obvious reason for the different treatment is that very few people wanted Romney to win and perceived everything he did, even his victories, as evidence of his weakness as a candidate, while many reporters and bloggers very clearly want Obama to prevail over Clinton. 

But the argument for Obama doesn’t make much sense: how can the candidate who mostly wins uncontested caucuses be considered the leading candidate in the field?  This isn’t a question of whether the states he has won “count” or not, but whether the victories there are all that meaningful when he faced no serious opposition there.  Look at the delegate count, someone will say.  Well, all right, but for several weeks Romney was the undisputed delegate leader, but that had been based mostly on his success in two uncontested Western caucuses.  Many people noted that Romney did best in the Mountain West, which seemed to make him the regional “Western” candidate, but where he really performed well was in those states where the other campaigns (except Ron Paul’s, which also did well out there) were hardly present.  The profile of Romney victories made it clear that he cannot win seriously contested primaries, just as Huckabee’s victories and competitive showings make it clear that he doesn’t fare well where there is not a strong concentration of conservative Christian and evangelical voters.  Obama’s victories are remarkably like Romney’s in their character and even their location (with a couple exceptions).  Even if Romney had not had such a large delegate deficit, he would have had to recognise that he was going to have relatively few chances to win in the next three months.  With the possible exception of Wisconsin, Obama is looking forward to a similar scenario, and Wisconsin is by no means guaranteed for him.  It is, of course, the p.r. system that the Democrats have that has made it as close as it is, and which promises to keep it closer than it would be, and it is making Obama appear much more viable than he probably is. 

All that said, Clinton needs to win Wisconsin to end her drought and put a stop to talk of her imminent collapse.