The Democratic Party has problems. The primary delegate system may not be able to award either candidate with the 2025 delegates needed to win prior to the Democratic National Convention in the summer. Even worse, two separate controversies could undermine the eventual nominee.
First, two significant swing states, Florida and Michigan, were penalized by losing their delegates for breaking party rules. So Democratic voters in two states have been effectively disenfranchised by the party.
Second, superdelegates, a status granted elected officials and party poobahs, have votes that could decide the nomination. Presently, there are 796 superdelegates (not including Florida and Michigan). Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) leads Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) in
superdelegates -- 223-128 -- with the majority remaining undecided.
The Democrats clearly want to avoid any solution that doesn't involve democracy. But there's a potential solution that could solve all the party's problems: a combined Clinton-Obama presidential ticket.
I wrote some time ago that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be a
disaster, fearing that a woman and African-American candidate on the same ticket would be too much for American voters. But the Democratic presidential primaries have proved that Democrats are energized. Not only has turnout soared to record levels in many states, but Democrats have made gains in important voter blocs, with credit for this due to both remaining candidates.
Obama has been widely credited with attracting young voters, particularly college students, and that may augur well for Democrats for years to come. Some independents have been drawn to his message of unity. Furthermore, he has attracted many black voters to the ballot box in Southern states.
Clinton has helped invigorate women's voting. Single women's impact on primary elections has been growing, as according to a study by a not-for-profit Women's Voices Women's Vote, they account for 25% of the electorate. Exit polls from the major news outlets, including
, show Clinton's victories have come largely through the support of female voters, some voting for the first time. She's also gotten strong support from Latino voters, low-income voters and seniors.
Both Clinton and Obama have eye-popping fund-raising potential. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Clinton's campaign raised more than $115 million last year; Obama's raised $103 million. The funds continue to flow in 2008. The Clinton campaign has anecdotally raised more than $20 million in six weeks -- $10 million alone in the last week from the Internet.
And the Obama campaign says it's raised almost $40 million, much of that through online donations. These numbers blow away Republican fund-raising.
Clinton and Obama also might prove an excellent mix as candidates. Clinton has fought the battles of the past and won, whereas Obama symbolizes the future battles to be won.
Clinton has convinced many Democrats that she's the more experienced candidate ready to take the reins on day one. In debates, she demonstrates incredible facility with the inner workings of policy matters. While some question the experience argument, what cannot be doubted is Clinton's ability to deal with attacks from the press and conservatives. She has dealt with harsh criticism in the political arena for 16 years straight. That image also will help her in foreign affairs, where Democrats often face charges of being weak.
Obama represents future change as the fresh face of the party. His campaign has been based less on issues and more on the belief he can deliver change and hope to the American people. He preaches with soaring rhetoric in his speeches. His words have drawn huge crowds to hear him on the campaign stump in every state he has campaigned in. Moreover, political pundits and supporters have drawn parallels to figures from the past, like John F. Kennedy. His inspiration plays into American's desire for change. According to Gallup polls, Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction by a 3-to-1 margin.
At the debate in Hollywood, both candidates dodged the question of running with each other. They are politicians, after all. But the Clinton campaign may be warming to the idea, albeit with its candidate being the president. Terry McCauliffe, a former Democratic Party chairmain and national co-chairman of the Clinton campaign, recently
appeared on a show in New York saying Obama would be a good running mate for Clinton. Bill Clinton also appeared in a video interview with
The Washington Post
saying the same thing. It sounds like the campaign has seriously considered this strategy.
There have been no similar sounds coming from the Obama campaign embracing Clinton as a running mate, but the idea of a Clinton-Obama ticket could help the Democrats. It serves several purposes; it combines fund-raising prowess and voting blocks, mixing strengths and weaknesses. And most important, it gets the party out of a very tight spot of a political deadlock that could hurt its momentum heading toward a general election.