MIKE PESCA, host:
Thank you, Mark. The results of the Pennsylvania primary are in, and John McCain has won. In other news, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by ten points in the popular vote, meaning she'll end up with a net gain of somewhere between five and ten delegates.
So, she'll barely cut into Senator Obama's delegate lead, but Clinton does bolster her argument that she wins the big states and the swing states, and maybe, and this is her plan, she'll be able to convince the superdelegates that she's the best candidate to back.
Joining us with analysis and perspective is Bill Scher, a liberal blogger at Campaign for America's Future and Liberal Oasis. He's also the author of "Wait! Don't Move to Canada." Welcome back to the BPP, Bill.
Mr. BILL SCHER (Author, "Wait! Don't Move to Canada;" Executive Editor, Liberal Oasis): Thanks so much for having me back.
PESCA: Does this further convince you not to move to Canada? These results?
Mr. SCHER: I don't know if Canada's campaigns are any better.
PESCA: Yeah, you were down...
Mr. SCHER: It has become interminable.
PESCA: You were down on pretty much everything we saw in the last six weeks, right? Of the entire tone of the campaign since the Mississippi primary?
Mr. SCHER: The campaign has become completely juvenile and trivial. I think it's largely fed by the media, because those are the sorts of things that they focus on, but the campaigns end up being influenced by that. They know if they whine and complain about some random stupid thing that a surrogate said, for example, they know they're going to get a headline the next day, so they jump on it.
So, the whole thing has kind of descended into idiocy, and makes the entire party look bad. Whereas, at the front of the process, things were still hard-fought, but there was a better sense of I know what this party is standing for. You don't see it as much now. I think Republicans and conservatives are just stocking up on popcorn.
PESCA: You - right, so when you start about the front of the process, you mean, for instance, the campaigning in Iowa served Iowans, but the...
Mr. SCHER: Absolutely. I mean, I felt - we talked about this in an earlier show. You know, at the front of this process, I think everyone knew, regardless of who your candidate was, you knew the Democratic Party was standing for universal healthcare, for fighting the war, for ending the occupation of Iraq, for reengaging in diplomacy around the world, and strengthening America's moral authority.
All that's still true. It's just not getting out there at all because all the focus is on this childish bickering, and that's why you start to see both candidates not poll as well vis-a-vis McCain as you did earlier in the year.
PESCA: Right. But as the campaign goes on, yes, we get more of this silly stuff, but another argument could be made that, you know, normally Pennsylvania shouldn't have even expected any campaigning.
And even if the media stories are centered on things like Tuzla, and bitter, and flag pins, those candidates did hundreds of appearances in this state, and people had more of a chance to see them than they ever - than anyone would have thought of a couple months ago.
Mr. SCHER: The campaign being long, in and of itself, is not a problem. I have no problem that there are 21 debates. That's great. It's great that we've had the time to delve into these issues. We just stopped delving into these issues.
PESCA: Right. Twenty-one debates in the abstract is good, but did you see the 21st debate? That's what you're saying. So, here's one observation from me about the results. I thought that the results were astounding in just how un-astounding they were.
Ten points was the exact total that Senator Clinton won in the demographically-similar state in Ohio. She won by very similar totals in all the demographic groups she was supposed to win, and afterwards, I even thought the spin from both campaigns were the same. What surprised you?
Mr. SCHER: I was surprised at, actually, how high the turnout was.
Mr. SCHER: Turnout has been higher than it has been. This was the highest turnout of any state of the entire race so far. And that hurt Obama because, you know, he has done well with non-Democrats, with Independents and Republicans, bringing new voters into the party. In Pennsylvania, their rules were you had to be a registered Democrat.
Obama had to actually register his supporters a month in advance if he was going to get those folks to the polls. He got a good amount. He got about 180,000 new voters to the polls, but that turnout was so high it diluted that impact.
PESCA: It is weird, because Obama is supposed to be the candidate who can excite new voters, maybe bring in the kids, but as you pointed out, the pattern is that he wins with smaller turnouts like in the caucuses, and the more people who turn out in general, that's better for Senator Clinton. How do you square those two things?
Mr. SCHER: Well, I mean, that's one argument. There's no question that Obama has been stronger in the caucus states overall. But there are certain states that Obama supporters would point to. They'd say look, this guy did well in Wisconsin. He did well in Virginia. He did well in Missouri.
You can't just say that he is incapable of winning states like this. Obviously, when you lose by, you know, nine, ten points in Pennsylvania, that's going to weaken that argument for him. So, he's going to have to dust himself off and prove himself somewhere else. But we also can over-extrapolate one contest, and forget about the other contests that happened before.
PESCA: Right. We have seen - and you alluded to this, think about all the stuff that we saw just in the timeframe of the Pennsylvania primary. Geraldine Ferraro, her comments and resignations, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the speech about Jeremiah Wright, sniper fire in Bosnia, Mark Penn leaving, the Obama speech in San Francisco where he talked about bitter voters clinging to God and guns, that debate with the lapel-pin showdown.
And yet, ten points is what most of the experts said it was, you know, a couple weeks ago? Do you think that all the stuff we saw had no effect? Or do you think maybe the effect was equally parsed out on both sides?
Mr. SCHER: It certainly didn't move a lot of voters.
Mr. SCHER: It may have - if you were not disposed to Obama in the first place, it might have re-enforced that, made you dig in your heel a little bit more for Clinton, made things a little bit more divided, but you haven't seen wild poll shifts when all these sorts of flaps have happened. I don't necessarily think that says anything about the candidates.
I think it says something about the voters. They don't really care all that much about these things. They're much more interested in, what are you going to do about the economy? What are you going to do about healthcare? What are you going to do about Iraq? And you know, I'd go back to the media point of all this, I was amused to hear, you know, the ABC debate moderators insisting voters want to hear about flag pins.
Well, what evidence do they have of that? I haven't really - I'm sure you can find it of some individuals, you know, nothing is ever 100 percent. But there's no widespread sense that those sorts of things, oh, it's really at top of mind with folks today.
PESCA: Yeah, you would think that, if this was a massive concern of voters, they wouldn't have had to found the one lady quoted in the New York Times expressing her opinion about lapel pins and put her on the screen during the debate.
Maybe there'll be two Pennsylvanians talking about flag pins if so many people were talking about flag pins. Well, Bill, I want to thank you very much for your analysis and perspective. I don't know how those two things are different, but if they are, I think you brought both of them to the table.
Mr. SCHER: I appreciate that. Thanks so much.
PESCA: You got it. Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis.