Even as the reputed Democratic front-runner, Obama could not beat Clinton in key states such as Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. Tuesday night, Clinton noted that she had "nearly 18 million" votes and she wanted those voters "to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible." Like magic, Lanny Davis pulled his petition out of a hat.
"Barack Obama needs those votes," Rasmussen said of the working-class and female Democrats who supported Clinton. And it would be dangerous for Obama to send the message that he does not care about these important elements in the Democratic base. Hence, Rasmussen added, Clinton as running mate would "unify the party."
And the party needs unity. In terms of the popular vote, Obama and Clinton practically tied. According to a RealClearPolitics tally that does not include the Michigan vote (since Obama's name was not on the ballot), Obama garnered 17,535,458 votes to Clinton's 17,493,836. Look at the numbers, Davis told me, "It's in Obama's interest to put her on the ticket."
Team Obama likes to talk about Obamacons -- you know, those independent-minded Republicans who support Obama. In March, Gallup found that 28 percent of Clinton backers would vote for McCain instead of Obama in November. It's the independent-minded Democrats, or McCainocrats, who instead might make the difference.
Clinton's announcement that she is bowing out and endorsing Obama gives Obama face. Now, if he were to pick her, at least it would not look as if he did so with a gun to his head.
As a Clinton critic, I've been heartened by the left's realization this campaign season that the Clintons are dangerously opportunistic and downright toxic. And it has been good to see the Democratic Party move away from the Clinton culture, from which the party derived so much power. In preferring Obama, Democrats looked as if they stood for something more than simply winning.
And now Obama may need her to win the White House.