It's three weeks before the Ohio and Texas primaries, so Hillary still has a chance to reverse the Obama tide. She is more qualified, and voters may just grasp this in time.
She currently faces "momentum" and herd instinct (aka peer pressure) that disproportionately influences younger people, which is working for Obama. He also has the African Americans favoring him by 80% or more, without a backlash among other Democrats.
But I also see something that I touched upon in the third bullet point of my January 5th post. This is Republicans who have no intention of choosing Obama in a general election nevertheless voting for him in the primaries simply to undermine Hillary who's more likely to beat McCain. I've long suspected this to be one of the reasons for the unusually large turnouts in Democratic primaries that favor Obama. This is why I strongly favor closed primaries in all states, open only to voters registered for that party way earlier.
Instead, the Democratic primary of Ohio is open (or semi-open which is essentially the same thing), as is that of Texas. Most TV networks are curiously silent about this. But a couple of days ago Dick Morris who's now a bitter enemy of the Clintons talked on Fox News about this manipulation by Republicans. He did this to support his prediction that Hillary will fare worse than expected in both these states. He may well be right.
There's little Hillary can do about this so where does she go from here? In the days ahead she certainly needs to reshape her message. For example, she should change those "35 years of experience" and "ready to be President on day one" lines that were weak and off the mark to start with. She's now looks to be doing this and stressing her more significant advantages, like her substance over his rhetoric, or achieving solutions instead of just making good speeches.
Beyond that, how should she act once she wins or loses the nomination?
If Hillary wins she should immediately ask Obama to be her running mate. Whatever her personal feelings about him, she now needs him as part of the "dream team" to unify their bases, including the youth and the African American vote. For his part, Obama should accept. The VP stint will give him the standing and the experience to become an odds-on Presidential favorite in subsequent elections, when he'll still be young. It is actually in his interest to accept the VP slot much earlier, if the Democratic primaries outcome looks to be headed to a stalemate by end of March, or early April.
And what if Obama wins the nomination, or looks to be certainly headed there with committed super-delegate support? Then Hillary and Bill should say nice things about Obama, call on the entire Democratic party to support him, and then both retire from the scene for the remainder of 2008. If Obama offers Hillary the VP spot, she is better off graciously declining him. She has nothing to gain. After eight years of an Obama Presidency she will be less electable at age 68, and any missteps by the Obama Administration in the meantime will rub off on her.
More than this, contrary to the sayings of pollsters and TV pundits, I expect Obama to lose to McCain unless McCain says or does something very stupid. You saw it for the first time here - in case of an Obama - McCain matchup without Hillary in the picture, I predict Obama will lose by five points or more.
In that case Obama post-2008 will be little more attractive than other general election losers: Dukakis after 1988, Gore after 2000, Kerry after 2004 - you get the idea. In the past 60+ years I recall only one instance when a prior general election loser won subsequently. That was Richard Nixon in 1968, who won in unusual circumstances after Democratic frontrunner Robert Kennedy was assassinated. So here's my take in case Obama wins the nomination now: Hillary should just wait for 2012 and hope the Democrats choose better then.