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Obama rose. Clinton slid fast. Why?

Poor planning for post-Feb. 5 races tripped up the Clinton camp, analysts say.

Get the picture? Barack Obama and supporters at a Feb. 20 rally in Dallas.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

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When the dust had settled after Super Tuesday, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were locked in a dead heat for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Since then, over the past two weeks, Senator Obama has gone on a tear, winning 10 straight primaries and caucuses, and forcing Senator Clinton's back to the wall. Obama now leads the former first lady by almost every conceivable measure – total delegates, total popular vote, national polls, and finances.

What happened? On Clinton's part, her straits represent a massive failure of planning and organization, analysts say. Her campaign operated on the assumption she would have the nomination effectively locked up with the 22 contests on Feb. 5, and it spent accordingly. The lack of a Plan B has left her scrambling for cash and organizing late in the post-Super Tuesday contests.

That this is happening to the Clintons – until this campaign, a team skilled like no other in Democratic politics in running and winning elections – has left the political world dumbfounded. But even the senator's supporters see how one faulty, central assumption can lead to disaster.

"If an entire campaign strategy is framed around the belief that a particular date will be decisive, and if in the face of contrary evidence you find it difficult to abandon that assumption, then it's possible to be very smart and experienced and still be caught short," says William Galston, a former senior adviser to President Clinton who backs Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Obama, in contrast, has put together a team that appears to work well together, and has fashioned and executed a game plan skillfully, Mr. Galston says.


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