Sen. Hillary Clinton won the
Democratic Pennsylvania primary, beating Sen. Barack Obama by 9.4 points,
which was enough of a margin for the Clinton
camp to round it up to ten, making it the double-digit win they had needed.
Undeniably, this will continue this long and brutal campaign, but in actuality
did this primary change the big picture? Did her win help make her case that
she would be the better Democratic nominee? And how important was race in this
contest? These are all questions well be unwrapping in this primary edition of
By the numbers Clinton made small gains.
She picked up 12 elected delegates, 200,000 more votes, and one contest, but
Obama is still the overall leader. He has 1,719 delegates to her 1,586; hes
won 29 contests to her 15 (not counting her wins in Florida
and he leads in popular vote by roughly 300,000 to 400,000 votes. So though
Hillary may claim that, the
tide is turning this was by no means a sea change. In fact as the numbers
stand she might be worse off today than she was yesterday. Why? Because
yesterday it was possible that she might have taken a huge win giving her 20 to
30 delegates and 300,000 to 400,000 more votes. Then she would have been in a
much stronger place to ride out the rest of the primaries and hope to at least
pull even with Obama come convention time. If that had been the case she would
have had a much, much stronger argument to make to the Super delegates to vote
for her since Obama and her would have been in a statistical dead heat. But as Ambinder
Clinton's chances of winning the nomination
based on pledged delegates is
effectively over tonight.
If Obama keeps his
pledged delegate lead to around 150, Clinton needs to win 70% of them on May 6
-- and if not, 80% of them after May 6.
That's more than next to impossible. [Boldface mine]
So by the numbers Clintons campaign is
done. Now all thats left is spin, and there is a lot of it.
On Clintons side they are stressing two key
points. The first is that delegate numbers dont count, but its the popular
vote that matters. In that case Hillary does have a tiny chance to eke that
out but considering that most new
voters go to Obama (In PA he beat Clinton
in new voters 59-39) she has an uphill battle. The second point is that Obama
outspent Hillary in PA paying over 11 million for ads in PA. The idea behind
that is that she wins contests even when shes coming with less cash. Of course
that leads to another fact thats problematic for Clinton. Right now her campaign is flat
broke, and when that happens to campaigns they usually end. Of course
Hillary could Bloomberg it, and pay
for it herself, but like Bloomberg she knows doing so would risk her really
becoming a vanity candidate, a title few politicians would embrace.
Meanwhile, in the Obama
spin seems unduly optimistic though their fundamental premises are sound.
Their argument is that they did much better in PA then they did in another Clinton stronghold, Ohio,
especially pointing to their statistical gains with white men and older people.
Of course that didnt really help on the PA county
map, where Obama pretty much was boxed in by the outlining suburbs, though
Im sure it does help to counteract Clintons
popular vote argument.
unfortunately, as Josh
Marshall stated, I'd say the real story is that this leaves us basically
where we were. If youre a Clinton
supporter you have a reason to get up today, and if youre an Obama supporter
you have a reason to get up today. The delegate math is a little tighter than
it was pre-PA primary, but it doesnt substantially change the overall shape of
things and it looks like were still heading towards a Super delegate fiasco.
The last thing I want to
note about this Primary though could be the thing that least affects the
candidates, but is the most telling about American politics and culture. If you
look at yesterdays exit
polls youll notices some pretty interesting lines that have been drawn in
places you might have expected them to be. While it was projected that the
black and white vote would be stark (Obama took blacks 84-16), what wasnt as
apparent was that the clearest divide was among age.
Basically, as people got
older in PA they went for Clinton,
this also explains why Obama gets such a boost from new votersthey tend to be
young. What this says about race quite possibly supports the argument that
Obama made in his We
the People speech that says that todays racial disputes are generational.
This isnt to say that older voters vote for Clinton because shes white, but there does
seem to be some proof that it is a factor. How this info will change the
dynamic of the campaigns is anyones guess but this nuance will have to be
addressed in some manner by the Obama camp.
Things to look forward
super delegates will flock to Obama by the end of the week, and they might
be tied in that category by the beginning of May. Should that happen, or he
takes the lead then Hillary will be forced out. The Wolf runs a blog on political matters at www.wordofthepeople.blogspot.com. His first novel, The Intellectual Prostitute, will be dropping this fall.