Election '08: Hillary Not Quick To Back Down

Last Tuesday

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 we’ll be unwrapping in this primary edition of

Election ’08.

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; he’s

won 29 contests to her 15 (not counting her ‘wins’ in Florida

and Michigan),

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 Clinton’s campaign is

done. Now all that’s left is spin, and there is a lot of it.

On Clinton’s side they are stressing two key

points. The first is that delegate numbers don’t count, but it’s 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 she’s coming with less cash. Of course

that leads to another fact that’s 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

camp, their

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 didn’t really help on the PA county

map, where Obama pretty much was boxed in by the outlining suburbs, though

I’m sure it does help to counteract Clinton’s

popular vote argument.

Ultimately and

unfortunately, as Josh

Marshall stated, “I'd say the real story is that this leaves us basically

where we were.” If you’re a Clinton

supporter you have a reason to get up today, and if you’re 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 doesn’t 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 yesterday’s exit

polls you’ll 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 wasn’t 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 voters—they 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 today’s racial disputes are generational.

This isn’t to say that older voters vote for Clinton because she’s 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 anyone’s guess but this nuance will have to be

addressed in some manner by the Obama camp.

Things to look forward

to: More

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.