Can Clinton slow Obama-mentum?
She faces heavy pressure in Texas and Ohio primaries.
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On the latest Super Tuesday, March 4, if Hillary Rodham Clinton is able to win both states and slow Barack Obama's momentum toward the Democratic nomination, she will live to fight another day. The next big showdown will be April 22 in Pennsylvania.
If Senator Obama wins Ohio and Texas, Senator Clinton will be hard put to keep going. Already, the pressure on her to drop out in that case is fierce, as Democratic elders yearn to settle on a nominee and focus on likely Republican nominee Sen. John McCain.
The nightmare scenario for the Democrats is a mixed result – say, Obama wins Texas and Clinton wins Ohio – allowing Clinton to claim another big-state victory and aim for Pennsylvania, which is demographically similar to Ohio. Because the Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, narrow victories by Clinton in either or both of Tuesday's big states will do little to help her make up her deficit in the delegate sweepstakes. But she and her campaign have indicated that she'll press on.
Two small states also vote on Tuesday, Rhode Island and Vermont. Polls show Clinton leading in Rhode Island and Obama ahead in Vermont. But the spotlight is on the big-delegate states. Overall, Obama leads Clinton in delegates, 1,385 to 1,276, according to the Associated Press. A total of 2,025 is needed to secure the nomination.
But among "pledged" delegates – those earned through primaries and caucuses – Obama leads 1,187 to 1,035.5. The other delegates, or superdelegates, make up the difference, and party elders have also made clear that overturning a pledged-delegate victory with superdelegates would be disastrous for the party. But in the past few weeks, Obama has closed the gap in superdelegates, now trailing Clinton by just 45.
In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, Obama made clear he thinks it's time to end the Democratic nomination battle – and suggested that he doesn't need to win Texas and Ohio, just "do well."
"If we do well in Texas and Ohio, I think the math is such where it's going to be hard for her to win the nomination, and they'll have to make a decision about how much longer they want to pursue it," the Illinois senator said.