Clinton down, but not out of running
She needs to win nearly all the remaining contests, analysts say, and persuade superdelegates that she has a better chance than Obama of beating John McCain.
– Bit by bit, the walls are closing in on Hillary Rodham Clinton. By just about every measure, including total votes, total delegates, and money raised, she is trailing Barack Obama in their pitched battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. And in the most important category where she's still ahead – superdelegates – her lead is shrinking.Skip to next paragraph
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Thus far this week, three superdelegates – party leaders and elected officials who can support whomever they want at the August convention – have broken for Senator Obama while Senator Clinton hasn't won any. It is highly unlikely that Clinton can overtake Obama in the "pledged delegate" count – those won in primaries and caucuses – but it is also impossible for Obama to secure the nomination just on pledged delegates. Thus, the superdelegates will decide the nomination.
Thursday's stunning announcement that Obama had raised more than $40 million in March, with 218,000 new donors that month, dealt another blow to Clinton. Her campaign has not released its own March figure yet, but said it will come in below Obama's.
So, can Clinton actually still win the nomination? In theory, yes, analysts say. But she would have to win just about every remaining contest, and then persuade enough superdelegates that she has a better chance than Obama of beating the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, in November.
The easiest way for that to happen would be for a bombshell revelation or major gaffe by Obama that would cause delegates, and voters – as reflected in national polls – to abandon the Illinois senator. Short of that scenario, Clinton and her team are fast running out of options.
"Convincingly" means by double-digits, he says. Then Clinton would have to pull off an upset in North Carolina (May 6) or Oregon (May 20), where Obama is favored. "Most people looking at the last 10 events or so see a bit of an edge for Clinton, but with Obama having significant places to look for wins as well," Mr. Jillson adds.
For now, though, the trends seem to be heading in Obama's direction – even in Pennsylvania, where polls showed Clinton with a lead in the mid-to-high teens until recently. The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Clinton with a nine-point lead in Pennsylvania, a figure that makes sense to political analysts in the state.
Pennsylvania's demographics – large populations of working-class, older, and Roman Catholic voters – play to Clinton's advantage. But a wave of new registrations in the state could spell trouble for her, as the Obama campaign has worked hard to identify new voters. "[Pennsylvania] is absolutely critical for her," says Terry Madonna, head of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll. "I think she wins here, but for the first time, I'm thinking he could upset her. It's a long-shot, but I see a way."