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.
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Several weeks ago, Mr. Madonna laid out a path to victory for Obama in Pennsylvania in a column on Realclearpolitics.com. The path is, ironically, one that Gov. Ed Rendell – a Clinton supporter – carved out in 2002 in his gubernatorial nomination battle with now-Sen. Bob Casey, who recently came out for Obama.Skip to next paragraph
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Governor Rendell succeeded by concentrating his efforts (and winning big) in his base areas (Philadelphia and its suburbs); winning big in swing areas; and managing turnout statewide, in part by registering new voters.
Still, Clinton remains a strong favorite in Pennsylvania – and thus, her campaign is likely to survive at least into May. Ken Smukler, a Democratic consultant in Philadelphia, warns against reading too much into the fluctuations in polls. "My sense is this electorate is very volatile right now," he says. And, he adds, "the newly registered voters are not being sampled in any poll right now. One could argue they're Obama voters."
But he also won't count Clinton out. And he believes, despite Obama's money edge, Clinton will have enough to match him on TV in Pennsylvania.
The Clinton team is adamant that the superdelegates will, after all the votes are cast, "do the right thing" for the party and for the country. In a conference call Thursday, campaign spokesmen once again argued that Clinton is more electable, citing polls that show her beating Senator McCain in key states, such as Florida and Ohio, while Obama loses.
"Senator Obama's lead is almost entirely from caucuses," says Mark Penn, a senior Clinton strategist. "Will he have a lead at all coming out of the high turnout primaries? That's certainly up for grabs, and we'll see what comes out after this next run of states, as well as who's in a better position then to take on and beat Senator McCain."
According to the Associated Press, Obama leads in the overall delegate count 1,634 to 1,500, with 2,024 needed to secure the nomination. Clinton leads in superdelegates, 250 to 220 out of a total 794. In the popular vote, Obama leads by about 700,000, but that does not include the votes in Michigan and Florida, which were held outside party rules. But even counting Clinton's votes in both states, she still does not catch up to Obama.
In the race for uncommitted superdelegates, Obama has scored three this week – Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming, and former Montana Sen. John Melcher. Obama was also endorsed by the Democratic co-chair of the 9/11 commission, former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, who is not a superdelegate but who is a respected foreign-policy figure in the Democratic Party. His state's primary, on May 6, could be crucial to Clinton's hopes.