Can Clinton come back?
February 13, 2008
Democrat Barack Obama swept all three of the “Potomac Primaries”—in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—beating rival Hillary Clinton by comfortable margins. He won with groups that have traditionally backed Clinton, including Latinos, women, and elderly voters, and he now indisputably has more pledged convention delegates for the first time. Opinion polls show her trailing in the next two primaries, too, in Wisconsin and Hawaii. But Clinton’s campaign believes it has a good shot at winning primaries in delegate-rich Texas and Ohio on March 4. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
Tuesday’s results “will launch a Talmudic discussion among pundits” on whether Obama can now be “crowned” the front-runner, said Walter Shapiro in Salon. But there’s an easy “bar-room test:” try to find “a single person” willing to “take a bet on Hillary Clinton at even money.” Clinton still “has a pathway to the nomination,” but she is “losing altitude at an alarming rate.” Her best hope is the 21-day “pause that refreshes” between Wisconsin and the Texas and Ohio primaries. Maybe she can “rewrite the campaign’s narrative yet again.”
That would be quite a trick, said Jay Carney in Time’s Swampland blog. Obama’s Potomac sweep seems to have ended “one of the meta-themes of the Democratic race” so far—that neither candidate is able to “poach heavily from his/her opponent’s most reliable voting blocs.” Obama won “just about every cross-tab”—white males, people earning less than $50,000, Catholics, Latinos, older voters, and even women. “That’s a big deal,” and it could be the decisive “turning point” in the Democratic contest.
Clinton’s campaign is betting it all on Texas and Ohio being the turning point, said Ed Morrissey in his Captain’s Quarters blog. But their apparent “panic” at losing there, and losing the nomination, seems a bit premature. None of the states are “winner-take-all,” and all Clinton need to do is win enough votes to “keep the delegate count fairly narrow.” For Obama to wrap this up, he needs about 70 percent of the remaining delegates—”a very tall order.” So even is she doesn’t win, “this will go all the way to the convention, and no one will be dropping out on March 5th.”
Forget it: “the mathematics are now clear,” and they favor Obama, said Sheldon Drobny in The Huffington Post. Clinton needs to “win Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania by a 60/40 margin,” or she can’t win. She needs to “face reality and concede,” or she risks damaging her party, her country, and her legacy. “Hillary still has a political future as a senator,” and maybe even a “majority leader,” but it’s time for “Democrats to unite” around Obama.
Clinton is staring to look like Mike Huckabee, said Matt Cooper in Portfolio’s Capital blog—“a boutique candidate, catering to a small portion of the electorate.” Except that Huckabee did better than her on Tuesday. But Clinton can still “completely reframe the race” if she can find “an issue that can galvanize her support.” That will be hard, given her “small policy differences with Obama.” But the future of her campaign depends on it.
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