Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Democratic Race Will Probably Be Over After March 4 Contests"

Dan Kirkdorffer:
Barack Obama came out of Super Tuesday with a strong showing that essentially nullified all the wins Hillary Clinton had that night, and his showing carried over into the following eight contests, all of which he won.
However, what is far more important in races that apportion delegates proportionally, was that Obama didn't just win these primaries and caucuses, he dominated them.

All of them.

According to the current delegate count at, Obama has picked up 215 delegates since Super Tuesday, more than double Clinton's total of 105. That means, in those eight contests that the Clinton campaign essentially downplayed and gave up as hopeless, she lost 110 delegates to Obama. To put that in perspective, that is 20 more delegates than she beat Obama by when you combine her large state wins in New York (+46) and California (+44).

Put another way, for her to pick back up those 110 delegates in Texas and Ohio, she would need to win over 66% of the delegates there, and she's only once won a state contest by that much in Arkansas, where she won 70% of the vote. None of her other wins were by more than 57%.

But in this race, that seems like a lifetime ago now.

It is Obama who is racking up the large wins. He has 14 victories of 60% or more. Nine of 66% of more. And these victories have resulted in him pulling away because of the 2 to 1 and 3 to 2 splits of votes.

If he wins in Wisconsin and Hawaii next week, as most people think he will, he could pull away by another 10 delegates from Hawaii, and another 15 to 20 from Wisconsin, which mean that in the 10 contests leading up to March 4, he would have bested Clinton by almost as many delegates as there are available in total in Ohio.

Clinton's strategy to focus on Texas and Ohio has been compared to Rudy Giuliani's failed plan to focus on Florida, except unlike in the Republican race where the winner takes all the delegates in most of the states, Clinton can't hope to win all the delegates in Ohio and Texas. If she could have then the math would be quite different, and the significance of those contests much greater. As it is, given the direction the polls have been heading, and Obama's momentum that has been shifting support his way, she would be hard pressed to obtain anything more than a small victory, and that wouldn't do enough to significantly close her pledged delegate count deficit.

Simply put, Obama doesn't have to win Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania or North Carolina, the four remaining states with more than 100 delegates at stake (607 between the four). He just needs to keep those contests close to minimize any Clinton gains. Going back to the California and New York races that Clinton won, she still only gained 90 delegates from 722 available, winning New York with 57% of the vote and California with 52%. With her campaign staff going through a poorly timed reshuffle, and eight straight loses to Obama, she is in a far weaker position now than she was heading into Super Tuesday as the front runner.

After March 4, unless Clinton obtains a couple of improbable and would be miraculous blow out wins of the kind she has yet to have, there will be only a couple more small contests (a Wyoming caucus on March 8, and Mississippi primary on March 11 - both likely to go to Obama), and then six long weeks until the Pennsylvania primary on April 22. With John McCain likely the (albeit reluctantly) anointed Republican nominee by then, you can be sure Democrats will be calling for Clinton to concede the Democratic race so the party can head into the general election on a strong united footing behind Obama, and you can rest assured that the super delegates will fall in line as well. They may well be at the very forefront of those pressuring Hillary to give up what would be a futile fight.

If if all that doesn't convince her, the prospect of campaigning for another six weeks with empty coffers probably will.

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