Thoughts about the 2008 Presidential race – a “bitter” sweet Pennsylvania victory for Hillary Clinton

April 22, 2008

Any Presidential nomination battle is an expectations game as well as an endurance game. Victories tend to add to a candidate’s inevitability, while losses tend to dampen enthusiasm and fundraising. Since we last discussed this race in early March, buyers remorse began to set in with the Obama candidacy, while Hillary has doggedly remained in the race. On the Republican side, John McCain has been given an extraordinary opportunnity (which he will not enjoy again) to campaign without the pressure of upcoming primaries and/or extensive scrutiny of his record.

Before Super Tuesday II in early March, Obama’s teflon coating began to wear off. First, flop-slops on NAFTA and Hillary’s 3AM ad sowed seeds of doubts with industrial voters. Then, links to the firebrand preacher Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s own referral to “bitter” rural voters who “clung to their guns” began to create a level of discomfort with ordinary voters that Hillary was eager to exploit. Certainly Pennsylvania was a fertile ground to exploit Obama’s misstatements, as it is a mixture of ethnic voters, older voters, union members, and rural gun owners – the “Hillycratic” coalition that has kept her candidacy afloat and did so again in Pennsylvania, as there are relatively few students, white collar liberals, and blacks there.

In the end, Hillary won a decisive (but not overwhelming) 55-45% victory, which means the nomination fihgt will go on until June and possibly even the convention.

Where does the Democratic race go from here ? As this article is being written, Obama leads in the delegate count 1713 to 1586 (2025 are needed to win). There are 408 delegates to be selected from primaries/caucuses, and 303 “super delegates” have yet to formally state their preference. Hillary needs to get about 62% of the remaining delegates if she wants to get the nomination. These figures, however, do not account for a possible “do over” of the Florida and Michigan primaries – at the time of this article, odds are angainst that happening, however. Below are the remaining primary dates, the applicable delegates, and the predicted winner as of the time this article is being written:

May 3 – Guam (4 – Obama 65%)
May 6 – North Carolina (115 – Obama 55%) and Indiana (72 – Hillary 52%)
May 13 – West Virginia (28 – Hillary 60%)
May 20 – Oregon (52 – Obama 55%) and Kentucky (51 – Hillary 58%)
June 1 – Puerto Rico (55 – Hillary 60%)
June 3 – Montana (16 – Obama 65%) and South Dakota (15 – Obama 65%)
??? – 366 stripped delegates from Florida and Michigan
??? – 303 uncommitted “super delegates”

It’s worth noticing that the large anti Hillary vote means there is a ceiling of 55-60% from state to state as to what she can get.  At this stage in the game, Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning the Democratic nomination are 25%. However, it’s worth noting that the undecided superdelegates will likely break towards one candidate or another once the final primary votes are cast or once a clear leader has emerged from the primaries (which, so far, has not been the case).


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