Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hillary's Last Stand?

So, today could really be "win or go home" for Hillary Clinton.  She needs to win both the Texas and Ohio primaries (and perhaps win one or both by a substantial margin, because delegates are awarded proportionately in both) to have any realistic chance of overtaking Obama's delegate lead.  Though the Conventional Wisdom says she's toast, I'm not so sure.

She does seem to have a few things going for her.  First, the polls in both Texas and Ohio actually look pretty good for her: the final RCP polling averages show her with a 1.7 percent lead in Texas and a more substantial  7.1 percent lead in Ohio.  If she wins both states tonight, even narrowly, she'll get a lot of positive press and there will be a lot more talk from the pundits about Obama's inability to win big states.  Second, her "who do want answering the phone at 3:00a.m.?" ad seems to have successfully cut through the clutter and made an impact in the race.  Third, the media has, after being quite effectively mocked by Saturday Night Live and lots of other outlets, finally started to really get tough with Obama over the past few days.  Fourth, in response to Hillary's attacks about his lack of substance Obama has recently forsworn giving his flighty, inspiring (if nearly substanceless) speeches at rallies in favor of discussing very specific policy details at town hall meetings.  Trying to out Hillary Hillary like that strikes me as a bad strategic mistake.

Don't misunderstand me: the odds are still against Hillary, simply because of the delegate math.  But if she wins in Texas and Ohio tonight, and can follow up with a win in Pennsylvania, she'll have a pretty powerful argument to make to Democratic superdelegates and the D.N.C. powers that be -- who will decide whether to sit the Michigan and Florida delegates at the Democratic convention -- that she is the candidate with more electoral appeal, even if Obama has a technical majority of the pledged delegates.

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