March 5, 2008

Clinton keeps the race alive.

Hillary Clinton has registered the needed victories in Ohio and Texas to keep her hopes alive, if barely. At the very least, the calls for her to quit will go. Her victory in Ohio was impressive and in Texas she secured a narrow win, contrary to my prediction. According to exit polls, large percentage of late deciders went for Clinton. So some of her tactics in the days leading up to the election worked.

Here is the thing though
. In spite of her wins, she is not in a better position in the race that matters: the delegate count. Indeed, she is worse off now that before these primaries.

According to various sources, her net delegate gain from yesterday's results could be less than 15. A final tally will not be known till full results from Texas caucus are known. Since Obama is going to win that Clinton's lead will surely come down. Some say that Obama might even have a net gain. According to Associated Press, Clinton won 185 delegates on Tuesday as opposed to Obama's 173. Obama maintains an impressive lead of 140 among pledged delegates. This will only increase as full results from Texas caucus come in. Some other sources which have the same broad message are here, here and here.

So why is Clinton in worse shape? Because there is less time for her now to make up the difference. On Tuesday, more than a third of the remaining delegates were on offer (about 360). If Clinton could cut Obama'a lead only by 10 after an "impressive" victory, with less than 600 delegates up for grabs, Obama's lead of around 140 looks impregnable. Moreover, Obama could very well offset yesterday's losses with wins in Wyoming and Mississippi in the next one week.

So it is safe to say that Clinton can win the nomination only by convincing a majority of superdelegates to vote for her. That will be hard as most of the superdelegates will opt for the winner of popular support.

The race now is set to last for at least another month and half, till the Pennsylvania contest in April. The tone of the campaigns in this period, particularly of Clinton campaign, could be damaging. Already, Clinton is damaging the prospects of Democrats in the general election by suggesting that McCain will be a better president than Obama. While a tight and protracted race may not be such a bad thing, Clinton's tactics might be damaging. So hopefully, she will not cross some lines that should not be crossed.


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