Monday, April 21, 2008

A prediction on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary

It's going to be a choice between Barach Obama and John McCain in November. I can't see any scenario in which Hillary Clinton can wrest the nomination from the Illinois senator. He is ahead in the delegate count (1,645 to 1,504, according to a count by the Associated Press), although neither Obama nor Clinton will have enough pledged delegates to have the 2,025 needed to win the nomination by the time the Democratic National Convention rolls around. So both candidates must make appeals to the so-called "super delegates" or party leaders to get over the magic number.

Obama, of course, is arguing that he has more pledged delegates than Clinton so, therefore, should be declared the nominee. Clinton wants to argue that because of her wins in heavily populated states, she stands a stronger chance of defeating McCain. Here's where her argument collapses, however. If you take the popular vote for both candidates cast in all the primaries, Obama leads Clinton by 800,000 votes. In order to erase that lead, Clinton would have to hope that 2 million voters cast ballots in tomorrow's Pennsylvania primary and that she receive at least 25 percent more of those votes than Obama. That simply isn't going to happen. Of all the polls I've seen, the one that has Clinton winning by the largest margin has her ahead by 10 percentage points. Most experts are predicting a Clinton victory with a margin of 6 percent. That 2 million voter turnout seems somewhat of a fantasy as well; 800,000 voted in the primary in 2004.

But even if she got her 25 percent margin in Pennsylvania and two million votes, that would only slice 500,000 votes from Obama's 800,000-vote lead. That means she would still need 20-point victories in West Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico -- all places where she is strong, but not that strong -- and win three of these five primaries: Indiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Montana and Oregon, all states where Obama appears comfortably in the lead.

So Clinton can't even argue that super-delegates should side with her because she received the most votes. Chances are she won't, unless, of course, by some miracle the Democrats do a 180 and decide to count the votes in Michigan and Florida, but that's highly unlikely.

The other thorn in Clinton's side are recent polls showing her trailing McCain in a head-to-head matchup, albeit by a single percentage point, while Obama is running even with the Republican nominee.

I'd welcome anyone who wants to argue this, but, from where I sit, Obama has best argument for the super-delegates and therefore also has the nomination locked.

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