by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
April 3, 2008
THE NUMBERS SAY IT'S ALL OVER, HILLARY
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Sen. Hillary Clinton doggedly fights on in her quest to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. Even though Sen. Barack Obama has raised more money, received more votes and has more delegates than Clinton, she and her allies in the party and the media believe she can win.
There's only one problem. If you look at the numbers and factor in the arcane rules of the Democratic National Committee, the reality is that it would take a miracle for Clinton to prevail over Obama.
Here's why, as outlined recently by Jim VanderHei and Mike Allen of Politico, a political Web site, she has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination.
It takes 2,024 delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination. As of this week, according to The Associated Press' count of pledged delegates and "superdelegates" Obama has a 1,634-1,500 lead over Clinton.
Of the 794 superdelegates, the Democratic Party big wigs who get to vote on the nomination -- in addition to the delegates chosen by voters -- Clinton and Obama have roughly the same numbers in their respective camps. About 300 are either uncommitted or yet to be named.
There are 566 delegates up for grabs in the remaining Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania, Guam, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota over the next three months.
The best case scenario for Clinton would be for her to win all of these contests with 60 percent of the vote - a feat she has achieved in only three states: Rhode Island, Arkansas and New York. Even if she did that -- and it's not expected to happen -- Clinton would end up with only 340 delegates to Obama's 226. In that scenario, Obama would still be leading Clinton.
These figures don't include Florida and Michigan, which both defied the party's rules by holding primaries earlier than the Democratic National Committee wanted. Both states were stripped of their delegates and their primaries were considered invalid by the DNC. Both states have failed to come up with a workable revote schedule, so both states' delegates will not be allowed to participate in the nomination process.
Clinton "won" both of those primaries, but the rest of the field abided by the DNC's request not to campaign in Michigan and Florida. Her campaign wants those delegates, but awarding them to her would undermine the party's rules.
All that aside, when the dust settles by the end of June, Clinton will still be trailing Obama, even if everything else breaks her way. All the Clinton campaign has left is two things -- to strong-arm the superdelegates to vote for her and to undermine Obama with whatever dirty tricks her staff can come up with.
If Clinton tries to overturn the will of the elected delegates, she risks alienating many Democrats, particularly the young people who have turned out in droves to support Obama and have reinvigorated the Democratic Party in the process.
If she and her surrogates continue their whispering campaign that Obama is "unelectable," she risks being cast as the villain - even if she ultimately wins the nomination and the presidency.
So why, if the numbers are not in Clinton's favor, does she stay in the race? For one thing, she has the national media on her side. They certainly have a vested interest in dragging out the race as long as possible. The reporters love drama, and the owners love the profits that dramatic stories generate.
She is also hoping for a big misstep or scandal for Obama. It hasn't happened yet. While the controversy over Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was the most significant crisis faced by his campaign, the landmark speech on race that Obama delivered in Philadelphia erased whatever temporary advantage Clinton hoped to gain.
And so it has been throughout this campaign season. For all the early "inevitability" of Clinton's candidacy, she has been outmaneuvered at every turn by Obama and his campaign staff. The Clinton campaign was caught totally unprepared by the political movement that Obama built up. In a year where change has been the buzzword, Clinton stuck to the themes and strategies of the past and paid dearly for it.
This isn't about sexism. This is about the polls and the finances confirming what Hillary Clinton doesn't want to acknowledge. The race is over, and it's time for Democrats to unite behind Barack Obama.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.