Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is It Over Yet?

I see the networks have finally called the race in Pennsylvania. For, as expected, Clinton. What wasn't expected was how long the race stayed in the undecided column. Not really surprising given that the pro-Obama portions of what's, really, demographically an ideal state for Clinton to carry (It's a lot like Michigan, really, and if they were to run the election here over again, I think her impressive 55% showing against the field of nobody else might not hold up again, but it probably wouldn't be too far off.) were likely to report first while the more rural Clinton strongholds from what I'd seen of polling heading in tend to report their results later on. The result being a Clinton surge that gains momentum as the night goes on, which seems to be what's happening.

What's left to determine is the margin of victory and the all-important delegate count. Neither of which will really change the playing field all that much.

With the delegates, PA awards them based on some weird district proportional system that I have neither the time nor the inclination to comprehend. The basic upshot, though, is that Clinton would need to win overwhelmingly in a lot of places to come away with anything like a real net gain of pledged delegates. Since she won't, she'll pick up a handful but won't put a significant dent in Obama's lead.

More - or less, depending on your point of view - important is the margin of victory. A lot of the arguments made in Clinton's favor center around electability and a strong showing in a key battleground state would help to bolster her claims. There's been all sort of management of the expectation game heading in - talk about where, exactly, the spread has to be in order for Clinton to feel good about herself. The common "wisdom" (And I use scare quotes because it's the same pundit class that claims people like Gibson and Russert amongst its vaunted ranks of the worthy) seems to have settled around 10% - Clinton needs 55, Obama no more than 45. Anything less and Clinton has failed badly in a favorable environment. Anything more and she gets crowned Supreme Commissar of Authenticity or something I guess.

Personally, I think it's pretty incredible given that just a few weeks ago polling had her cruising to a fifteen or twenty point victory. Which, I think, speaks volumes towards the electability environment - Obama is a closer whose active campaigning drums up more votes.

Either way, it looks like this thing is going to drag out even further, to the next contest and the next, and then on to the convention. But, then, that's exactly the way it looked heading into the night, so, again, it's all been a big to-do about nothing much.

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