If you confine yourself to the math, not much changed last night in the Democratic race. However, there is no denying that Clinton did what see needed to last night, a big victory if one is being fair. Despite being largely outspent, despite persistent commentary that gave her no chance, despite calls to bow out, despite pressure for people to lineup behind Obama, despite all that Clinton beat Obama in fairly convincing fashion.
I don’t buy into the notion that Clinton should have won, because the state played to her demographic. If you look at the exit polls, you will find, that with the exception of African Americans, her demographics consist of the Democratic base, the crucial segments that will make or break an election campaign. Strange to say that carrying the rank and file of the party is inconsequential, that she “should” win those votes. People assumed Clinton would win Pennsylvania, based on previous results, which really means Obama has trouble with core Democrats. People keep fluffing off these victories, but they consistently show strength for Clinton, in states which are central to any potential victory in the fall. Have we reached the point where Obama can’t win, unless he has over-representation of African Americans in a state?
Here’s my deal with the race, numbers aside. Since Super Tuesday, Clinton has won three crucial primaries, despite being outspent and facing long odds. There is tremendous pressure to get behind a nominee and prepare for the fall election. Despite that environment, Clinton continues to thrive, there is no sense that people are rallying behind Obama, at least not the voters anyways. What is happening now, is in some respects more important that what happened two months ago. Voters know more, further information is available, events have occurred, the questions are clearer. If you are standing here today, and the goal is beating McCain, what is more important Iowa or Pennsylvania, South Carolina or Ohio?
Why can’t Obama close the deal? Why is that the voters, with full knowledge of the circumstance (a majority last night thought Obama would be the nominee) still vote for Clinton? Clinton didn’t just squeak by last night, she won by a healthy margin, and she won despite having “no chance”. That fact to me is remarkable, spin aside, quite telling. The Obama camp argument that Pennsylvania is “her” state, is really an admission that the majority of traditional Democratic voters tend to favor Clinton. In primaries, in states that Democrats need to carry, Clinton seems to have an advantage. That is okay with everyone, that isn’t indicative of some underlying problem?
My counter to “it’s over” has always been “just win baby”. If Obama is the presumptive nominee, if Clinton is finished, then it should translate in the voter booth. The simple fact of the matter, Obama hasn’t closed the deal, Clinton continues to do what she needs to, in order to survive. Yes, Clinton still trails in delegates, and she probably can’t catch him, but that reality should make her victories less likely, that math should work against her in the NOW. Why it doesn’t manifest itself with voters, why she continues to march forward, why Obama still struggles with core constituents, those are important questions moving forward.