The Race Is Over

Or, at least, it should be.  Did Clinton do what she needed to do tonight?  It’s time to unspin all the spinning.

With 82% reporting, CNN has Clinton winning Pennsylvania by exactly ten points; 55-45.  Thanks largely to a spectacular lowering of the bar on behalf of Team Clinton, simply breaking into double digits is likely to be viewed as a game changer.  But is it really?

At best, Clinton will cut into Obama’s popular vote total by about two hundred thousand.  This sounds pretty significant until you realize that Obama’s popular vote lead was closer to 800,000.  If the final precincts reporting go her way, Clinton might be able to come through this night only 500,000 votes behind.

On the delegate front, a quick jaunt over to Slate’s delegate counter has her picking up 16 delegates.  This would shrink Obama’s lead in delegates down to only 150.

Problem is, Pennsylvania proved to be the best opportunity for Clinton to take a chunk out of either of these leads.

To give you an idea of what’s going on, in order for Clinton to take the lead in pledged delegates, she would have to win the rest of the remaining contests by a margin of, 69-31.

But wait.

Obama is currently polling better than Clinton in North Carolina by about 17-18 points.  Now, let’s assume that Clinton manages to beat all odds and brings North Carolina to an even tie.  Making that VERY generous assumption, Clinton must beat Obama in all other states, including others favored for him to win such as Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, etc., by absolutely no less than fifty points.  In fact, tying dead even in North Carolina, means that she will have to turn in performances BETTER than 75% of the popular vote to even come close in pledged delegates.

To be clear, I am saying the MARGIN has to be fifty percent, not Clinton’s totals.

So, yes, for all intents and purposes, Clinton failed to do what she needed to do tonight.  For all the bluster about a double digit win was all she needed, what the Clinton campaign truly needed was in excess of a twenty point win.

This race is effectively over.

Which gives us cause to ask where do we go from here?  My suggestion to Team Obama is to do what I am going to do from this moment on; proceed as though the race is already over.

I can understand the reason why the Obama campaign has confronted Hillary directly in Pennsylvania; she was winning by a large margin, he needed to pick up delegates, and possibly hope for a direct knockout punch.  While Clinton failed to do what she needed to do, that knockout punch also never came thanks largely to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to skew the line of what the true metric in becoming the nominee is (for those unsure, that would be total delegates).

So while it might have been better to have ignored Clinton in Pennsylvania, there was more than enough reason not to.

But Pennsylvania is come and gone, and from here on in Obama should simply start acting not like the frontrunner, but the nominee.  The more he even acknowledges the Clinton campaign at this point, the more credibility he lends it, and the longer we have to listen about the fight between Obama and Clinton, and that will lead to more pundits blowing out of proportion the state of the race.

Instead, he should from today on focus totally and completely on McCain.  He should ignore everything that comes from the Clinton campaign.  If he is asked questions about attacks directed at him by the Clinton campaign, he should not be rude, but simply reply, “I’m running against John McCain.”  And move on.

I understand that this might not actually happen, of course.  Indiana, though smaller in delegate and voter yields than North Carolina, is the next do or die state for Clinton, as well as serving as another opportunity for Obama to definitively knock Clinton out of the race.

So I can reasonably understand why Obama may spend the next two weeks duking it out with Clinton, though I would advise against it.  Whatever the case in that situation, however, once May 7th comes along, and Indiana is decided one way or another, that should be the last possible day he recognizes Clinton as an opponent in the slightest.

For me, I’m done writing about Clinton, and I’m done writing about this primary.  I’ll likely post results and polls here and there to keep everyone on the up and up, but outside of that, I simply don’t see the point even addressing a campaign that has essentially lost its bid for the nomination.

There are better things we could all be doing with our time.

One Response to “The Race Is Over”

  1. Bostondreams says:

    The Penn SecState homepage shows Clinton with about an 8% lead, not a ten, with almost all of the districts reporting. I’m not sure why folks keep saying 10%, unless its extrapolating from those few districts not yet reporting.

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