Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Race So Far

BallotBox After holding 38 contests in 38 days, Democrats must wait nearly as long before the next presidential contest -- the April 22 Pennsylvania Primary, where 158 delegates are at stake. Two weeks later come North Carolina (115 delegates) and Indiana (72 delegates).
Polling completed this week showed Hillary Clinton maintaining a 15+ point lead in PA, while closing the gap in NC. No public polling has been done in IN, but most believe Clinton will be heavily favored. National polls offer conflicting numbers as to which Democrat is ahead, but there's no doubt that the controversy surrounding Rev. Jeremiah Wright has wounded Obama. The question is whether those wounds are superficial or serious and whether Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech has effectively stopped the bleeding and started the healing. Only time will tell.
There's sure to be plenty of twists and surprises in the six-plus weeks between now and the PA primary, but despite the rocky week, the momentum remains with Obama. He leads in delegates, popular vote, states won, and fundraising. He continues to close the gap in superdelegates and has won more delegates in 16 of the last 18 contests.
With the decision by Florida and Michigan Democrats not to pursue re-do primaries, Clinton's path to the nomination is more uphill than ever and will pretty much depend on the superdelegates overturning Obama's lead in elected (pledged) delegates, a scenario that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said "would be harmful to the Democratic Party." Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson provided Obama with a infusion of substantive support by endorsing him, heightening speculation of an Obama-Richardson ticket, while the Obama camp hints that other big endorsements are soon to come.
While Obama had a rough week, the dynamics of the nomination continue to trend his way. But you can't count out the tenacious Clinton, and the next few weeks are shaping up to be excellent political theater.

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