Hillary Clinton is as good as dead. This became the consensus over the past week, when the media awoke en masse to the dual reality that 1) Clinton can't close the pledged-delegate gap and 2) Obama has her beat in the popular vote. But the Clinton campaign shows no signs of slowing —she said herself she's prepared to compete for at least three more months. So the question now is not just "How dead is she?" but "When will she realize it?"
In the tradition of Slate's Saddameter (gauging the likelihood of invading Iraq), the Clintometer (measuring the chances of a Lewinsky-related ousting), and the Gonzo-meter (charting the attorney general's demise), we bring you the Hillary Deathwatch, a daily update on Hillary Clinton's dwindling chances of winning the Democratic nomination.
To start off, we're putting her odds at a generous 12 percent. (Last week, a Clinton campaign official gave her one-in-10 odds.) At the moment, polls indicate that Obama has survived the Jeremiah Wright flap (for now). Clinton's Bosnia blunder has metastasized from a headache into a five-day circus. Bill Richardson finally climbed down from his fence onto Obama's side. And a Michigan court yesterday deemed the state's Jan. 15 primary unconstitutional and declined to order a revote, effectively smothering the last glimmer of hope for a deus ex Michigana bailout. Meanwhile, a new poll puts her favorability rating at 37 percent—its lowest since March 2001.
That said, Clinton does have a shot. A heroic margin of victory in Pennsylvania and every subsequent primary, an implosion of the Obama campaign, a sudden mass epiphany on the part of superdelegates, or some combination of the three could lead to a Clinton nomination. But to be honest, we don't expect Hillary's chances to climb much higher than 20 percent. Hence the sinking ship.
We'll adjust Clinton's odds as polls waver, surrogates resign, superdelegates bail, and, of course, voters vote. We'll also keep an eye on indicators like fundraising, political futures, media coverage (always reliable), and the windchill factor in Scranton, Pa. Check back every day for updates, and send your own prognostications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hillary's prognosis has already changed. Get daily updates to the Hillary Deathwatch here.