The soft punditry of low expectations.

Down and on the way out.
April 10 2008 3:10 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

Clinton benefits from the soft punditry of low expectations.

The Hillary Deathwatch is now a widget. Add it to your Facebook page or blog.

There's no other way to put it: Hillary Clinton is suffering from the soft punditry of low expectations. We explained yesterday how Hillary's chances improve if she's not actively taking damage, kind of like a first-person shooter. The corollary is that Barack Obama is like Google: He has to continually outperform expectations to keep his stockholders onboard. Treading water is not an option. So when both candidates pick up a superdelegate, the tie goes to Clinton. Factor in the $2.5 million she picked up from last night's Elton John concert, and we're giving her two-tenths of a point, bringing her to a 10.2percent chance of winning the nomination.

Today's news: Obama snagged the endorsement of Wayne Holland, the chair of the Democratic Party in Utah, while Clinton netted former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff, for a gain of one superdelegate apiece. Elton John's benefit concert for Clinton last night raised $2.5 million for her campaign, and Clinton went on the attack in Pennsylvania, airing a 60-second radio ad calling out Obama for exaggerating his refusal to take money from oil companies. The Puerto Rico newspaper El Nuevo Dia reports Clinton up in the polls by 13 percentage points in the territory, giving her some light at the end of the tunnel if she can hang on until June 1.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Colin L. Powell, the first secretary of state in the Bush administration, had kind words for Obama on Good Morning America today, praising his handling of the Jeremiah Wright situation. A new Time poll puts Clinton up by six points in Pennsylvania—the same margin as in yesterday's Quinnipiac poll. Again, a significant jump for Obama from his double-digit deficit a few weeks back.

Press coverage isn't always a factor here at the Deathwatch, but it's worth pointing out a Project for Excellence in Journalism report on last week's news: "The narrative was the debate over whether it might be time for Clinton to throw in the towel in the nomination fight. It was the single biggest campaign story line, accounting for 7% of all the campaign stories last week." That's hardly a gauge of whether Clinton will drop out. But it does suggest that the press is waking up to the bleak realities of her candidacy. Even if Clinton benefits from the soft punditry of low expectations in the short term, it's bad news in the long run.

For a full list of our Deathwatches, click here. For a primer on Hillary's sinking ship, visit our first Deathwatch entry. Send your own prognostications to hillarydeathwatch@gmail.com.

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.