Strong head winds put the Clinton camp back in irons.

Strong head winds put the Clinton camp back in irons.

Strong head winds put the Clinton camp back in irons.

Down and on the way out.
April 2 2008 1:25 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

Strong head winds put the Clinton camp back in irons.

Deathwatch graphic: 9.5%

A high-profile Obama endorsement, a tightening race in Pennsylvania, and a big March fundraising gap dock Hillary 0.4 points, taking her down to 9.5 percent on the Clintometer.

The big news: Democratic national-security guru and former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton is endorsing Barack Obama. Hamilton's backing isn't expected to invigorate voters, Kennedy-style (though you saw how that worked out). But as a member of the 9/11 commission and co-chair of the vaunted Iraq Study Group, he'll burnish Obama's foreign-policy credentials. (And maybe his old-folk cred, too—Hamilton is 76.) Too bad he's not a superdelegate. However, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who also endorsed Obama today, is.


Hamilton's home state, meanwhile, doesn't agree with him. According to a new SurveyUSA poll, Clinton leads Obama by nine points in Indiana. The state's May 6 primary is still a long way off, and this is just one poll, but a major Clinton victory there would hand the campaign a lifeline, even if Clinton still can't make up the pledged-delegate count. In Pennsylvania, Obama narrows the gap from 12 points to nine, according to a Quinnipiac poll with a 2.5-point margin of error. A Rasmussen poll puts the gap at five points. Again, there are still three weeks until April 22, but the chances of a Clinton blowout appear to be shrinking.

At the same time, some Dem bigwigs are easing off earlier procedural recommendations that favored Obama. A day after Nancy Pelosi said Clinton should stay in the race if she wants to, Howard Dean says superdelegates should vote as independent agents—not a revelation, but the statement backs away from suggestions that superdelegates should ratify the pledged-delegate count. That said, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed with Dean that superdelegates need to make up their minds by July 1. For Clinton, time good, deadlines bad.

Lastly: Less money, more problems. Early estimates put Obama's March fundraising total north of $30 million. Not as hot as his $55 million February haul, but enough to dwarf Clinton's estimated $20 million for March. This despite what many consider Obama's worst news month yet. Meanwhile, Clinton's debts are reportedly as high as $9 million, not including her $5 million self-loan. Obama is already outspending her 3-to-1 in Pennsylvania—and he can afford to continue. There's a saying that candidates never drop out; they just run out of cash.

For a full list of our Deathwatches, click here. For a primer on Hillary's sinking ship, visit our first Deathwatch entry.

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