The Hillary Deathwatch
Superdelegates are still skittish, but at least Clinton has some money in her pocket.
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It must be nice to be Hillary Clinton right now. Adoring fans have given her $10 million. The media have started to believe that she can actually win. Jeremiah Wright is coming out of hibernation just in time to derail Obama's candidacy once and for all. Sure, her chances of winning the nomination are on the rise (by 1.4 points, to 12.1 percent). But you know what? She still can't win.
First, the good news: Raising $10 million in the 30 or so hours after her win in Pennsylvania is a very good thing. It means people still care about her, superdelegates can still trust her, and she can still buy Star Trek pantsuits. The money bomb is an impressive fiscal feat for Clinton. Even better, it upstages Obama on his best political attribute—fundraising prowess.
It gets better. Remember our old friend the Rev. Wright? Well, he's tired of being cooped up, and he's coming home to roost. Over the next week, he'll appear on Bill Moyers (to air on Friday), deliver a keynote address to the NAACP Detroit branch, and speak at the National Press Club. The more face time Wright gets, the better for Hillary Clinton—even if she never broaches the subject.
And for the cherry on top, the media continue to entertain the idea that Clinton could actually win. The cover of Time suggests "There Can Only Be One," with photos of both Democratic candidates. Chris Cillizza says she has a plausible path to the nomination. The Wall Street Journal says that doubts are being stirred about Obama. Clinton and company must be giddy over these developments, as they could persuade superdelegates.
With all that good stuff, her chances should easily climb above 15 percent, right? No.
Right now, the Clinton Kool-Aid is on tap, and the media are doing keg stands. The same writers who once said Clinton was doomed are now ignoring the fact that the math is even more oppressive for Clinton. Obama will likely need to convince 25 percent to 35 percent of the about 300 uncommitted superdelegates to support him, and he will reach the 2,024 delegates needed to become the nominee. Put another way, Clinton needs to convince 65 percent to 75 percent of them to vote for her. That's 200 elected officials and party bigwigs she needs to convince not to support the guy who has the most pledged delegates. Moreover, she won't win the popular vote if Obama wins North Carolina—the biggest state remaining—by a blowout margin (as polls suggest he will).
Not to mention the real reason a Clinton comeback won't happen: Superdelegates still aren't endorsing her. Since her win in Pennsylvania, Obama has announced three super endorsements; Clinton has announced one. Clinton's new friend is Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee, a state she won easily. Obama's three are from Nebraska (a state he won), Oklahoma (where Clinton destroyed him), and Oregon (which hasn't even voted yet). Adding one new superdelegate and a pile of cash does not turn the tide. Quantitatively and qualitatively, Obama still has the winning hand.
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.