The Hillary Deathwatch
McGovern, loans, and superdelegates all continue to sink the ship.
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A high-profile change of heart, a multimillion-dollar loan, and more Obama superdelegates drag Clinton down 1.7 points to 2.5 percent.
George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for president in 1972, says he's done supporting Hillary Clinton. He told Fox that she waged a valiant campaign but that it's time for her to drop out because the math is too daunting. McGovern had already flirted with Obama a few weeks ago—he told the Huffington Post that Obama had the better chance of winning in November—but today's announcement is a hiccup that Clinton can't afford.
Not only that, McGovern went vigilante and said Clinton should withdraw. Claire McCaskill, a surrogate in chief for Obama, said it would be "inappropriate and awkward and wrong" to tell Clinton when to quit. (This despite Obama supporters Chris Dodd and Patrick Leahy doling out that very advice before Pennsylvania.) Obama's stance on this seems clear—he's confident that he's going to get the nomination, so there's no need to pour salt on Clinton's wounded ego. Plus, it spares him the embarrassment of sure defeats in West Virginia and Kentucky that would occur even if Clinton were out of the race. He'll still lose with her in it, but he won't lose to a ghost.
In order to get to West Virginia and Kentucky, Clinton will need money—money that she doesn't necessarily have. Revelations that Clinton loaned herself $6.4 million last month raise questions about how long she can compete. (And that loan was before she lost North Carolina and won a Pyrrhic victory in Indiana.) On a conference call this morning, her advisers wouldn't say what their overnight fundraising numbers were, but it's safe to say they weren't spectacular. Clinton has plenty of resolve to keep going, but that doesn't mean she has the money necessary to do so.
One more note: Since last night's results, Obama has netted four superdelegates (two uncommitted from North Carolina, one uncommitted from California, and one Clinton convert from Virginia). Clinton has netted zero. (She picked up a North Carolina super but also lost one to Obama.)
So why isn't Clinton totally submerged? Because she hasn't taken herself out of the race yet. As long as she's hanging around, there's still a remote possibility that she can take Obama's place if the unpredictable happens. Plus, Deathwatch wouldn't be as much fun without her.
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.