As Indiana and North Carolina vote, Hillary Clinton's chances hover.

Down and on the way out.
May 6 2008 1:31 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

And, lo, on the election day, Deathwatch rested.

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Not much changes in the last 24 hours before polls open in Indiana and North Carolina, keeping Clinton's chances of winning the nomination at 12.6 percent.

So, a quick snapshot: Polls show tightening races in both Indiana and North Carolina. Except for the occasional outlier, Clinton leads by a consistent five to 10 points in the Hoosier state, while Obama stays ahead in the Tar Heel state by a similar margin.

Remember how Obama started his "countdown to the nomination" yesterday? Clinton counters, as usual, with her own math. According to her calculations, the magic number to seal the nomination isn't 2025, as the DNC has said. It's 2208—the number you get if you include Florida and Michigan. It fits her argument that those states should be seated at the convention—which Howard Dean says will happen.

The problem is, superdelegates are still running from Hillary. Politico puts her ever-waning lead at 12 supers. Unless Clinton can make a big impression today—either with a blowout victory in Indiana or with an exceptionally strong showing among particular demographics—it's hard to see her stemming the flow.


There is a path for survival, of course, but it looks more fantastical by the day. Right now, she has to 1) win such stunning victories in the remaining states that 2) she wins the popular vote, which would create a small chance that 3) more than 70 percent of the remaining superdelegates decide she is the better nominee, despite Obama's winning the pledged delegate count. She has a better shot if she can force a favorable Florida/Michigan solution through both the DNC's rules and bylaws committee and its credentials committee. But superdelegates will come under intense pressure to make up their minds after June 3. At that point, Clinton's entire (plausible) case would rest on winning a popular-vote tally that included Florida and Michigan, which could be achieved only through a long, painful intraparty battle.

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

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.


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