Hillary Clinton cranks the electability argument up to 11.

Down and on the way out.
May 28 2008 6:16 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

Clinton cranks the electability argument up to 11.

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As the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting looms, Hillary Clinton cranks her electability argument up to 11. But Obama continues to woo superdelegates. Odds of survival hover at 0.5 percent.

Clinton is now fighting tooth and nail to see that the DNC's rules committee seats the delegates from Florida and Michigan at the convention in August. She continues to push for full seating, but that scenario remains extremely unlikely. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe suggests they're willing to compromise. The reason: They can afford to. Even the best-case scenarios don't have Clinton closing Obama's 195-delegate lead.

So Clinton is pushing her "popular vote" argument harder than ever. In a letter to superdelegates today, she wrote that "when the primaries are finished, I expect to lead in the popular vote and in delegates earned through primaries." The popular vote is within reach, assuming huge turnout in Puerto Rico. (Her claim that she's currently winning it is disingenuous, though, since that count includes Michigan, where Obama wasn't on the ballot.) The pledged-delegate count—or whatever she means by "delegates earned through primaries"—not so much.

Clinton also argues she isn't hurting the party by staying in the race; she's helping it. "I believe that if Senator Obama and I both make our case—and all Democrats have the chance to make their voices heard—everyone will be more likely to rally around the nominee," she writes.

But the crux of her argument is that she will win in the general, as opposed to Obama, who merely can win. Propping up her case today was a Gallup survey showing that Clinton outperforms Obama against John McCain in states whose primaries she won. In states Obama won, Clinton and Obama perform about the same against McCain. The poll bolsters her argument that her primary victories have some bearing on her strength in the general election (although polls in May have little bearing on the outcome in November). That her victories include swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania gives her a solid talking point.

Still, Obama picks up three more superdelegates today. The campaign says it's now 46 delegates away from securing the nomination.

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.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.