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Penn ultimate

The Clinton Mail is far behind but the Obama Express is no longer powering along. After winning 11 primaries in a row, Obama has now lost four out of the last six primaries.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2008 22:54 IST

The Pennsylvania primary produced just the sort of result that the US Democratic Party leadership dreaded. While Hillary Clinton’s victory was expected, by being able to defeat Barack Obama by nine percentage points she made an ironclad case for continuing her run to the final party convention in August. A few points less and the pressure on her to retire from the race would have been overpowering. Obama, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination and unusually off-colour during the Pennsylvania campaign, once again missed an opportunity to deal a knockout blow.

It is still advantage Obama. He holds an unsurmountable lead in party delegates, in the popular vote and the number of states won. And Clinton is desperately short of money. However, he will fall short of the necessary 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination. The decision, therefore, passes to the unelected superdelegates, the party officials who will hold the balance of power at the convention. Her Pennsylvania victory will strengthen Clinton’s case that Obama can’t be a national candidate given that he has lost every major state other than his home state of Illinois. Some studies indicate that under the US presidential poll’s electoral college system, which tends to exaggerate populous states, Clinton is a more credible candidate than Obama. This underpins her argument to the superdelegates: Obama may be able to mobilise the young and the rich, but only she can stitch together the broader coalition needed to kick the Republicans out of the White House.

The Clinton Mail is far behind but the Obama Express is no longer powering along. After winning 11 primaries in a row, Obama has now lost four out of the last six primaries. More damaging is his loss of favour among two key pillars of Democratic support: white blue-collar workers and ethnic Latins. The attitude of the former, which at one point were falling under Obama’s spell, now gives the party leadership sleepless nights. Polls indicate that white workers — and as many as 15 per cent of all Democrats — will vote Republican if Clinton loses the nomination. The last time the blue-collar white male defected, he provided the rock-hard electoral base on which Ronald Reagan ruled Washington for eight years.