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Time, delegates and math against Hillary?

world Updated: Apr 20, 2008 01:48 IST

Time is running out on Hillary Rodham Clinton, the long-ago front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination who now trails Barack Obama in delegates, states won and popular votes.

Compounding Clinton’s woes, Obama appears on track to finish the primary campaign fewer than 100 delegates shy of the 2,025 needed to win.

Clinton argues to Democratic officialdom that other factors should count, an unprovable assertion that she is more electable chief among them. But she undercut her own claim in Wednesday night’s debate, answering “yes, yes, yes” when asked whether her rival could win the White House.

There is little if any public evidence the party’s elite, the superdelegates — party leaders who may choose whoever they like at the convention— are buying her argument anyway.

In the days since the surfacing of Obama’s worst gaffe of the campaign _ a comment that small town Pennsylvanians are bitter folk who cling to religion and guns out of frustration — he has gained six convention superdelegates, to two for Clinton. “I investigated and studied the context of the whole speech,” said one of the six, Reggie Whitten of Oklahoma, who told Obama on Tuesday he would support him.

Clinton leads in Pennsylvania polls in advance of Tuesday’s primary there, with 158 convention delegates at stake. A victory is essential to her chances of winning the nomination, but far from sufficient.

Instead, a triumph of any magnitude would instantly establish Indiana on May 6 as her next must-win state, particularly since her aides have privately signaled that defeat is likely in North Carolina on the same day.

Overall, Obama's delegate lead is 1,645-1,507. That masks an even larger advantage among those won in primaries and caucuses, as opposed to superdelegates.