As she visited the Pennsylvania polls the morning of the election Hillary Clinton taunted her opponent, asking “Why can’t he close the deal?” She got going early in the spin wars, commenting:
“A win is a win, especially under the circumstances when my opponent has outspent me probably 3 to 1, maybe 4 to 1, an enormous effort on his part on TV and radio on the phone, every way that is imaginable try to win Pennsylvania.”
But she needn’t have fretted about the margin of victory. With over 75% of the vote tabulated, she had built an impressive ten point lead and cleared the hurdle most of the self-appointed pundits in the MSM had set for her, no doubt hoping their favorite son candidate Barack Obama could have at least managed to keep his loss to low single digits.
Yes, Obama had narrowed the gap just a bit from several weeks ago when her lead neared 20 points in several polls, but there could be no concealing that Hillary’s point was sounding more plausible: Obama is a candidate who seems unable to win over the broad base of Democratic voters.
The exit polls showed she won overwhelmingly among women, whites, union members, seniors, gun owners, regular church goers, and those with no college education. In short, the Reagan Democrats stuck with her may a healthy margin. Obama won African American voters and younger voters, but these voters — as we saw in Ohio — are not nearly numerous enough to produce a victory in a large, diverse state.
More importantly, given the margin of her victory she will likely still trail by 120 or more delegates. However, if Florida and Michigan votes are counted, the Pennsylvania raw vote total will mean that Obama’s popular vote margin is largely erased. Clinton will then have one more argument to take to the superdelegates: more Democrats voted in the primaries for her than Obama.
The candidates’ speeches made clear the magnitude of the win. Hillary glowed as she intoned: “The tide is turning.” She made much of Obama’s huge financial advantage and his failure to knock her out of the race. Using the time on national TV she made a pitch for funds which she surely needs. But her message was clear: she is championing women (referencing the 90 year old ladies and the little girls she supposedly sees at her events urging her on), the hard luck downscale Democrats and “everyone who’s ever been counted out.” (And where was Bill? He was scooted safely out of camera view. The less the better, Hillary is no doubt thinking, after another week of his gaffes and self-indulgent appearances.)
Obama, already fleeing to Indiana, to receive the bad news delivered his speech from the state where he must now win to stem the Clinton mini-tide from sweeping over him. He essentially ignored Pennsylvania, thanking his Indiana supporters and claiming they had been in danger of being “blown out” but had narrowed the gap. The rest was largely a recap of his main themes: the politics of pettiness and he brings a new dawning in the age of politics. His delivery was weary and the words now have lost their novelty. In short, he achieved the unimaginable: he delivered a worse speech than Hillary.
Now many pundits were not convinced, or rather tried to convince themselves, that none of this matters. Granted, Obama does enjoy a lead of more than a hundred delegates and the superdelegates continue to trickle his way. However, having lost Texas, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania Hillary’s mantra that “he cannot win the big states” seems more and more accurate.
So now the candidates slog onto Indiana and North Carolina where Clinton will claim she has Obama on the run. At least in one regard she is right: he is now refusing to debate her before the May 6 primaries. Apparently, 90 minutes of hard questions in Philadelphia about his plans to raise taxes, his collection of Left-wing alliances and his views on the flag and guns was quite enough for him. She will certainly demand he debate and when he does not, ask: “If he can’t face me how’s he going to face John McCain?” That’s a darn good question.