Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You Can't Beat Math...and Neither Can Hillary

During my political consultant days, one of my mantras was "you can't beat math." In other words, the fixed numbers--registered voters, voters willing to cross over, voting trends among ethnic groups--are impossible to change in any meaningful way.

Jonathan Alter applies the Graham approach to the Democratic delegate chase, and it's not good news for Mrs. Bill Clinton:

So no matter how you cut it, Obama will almost certainly end the primaries with a pledged-delegate lead, courtesy of all those landslides in February. Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people. Even coming off a big Hillary winning streak, few if any superdelegates will be inclined to do so. For politicians to upend what the voters have decided might be a tad, well, suicidal.

I would agree with Jonathan, except for one thing: We're talking about Hillary Clinton. So, I'm not going to say she's out of it until I see her surrounded by crucifixes and garlic, with a wooden stake in her heart.

And even then, I won't be sure...

UPDATE: Mark Halperin comes to the same conclusion for Time magazine:

Some of the upcoming states to vote — including Wyoming on Saturday and Mississippi on March 11 — are likely to swing strongly for Obama, and certainly show no signs of being Clinton blowouts. The same goes for North Carolina on May 6, and Oregon on May 20.

Other contests might be more favorable for Clinton (Pennsylvania, Indiana, Guam, West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota), but even decisive wins in those states — say, in the 60-40 range—would still leave her behind in both elected delegates and the overall count. That remains true even if Clinton somehow succeeds in getting the disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan seated at the convention.

Clinton's only hope of winning a majority of the delegates is to overtake Obama's elected delegate lead by winning the bulk of the remaining superdelegates.