Hillary Clinton’s Pennsylvania victory got her some things that are even more important than delegates. It got her time, and renewed questions about Obama’s electability. Let’s first be clear, Clinton is not a comeback kid.
If anything she barely held on to the double digit lead that she had in the state, and the rhetoric that one candidate can’t close the deal against each other is also silly.
The reality of this Democratic primary is that the party is split. When Clinton was the frontrunner, Obama caught up. Every time Obama is looking to put Clinton away, she comes up with a big state victory.
More than anything Clinton needed time and money, and her win was solid enough last night to get her both. Clinton isn’t going away, and her argument that Obama has only been able to win small states that Democrats won’t carry in the fall, does have some merit. Barack Obama does have some problems with entire blocks of rank and file Democrats.
What is obvious, on the day after Pennsylvania is that the tone of this race has changed. A small victory by Clinton would have probably been enough to trigger a flood of superdelegates to Obama, and essentially end the race, but instead it appears that Democrats will be playing out the string. I do think that superdelegates do now need to wait and see if Obama can finish off Clinton with two strong victories in Indiana and North Carolina.
If this primary holds true to form, then the candidates will split North Carolina and Indiana and the battle will rage on. I think that this loss leaves the Obama camp especially sour because more than at any other time in the campaign, the Clinton campaign looked lifeless and primed for a knock out.
What makes her win even worse for Obama is that he didn’t even have to win to beat her, he only had to keep it close and he couldn’t do it. Obama had the momentum and the money advantage in PA. If he couldn’t beat her with these things working for him, what does he have to do to get her out of the race?
Obama will probably win the nomination by holding his lead and running out the clock on Clinton, but there is no doubt that he may come out of this process as a battered and bruised nominee. While some would like to blame Hillary Clinton and cry about her rough play, the reality is that politics isn’t hopscotch.
Clinton has done nothing compared to what Republicans will do to Obama in the fall. I think Clinton is giving Obama a lesson in toughness that will help him against McCain. If Obama can survive the Clintons, John McCain should be a walk in the park.