wash post: Clinton's path to the nomination remains extraordinarily treacherous even after the victory in Pennsylvania. Her margin was decisive, but even some of her most loyal supporters privately expressed doubts last night that she can prevail in the long battle against Obama.
The senator from Illinois still leads in the number of pledged delegates and the popular vote. He is almost certain to hold the delegate lead and will probably maintain the popular-vote advantage when the primaries end in early June. Perhaps more important, Clinton's campaign is nearly broke, whereas Obama has an enormous amount of money in the bank to throw into the next two contests and beyond.
But for the second time in seven weeks, first in the Texas and Ohio primaries and now in Pennsylvania, Obama did not deliver a decisive blow against Clinton when he had an opportunity to bring the race to an end, despite heavily outspending her and waging an aggressive and negative campaign in the final days. His advisers had hoped to hold Clinton's victory margin to mid-single digits and appeared to have fallen short of that goal.
"He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of this race," Clinton told her supporters in Philadelphia last night. "Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas."
Obama's loss in Pennsylvania raised anew questions about his ability to win the big industrial states that will be critical to the Democrats' hopes of winning back the White House in November. In the coming days, Clinton's camp will try to play on those doubts with uncommitted superdelegates -- who have been moving toward Obama over the past two months -- urging them to remain neutral until the primaries are over.
Geoff Garin, Clinton's co-chief strategist, called Pennsylvania a potential turning point in the Democratic race. "Senator Obama had every opportunity to go out and make his case and show he could win an industrial state," he said. "The fact that Hillary not just held her own but gained strength at the end gives us real momentum going into Indiana and North Carolina."
David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, said the loss was expected and did little to change the trajectory of a nomination battle that continues to favor his candidate.
"Some states are stronger for our opponent," he said. "Some are stronger for us. We assumed she had an edge there [in Pennsylvania] and we would try to keep it as close as we could. You have to be clear-eyed about that. We have two contests coming up in two weeks. We'll see where the race is after that. . . . The structure of the delegate contest will not be changed appreciably, and that's the most important factor in the race." more
indiana and north carolina hold primaries may 6. west virginia, may 13.