Clinton's Last Stand

By Gordon Campbell
Official headshot of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
OK, in the Pennsylvania vote, Hillary Clinton should still get home by between 5 and 10 points – which would mean a continuation of the stalemate. Anything more gives her the big victory she needs – and anything less continues her eclipse. Anything less than a 5 % win on the popular vote, is disastrous, and would kill her campaign. Lets leave aside for now whether she has enough money to continue for anything more than a few extra weeks.

And why should Pennsylvania go for Clinton ? Well, says Associated Press, Pennsylvania has “a higher median age, a higher percentage of whites, a lower median household income and fewer bachelor’s degrees than the country overall. These are the voters — working-class whites and voters older than 50 — who have flocked to her in past contests.”

So weird. Hillary Clinton as the champion of the blue collar working class flies so absolutely in the face of the Clintons championing welfare reform and NAFTA during the mid 1990s, which – you might have thought – would be traceable to manufacturing job losses and the sense of general insecurity afflicting Pennsylvania’s steeltown working poor. I know. The more NAFTA et al bites, the more they cling to their guns and God and Hillary.

Of course, the fight in Pennsylvania will be partly about delegates – remember, Barack Obama lost the popular vote in Texas, but won on the delegate count by dint of his strength in the Democratic caucuses run at much the same time.

Chris Bowers at the Open Left site (track down) crunches the eve of poll numbers to read the likely result this way : an 8-9 % popular vote victory for Clinton, which will still leave her well adrift of Obama on the popular vote.

On the delegate count, it looks like a best-case Clinton delegate split of 87-71, and a best case Obama delegate scenario of 83-75.

“If Obama can keep the two-candidate vote margin under 5%,” Bowers says, “then he can force a narrow Clinton delegate victory of 81-77, which would be utterly devastating to her chances. By contrast, Clinton needs to win by 12% or more to start achieving the huge, 20 or more delegate margins that she really needs to start catching up. “

In the aftermath it will be interesting to see how the Catholic vote shakes down – nearly one third of the entire adult population in Pennsylvania is Catholic, and favours Clinton overall. Even though as you might expect, younger, more urban Catholics trend towards Obama, and assisted him to narrowly win the Catholic vote in Wisconsin. Well, given that Pope Benedict reportedly likes cats so much Obama’s best chance with them could lie in the one question unasked in the campaign so far – is Barack Obama a dog or a cat person?