Story behind the story: The Clinton myth – Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen – Politico.com
One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.
Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the partyâ€™s most reliable constituency.
Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote â€” which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle â€” and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.
People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.
Precisely! and that is why she is screwed. Obama got in early and made the bit hits count. Clinton camp insiders reckon she has no more than a 10 per cent chance of winning. So why the gushing competition?
The real question is why so many people are playing. The answer has more to do with media psychology than with practical politics.
Journalists have become partners with the Clinton campaign in pretending that the contest is closer than it really is. Most coverage breathlessly portrays the race as a down-to-the-wire sprint between two well-matched candidates, one only slightly better situated than the other to win in August at the national convention in Denver.
One reason is fear of embarrassment. In its zeal to avoid predictive reporting of the sort that embarrassed journalists in New Hampshire, the media â€” including Politico â€” have tended to avoid zeroing in on the tough math Clinton faces.
The biggest reason though is self-importance. Reporters and editors love a close race. But how close is it. Well not close at all actually.
Simple number-crunching has shown the long odds against Clinton for some time.
In the latest Associated Press delegate count, Obama leads with 1,406 pledged delegates to Clintonâ€™s 1,249. Obamaâ€™s lead is likely to grow, as it did with county conventions last weekend in Iowa, as later rounds of delegates are apportioned from caucuses he has already won.
They keep talking about the tough math, how tough is it really, though?
But letâ€™s assume a best-case scenario for Clinton, one where she wins every remaining contest with 60 percent of the vote (an unlikely outcome since she has hit that level in only three states so far â€” her home state of New York, Rhode Island and Arkansas).
Even then, she would still be behind Obama in delegates.
There are 566 pledged delegates up for grabs in upcoming contests. Those delegates come from Pennsylvania (158), Guam (4) North Carolina (115), Indiana (72), West Virginia (28), Kentucky (51), Oregon (52), Puerto Rico (55), Montana (16) and South Dakota (15).
If Clinton won 60 percent of those delegates, she would get 340 delegates to Obama’s 226. Under that scenario â€” and without revotes in Michigan and Florida â€” Obama would still lead in delegates by 1,632 to 1,589.
In other words, she is screwed.