early and often

How Much Worse Will the Democratic Race Get?


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Everyone take your coat off. Make yourself comfortable. It’s going to be a while before this is over. Hillary Clinton’s nine-point victory last night was exactly the justification she needed to continue her campaign, despite the worries voiced (even more loudly today) that the prolonged primary is hurting the party. And yet, the consensus seems to be that while Obama’s loss raises questions about his ability to appeal to white, working-class voters in the fall, many think nothing in the race has really changed, and we’ve merely pushed back the finish line in a marathon that Clinton can’t win.

• Maureen Dowd writes that Clinton is frustrating Obama by persevering and refusing to quit the race, and that despite her win last night, Democrats might try to unite to push her out before the party is done irreparable harm. [NYT]

• Amy Sullivan thinks Obama can “take comfort” in the Pennsylvania results as well, considering how much ground he made up since the beginning of the primary, his improvements in key demographic groups since Ohio, and his overall national numbers. But the real winner of the Pennsylvania primary was John McCain. [Time]

• Walter Shapiro wonders which is the more salient lesson to take away from Pennsylvania: that Barack Obama can’t close the deal or that the Democrats’ “scorched-earth” campaigning is killing the party. [Salon]

• John Judis sees similarities between the campaigns of Obama and George McGovern, in that college students and minorities form the base for both and both attract more liberal, less religious voters. However, Clinton failed to win by a margin wide enough to create a “media firestorm” that would question Obama’s electability, which was her best chance at winning the nomination. [New Republic]

• Vaughn Ververs thinks Obama’s failure to at least achieve a small loss casts a “sliver of doubt” about his candidacy, and questions the degree to which the recent controversies have hurt him. [Horserace/CBS News]

• The Times editorial board sharply criticizes Clinton for winning on a negative, divisive campaign, and calls on the superdelegates to fulfill their purpose and “settle a bloody race that cannot be won at the ballot box.” [NYT]

• Ben Smith writes that the same “underlying realities” remain in the race as before, and although the results showed basically the same voting patterns as Ohio, it’s still unusual for the “media-christened front-runner” to be unable to “cruise to victory.” [Politico]

• Andrew Romano says only the narratives the candidates spin to the superdelegates, and not the basic parameters of the race, have changed. [Newsweek]

• Fred Barnes says the way Clinton won Pennsylvania gives her a very credible case for being the stronger general-election candidate, because she took “union households, women, Catholics, working class and downscale voters,” plus the less educated — voting blocs the Democrats need in the fall. [Weekly Standard]

• John Dickerson says Obama has tried everything to appeal to blue-collar voters and just can’t do it, which is Clinton’s best argument to the superdelegates. He also warns that the race will get even uglier as it moves forward. [Slate]

• Jamal Simmons thinks that despite his loss, Obama is still leading in basically every metric, and that Clinton can only win by destroying him and the Democratic Party. [Root]

• Chuck Todd and friends are already looking toward North Carolina, where it’s likely that Obama can erase any gains in the popular vote Clinton made in Pennsylvania, which, after all, is the measurement the Clinton campaign has been hoping to point to as a sign of superior support. After North Carolina, there simply aren’t enough votes left for her to close the gap. [First Read/MSNBC]

• A clearly frustrated Matthew Yglesias practically begs for the superdelegates to just come out and say whom they’re for already, rather than struggling through the remainder of inconclusive primaries and only then deciding. [Atlantic]

• Josh Marshall says Clinton basically met expectations and that nothing has really changed. [Talking Points Memo] —Dan Amira

Related: What the Margin of Victory in Pennsylvania Will Mean

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

How Much Worse Will the Democratic Race Get?