Once again, it's do-or- die time for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The New York senator, trailing her rival for the Democratic
presidential nomination, Barack Obama, by most measures, has to win
the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday - and she has to win
convincingly in order to narrow the deficit and appear competitive
in the remaining handful of contests, analysts say.
The latest major polls show her winning the Keystone State by an
average of five points. That would not be enough to make substantial
headway in either her convention delegate count or the popular vote.
But Clinton campaign aides have made clear that a win is a win and
that they plan to spin even a narrow victory into a major loss for
"If Obama fails to win Pennsylvania, it will be another sign that
he is unable to win in the large states that a candidate for
president on the Democratic ticket needs to win," Clinton
communications director Howard Wolfson told reporters in a
conference call last week.
If Clinton wins Pennsylvania by 10 points or more, that would
give Obama a jolt - but she would still face a steep climb in the
remaining contests to capture the nomination. Her only hope is to
get close in either the delegate count or the popular vote and then
persuade enough of the superdelegates - the party officials and
leaders who are free to back whomever they want - that she would be
the stronger nominee against Republican Sen. John McCain in
Obama leads in the Associated Press's overall delegate count
1,647 to 1,508, including the latest superdelegate to declare for
Obama, Enid Goubeaux, a Democratic National Committee member from
Ohio. A candidate needs 2,025 delegates to clinch the nomination.
Obama leads in the popular vote by more than 700,000 votes.
Forecasting the Pennsylvania Democratic vote - the largest state
left in primary season - isn't easy. In some ways, Pennsylvania is
like Ohio, with its large working-class population, lots of older
voters, and big Roman Catholic population. Those demographics tilt
toward Clinton. Since she won Ohio by 10 points, some analysts say
that's her benchmark for Pennsylvania.
Independent pollster John Zogby sees the numbers breaking for
Clinton in the final days. In his Sunday survey, the undecideds
dropped from 8 percent to 5 percent, and most went for Clinton.
But, he and others warn, Pennsylvania is also different from
Ohio. Job growth in Pennsylvania, 3 percent since 2003, far outpaces
Ohio's 0.5 percent. Pittsburgh, the old steel city, has reinvented
itself into a high-tech mecca.
Still, it's not hard to find older, working-class Pennsylvanians
who feel left behind, and they are Clinton's base. The latest
Franklin and Marshall College poll shows Clinton with a 20-point
lead (53 percent to 33 percent) in Allegheny County, which includes
"It's turning into an East-West battle," says Terry Madonna, the
poll's director. "She's winning the West; he's winning the East. …