For Democrats hoping for an imminent resolution to the nomination battle, it’s hard to imagine a worse outcome than the totals coming out of Pennsylvania.
Hillary Clinton was neither knocked out nor did she score a blowout. Her 10-point victory was decisive and better than expected, and already is helping her in fund-raising, but it’s still going to be very difficult for her to overtake Barack Obama in the popular vote, and next to impossible to secure a lead in pledged delegates.
Obama didn’t collapse but he didn’t impress, either. It was hard to see where he made any gains in reaching the so-called “working class voters” or “Reagan Democrats,” however they are termed and treated. That probably why he spent the better part of his speech on Tuesday night before an Indiana audience going after John McCain, as these voters are most likely to bolt to the Arizona senator if Obama doesn’t find an authentic way of reaching them.
Why can’t Obama “close the deal”? One theory is that, as the front runner, he’s at the disadvantage. Late deciders tend to vote for the “challenger,” otherwise they would have committed to a candidate much earlier. At the start of the race Obama was the challenger, but that changed once he won Iowa and South Carolina and a majority of Super Tuesday states.
But it also speaks to his outlay of money for campaign ads, which, as I said yesterday, haven’t matched Clinton’s in messaging. Call hers negative or fearful, they have stood out in the media clutter.