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Commentary: Why Clinton Should (And Will) Stay in the Race Through South Dakota

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As expected, Barack Obama rolled through the Wyoming caucuses and Mississippi primary this past week, apparently dulling the shine of the Clinton campaign's big victories in Texas and Ohio on March 4th.

Due to those Clinton victories, the growing pressure for her to exit the race subsided, at least until the results of the Pennsylvania primary on April 22nd are known. But Clinton is expected to do as well in Pennsylvania as she did in the neighboring state of Ohio, so the question becomes—what then?

There remains a constant chatter within the media and by Obama supporters that Clinton cannot mathematically win the pledged delegate vote, therefore eventually necessitating a Clinton exit from the race (and the sooner the better). That is unlikely to happen.

First, Clinton is likely to win several more contests—Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico. While Obama has done very well in Western states, those have all been caucus victories with the exception of Utah (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, Nebraska, Washington, Wyoming). Overall, Obama has a nearly 2:1 lead over Clinton in states won, but they are deadlocked in state primary contests (14 to 14, including Florida and Michigan). Clinton should therefore be competitive in the remaining Western states—all of which hold primaries: Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota. Obama, on the other hand, should do well in North Carolina, but the Illinois Senator is not 'guaranteed' any more victories through June.

Therefore, it is quite possible Clinton could come close to running the table with the 10 or so remaining contests. Such a scenario would not likely give her the majority of pledged delegates, but the momentum and positive media coverage she would receive would go a long way in solidifying and expanding her lead over Obama among super delegates. A perceived "Obama collapse" at the end of the primary season could make super delegates nervous about pitting Obama as their nominee against John McCain. The media and super delegates alike will be reading the matchup polls come May and June to see if they have a 'winner' in Obama or Clinton.

Furthermore, it is in Clinton's interest to remain in the race because it is not yet certain what will happen in Michigan and Florida. Clinton would stand to gain delegates (and a lot of positive media exposure) if Florida revotes or somehow validates its January 29th returns. A revote in Michigan would be a close race between the two candidates.

Therefore, Clinton has everything to gain by remaining in the race, if one can assume her candidacy is about winning the White House. Calls for Clinton to back down at some point for the good of the Democratic Party are not going to be heard, so long as there is a chance Clinton could win the nomination outright.

Lastly, it is a political observer's dream to witness such a tight race—a 100-delegate lead may sound like a lot, but it has been decades since the Democratic nominating process has gone down to the wire like the Obama-Clinton battle. May the games continue…

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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