In the three weeks since the last presidential primary contest in Mississippi, and the four weeks since the Texas and Ohio primaries, little has changed in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As projected here at Smart Politics last month, Hillary Clinton has the decided advantage over Barack Obama in almost all of the remaining ten contests, with the exception of North Carolina and possibly Oregon. Aside from those two states, all of the states yet to vote are non-coastal and each of the contests utilizes the primary format (Obama won 13 of the 15 caucuses).
Recent polling shows Clinton remains strong in most of these key states. In the first contest, Pennsylvania (188 delegates), a new SurveyUSA poll of 588 likely voters conducted March 29-31 measures Clinton's lead in double digits, 53 to 41 percent. Clinton has led Obama in all 30 public polls conducted in the Keystone State dating back to January 2007.
Indiana (84 delegates) holds its primary on May 6th, and SurveyUSA measures Clinton's lead at nine points—52 to 43 percent (530 likely voters, March 29-31).
West Virginia (39 delegates) holds its primary on May 13th, and a Rasmussen poll of 702 likely voters in mid-March showed Clinton with a whopping 28-point lead: 55 to 27 percent. If Clinton is to stand any chance at winning the pledged delegate vote, she will need to rack up this kind of margin of victory in almost all the remaining contests (which is not likely to happen). Clinton's primary plan is to string together several victories in a row at the finish line to win over enough superdelegates to overtake Obama's likely pledged delegate advantage.
The neighboring state of Kentucky (60 delegates) holds its primary on May 20th, and a new SurveyUSA poll gives Clinton a similar lead: 58 to 29 percent (572 likely voters, March 28-30).
Recent polling is not available in Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
In North Carolina, polls consistently show Obama in the lead, usually by double-digits. The latest survey, by American Research Group, gives Obama a 51 to 38 percent advantage.
So what has the month since the Texas and Ohio primaries given Democratic voters? A continuing controversy involving Obama's pastor, the opportunity for John McCain to look presidential and above the fray in his visits abroad, and, perhaps above all, a slight breather from the intense media coverage that dominated news cycles from December through early March. However, once Pennsylvania comes around and gives Clinton another big victory, expect all that to change.