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Why Clinton Is Not In Trouble In Pennsylvania

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With Pennsylvania's Democratic primary less than 2 weeks away, the media is attempting to drum up interest with reports that Barack Obama is running neck-and-neck with Clinton in the Keystone State.

While it is true that Obama has gained ground on Clinton according to polling conducted over the past 4+ weeks, Clinton is still the big favorite to win the majority of the state's pledged delegates on April 22nd.

The media's newfound characterization that the race is becoming a toss-up is based largely on the trend line of two polls: Quinnipiac and Rasmussen. Quinnipiac had Clinton up by 12 points on March 16th, by 9 points on March 31st, and currently by 6 points on April 6th—all polls conducted of a very large sample (1,300+) of likely voters.

Rasmussen had Clinton up by 15 points on the day after Ohio/Texas primaries (March 5th), by 13 points on March 12th, by 10 points on March 24th, by 5 points on March 31st, and currently by 5 points in an April 7th survey.

There are several reasons for the Clinton camp not to panic.

First, not all surveys are trending big towards Obama. SurveyUSA had Clinton up by 19 points on March 10th, by 12 points on March 31st, and then back up to 18 points in its new poll ending April 7th. InsiderAdvantage had Clinton ahead by just 3 points on April 2nd, but now shows the Senator from New York leading by 10 points in its recent poll conducted on April 8th.

Secondly, no nonpartisan public poll has shown Obama ahead in 39 polls conducted during the past 15 months. Therefore, while there may be some movement towards Obama, he is fighting against a solid base of support for Clinton that has been entrenched for more than a year. The same situation was basically true in Ohio—Clinton led in every poll, save one, conducted from January 2007 through March 3, 2008.

Ohio likewise showed the race narrowing in the week before the primary election: Clinton was polling ahead of Obama by 20+ point margins at the end of January, five weeks before the primary. That lead was cut down to single digits (and one deficit) in 13 of 17 polls conducted the week before Ohio's primary. Clinton, however, ended up winning by double digits in that race (54.2 to 44.1 percent).

While Obama has more money to spend than does Clinton, that was also the case in Ohio, and this monetary advantage is thus already built into the momentum Obama has enjoyed during the past few weeks. The question will not be whether or not Clinton wins the Keystone State, as the media would have one believe, but whether Clinton can win by double digits.

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