Senator Hillary Clinton decisively won Ohio’s primary 55% to 43% and has been declared the winner in Texas but by a smaller margin of 51% to 47% with 90% of the vote counted. As the Washington Post reports on Clinton’s comeback:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) roared back into contention for the Democratic presidential primary race Tuesday night after claiming primary victories in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. These win ensure that her challenge to Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) will continue through Pennsylvania’s primary on April 22.
Clinton’s popular vote margin in Ohio was larger than expected, while she appeared to eke out a very narrow win in Texas. Earlier in the night, Obama won an easy victory in Vermont while Clinton cruised to a triumph in Rhode Island.
As the New York Times notes, voters are not yet ready to write Senator Clinton off:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s victories in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday night not only shook off the vapors of impending defeat, but also showed that — in spite of his delegate lead — Senator Barack Obama was still losing to her in the big states.
Those two states were the battlegrounds where Mr. Obama was going to bury the last opponent to his history-making nomination, finally delivering on his message of hope while dashing the hopes of a Clinton presidential dynasty.
Yet then the excited, divided American electorate weighed in once more, throwing Mrs. Clinton the sort of political lifeline that New Hampshire did in early January after her third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
Barrack Obama still leads in delegate counts – some 1466 to 1376 by one estimate Votes in Mississippi and Wyoming are coming up in the next week which favor Obama. Even with the large number of delegates at stake in Pennyslvania, and Clinton being currently favored there, Clinton is in a difficult position trying to overtake Obama.
The battle now is going to shift to the undemocratic process of superdelegates committing and the question of what to do about Michigan and Florida whose delegates are not currently being counted because they broke party rules and moved their primaries to January.
The irony here is that Clinton won both of these states when the candidates agreed not to campaign there. With all their names on the ballot in Florida, Clinton won Florida. In Michigan Clinton’s name was on the ballot but Obama’s was not. People had to vote uncommitted if they didn’t want Clinton and wanted Obama. Clinton still won. Both Michigan and Florida are states the Democrats want and need to win in November.
While Clinton has not won as many states as Obama has, the delegate and vote count is close. Unlike the electoral college which is winner take all, the Democratic primaries and caucuses assign delegates to the Democratic National Convention based on the proportion of the vote each candidate won.
As the New York Times notes:
The nomination is not determined by the number of states won, but Mr. Obama’s inability to win major battleground states beyond Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and his home state, Illinois, is a concern of some Democrats — especially since Ohio and Florida have become must-wins in presidential elections.
Quoting Clinton according to the NY Times:
“If we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win the battleground states, just like Ohio,” she said. “We’ve won Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee”
There is plenty for Democrats to think about. The hope is that a resolution can be reached and a nominee selected without splitting and losing the combined passions of the Clinton and Obama camps. The last thing the Democrats need is to enter the fall campaign split and angry at each other rather than united in working to defeat the Republicans and John McCain.
One thing for sure – the Democrats need to come up with a better plan and timing and spacing of primaries for the next party contested Presidential election. Reform of the process should include making the elections fairer by going to an all primary system where voters can see how their votes count and maximum voter participation is ensured – something the caucus system doesn’t do.