As decisive and impressive as Hillary Clinton’s impressive victories were, her campaign’s delegate problem remains a very awkward hurdle. This is
March 4, 2008

As decisive and impressive as Hillary Clinton’s impressive victories were, her campaign’s delegate problem remains a very awkward hurdle.

This is, of course, not a state-by-state race, but rather, a race for delegates. And on that score, Clinton made little progress yesterday.

Bill Burton, an Obama spokesman, brimmed with equal brio. “This was her last, best chance to significantly close the gap in pledged delegates,” Mr. Burton said of Mrs. Clinton, who began the night with about 50 fewer pledged delegates and 100 fewer over all. “They have failed.” […]

But for all the millions of votes Mrs. Clinton has now won, simple math is still her enemy.

That’s true. Clinton has changed the momentum of the race, and has clearly bought herself some more time on the campaign trail, but the cold, hard numbers haven’t changed much. It creates a new dynamic -- the narrative vs. the numbers.

Obama started the day with a lead in pledged delegates of about 159. There were, however, 370 pledged delegates at stake yesterday. How did Clinton do at narrowing the gap? By one count, she may have won a net gain of one vote. By some estimations, she may not have even won that much.

Notwithstanding the shift in momentum and the P.R. victory tonight’s results hand Hillary, it’s possible that she’ll finish the night without cutting into Obama’s delegate lead at all....

[I]f Obama manages to win delegates out of Texas (thanks to the caucuses) that offset Hillary’s Ohio delegate gain, she could end the night in pretty much the same position as she was in yesterday, at least as far as the pledged delegate count is concerned.

She won big victories tonight, no question, but it’s unclear yet whether the shift in narrative she’ll enjoy will transform the race’s stubborn underlying dynamic in any significant way.

Given the complexities of the process, it’s even possible, hard as it may be to believe, that when the dust settles on the March 4 contests, Obama may have lost three out of four contests, and managed to gain delegates — proving, once again, that this is a very silly process in need of reform.

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