On the day of the Pennsylvania Primary, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ratcheted up the expectations game into the final hours.
"I think the question maybe ought to be why can't he close the deal," Clinton told reporters outside of a polling place after greeting supporters. "With his extraordinary financial advantage why can't he win a state like this one if that's the way it turns out. ... The road to the White House for a Democrat leads right through Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue."
Clinton said if she is victorious, "a win is a win" regardless of the margin. A close race, however, would limit her delegate pick-up and make it more challenging to catch Obama in the pledged delegate race.
Barack Obama's campaign circulated a memo today, "The Bar for Clinton in Pennsylvania and Beyond," that layed out how much Clinton will have to win Pennsylvania to alter the race at all.
The Philadelphia Inquirer observed that there is "consensus" that Clinton has to "take the state big, perhaps by double digits, to be able to claim that she'd won it a way that matters in the overall nomination struggle - given her deficits in both the delegate race and the overall popular vote." [Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/3/08]
That's exactly right. And Clinton's own supporters have been predicting big wins. Governor Ed Rendell and Congressman Jack Murtha - no strangers to Pennsylvania politics - have both predicted runaway wins for her. [MTP, 4/6/08, MSNBC, 4/1/08]
The Clinton campaign has been trying to spin away their earlier confidence and move the goalposts for victory in Pennsylvania. But the bottom line is that if Senator Clinton is going to make meaningful inroads in this race for delegates, she will need a huge margin in Pennsylvania.