***UPDATE APRIL 24***
The last Democratic primary contest takes place in South Dakota 40 days from today on June 3rd. Read below to see what columnists, HuffPost bloggers and party leaders are saying about the never-ending race.
Even though Hillary Clinton won Tuesday night's Pennsylvania primary by approximately ten points, the real victor is John McCain. Below is a round up from a variety of publications on why, with 40 days to go until the last Democratic primary contest on June 3rd, the fight between Obama and Clinton is only racking up points for the GOP nominee. Read a compilation of HuffPost blogs on the state of the race after Pennsylvania.
Democratic leaders resigned themselves yesterday to a prolonged and potentially damaging battle between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for their party's presidential nomination, but said they will push for a quick conclusion to the warfare once the primaries end in early June. [...]
Party leaders expressed concern that, as Clinton and Obama continue to focus on each other, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumed Republican nominee, is getting a free ride as he reintroduces himself around the country and begins laying out his platform for the general election.
A few months ago, the only people who talked about the possibility of a contested Democratic nomination fight extending all the way to the party's convention in August were hopeful pundits, desperate Republicans, and Chicken Little Democrats.
Most of the rational world looked at the political landscape and foresaw a smooth ride to victory for Democrats...
...If there were any true believers in such a rosy scenario still to be found within the Democratic party, they were likely disabused of that notion by the results of Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary. After six weeks of an increasingly negative contest, Clinton's solid, 10-point victory almost guarantees that the Democratic race will continue into June. The once-gleeful pundits now find themselves turning their rental cars toward Indiana while Republicans marvel at their luck and Democrats try to game out a resolution that doesn't involve a convention-floor battle in Denver.
Over the next two weeks, we'll be treated to much hoopla about how the Democratic race is once again up for grabs. Then, on May 5, Hillary's hopes will be dashed once more.
And then? After the votes are counted in all the primaries, look for the Gang of Four - Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean and John Edwards - to join together and issue a challenge to the superdelegates: Make up your minds.
Right now, the actual results suggest what I thought would be the worst possible result for the Democrats: a nine point win for Clinton. It doesn't change the race's dynamic or the math; but it will give Clinton just the tiniest sliver of an argument that she should not drop out. But what is striking in the exit polls is the polarization on three lines: gender, race and age. It was dead even with men; but a massive advantage for Clinton among women. The racial difference is obvious as well. But what really leaps out is age. Obama lost every cohort over 40; Clinton lost every cohort under 40. Race also affects the generations in turn: 67 percent of whites over 60 voted for Clinton - a massive 24 point advantage. Among the younger generation, there is much less racial polarization: under 30, whites split evenly. This is a fascinating result. It appears to me as the future struggling to overcome the past. On the process, I stick to my view that she needed double digits to have reason to stay in. Right now, she doesn't have it. But she won't leave. She will never leave. Ceding to someone younger is unthinkable to her. It's a form of death for her.
NY Times: Wilting Over Waffles by Maureen Dowd
The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. With gas prices out of control, with the comically oblivious President Bush shimmying around New Orleans -- the city he let drown -- and Condi sneaking into Baghdad as rockets and mortars hail down on the Green Zone, beating the Republicans should be a cinch.
But the Democrats watch in horror as Hillary continues to scratch up the once silvery sheen on Obama, and as John McCain not only consolidates his own party but encroaches on theirs by boldly venturing into Selma, Ala., on Monday to woo black voters.
Clinton has the burden of explaining why a potentially quixotic quest is worth the damage that might be accruing to the Democratic Party. Two weeks from tonight, the overall delegate number will probably not have changed much, and Obama, if he wins Indiana and North Carolina, will have made up the net popular vote gain that Clinton takes away from tonight. Obama will focus heavily on John McCain over the next two weeks; Clinton will do largely what she's been doing.
The final showdown and ultimate tally of superdelegates might not take place until the party's convention in August, just three months before the general election and seven months since Sen. John McCain became the Republican's presumptive nominee and began his national campaign.
The Democrats' waiting game will likely hurt the party and either candidate's chance for victory come November, political scientists and party insiders told ABC News.