THE BLOG
03/05/2008 09:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hillary: The New Huckabee

Hillary's wins yesterday in Texas and Ohio breathed new life into her campaign. Basking in the glow of fresh momentum, Hillary did six morning show appearances today, and will continue to try to shape the story as a brand new race.

But Hillary's spin, and the media adoption of that spin, will do little to change an even starker reality this morning: Hillary Clinton cannot win the Democratic nomination. Barack Obama's pledged delegate lead was substantial before Texas and Ohio and will remain materially unchanged in its aftermath. He has cut Clinton's super delegate lead in half since February 5th, and is expected to roll-out as many as fifty more throughout the next few weeks.

Hillary needed to win about two thirds of the available delegates last night to begin to close the gap with Obama. Though we still don't have final vote counts, it appears that, at most, she picked up 10 delegates, a woefully insufficient amount. As counter-intuitive as the math may be, despite her wins last night, she actually made it more difficult for her to reach the nomination. There are now fewer delegates remaining and an even higher percentage she must win to reclaim the lead. After Ohio and Texas, she no longer has a path to the nomination.

In the coming week, we will see Barack Obama win Wyoming and Mississippi, likely by large enough margins to erase Clinton's net gains from last night. Six weeks later, Pennsylvania will become the next benchmark. Because her victories in Ohio and Texas were, at least in part, the result of a barrage of negative attacks, one can only expect those attacks to continue, and be amplified, in the days and weeks ahead.

Like Ohio and Texas, Pennsylvania's demographics favor Hillary. But a large victory in Pennsylvania is unlikely for a number of reasons, the most compelling of which is the length of time between its primary and previous primaries. Obama and Clinton will be able to dedicate the same kind of time, effort, resources, and organization to Pennsylvania that they did in the early contests. Despite Hillary's improved financial situation, she can still expect to be seriously outspent by Obama. With the amount of time and resources that Obama will put into the state, it is difficult to imagine her winning by a sizable margin. Obama's trajectory has continued to rise as voters get to know him, while Hillary's numbers have remained high, but static. In the early contests, Hillary's most significant win was by a six point margin in Nevada (where she ultimately lost the delegate count). A massive win for Hillary in Pennsylvania, as a result, seems unrealistic.

Yet there is little evidence that Hillary will leave the race after Pennsylvania, even having failed to alter the delegate count. That she has decided to continue the race today despite truly impossible odds certainly implies that she intends to march all the way to June.

Up until now, the lengthening of the campaign calendar has benefited Obama. He has had the opportunity to meet many more voters, build well-financed organizations in a number of key states, and improve the voter's view of his electability and readiness to lead. It is possible, therefore, that an additional seven weeks of primary campaigning could continue to strengthen the Obama candidacy.

But as Hillary continues to sharpen her attacks, she may slowly weaken Obama, raising questions gently about his religion and aggressively about his readiness. If his message is muted, and his candidacy weakened, it will not change the ultimate calculus. Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. And if Hillary's lasting contribution to the party is hurting his chances for victory, she will have done nothing more than shown herself to be a selfish liability: the new Mike Huckabee.