Hillary claims popular vote lead

The NYT reports that Hillary is engaging in some creative math in order to claim a popular vote lead:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is entering the Kentucky and Oregon primaries on Tuesday with one of the most pugnacious political messages of her campaign: That she is ahead in the national popular vote when all votes are counted, including from the unsanctioned primaries in Michigan and Florida and that party leaders who have a vote as super-delegates should reflect this level of appeal.

This argument is of a piece with Mrs. Clinton’s increasingly populist image, as a fighter on behalf of average people, but it is also a debatable claim: Most tallies of the national popular vote put Mr. Obama in the lead, especially when Michigan and Florida are not counted.

Mr. Obama has declared his own lead in the national vote and is solidly ahead in the overall delegate count, and he intends to use the results of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries to declare on Tuesday night that he has secured a majority of the pledged delegates from primaries and caucuses.

While that does not guarantee the nomination, his campaign argues that it is an important moment and crucial for superdelegates to consider as well.

Yet Mr. Obama does not plan to declare outright victory, his advisers say, because he does not want to appear to be pushing Mrs. Clinton out of the race. At this stage, his advisers say, he wants to treat her gracefully as a worthy Democratic fighter, not as a stubborn nemesis.


If all states with popular vote totals are counted — which would exclude four caucus states that have not released numbers — Mrs. Clinton would lead Mr. Obama by more than 26,000 votes out of more than 33 million cast. By other calculations, Mr. Obama is ahead in the popular vote.

Yeah, but according to RCP, when those four states are included, estimates put Obama on top by 84K – even with MI and FL.

You have to wonder at this point under the current scenario if Clinton is just going through the motions or if she really will fight it out til the bitter end. I feel no sympathy whatsoever for her, but it’s gotta be difficult, considering that the vote is split right now almost 50-50 between them and how close she’s come to the nomination, to just give up. Not only that, but she’s someone who believed she was “owed” the nomination and before the caucuses and primaries the polls were showing her as a lock. Once she realized she wasn’t a lock, she fought tooth and nail using every tool in her disposal (and we know she’s got a ton of them) to win the support she has now. She’s nothing if not a scrapper, and I suspect she feels she’s worked too hard, come to far, come so close to turn back.

But in the end, if she takes it to the convention, will she really be viewed as someone who tried to “destroy the Dem party out of personal ambition” and be shunned as a result of it? At this stage, she is less than 200 delegates behind Obama, who is 112 delegates away from winning the nomination (that’s assuming the total delegates needed stands at 2,025 when all is said and done) and could make some sort of case for taking this thing all the way to the convention in August. Remember the 1980 Dem campaign for the nomination? Senator Ted Kennedy was over 750 delegates behind President Carter, and took it all the way to the convention. Carter, of course, went on to win [the nomination] – and today Ted Kennedy is viewed upon as one of the most “respected” Democrats in the Senate … mostly by other Democrats. So while Hillary would undoubtedly divide the party on a short term basis for taking it to the convention, long term she might fare better once old wounds started to fade away into pale battle scars.

On the other hand, the Dem party is anxiously awaiting the day when Bush leaves office, and they view McCain as another Bush who must be stopped. If Obama went on to win the nomination, but lost the general election due to, in part, disgruntled Hillary supporters not voting for him or voting for McCain instead – which would lead to a “Bush III” term (as per the left), La Clinton could be viewed permanently as a pariah nationally by the party, while still loved enough by New Yorkers to retain her Senate seat for as long as she wanted it.

So many scenarios to consider …

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