January 25, 2008


Clinton Now Looking Beyond S.C.: Focus on 4 Delegate-Rich States Is Considered Risky (Anne E. Kornblut and Shailagh Murray, 1/26/08, Washington Post)

The logic seems simple: She represents New York in the Senate, and New Jersey is next door; she was the first lady of Arkansas for a decade; and California will be the biggest prize when 22 states vote on Feb. 5. But in a system that awards delegates by congressional district, with some worth more than others, the calculation is far from straightforward, and Clinton backers fear that the setup could boost Sen. Barack Obama if he fares well in populous corners of key states.

Her strategists call it a "game of chess," part of the byzantine path to the Democratic nomination in a campaign that has pitted two strong front-runners and a determined third candidate, former senator John Edwards, in a tight battle from one contest to the next.

The approach is demanding. Clinton made a one-day cross-country round trip to visit this vital district, a heavily Hispanic area with a number of less-affluent voters who her advisers believe are likely to support her. She hopes to sweep the entire state of California, and polls have shown her doing well statewide, but it is just as critical that she pick up the five delegates that come with the Salinas area. Under the Democratic nominating rules, 70 percent of California's delegates will be awarded on a district-by-district basis; the remaining 30 percent will go to the candidate who wins statewide.

The same is true for the other big-prize states, forcing the Clinton and Obama campaigns, despite their record fundraising and an avalanche of media attention, to make carefully targeted choices about where to send the contenders and where to place ads.

The SC win tomorrow may well keep Senator Obama in this until the Convention, which is potentially deadly for the Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 25, 2008 12:05 PM

Obama is now ahead in GA, possibly TN, and possibly NJ. If John Lewis defects from Hillary to Barack, will that be the stake in the heart?

Posted by: ratbert at January 25, 2008 7:03 PM