Clinton's Path to Victory is Slipping Away

By: CBS News
By: CBS News

Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic nomination have become slim to none - and slim looks to be leaving town. “I think the race is probably over,” said “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer. “But the demolition derby keeps going. I would guess there is going to be real pressure on her to wind it up and I would also guess she'll have a harder time raising money. This week should tell the tale on whether she quits or goes on.”

Analysts and pundits aren’t the only ones questioning Clinton’s ability to win the race. “I think effectively the race is over,” Democratic strategist Ted Devine told “Someone could theoretically conceive of a route home for her, but I don't see any realistic way for her to win more pledged delegates, more of the popular vote, or attract more superdelegates than she has now.”

Devine knows delegates, having served on several Democratic presidential campaigns, including a stint as the delegate counter for Michael Dukakis in 1988. “It is effectively an insurmountable lead” that Obama holds, said Devine.

“The fact is,” Democratic strategist and CBS News consultant Joe Trippi said, “this has probably been over for quite awhile.”

Clinton’s arguments that she can still win have largely evaporated after last night. In the popular vote, Barack Obama added more than 230,000 to his overall total in North Carolina, compared to the 20,000 Clinton won in Indiana. Even if Clinton and Obama were allocated votes from the disputed contests in Florida and Michigan last January, Clinton could still find herself trailing in the popular vote lead.

Here's how it breaks down: Right now, Obama leads Clinton by nearly 700,000 votes, if you don't count Michigan and Florida. Clinton was on the ballot in both states; Obama was not on the Michigan ballot, though many of his supporters voted "uncommitted." If you count only the votes cast for the candidates in both states - and thus don't count uncommitted for Obama - Obama would still have a national vote lead of more than 73,000 votes. If you give Michigan's uncommitted vote to Obama, he would lead by over 310,000. And if only Florida were counted, Obama would lead by more than 400,000 votes. Under every scenario, Clinton does not claim the popular vote lead.

To claim the nomination based on the popular vote, then, Clinton would first have to convince the party and the superdelegates to count the disputed states in terms that most benefit her - and then win the upcoming contests in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana by large enough margins to overcome him in the total vote.

When it comes to the delegate race, Clinton’s hurdle is just as daunting. Obama leads Clinton among pledged delegates won in all contests to date 1,587 to 1,419 - a 168 delegate lead with just 217 delegates left in the upcoming contests. Because of the proportional system of delegate allocation in the Democratic Party, she would need massive victories in every one of the upcoming contests in order to close that gap.

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