Months after everyone thought it would be over, the Democratic primary continues today in Oregon and Kentucky.
Despite the widespread belief that Barack Obama has essentially locked up the nomination, Hillary Clinton has vowed to stay in the race until the very end and fight for the nomination.
But the numbers are against her. Clinton is behind in the delegate count with 1,717 compared to Obama’s 1,904, according to CNN. With only five primaries left, time is running out for Clinton to make up the difference before Obama reaches the 2,025 delegates needed to declare victory.
“It is almost impossible for her to win the nomination by the rules of the game,” said Larry Berman, UC Davis political science professor and interim director of the UC Davis Washington program. “She will have to convincingly win all the remaining primaries, something that is unlikely.“
Clinton is refusing to be pressured out of the race by critics who say the prolonged primary battle is hurting Obama’s chances in the general election against Republican nominee John McCain – who was chosen 10 weeks ago.
“She is hoping that the party awards her delegates from both Florida and Michigan, and that will not happen the way she envisages it,“ Berman said.
The Democratic National Committee disqualified Florida and Michigan from participating in the nomination as punishment for the states‘ attempts to wield more influence over the selection process by holding their primaries early. All candidates agreed not to campaign there and Obama withdrew his name from the Michigan ballot.
But with concern for the general election looming, the party is looking to please the states‘ voters by reinstating their delegates. The DNC Rules Committee will meet May 31 to discuss its options.
“They will look for a compromise, some sort of split that allows the delegations to be seated, but that does not change the outcome in the candidate‘s delegate count,” Berman said. “These two states violated party rules and they will not be allowed to now play a decisive role in deciding the nominee.“
Calls for an end to the primary increased steadily after the May 6 primaries in which Clinton was soundly defeated in North Carolina and scraped through with a 2 percent victory in Indiana.
Political reporters and pundits alike became more convicted and outspoken in their assertions of an Obama nomination after that night.
“We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” said Tim Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief on election night.
After a predictable but nonetheless landslide victory in West Virginia last Tuesday, Clinton doubled her efforts to make the case that she is the Democrat who can beat McCain in battleground states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Despite ongoing efforts to sway voters away from Obama, the Clinton campaign has taken a noticeably lighter tone in its criticisms of him in the past few weeks. Pundits attribute this to concerns raised by many Democrats that a bloody primary battle would cripple the party for November, especially if the contest remains unresolved until the Democratic National Convention in August.
“It appears that the Clinton team is slowly moving towards unifying things after the final primary because a convention fight needs to be avoided,“ Berman said.
As the Democratic primary rolls on, the nation’s focus is turning more and more towards the general election. Themes for the general election are beginning to distinguish themselves.
“We already know that the key themes will be experience, the war, the economy and health care,” Berman said. “It will be interesting to see how the campaigns develop their strategies.“
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org