It’s do or die time for Hillary Clinton

March 4th, 2008 - 11:20 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 4 (IANS) Hillary Clinton braced Tuesday for a do or die battle to keep alive her bid to become the first woman US president in the face of surging Democratic rival Barack Obama. Trailing by over a 100 pledged delegates after 11 straight losses to Obama, the big question surrounding Clinton before Tuesday’s crucial nomination contest in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont is how many delegates she needs to win to keep going.

Tuesday’s results could determine whether the fight for the Democratic nomination between Obama vying to be the first black president and Hillary ends this week or continues.

At stake are 370 delegates who could alter the current equation. Obama with momentum on his side has 1,378 pledged delegates and superdelegates to Clinton’s 1,269. But neither candidate is close to the 2,025 needed to win the party nomination.

On the Republican side, the results of the four states could mathematically put through Vietnam War veteran John McCain when it comes to winning enough delegates to secure the nomination.

McCain has 1,047 delegates, 144 shy of the 1,191 he needs to lock in the Republican nomination. On Tuesday, 256 Republican delegates are at stake. So if McCain has a good night, he can go over the top.

Challenger Mike Huckabee is still in the race, though he faces astronomical odds. The former Arkansas governor has said he would bow out if McCain wins a majority of the delegates. According to CNN’s “poll of polls” in Texas, McCain leads Huckabee 58 percent to 30 percent

For Democrats, Texas and Ohio are the biggest prizes Tuesday - 193 Democratic delegates are at stake in Texas and 141 in Ohio.

CNN’s poll of polls, an averaging of the most recent surveys in each state, suggests the race is extremely tight, with Obama ahead by two points in Texas and Clinton ahead by five in Ohio. But the polls also indicate there are still many undecided voters in both states.

Former President Bill Clinton said in February if his wife wins Ohio and Texas, she would go on to win the nomination. The flip side, of course, is that if she doesn’t win those two big states, will she give up her quest for the White House?

A lot of people inside and outside the Clinton campaign have weighed in on this question, but the one voice that matters is staying silent. Asked this weekend if she had to win Ohio and Texas, Clinton wouldn’t answer other than to say: “I never make predictions”.

“If Obama wins Texas and Ohio, it’s game over,” said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. “If Clinton wins Texas and Ohio, it’s game on until someone can figure out how to reach a majority of delegates. That may not happen until the Democratic National Convention in late summer. If Clinton and Obama split Texas and Ohio, it’s a new game.”

Texas was supposed to be Clinton country, because of its large Latino population, a group Clinton has done well with so far this primary season. But Texas also has a strong African-American population, and Obama has dominated the black vote so far this year.

Some people in Texas get to vote twice, and that could help Obama. In Texas, 126 of the delegates at stake are decided in the primary, but once the polls close Tuesday night, Texas also holds caucuses, where those who cast ballots in the primary get to vote again.

Another 67 delegates will be allocated in those caucuses. Obama has done extremely well in states with caucuses.

In Ohio, Clinton has a slight lead, because of the large number of union and blue-collar workers and Catholic voters, groups that, along with women and senior citizens, are considered her base.

Rhode Island, which has 21 Democratic delegates, is in some ways a smaller-scale Ohio, thanks to its large Catholic and working-class population, and Clinton is ahead in the polls there.

Vermont is a different story, with many upscale voters and liberals and few industrial workers. Obama leads in the polls there by more than 20 points.

Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh Monday encouraged his listeners in Texas to cross party lines Tuesday and vote for Hillary Clinton in order to “sustain this soap opera”.

“I want our party to win. I want the Democrats to lose. They’re in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It’s fascinating to watch, and it’s all going to stop if Hillary loses,” he said.

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