yes she can

Posted on April 23, 2008

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“Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people don’t quit, and they deserve a president who doesn’t quit either.”

These are fighting words on a great night for Senator Hillary Clinton, who is still struggling to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for president.

Reuters photo

More than just staying alive to fight another day, Clinton has pulled out another impressive showing in Pennsylvania, beating fellow Senate colleague Barack Obama by a 10-point margin.

Never mind that Obama out-spent her nearly 3-to-1 in an advertising blitz with the aim of burying her in the Keystone State, so that he could close the deal. Once again, he was unable to deliver the knockout punch, despite having strayed far from his themes of unity and hope, by running negative ads against her.

Pennsylvania offers perhaps one of the clearest gauges of how Democrats would choose a candidate for their party. The state’s contest is a closed primary, allowing only registered Democrats to vote and it does not permit same-day party registration either, with registration having closed about a month before the primary. These factors help to screen spoilers more effectively.

Clinton held, and strengthened her appeal among the coalition that has usually delivered for her — women, older voters, blue-collar voters and Catholics.

Clinton was fortunate that in Pennsylvania, she faced demographics more inclined towards her than Obama, such as more white, working class and older voters. The pleasant surprise was her better than usual showing among white male voters there.

Obama, on the other hand, held on to his base consisting black voters, the college-educated and younger voters.

Going forward, the Democratic Party will undoubtedly be increasingly worried about the widening divide along sex, class, educational and racial lines of the party’s different constituencies. These fault lines though, manifest the problems of a big-tent approach that has trouble keeping together groups that do not have much in common with each other.

But in the meantime, Clinton has new momentum in the races going forward, with Indiana and North Carolina looming on May 6.

Her win tonight is likely to give a new lease of life to fund-raising for her campaign, which is currently in debt. The road ahead will be tough but the Clinton campaign has a new spring in its step and seems eager to fight on, thanks to Pennsylvanians’ vote of confidence.

The calls for her to drop out will subside somewhat now. But why would party members want to ruin a good thing? Due to a protracted Democratic primaries season, voter registration has gone up in astonishing numbers all over the country, with Pennsylvania alone boasting a record four million registered Democrat voters this year.

For now, Obama is still ahead in delegate count and the popular vote but Clinton has a realistic chance of cutting into his lead in the popular vote, and even overtake it, if she does well in Indiana and other upcoming primaries.

That factor, along with the argument that Clinton has won all the big states save Illinois, and the pattern of late deciders breaking for Clinton, will add more doubts about Obama’s electability in November’s general election.

There is every reason for Clinton to ignore detractors and keep plowing on. She deserves to stay in the contest.

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