It's Clinton vs. Math, and Obama vs. Demographics.
The good news for Sen. Barack Obama: If he needs to show that he can fight, he won't have trouble finding one.
The bad news: Once a Clinton is off the mat, there's no telling what happens next.
The good news for Sen. Hillary Clinton: She lives to fight another day (or 12).
The bad news: The battle she's fighting may already be over (and only the Democratic Party stands to lose more than she does).
If Pennsylvania changed nothing else, it shifted a psychological burden from Clinton to Obama; instead of asking why Clinton won't drop out, we're asking why Obama can't force her out.
The calls for a quick exit have been silenced, superdelegates have been (mostly) frozen -- and Obama, D-Ill., has at least two more weeks of questions to face about his candidacy, even while Clinton, D-N.Y., can focus making her message work in Indiana (while trying her best to reinvent mathematics).
Flood forestalled: The day after PA brought Obama two new superdelegates, and Clinton one. Obama holds a 138-delegate edge, per ABC's delegate scorecard, and stands 301 delegates away from the finish line. (Clinton is back to even on superdelegates since Feb. 5; Obama has netted
Buckle up: "Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania on Tuesday stilled talk that she should consider quitting the race before the end of the primaries because of Obama's significant advantage in pledged delegates," Dan Balz and Perry Bacon Jr. write in The Washington Post.
Said former DNC chairman Don Fowler, on the undecided superdelegates: "The ones I know are quite content to let things drift along."
"Hillary Rodham Clinton's Pennsylvania win has bought her time -- but not much -- to make her case to the Democratic Party's superdelegates," per the Los Angeles Times.
"Interviews with dozens of superdelegates across the country Wednesday turned up a growing acceptance that the intramural contest between Sen. Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois will probably continue for six more weeks."
The results have allowed Clinton to bring her central argument to the surface in a more delicate manner than she's been able to previously: She doesn't have to say Obama can't win, since there are numbers to speak to that.
Obama's "second consecutive lopsided loss in a critical swing state has exposed soft spots," per ABC News.
"He's had persistent problems in winning working-class, less-educated, whites -- and Pennsylvania accentuated his seeming inability to connect with those voters. While Obama remains the prohibitive frontrunner -- with an effectively insurmountable lead in elected delegates -- those potential weaknesses among key demographic groups are fueling a fierce argument inside the Democratic Party over Obama's ability to win a general election."
"Sen. Obama's defeat in Pennsylvania by nearly 10 percentage points, on top of a similar loss to the New York senator in Ohio last month, reflected poor showings among white working-class voters and Roman Catholics -- two key voting blocs in a crucial state," Jackie Calmes and Mary Jacoby write in The Wall Street Journal.
"Some Democratic officials say that could bode badly for a race against Republican Sen. John McCain, who has strong appeal to some independent and crossover voters."