What happens when a race that's over doesn't act like it?
West Virginia doesn't change any games -- but the fact that the game is still being played is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's victory, at least for the day. If she needed any excuses to stick around a little while longer, she found them in a Mountain State landslide. (And if Republicans needed any excuses to go into outright panic mode, they found them in deep-red Mississippi on Tuesday.)
Clinton, D-N.Y., gets fresh ammunition for her final argument to the superdelegates -- and just maybe enough fresh cash to fund three more weeks of this.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., hits a 41-point speed bump on his road to the nomination -- a fresh reminder that there's something just plain missing from his appeal to Democrats. (And consider this a response in his "national conversation" about race -- don't say he didn't ask for it.)
One week after the press essentially declared him the nominee, two-thirds of Democratic voters in a swing state said thanks, but no thanks. It may matter approximately not at all in determining the nomination -- but as Obama looks toward the general, these are warning signs he can't hope away.
And with Clinton still trying to win this thing, she'll be there to remind him -- and the supers -- about it.
"Clinton advisers hoped the size of Clinton's victory and signs of dissatisfaction with Obama among West Virginia voters would reopen a conversation about who is the stronger Democrat to take on Sen. John McCain," Dan Balz writes in mapping Clinton's narrow road back, in The Washington Post. "They also hoped the results would tamp down talk that Clinton should consider dropping out of the nomination contest before the primaries end on June 3 to speed the process of uniting Democrats."
"It's like a shot of Red Bull to get her few these next couple weeks," ABC's George Stephanopoulos said on "Good Morning America" Wednesday (and maybe she's heard of the energy drink by now). "The problem is, it doesn't change the fundamental delegate math."
Obama still needs to win only about a third of the remaining delegates to capture the nomination; using the DNC's magic number of 2,025, he's just 140 delegates away from clinching, not counting Wednesday's superdelegate haul, per ABC political director David Chalian.
Obama remains the prohibitive frontrunner -- and is still on track to clinch a majority of pledged delegates next week. Whoever controls the next batch of supers controls the narrative of the days before then (and Obama rolls out the first ones Wednesday morning -- Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., and Democrats Abroad Chair Christine Schon Marques, just to start the campaign's day out right).
"Grit, she's got. Numbers, she don't," Lynn Sweet writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
That meeting of top Clinton fundraisers Wednesday in Washington should at least be a little upbeat, given the the fresh talking points the stay-in-the-race camp is now armed with. But expect at least a few tough questions for the senator and her team.
We'll hear more about the popular vote -- Clinton's ahead again if (and only if) you count the less-than-clean contest in Florida and the downright meaningless tally from Michigan.