I think the Clinton campaign is quite prepared to continue after Tuesday, even if she gets trounced in Texas delegates. In fact, I think many Hillary Clinton supporters expect that will happen.
The hypothetical some Clinton supporters posit — Barack Obama wins Vermont, Rhode Island is close, Clinton wins Ohio, Obama wins delegates in Texas but the popular vote is either close or perhaps Clinton wins it.
(As you may know, the Texas system is thought to favor Obama for two main reasons: First, one third of the delegates will be chosen in an evening caucus, and the organization and enthusiasm of the Obama campaign means he has done well in caucuses. Second, two-thirds of the delegates will be chosen in a primary where Obama-leaning districts — black, upwardly mobile white — have more delegates. Why do they have more delegates? Because those districts turned out to vote for the Democrat in 2004 and 2006.)
In any case, if that’s the scenario, and Clinton can claim at least two if not three victories (Texas popular vote being one of them), I don’t get the feeling that Sen. Clinton will be at all inclined to drop out.
The questions her supporters may ask if that scenario plays out:
If — after 11 straight wins and outspending Clinton 3-to-1 — Obama can’t put her away in two big states, what does that say about his strength as a candidate?
What does it say about what Democrats want?
Will it show that Obama has a glass jaw on national security? If he can’t beat Clinton on that debate — if her "Children" ad works — her campaign may continue to make the case to voters (and to superdelegates) that McCain will eat his lunch on the issue
If neither of the two candidates can reach the magic number of delegates to clinch the nomination, why should Clinton be the one to drop out? "She could go on vacation for the next six weeks and he still wouldn’t be able to wrap it up," is a common refrain.
Is there not a big double standard in the expectations game? If their situations were reversed, they say, no one would be calling for Obama to drop out. They’d be calling for her to put him on the ticket.
These open primaries have allowed independents and even Republicans into what’s supposed to be a Democratic process. Some hypothesize that according to exit polls Clinton has actually won Democratic voters, and Obama is only ahead because of the non-Democratic riff-raff. Isn’t that relevant?
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Please note: Those are not my questions, it’s what I imagine we may hear from Clintonistas Tuesday night, unless Obama has a stellar evening.
The bottom line is I do NOT get the impression at all that even if Obama walks away with even more of a delegate advantage Tuesday, Clinton will be inclined to drop out.
What say you?