Charlie Cook: Clinton in “Political Purgatory”

Apr 24, 2008 5:23pm

"The good news for Hillary Rodham Clinton is that she’s winning a lot of battles," the essay writes. "The bad news is that the war is pretty much lost."

The column is from well-respected Beltway prognosticator Charlie Cook.

"If this contest were still at the point where momentum, symbolism, and reading tea leaves mattered, Clinton would be in pretty good shape," he writes. "Everything she has needed to happen is happening now. Obama is getting tougher press coverage and critical examination. He’s also getting rattled a bit, and he didn’t perform well in the recent debate in Philadelphia. Clinton is winning in big, important places."

But, Cook notes, "it’s happening about three months too late."

Cook says that in some ways "Clinton has spent the past six weeks in a horrible situation. How do you quit a race when you’re still winning primaries? …But even in victory, she isn’t getting any closer to securing the nomination. This political purgatory will continue if she manages to win Indiana but loses North Carolina hard to drop out but harder to see winning the nomination. If she loses in both states, then her campaign’s donors and creditors, as well as superdelegates and party leaders, are likely to intervene. But that can’t happen as long as she continues to win."

Cook is of course not always correct. (Perhaps most glaringly, he declared Sen. John McCain’s campaign dead prematurely, saying "the physicians have pulled up the sheet; the executors of the estate are taking over.")

But his occasional evidence of fallibility notwithstanding, he’s pretty astute, far, far more than I am, it likely goes without saying.

And his harsh assessment will no doubt be widely circulated among superdelegates who know and respect Cook.

- jpt

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