It’s over (Chapter Eleventeen)

Ed Rendell, a Hillary backer, says she’ll win Pennsylvania by 5-10 points. That sounds like a fair guess (though Obama might do better). But it amounts to a concession that Obama is going to end the primary/caucus season 125 pledged delegates ahead.

From today’s Washington Post:

Pa. Governor: Expect a Close Vote on April 22

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell (D), a strong supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), downplayed the chance of her scoring an overwhelming victory in his state’s Democratic primary on April 22.

“Anytime you’re outspent three-to-one, you can’t be overconfident,” Rendell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She has some great advantages. … I’m saying we will win this state, but we will win it somewhere between five and 10 percentage points.”

As a prediction, that sounds reasonable, though the optimist in me joins some of the recent polls in saying that Obama could actually win Pennsylvania. As expectations management, it could help cushion the blow of a much narrower win that the Clinton campaign was hoping for a couple of weeks ago.

But it’s also a flat-out concession that the nomination fight is over and Barack Obama has won.

If Clinton were to take Pennsylvania by 10 points, she’d probably pick up 16 delegates net, which Obama would certainly more than offset in North Carolina. She’s trying to close a pledged-delegate gap of 160 with fewer than 600 left to be chosen. Picking up 16 out of 158 total in one of your strong states isn’t on track to do that. Such a result in Pennsylvania would virtually guarantee that Obama winds up at least 125 pledged delegates ahead.

In terms of the delegate math, a ten-point “victory” for Clinton in Pennsylvania would be a crushing defeat.

If it doesn’t end April 22nd, then it ends May 6, when Indiana and North Carolina vote. That would give Obama six full months to register voters and go after McCain. That should be ample.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: