The bottom line

Hillary wins by 9.1%, gains perhaps ten delegates, which Obama will more than make back two weeks from now. Can you say “over”? I was sure you could.

Clinton carries PA by just over 200,000 votes out of an astounding 2.3 million cast. (Kerry carried the place in the 2004 general election with 2.9 million votes, and this was a closed primary.)

Near-final percentages: Clinton 54.7-Obama 45.3, for a spread of 9.4%. It will finish just a hair closer than that: the only counties with more than 1% of the vote yet to count are Chester (about 7000 left to count with Obama getting 55% of what’s been counted so far), Delaware (about 3000 out with Obama again getting 55%), and Philadelphia (about 13,000 out, with Obama winning 2:1 overall but more in the precincts that came in later.) So figure a final gap of 9.1%.

That’s not as good as winning, or even holding HRC to a five-point margin. But it’s slightly better than the Ohio result, ten days after the “bitter” blunder and just a week after the ABC mugging, in a state which:

* Hits the HRC demographic: old, poorly-educated, Catholic.

* Borders New York.

* Has an extremely popular Governor who runs a very powerful old-fashioned political machine who worked hard for Clinton.

* Started out favoring Clinton by more than 20 points.

CNN shows 98 of Pennsylvania’s 158 pledged delegates allocated so far, with Clinton up by 6. Hard to see how she gains more than ten or a dozen net. That’s not a very big dent in Obama’s 170-pledged-delegate lead. (UPDATE: Rieux at DailyKos says Clinton gains 10 net. The Green Papers agrees.)

Two weeks from now we have North Carolina (where Obama has been holding leads in the 20+ range in all the polls) and Indiana (where there’s been less polling but where Obama seems to be slightly ahead). Clinton seems to have gotten a fundraising boost tonight, so she will probably be able to compete financially in those two states, but Obama will have a huge cash advantage.

HRC may have enough kitchen sink left to win Indiana, but she won’t win it by much, and won’t gain any substantial number of delegates, so Obama’s big win in North Carolina will net him more delegates than Clinton gains in Pennsylvania and Indiana combined.

That, then is the real bottom line: two weeks from tonight we will have had the three biggest contests remaining after Ohio and Texas, Obama’s pledged-delegate lead will have grown a little from the 160 where it stood today, and he’ll be within 200 votes of clinching the nomination. That should start the super-delegate stampede, and we’ll finally be able to break up our circular firing squad and confront the actual enemy, John McCain.

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: