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The 21st debate has come and gone, and the general consensus is that Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama behind the lecterns. Her win barely outweighs the announcement of two more superdelegates and a newspaper endorsement for Obama. As a result, her chances of winning the nomination glide upward by 0.3 points to 10.7 percent.
The debate in Philadelphia—which was near-universally panned in the blogosphere—spent its first hour on process questions. Usually, this would have hurt Clinton, whose mastery of policy details has shone through in previous debates. But last night, Obama bore the brunt of the process questions. It was like a guilt-by-association greatest hits—we heard about former Weatherman Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and the “cling” thing. The result, aside from getting people to turn off their TVs, was to remind viewers that Obama could be vulnerable to Republican attacks in the general election.
For Clinton, this was the best-case scenario. As much lip service as the candidates give to remaining primary voters, the struggle is really for superdelegates. The more Clinton can remind superdelegates that Obama isn’t Mr. Clean, the more likely they’ll be to subvert the voters’ will and vote for her at the convention. Granted, there’s that whole “subvert the voters’ will” thing that gets in the way, but those are details that can be hammered out later.
Speaking of superdelegates, a Washington, D.C., super switched from Clinton to Obama after 83 percent of his district voted for Barack. Obama also picked up one in Oklahoma, a state Clinton won by 24 points. That’s a net gain of three for Obama, and he now trails Clinton by 22 superdelegates, according to DemConWatch.
Also, one last endorsement to relay. The Philadelphia Daily News says Obama is their man, echoing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s endorsement yesterday, which described the primary as a choice between the past and the future. The Daily News prefers the future.