Run-Up to West Virginia

Strategists predict West Virginia primary will be a win for Clinton�s end

back these measures, albeit more stringently.

McCain has taken a more liberal stance on the environment than President Bush. “It is a natural thing for Republican candidates to take steps toward the left and Democratic candidates to the right. They are going to be fighting over those Independent voters, and McCain is trying to position himself to get them,” says Berch.

With only 28 delegates at stake, West Virginia won’t be a windfall for Clinton if she wins, but it demonstrates her ability to woo the white working-class vote.

In a national election, “Clinton might do well against McCain [in West Virginia], but there are just as many states that go the other way, where Obama would do well against McCain,” Berch says. “If you are on the Obama campaign and making a list of the states that are going to get you 270 electoral votes, West Virginia
is not on that list. It is not a crucial state for him in November. Instead of being worried about the marginal voter in West Virginia, he’ll be trying to figure out how to get that 51st percentile in Colorado; whereas, for Clinton, West Virginia might be a part of her coalition.”

Two superdelegates from West Virginia, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall, have declared their support for Obama, while three have made commitments to Clinton, including Pat Maroney, former state party chairman. Five more are uncommitted.

In the past week, several former Clinton superdelegates, including Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey, switched to the Obama team after the Indiana primary. As of today, Obama needs 146 more delegates to clinch the nomination, while Clinton needs 325.5, according to an Associated Press count.

“In January Clinton had a lead in superdelegates, of about 100. Since Super Tuesday, Obama has gained 100 superdelegates and Clinton has gained about 10. I get the sense that the Obama campaign has about 30-40 more superdelegates and are stringing out a few a day to make it look like they have more momentum,” offers Berch. “It seems that if you were for Clinton you would have declared yourself a long time ago.”

In addition to Obama’s lead in pledged delegates and superdelegates, Berch says it does not bode well that Clinton’s campaign is running out of money. Obama raised $42 million in March alone. Year to date he has raised $234 million. Compared to Clinton, who last week loaned $6.4 million of her own money to continue her campaign, Obama’s campaign’s debt is minuscule.

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