Forget Pennsylvania, Look to May 6th

Hillary Clinton's three victories last night ensure that the Democratic primary will continue. Both the Clinton campaign and the media as a whole seem to be ignoring Wyoming (Saturday, March 8th) and Mississippi (Tuesday, March 11th). The fact that everyone assumes it is impossible for Clinton to win in either of these states somehow makes them not newsworthy. That said, all the focus now seems to be on Pennsylvania.

This is good news for Hillary Clinton. History, political establishment, demographics, and primary rules all favor Clinton. Clinton has long vacationed in the state. She has the endorsement of the governor. The state's population is solidly white, blue collar workers, and it is a closed primary. Hillary Clinton does need to win Pennsylvania, and all indicators suggest that she will.

If the Obama campaign is smart it will steal a page right out of Clinton's playbook: redefining the battleground. Obama should embrace the idea that the Democratic primary is far from over. This is now a long fight, and there will be no knock-out blows. Make it all about winning states, votes, and delegates. The Obama campaign should fully admit that they do not expect to win Pennsylvania, just like Clinton does not expect to win Mississippi. They should try to shift the talk from Pennsylvania on April 22nd to Indiana and North Carolina on May 6th.

Focusing attention on May 6th shouldn't be hard. North Carolina and Indiana are the 10th and 15th largest states, respectively. They have a total of 187 pledged delegates up for grabs. With over 29% of the remaining unselected 611 pledged delegates, May 6th is now the biggest day left on the calendar. North Carolina's demographics should heavily favor Obama, and Indiana's proximity to Illinois should be very helpful. If the Obama campaign is smart, we will hear "wait until May 6th" from Obama as often as we heard "wait until March 4th" from Clinton.

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