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Following six weeks of vigorous–and often vitriolic–campaigning in Pennsylvania between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, voters decided in favor of Clinton by a margin of 10 percentage points. Clinton won 55% of the vote to Obama’s 45% in Tuesday’s primary.
It wasn’t quite the victory the New York senator had hoped for, but more than enough to justify not bowing out of the race. “You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out. But the American people don’t quit, and they deserve a president who doesn’t quit either,” said Clinton in her victory speech.
The showdown in the Keystone State was particularly important for Clinton who continues to trail Obama in the number of delegates, popular votes, and campaign dollars. Obama had $42.5 million to spend on the race at the start of April, or about five times as much cash as Clinton. According to an analysis of election returns by The Associated Press, Clinton won at least 80 of the 158 delegates at stake in Tuesday’s contest, while Obama won at least 66, with 12 still to be awarded.
In the overall race for the nomination, Obama leads with 1,714.5 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton had 1,589.5 delegates, according to the AP tally. A candidate needs 2,025 to claim the nomination.
With the race now shifting to primaries in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6, Clinton still needs a major win. The biggest state left to vote is North Carolina, offering up the next coveted prize–some 115 delegates.
But will it be enough for either campaign going forward? The Clinton campaign has often eagerly pointed out that although Obama outspent Clinton in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, he still lost each of those states, which they also claim are critical to a win in the general election.
David Bositis, a senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, says it’s ridiculous to assume that Obama cannot win certain big states in November. Texas will vote Republican, and Ohio could go either way, he says, “But Obama can win Pennsylvania and Michigan without question. Plus, he’s put into play states that previously weren’t, such as Colorado, Virginia, and states in the west and southwest that like his message of change and bipartisan approach to solving problems.”
Still, says Peter Groff, senior lecturer and executive director of the Center for African American Policy at the University of Denver, despite Obama’s appeal and potential to win, in states such as Pennsylvania, Texas, California, or New Hampshire, undecided voters are breaking for Clinton. “Superdelegates must be asking themselves why Obama continues to close the gap but not the deal in some of these significant states,” he says. “I wonder if there’s an invisible barrier where the undecided voters say I just can’t vote for an African American,” adds Groff.
One barrier Obama was unable to overcome in Pennsylvania, explains Lincoln University political science professor F. Carl Walton, is the inability to connect with older