Just a few hours after Obama campaign manager David Plouffe insisted that Hillary Clinton has virtually no chance to catch his man in the race for pledged delegates, the Clinton campaign held a conference call saying that they intend to be tied with Obama after the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas.
Clinton strategist Mark Penn pointed out that Texas’ Democratic electorate, which is usually 25 percent Latino, could be as much as 40-50 percent Latino this time around. Ohio, Penn said, is suffering the economic ills that only Hillary Clinton—someone in the “solutions business, not the “promise business”—can heal. Also, in a memo sent around to reporters, Penn pointed out that 41 percent of Ohio’s Democratic primary voters in 2004 were white women, a block that is larger than the ones we saw yesterday in Virginia and Maryland.
There are vulnerabilities in Penn’s arguments, but also points of strength. Economically minded voters no longer seem to trend to Clinton, no matter how many solutions she has to offer. But white women remain a powerful block for her, and while Latinos in the Potomac Primary went for Obama, they were a tiny percentage of the electorate there and are likely a bad data point when predicting Texas’ Latino turnout. The Latino community is Texas is more likely to resemble the one in California that voted heavily for Clinton: more first- and second-generation Latinos that are less assimilated than Mid-Atlantic Latinos and closer to the Latino political machines that are loyal to Clinton.
Team Clinton made sure to point out that they are not focusing solely on Ohio and Texas, however. They mentioned an ad buy in Wisconsin—get ready for the WI/HI primary next Tuesday!—and have apparently set up offices and hired staff in every primary state left on the calendar, plus Puerto Rico. They are ready for a long race, that, in Communications Director Howard Wolfson’s words, will ultimately hinge on superdelegates.