Hillary keeps battle alive with key win

PENNSYLVANIA PRIMARY

Her victory puts Democratic Party on course for fight to the bitter end.

SENATOR Hillary Clinton has survived yet another bruising primary election battle to fight another day.

But there is growing concern in the Democratic Party that whoever ends up as its presidential candidate will be too beat up to win the White House in November.

Mrs Clinton won by 10 percentage points over rival Barack Obama in Pennsylvania but the win did little to narrow her deficit in the all-important delegate count.

That means their increasingly bitter battle will continue, threatening to further undermine party unity.

The Republican Party, by contrast, looks like a solid rock after coming together behind one candidate, Arizona Senator John McCain, months ago.

“This is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen,” said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, who has yet to endorse a candidate.

“They are going to just keep standing there and pounding each other and bloodying each other, and no one is winning.”

A compromise is out of the question – especially with Mrs Clinton keeping her presidential hopes alive with another crucial win.

Her campaign was on the verge of elimination after 11 losses last month before she won popular-vote victories in Ohio and Texas. The stakes were high for her in Pennsylvania: win or concede defeat.

Mr Obama cut her formidable lead in the polls but in the end, she won.

“A win is a win, especially under the circumstances where my opponent has outspent me,” Mrs Clinton told reporters. But she needed a landslide of more than 20 points to change the shape of the race.

Pennsylvania, with 158 delegates awarded in its primary, was the biggest state left to vote, and polls suggest the two candidates will swop victories in the final contests.

The state seemed demographically tailor-made for Mrs Clinton, with higher percentages than the nation as a whole of voter groups that favoured her in past races.

She won the majority of votes of blue-collar workers, women and white men in an election in which the economy is the dominant concern, according to exit polls.

Blacks, more affluent Democrats, and voters who recently registered as Democrats voted for Mr Obama.

The voting patterns on Tuesday reinforced the Clinton campaign’s contention that Mr Obama would have problems winning the general election. She took pains to make this point yesterday.

“I’ve won the states that we have to win, Ohio, now Pennsylvania,” Mrs Clinton said on CNN. “It’s very hard to imagine a Democrat getting to the White House without winning those states.”

Still, going into Pennsylvania, Mr Obama led in the popular vote as well as in the number of pledged delegates.

Democratic rules allow the losers in each state to win a proportional number of delegates. Thus while Mrs Clinton won at least 80 of the 158 delegates up for grabs in Pennsylvania according to early estimates, Mr Obama added another 66, with 12 still to be awarded.

Mrs Clinton must win many of the nine remaining contests by big margins to close the gap with Mr Obama in the delegate race.

The latest primary put Mr Obama’s lead at 1,715 delegates, compared to 1,589 for Mrs Clinton.

The focus now turns to Indiana and North Carolina, where the next primaries will be held on May 6. Observers believe Mrs Clinton may have to give up if she fails to win in these states.

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