Clinton still ahead in upcoming primaries, but Obama gets a big endorsement

It is rare for a campaign to set very strict expectations for itself, because that leaves very little room for spinning results if they don't conform to those expectations. It is obvious to everyone that Hillary Clinton needs to win Ohio and Texas, and that even a dual win on March 4th would not guarantee her nomination. But it was still a surprise to hear Bill Clinton say just as much yesterday, as he declared: "If she wins Texas and Ohio I think she will be the nominee, if you don't then I don't think she can."

Has the campaign already decided to give up after March 4th if she comes short in those two big states? Remember that there were insistent rumors that many in the campaign were urging Clinton to drop out if she lost New Hampshire in the days leading to the primary, as they want to preserve Clinton's reputation and legacy and allow her to morph into a Senate figure, perhaps even Majority Leader.

For now, all polls have Clinton leading in Ohio and most have her up in Texas as well. But Obama just scored a major coup, as he is set to receive the endorsement of the Change to Win labor federation, which broke away from the AFL-CIO a few years ago. The federation has 6 million members, including 830,000 in Pennsylvania and 730,000 in Ohio. Now, a union endorsement is far from a guarantee of victory (just look at Nevada) but given that Obama's main weakness has long been the blue-collar vote, this could definitely boost him. After all, Obama already moved up dramatically among that electorate in Wisconsin, narrowly winning the union vote.

The Change to Win federation incorporates such unions as SEIU and the Teamsters which have endorsed Obama in recent weeks. Worth noting that one of the federation's unions -- the United Farm Workers -- has endorsed Clinton, and it is for now unclear how that conflict will be resolved.

Clinton can take comfort, however, in two new primary polls that show her surviving in Texas and Pennsylvania:

  • In Texas, Clinton is ahead 50% to 45% in the latest IRV poll. IRV notes that Obama is improving in urban areas and Clinton is reinforcing her strength among Latinos.
  • IRV also projected the delegate count based on its district-by-district numbers and found that Clinton breaks 62% in the places that award 4 delegates, which should allow her to build a 3-1 lead. The total projection is an 8 delegate lead for Hillary.
  • Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, a new Franklin & Marshall College poll has Hillary up 44% to 32%. The primary is set on April 22nd, so if Clinton is alive after March 4th expect a long battle here.
Update: Two new Texas polls have been released, and both show Obama catching up against Clinton:

  • A Rasmussen poll shows Clinton up 47% to 44%. Only 52% of those polled are women, however, whereas almost all states have a proportion of female voters of about 57-58% (Wisconsin was at 58% for example). But the trendline is clearly against her: A week ago, she led 54% to 38%!

  • Meanwhile, Constituent Dynamics has an even bigger toss-up, 46% to 45%. McCain is up comfortably in his party.
The trendlines in Texas -- and probably in Ohio -- are disastrous rihgt now for the Clinton campaign, and the trouble is they still have two weeks to go. At least the campaign is aware of its challenge at this point, and is thinking accordingly. And they must be hoping that the debate at 8pm tonight changes the dynamics.

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