By Dick Morris on February 15, 2008

While polls still show Hillary leading Obama in Texas and also in Ohio, her lead will likely fade and likely disappear by the time their primaries are held two weeks hence.

If Obama wins in Wisconsin, he’ll probably also carry Ohio, a state with very similar demographics. Neither state has much in the way of Hispanic voters (Only 2% of Ohio is Latino) or recent immigrants, the two key groups that gave Hillary the edge in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

But it is more plausible to look for a Hillary victory in Texas where the population is 36% Hispanic. But even here, key obstacles lie in her path.

Most importantly, 67 of the 193 delegates from Texas to be chosen on March 4th will be selected in Iowa-style caucuses with the balance voted in a primary to be held on the same day. Hillary has only carried two of nine caucus states and admittedly does poorly in that format. She claims that her weakness in caucuses is due to the inability of her single female voters to spend the time at a caucus on a weekday evening or to find child care even if they want to go. Perhaps. But Obama’s candidacy, generating rock star enthusiasm especially among young voters, certainly seems to generate the kind of commitment that leads voters to want to attend caucuses. It’s obviously easier to get people to spend twenty minutes voting near their homes than to spend three hours travelling to caucus locations and attending their meeting.

Texas and Ohio also permit Independents to vote in their Democratic primary. Texas even allows Republicans to do so. With the Republican nomination largely decided, there is little to draw these voters to the McCain-Huckabee battle and much to induce them to enter the Democratic primary to vote against the candidate so many of them love to hate. The Texas primary will assume the aspect of a general election so heavy will be the crossing over and nobody could expect Hillary Clinton to carry Texas in a general election.

If Hillary loses both Ohio and Texas, she will probably have to drop out of the race. If she loses either, she will lose her last opportunity to catch Obama.

After Texas, it’s all downhill for Hillary. The states which follow March 4th (except for Puerto Rico) are largely devoid of Hispanics. They include Southern states like Mississippi, North Carolina, and Kentucky and western states, akin to those Obama has already carried like Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana. In Pennsylvania and Indiana, Obama’s star power, the lack of a Latino population, and his momentum should assure victories. Hillary will win Puerto Rico and perhaps West Virginia, but her victories will be few and far between.

So Obama will probably gain a net of more than 100 delegates in the days after Ohio and Texas which, added to his current lead of over 100 delegates, would be enough to assure him the nomination.

Will the super delegates rescue Hillary? Unless they were to go for her overwhelmingly, by almost 3:1, they would not be enough to tip the balance. More likely, they would tend to flake away from Hillary, frightened to ignore the wishes of the voters of their district. Voting for Hillary when your voters want Obama might be the easiest way to buy yourself a primary fight and possible defeat at the next election. And these super delegates, after all, are politicians.

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