Hardcore supporters of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will be united in not liking everything in this post. I aim to please...
All Barack Obama needs, tomorrow, is a win in Ohio or in the popular vote in Texas. That's it. Should he accomplish either, the race is over. Some Obama supporters will, no doubt, argue that even a delegate win in Texas, without the popular vote, should be enough to drive Clinton from the race; of course, some have been screaming for weeks that she needed to drop out, so their voices, however loud, will remain irrelevant. It will also be yet another example of supreme hypocrisy on the part of such Obama supporters, because most of the same who argue that a delegate win is a win are also claiming that Clinton needs to win the overall popular vote to have any claim to the nomination, even if she manages to win the majority of delegates and superdelegates. To some, the genuinely absurd campaign rules apply or not depending on whether they are favorable to their chosen. But if Obama wins Ohio or the Texas popular vote, the argument is moot. That's his goal line. If he gets over it, his next goal line will be in November.
Hillary Clinton, then, needs to win Ohio and the popular vote in Texas. Some argue she has to win by landslides, because she is so far behind in delegates and in the popular vote. This is wrong. Obama has yet to win a large contested state, and if Clinton wins these two, she will have every reason to continue her campaign. The race will have again been turned upside down, momentum will have again turned, and there will still remain a legitimate path for her to win the nomination. If she wins Ohio and Texas, and then Pennsylvania, she will have closed the gap in both delegates and the popular vote, and she will have also ensured that the dispute over Florida and Michigan needs to be resolved. The hardcore Clinton supporters will not like this, but I do not think the current Florida and Michigan delegates can simply be seated, as they are. But something will need to be done about those critically important states. And if Clinton wins Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania, and there is resolution to Florida and Michigan, and she also wins those, she will have won all the large contested states, and her momentum will then be formidable. It is not necessary that she have taken the lead in delegates or the popular vote, because that is not how the system works.
Obama supporters have been happy with the system when it worked to their favor, and they will have no valid claim to complain about it, should that turn. They celebrated Obama's possible delegate victory in Nevada, even though Clinton won the popular vote, and they are now claiming a delegate victory in Texas is enough to also claim a win, there. I would say that because of that they cannot claim the popular vote is all that matters, in the overall count, when they have already proved that they don't believe the popular vote is all that matters in Nevada and Texas; but I already know that they will make such a claim, if they have to. But shrill hypocrisy is not how this nomination will be decided. Should Hillary Clinton sweep the remaining large states, and close the gaps in the popular vote (and it bears noting that the absurd rules render genuine popular vote counts impossible to determine in caucus states, anyway) and the delegate count, she will have a solid argument to take to the superdelegates. And once again, some Obama supporters will cry that the superdelegates should vote how their states voted, but you won't see these same Obama supporters claiming that Ted Kennedy and John Kerry should vote for Clinton. Reason must prevail, and if Clinton sweeps the remaining large states, the supedelegates will have much to consider. Valid rationales could then be argued for either candidate, and it is the nature of the rules that the superdelegates will then have to make their decisions based on their own readings of the then-present dynamics.
Finally, let me say this: hardcore Clinton supporters have begun to hedge on what has long been claimed as Clinton's final firewall. This is to deny reality. If Hillary Clinton does not win both Ohio and the Texas popular vote, her candidacy will be over. The more extreme rationales by which some are attempting to claim she could still win the nomination are heavier on the extreme and lighter on the rationale. There will be no rationally plausible path for her to win the nomination, and no plausible argument to the superdelegates. Obama will have won a large contested state, and his momentum will have been confirmed. After his staggering victories throughout the final three weeks of February, a split, tomorrow, is not nearly enough to either stop or deny what will then have become legitimately inevitable. Should Clinton pull it out, tomorrow, this race will go on. Should Obama win either large state, he will have won the nomination.