Newsweek calls for Hillary to drop out

If Hillary Clinton wanted a graceful exit, she’d drop out now — before the March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries—and endorse Barack Obama. This would be terrible for people like me who have been dreaming of a brokered convention for decades. For selfish reasons, I want the story to stay compelling for as long as possible, which means I’m hoping for a battle into June for every last delegate and a bloody floor fight in late August in Denver. But to withdraw this week would be the best thing imaginable for Hillary’s political career. She won’t, of course, and for reasons that help explain why she’s in so much trouble in the first place.

Withdrawing would be stupid if Hillary had a reasonable chance to win the nomination, but she doesn’t. To win, she would have to do more than reverse the tide in Texas and Ohio, where polls show Obama already even or closing fast. She would have to hold off his surge, then establish her own powerful momentum within three or four days. Without a victory of 20 points or more in both states, the delegate math is forbidding. In Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22, the Clinton campaign did not even file full delegate slates. That’s how sure they were of putting Obama away on Super Tuesday.

The much-ballyhooed race for superdelegates is now nearly irrelevant. Some will be needed in Denver to put Obama over the top, just as Walter Mondale had to round up a couple dozen in 1984. But these party leaders won’t determine the result. At the Austin, Texas, debate last week, Hillary agreed that the process would “sort itself out” so that the will of the people would not be reversed by superdelegates. Even if you include Michigan (where Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot) and Florida, Obama has a lead of 925,000 in the popular vote. Closing that gap would require Hillary to win all the remaining contests by crushing margins. Any takers on her chances of doing so in, say, Mississippi and North Carolina, where African-Americans play a big role?

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