Election 2008

Clinton Loses Virginia, Maryland, DC

Ohio and Texas could be make-it-or-break-it.
February has only 29 days in this Leap/Election Year

But it is turning out to be the longest month for Hillary Clinton.

The New York senator whose presidential campaign team had hoped to "seal the deal" in its quest for the Democratic presidential nomination with something akin to a sweep of "Super Tuesday" primaries and caucuses instead lost at least 13 of 22 contests on February 5. (New Mexico is still sorting out its troubled count and could yet give a win to either Clinton or Barack Obama.)

A delegate division that was supposed to confirm her inevitability instead put her in a neck-and-neck race with Obama.

And then her run really took a turn for the worse.

On Saturday, February 9, Obama swept a primary in Louisiana and caucuses in Nebraska, Washington and the Virgin Islands.

On Sunday, February 10, Obama whipped Clinton in the caucuses of Maine, a state where both candidates campaigned hard and where the former first lady had strong support from key Democrats such as Governor John Baldacci.

And, now, on Tuesday, February 12, Clinton has suffered big losses in the District of Columbia and Maryland, where she was expected to trail Obama, and Virginia, where her aides had held out a slim measure of hope that she might prevail.

Clinton worked hard to hold the line in Virginia, but Obama was beating her by a 64 percent to 35 percent -- very nearly a 2-1 margin.

With the Maryland (62 percent to 35 percent), Virginia and DC (75 percent to 24 percent) victories, Obama moved ahead of Clinton in committed delegates 1,208 to 1,185.

Obama claimed his "Potomac Primary" wins in Madison, Wisconsin, where polls have begun to suggest that he can win the Badger State's February 19 primary. Hawaii, where Obama went to high school, will caucus that day and is also expected to go for the Illinois senator.

"This is the new American majority. This is what change looks like," Obama told almost 20,000 cheering supporters on the University of Wisconsin campus.

"Today, the change we seek swept the Chesapeake and the Potomac. We won the state of Maryland," the senator declared. "We won the state of Virginia. And though we won in the District of Columbia, this movement won't stop until there is change in Washington DC."

If the pattern holds, Obama's February record will be 23 or 24 wins (depending on New Mexico) to 8 or 9 wins for Clinton.

Obama's post-Super Tuesday stats could well be 10-0.

And his claim of national support is now epic in scope.

"(The) cynics can no longer say our hope is false," Obama said in Madison. "We have won east and west, north and south, and across the great heartland of this country we love."

Clinton still holds out hope for a turnaround on March 4 in Ohio and Texas. But her campaign is going to have a tougher time convincing donors to cough up the money to compete in those multi-media market states with the win-loss ratio she is toting up in the longest month of what has turned out to be a hard, hard winter for the former front-runner.


John Nichols is The Nation's Washington correspondent.