Why This Thing is Almost Over

So Hillary Clinton is now deploying her last argument.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is entering the Kentucky and Oregon primaries on Tuesday with one of the most pugnacious political messages of her campaign: That she is ahead in the national popular vote when all votes are counted, including from the unsanctioned primaries in Michigan and Florida, and that party leaders who have a vote as super-delegates should reflect this level of appeal.

This argument is of a piece with Mrs. Clinton’s increasingly populist image, as a fighter on behalf of average people, but it is also a debatable claim: Most tallies of the national popular vote put Mr. Obama in the lead, especially when Michigan and Florida are not counted.

This is the end. Now that Hillary is pulling out this transparently blatant argument she doesn’t have much left. Her version of the popular vote doesn’t count Iowa, Nevada, Maine or Washington, because they never released popular vote results for their caucuses, yet it does count Florida and Michigan, without counting the uncommitted votes in Michigan for Obama. Obama leads and will, barring a complete wipe-out in all of the remaining states, continue to lead in any of the remotely fair ways to try to count the popular vote.

In any event, given that the only point of arguing about the popular vote is to try to discern who the majority of Democrats prefer, it seems rather relevant that Obama has opened up a 16-point lead over Clinton in the latest polling. Obviously polling isn’t a substitute for actual voting, but the most recent polls make clear the case that Clinton is trying to make with the popular vote argument; that she is the choice of most Democrats. She is trying to convince the superdelegates that Democrats want her, but polls disprove her.

The mere fact that Clinton has now fallen back to her last and most dubious argument says this race is almost over. Obama has won pledged delegates, he leads in polling, polls show him ahead of McCain in the general and the only argument that Clinton can make with regard to the popular vote is comically unfair to Obama. Its over.

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