APRIL 23, 2008
With about 95 percent counted around midnight last night, Hillary was leading by 10 points. But now, with 99.44 percent counted, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State shows her winning 54.6 to 45.4. That's only 9.2 points--less than her 10.3 margin in Ohio, and less than the 10.5 bar that all-powerful CW-arbiter Mark Halperin had set for her.
Yet no one cares. The storyline is clearly that Hillary had a decisive victory which keeps her campaign alive.
Why isn't the reality of single digits a bigger problem for her? One reason is that the final margin often matters less than the presumed margin when people like Russert go to bed.
Another reason--one an Obama aide was just grumbling to me about--is the weird havoc exit polls play with the media's primary-night storylines. Yesterday's early exit polls had suggested a nail-biter that suggested Hillary might be finished. Yet, much like Super Tuesday, Hillary made a "comeback" over the course of the night, as her vote margin gradually widened. Why, it was almost as though Obama had Hillary on the ropes and she fought him off with pure grit and determination. Impressive! She's back!
If I were a Machiavellian Obama operative, next time I might consider leaking some phony exits showing misleading strength for Hillary.