Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 14:36 UK

Clinton 'heading for the exit'

By John Zogby
Independent pollster and political analyst

To all intents and purposes the race for the Democratic nomination is over.

The Obamas, post-North Carolina
Barack Obama: About to gain 30 new super-delegates?
Senator Obama needs slightly fewer than 200 delegates to pass the winning post and there are more than enough pledged delegates remaining to be elected, and super-delegates waiting to put him over the top.

What is important about Indiana and North Carolina is that Senator Clinton was not able to damage Mr Obama.

The Illinois senator showed himself to be resilient in the wake of three weeks or so of crisis and, much more importantly, he got back on the winning track. This is the evidence that some super-delegates have been waiting for.

Many of them - most of them - had clearly made up their minds that they would not support Mrs Clinton, and so this had become a case of whether or not Mr Obama could close the deal. That is what appears to have happened last night.

Cash shortage

Where do we go from here? My understanding is that probably today, but certainly within 48 hours, about 30 super-delegates will endorse Mr Obama. That should give him further momentum.

John Zogby: 'there is no chance' Clinton can win

Mathematically, this will widen the gap between him and Mrs Clinton. He has a bigger share of the popular vote, more pledged delegates, and will now overtake her in terms of super-delegates too.

I honestly believe that she will find a way to get out of the race before the next primaries - so as to not hurt her future and to not be blamed for hurting Mr Obama and his chances in the general election.

Here are the reasons:

  • There really is no mathematical chance for her to win
  • Her campaign is virtually out of money - and it will be difficult for her to raise significant amounts of money after last night
  • Not enough happened last night to give her any hope, so continuing would only give the appearance of wanting to damage Mr Obama

Another problem she faces is that she is not perceived as a strong general election contender, because of her high negative poll ratings.

I have no evidence that she will throw in the towel, or when she will. She is a Clinton and the Clintons do not have the word "lose" in their playbook - but these are the things I am hearing from supporters on both sides.

Disappointed women

You will also see pressure from party leaders and party elders on undecided super-delegates to come off the fence.

The Clintons, post-Indiana
Mrs Clinton can help ensure women voters back Barack Obama
It is very important that some of that pressure comes from women, because Mrs Clinton has a devoted following among older women, who have a sense that this is the last chance in their lifetimes to elect a woman president, and the members of this demographic may not be keen on voting for Obama.

Expect leading Democratic stateswomen, such as Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray and Blanche Lincoln to take on this role.

When they do that depends on how long they want this to go on.

These are the people who, together with Mrs Clinton, will send signals to older women supporters - not just delegates - that there is no chance for her, and that we have to get on with the general election campaign.

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Winning post 270
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