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Clinton’s huge West Virginia win changes little

The delegate math still favors Obama despite her better than 2-to-1 victory Tuesday.

Sen. Hillary Clinton recognizes supporters after her win at her West Virginia Primary in Charleston.

Jeff Gentner/AP

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Hillary Clinton scored a decisive primary victory in West Virginia Tuesday night, beating Barack Obama by a better than 2-to-1 margin. But the expected win - in a state whose demographics were almost perfectly aligned with Senator Clinton’s strengths - does little to change the dynamics of the nominating contest.

Despite an upbeat victory speech, in which Clinton promised supporters that she is “more determined than ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard,” the numbers overwhelmingly favor Senator Obama to be the Democratic Party’s nominee. Her margin of 67 percent of the votes to Obama’s 26 percent gave her 20 of West Virginia’s 28 delegates at stake.

"There just aren’t enough delegates left in the remaining primaries or among uncommitted superdelegates to really change things," says Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist from Emory University in Atlanta. Her victory in West Virginia, he adds, "doesn’t fundamentally change the race."

Still, Clinton’s victory by such a wide margin underscores one of the challenges that Obama, if he becomes the nominee, would have in a general election: how to win the support of white working-class voters.

It’s an issue that has dogged him in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. In West Virginia, where 95 percent of the population is white, 70 percent lack a college degree, and 55 percent report a family income of less than $50,000, Clinton’s edge among these voters was even clearer.


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