Pennsylvania a Last Best Chance for Clinton

Pennsylvania will hold its presidential primary on Tuesday, and 158 delegates are at stake on the Democratic side. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are spending the weekend in Pennsylvania, fighting not only for those delegates but for the upper hand in the national contest.

While many primaries have been characterized as "pivotal" or "make or break," Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving tells Liane Hansen that much is still at stake in the Pennsylvania contest.

Elving notes it is the last big state and the sixth most populous. It also is the last large blue state, which has voted Democratic in the last four presidential elections.

"It's Hillary Clinton's last big chance to show she's got the momentum now and she's going to become the popular favorite again — if that, in fact, is the truth," Elving says.

He also says this is a chance for her to demonstrate she is the stronger candidate against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.

Most polls show Clinton ahead of Obama in Pennsylvania, although the margin of her lead has dropped to the middle single digits from a lead two to three times as large.

At the same time, Elving notes that it appears Clinton has been able to freeze Obama's momentum in the state — especially after last week's debate.

The April 16 debate, which was watched by more people than any other debate so far in the presidential race, appears to be the first time many voters have heard negatives about Obama's campaign — such as his ties to the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor, and the Illinois senator's ties to a former member of the leftist 1960s group the Weather Underground.

The national polls, however, generally show him running ahead of Clinton, in the high single-digit range.

As for the results in Pennsylvania, Elving predicts Clinton will win by several points, after which the argument will become whether the margin was enough.

"Is the (victory) a momentum-builder? Is it the reverser than she needs? She needs something that really turns this thing around.

"If, on the other hand, [Obama] does catch her and upset her in Pennsylvania, that would appear to be a knockout blow," Elving says.

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