From NBC's Mark Murray and NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
In a conference call with reporters this morning, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe argued that Clinton's win in Pennsylvania yesterday doesn't change the current trajectory of the race:
-- Obama leads among pledged delegates, and Clinton will have to win about 70% of the remaining ones to overtake Obama on this measure.
-- to get within 100 pledged delegates of Obama, Clinton will have to win 57% of the remaining ones
-- and when looking at the total delegate score (pledged delegates and superdelegates), Obama is about 300 away from clinching the nomination; Clinton, according to NBC's count, is more than 430 delegates away.
"We don't believe the structure of the race is going to change fundamentally," he said. "She does need to win out here and win by some margin."
Plouffe also touched on electability, noting that the Clinton campaign touts its wins in big battleground states (like Ohio and Pennsylvania). "Well, North Carolina is a big battleground state," he said. "So by their own definition, it would appear that they would need to win North Carolina and win it by a big margin." Obama, of course, is favored in the Tar Heel State.
That said, Plouffe argued -- as we have -- that projecting general election performance based on primary results is a dubious exercise. The better measures are public polls matching up McCain and the Democratic nominee. And according to those polls, Plouffe said, Obama fares better than Clinton does in potential battleground states like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, and Wisconsin. (However, polls show Clinton performing better than Obama against McCain in Florida and Ohio.)
More importantly, Plouffe added, Obama does better with independents against McCain than Clinton does.
Not surprisingly, the Clinton campaign had a much different take the day after Pennsylvania, saying the "tide is turning."
"By providing fresh evidence that Hillary is the candidate best positioned to beat John McCain in the fall, the Pennsylvania primary is a turning point in the nominating contest," it said in a memo. "Despite making an unprecedented financial investment in his Pennsylvania campaign, including millions on negative ads in the closing days of the race, Sen. Obama again failed to win a state that will be vital to a Democratic victory in November and spurred new questions about his ability to beat John McCain. No candidate has ever had more resources or enjoyed the kind of momentum that Sen. Obama had in Pennsylvania."