Even if Hillary Clinton were to win all of the next 16 contests, she would still lose the race. So says Jonathan Alter from Newsweek.

So here we go: Let’s assume Hillary beats expectations and wins Ohio tonight 55-45, Rhode Island 55-45, Texas, 53-47 and (this is highly improbable), ties in Vermont, 50-50.
Then it’s on to Wyoming on Saturday, where, let’s say, the momentum of today helps her win 53-47. Next Tuesday in Mississippi—where African-Americans play a big role in the Democratic primary—she shocks the political world by winning 52-48.

Then on April 22, the big one, Pennsylvania—and it’s a Hillary blowout, 60-40, with Clinton picking up a whopping 32 delegates. She wins both of Guam’s two delegates on May 30, and Indiana’s proximity to Illinois does Obama no good on May 6, with the Hoosiers going for Hillary 55-45. The same day brings another huge upset in a heavily African-American state: enough North Carolina blacks desert Obama to give the state to Hillary 52-48, netting her five more delegates.

Suppose May 13 in West Virginia is no kinder to Obama, and he loses by double digits, netting Clinton two delegates. The identical 55-45 result on May 20 in Kentucky nets her five more. The same day brings Oregon, a classic Obama state. Oops! He loses there 52-48. Hillary wins by 10 in Montana and South Dakota on June 3, and primary season ends on June 7 in Puerto Rico with another big Viva Clinton! Hillary pulls off a 60-40 landslide, giving her another 11 delegates. She has enjoyed a string of 16 victories in a row over three months.

So at the end of regulation, Hillary’s the nominee, right? Actually, this much-too-generous scenario (which doesn’t even account for Texas’s weird “pri-caucus” system, which favors Obama in delegate selection) still leaves the pledged-delegate score at 1,634 for Obama to 1,576 for Clinton. That’s a 58-delegate lead.

Let’s say the Democratic National Committee schedules do-overs in Florida and (heavily African-American) Michigan. Hillary wins big yet again. But the chances of her netting 56 delegates out of those two states would require two more huge margins. (Unfortunately the Slate calculator isn’t helping me here.)

So no matter how you cut it, Obama will almost certainly end the primaries with a pledged-delegate lead, courtesy of all those landslides in February. Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people. Even coming off a big Hillary winning streak, few if any superdelegates will be inclined to do so. For politicians to upend what the voters have decided might be a tad, well, suicidal.

I believe that the delegate math is kept intentionally fuzzy. I do not think that we will see a nomination until the convention -> almost guaranteeing a John McCain victory.

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