Early morning update: What we’ve learned from PA

Todd (far left) and Russert (right): two of the more levelheaded analysts around

Tim Russert and Chuck Todd, the top two political minds at MSNBC (sorry, Tucker) offered the following nuggets of post-debate analysis. Hopefully they answer a few questions (feel free to ask question-comments; your writer will, as ever, dutifully research anything readers might want to know).

Hillary Clinton’s victory margin is as important as the fact of her victory. While she needed only a margin of a few points to declare victory to renew her media push against Barack Obama, how large her margin over him is will dictate how easily she’ll be able to raise money for the Indiana and North Carolina contests on May 6. As results came in, Todd predicted that any amount of percentage points over ten would be enough to lure skeptical donors while anything between five and ten would keep her situation tepid. Clinton’s margin is roughly ten percent, and only the coming days will show whether that will be enough for her to keep up with Obama’s mounting pile of cash.

Even if Clinton picks up in fundraising, Obama’s spending in Pennsylvania might have been enough to permanently break the Clinton campaign’s bank, reducing its ability to compete. Ratios of two, three and four to one have all been used to describe the Obama campaign’s cash advantage against Hillary Clinton. Obama’s blistering spending forced Clinton, who needed a Pennsylvania victory, to spend beyond her means. Unless her fundraising push yields exceptionally high success, her cash on hand might not be enough to finance a competetive Indiana race. Clinton’s own staffers have been anonymously attributed as saying that if their candidate does not win the state they’d urge her to drop out of the race.

Look for more doubt-casting on Obama by the Clinton campaign. If one result of the Pennsylvania primary is certain, Russert said, Hillary Clinton will use her victory (1) to argue that voters have a permanently different image of Obama after the Bittergate and Jeremiah Wright controversies, and (2) that he cannot win the big states needed to defeat John McCain in November.

Update: Newsweek reported on Clinton’s fundraising surge following the closing of polls. They had this to say:

According to a spokesman, the campaign—which was effectively broke this morning—raised a whopping $3.5 million in the two hours after Clinton won. Incredibly, 80 percent of those contributions came from new donors

While this gives undeniable momentum for her campaign, Clinton needs to keep this pace every day until May 6 to keep afloat. In the meantime, expect Barack Obama to be using his cash advantage to make himself familiar with Indiana voters.

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