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Given the scenario I posted below, in which Hillary carries Texas by a few points on March 4 but perhaps still loses in delegates, some people have asked why the Clintonites are spinning the Lone Star state as their salvation. Do they not realize how hard it will be to pull out a major delegate advantage there? Are they just stalling for time, and hoping Obama stumbles?

Maybe, but here's another theory. It seems possible--and perhaps likely--that Hillary will emerge behind in delegates but having won the overall popular vote nationally. And, specifically, that she will have carried major and psychologically-important states like Texas, California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan. If that happens, it could be that Hillary is setting up a situation where, if she is slightly behind in delegates, she argues that having won more votes overall, and in most of the huge states, should compel for superdelegates to fall in and put her over the top. 

In other words, the Clintonites may be hoping for a situation reminiscent of Bush-Gore 2000, at which time most Democrats argued strongly for the value of the popular vote over an arcane state-by-state counting system.

There are, of course, many good counterarguments to this approach, including the notion, for starters, that Florida and Michigan didn't really count, that Obama may have won a majority of the states, and also that there's little reason why winning any given state in a Democratic primary should be predictive of general-election performance. So I'm not here to say this is the right argument, only that I won't be surprised if we do hear in this down the road.

P.S. Also don't forget as you count delegates that Hillary continues to talk confidently about the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegations. It could still come down to that, although as of now the CW--and TNR--is not on her side. (Although she may have David Broder!: "It's hard to imagine the Democrats meeting in Denver without any representation from Florida or Michigan.")

--Michael Crowley