Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton needs three breaks to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Senator Barack Obama in the view of her advisers.
She has to defeat Mr. Obama soundly in Pennsylvania next month to buttress her argument that she holds an advantage in big general election states.
She needs to lead in the total popular vote after the primaries end in June.
And Mrs. Clinton is looking for some development to shake confidence in Mr. Obama so that superdelegates, Democratic Party leaders and elected officials who are free to decide which candidate to support overturn his lead among the pledged delegates from primaries and caucuses.
There's little doubt that Clinton will win in Pennsylvania (current polls have her up by as much as 16%, accounting for the margin for error.) The question is whether her win will be that large, larger, or smaller. An overwhelming win buttress her argument that she can win the "big" states, but as we've seen this is a convincing argument only to those who fail to stop and think things through.
As for popular vote totals, some estimates put her ahead at the end of the primary season (including Florida and Michigan, whose status is questionable at best.) But those are generous estimates, reliant upon the predictive power of polling and the assumption that those polls won't change as the candidates campaign which, as we've seen, is not a safe assumption when it comes to Obama.
Wright could have been the controversy that put a crimp in the Obama campaign (though I never thought it was enough to derail him) but Obama parried that with his masterful speech on Tuesday. I think I'm only going slightly out on a limb when I say that the Wright controversy is now dead.
If Clinton can pull out the popular vote, then she can make a legitimate case for why the Super-delegates should vote for her even Obama retains the lead in pledged delegates. But this will be counter-balanced by the fact that Obama still does better nationally and in key states again McCain than Clinton does, and the fact that his general campaign is likely to focus on more states rather than the tried-and-failed Democratic strategy of half-the-electoral-vote+1.