The usual Tuesday night column will follow, on Wednesday morning, as was to be on what happened with primaries in North Carolina and Indiana – things just were not settled on Tuesday night. Obama won North Carolina easily, by fourteen points, erasing everything Hillary Clinton had gained with her win in Pennsylvania, and then some – and late in the evening Clinton led in Indiana by four points. Here, at eight in the evening, in cool and cloudy Los Angeles, as the light dims – no Sunset to speak of this day – all three networks are saying Indiana is too close to call. No matter – in the far room Hillary Clinton is speaking (video here), thanking the voters of Indiana for her decisive win there.
That’s a gamble, but maybe not much of one. She says that Obama conceded that he’d lose Pennsylvania, and had said he’d probably win North Carolina, and had said that Indiana would be the tie-breaker. Did he say that? Perhaps he did, but she’s saying the tie has been broken, she won, and the nomination is hers. It’s over – she’s “off to the White House.” So that’s that.
That’s interesting. Believe something, strongly, and it will be so. She’s not quitting, and says she wants the black vote to come back to her side, and the youth vote – something about her not being as bad as they all think she is. It was a bit conciliatory – at least she did not say that if you’re under thirty, if you have even a two-year community college degree, if you earn more than thirty grand a year (making you an elitist), if you’re an uppity black, then she doesn’t need or even want your vote. That’s progress. Obama’s victory speech, from North Carolina, was similarly conciliatory – he and Clinton are aiming for the same sort of things, really.
Andrew Sullivan was not impressed with Clinton’s words:
As her speech staggers on, after the gas tax holiday gambit, and a plea for Burma, she eventually turns to Florida and Michigan. You almost want to look away. But it’s fascinating in a way. She cannot concede; she cannot give an inch; she cannot acknowledge reality. Observing sociopaths in close detail as their world collapses around them and they cannot absorb the truth is always fascinating. And yet some sliver of humanity is discernible: her tone is altered. Even she cannot fake enthusiasm or confidence any more. And Bill seems grim. Chelsea seemed close to breaking into tears.
If you want another president whose own grip on reality has little relationship to the outside world, then you know who to vote for.
That’s harsh, and of course things were not settled in Indiana’s Lake County, and in particular, in Lake County’s Gary, Indiana (yes, feel free to hum that tune The Music Man):
Mayor Rudy Clay came to his headquarters in Gary Tuesday night with a list of voting results showing overwhelming margins for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Many of the districts had Obama with triple digit totals and Clinton with totals in the single digits or teens. One district had a result of 126-4.
The problem was a massive turnout:
As of 8:40 p.m. CDT, about half of 11,370 absentee and early voting ballots had been counted, said Michelle Fajman, the county’s elections supervisor. By contrast, in the 2000 presidential primary, 2,822 early and absentee votes were cast in Lake County. In the 2004 primary, 4,053 early and absentee votes were cast.
“This has far and away surpassed any primary we’ve ever had. We don’t see these kinds of numbers until a general election,” Fajman said.
This will take time. But even if Lake Country is on the border, just southeast of Chicago – Obama’s home town – there may not be enough vote to make a difference. She probably won the state – as they say, close enough for government work.
Via Andrew Sullivan, here are some reactions.
John Podhoretz (Commentary Magazine):
The key thing about this night for the Democrats is that it appears Barack Obama has actually done better than expected. It’s the first time we’ve been able to say this about Obama since early February. Ever since, it’s always been Hillary doing better than anybody expected. Her “better thans” have run out.
May 20 – that’s the date when the campaign unofficially expects to “clinch” the nomination – when they’ll officially have a majority of pledged delegates, which triggers, in their view, the standard for superdelegate decision-making set by party leaders like Nancy Pelosi. As of tonight, Obama will be between 35 and 43 pledged delegates votes away from achieving that majority.
Publius (at the blog Obsidian Wings):
Tonight, I think, marks the end of the Clinton campaign.
Sullivan’s own comment on that:
I mean, it’s been over for some time, but tonight sucked the wind out of her rationale for staying in – particularly if Indiana flips when the Chicago vote comes in. Math-wise, tonight’s elections don’t change much. The math is bad for Clinton, and it got worse tonight. But Clinton’s strategy in recent months hasn’t been about math (i.e., making up significant pledged delegate numbers). It’s been about perceptions.
Isaac Chotiner (the New Republic):
If indeed the gas tax issue hurt Clinton in Indiana, there is something nice about the fact that pandering–whether over the gas tax in Indiana on Clinton’s part, or over NAFTA in Ohio on Obama’s part – has boomeranged.
Ezra Klein (in Prospect):
Coming off the rough few weeks Obama has had (gas tax, Wright, bittergate, Pennsylvania, etc), this looks pretty bad for Clinton. She needed to cement impressions of his weakness and her comeback by burying Obama in Indiana and hold his margin to low single digits in North Carolina. Instead, he’s held her in Indiana and looks to be blowing past expectations in North Carolina.
Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, otherwise known as Kos:
If Clinton were to drop out this week, we’d face an uncomfortable situation in West Virginia, with Clinton likely crushing Obama. That would look terrible for the presumptive nominee. Better than that would be to garner enough superdelegate commitments this week, so that Oregon can push Obama past 2,024. That way, it isn’t the supers who clinch it for Obama, but actual voters.
Go to the top link, the Sullivan collection. There’s more, and Sullivan is blunt:
There is no calculation that currently gives the Clintons a majority of the popular vote. There is now no mathematical possibility of them getting more delegates. Obama has won by far the most states. He has raised far more money; he has 1.5 million donors, mainly small sums. He has crushed her among new voters and young voters; and as a black politician, his support spans all races and classes. And recall: he is a freshman senator with a very funny name against the biggest brand name in American politics and a worldwide celebrity whose chief campaigner was a former two-term president of the United States.
When you take a couple of steps back, you realize the astonishing success of this movement. In the last month, every brutal guilt-by-association smear has been thrown at him and the Clintons have been reduced to hoping that Rush Limbaugh will turn out their voters that Karl Rove’s tactics are worthy of the Democrats. He has somehow endured and survived and in North Carolina has won what looks like a stunning margin of victory. And when you look at the states that Clinton is, er, clinging to: Obama has gained among her demographic base from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Indiana. She’s going backward.
The Clintons will have to realize some day that their time is over. I cannot pretend to know how they think or how much more damage to themselves, to their legacy and to their party they want to inflict. But I do know who has won this nomination, whether they try to steal it from him or not.
And so on…
One must wait to see what happens. And as the evening closes the Indiana difference is down to two points.