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.And here's a WSJ piece trying to figure out what Hillary needs tonight to keep going:
Should the senators split the states' contests -- or if Sen. Clinton wins, but only by narrow margins -- the debate will turn to how to interpret the results. Two smaller states, Rhode Island and Vermont, also vote today. Clinton aides have started to imply that even just one big win today would allow her to claim she had broken Sen. Obama's momentum, justifying a continuing competition....7:20: I've just been setting things up here with the webcam and the lighting. Now, I need to check out what's going on, so I'll have something to say.
"We expect on Wednesday the momentum of Sen. Obama will be significantly blunted and new questions will be posed as to whether he is the right candidate for the Democratic Party," said Mark Penn, Sen. Clinton's chief strategist, in a conference call with reporters. "Then this nomination will go straight to the convention."
7:28: Obama's victory in Vermont is declared, but we're very close to the time when they will spill the exit poll results on Ohio. Exciting!
7:30: CNN won't call the Ohio race on the Democratic side. It's "competitive," we're told and I take that as bad news for Hillary.
7:32: The CNN exit poll shows that 59% of the Democratic voters were women, which ought to help Hillary. It also seems to skew old, which should help her. The Texas primary ends at 8, and then the Texas caucus starts at 8:15. Both my sons are caucusing in Texas, so I may get some photos and first-hand reports. I should add that McCain has been declared the winner in Ohio and Vermont.
7:43: Politico on how Hillary could come back. And here's Dana Milbank on Clinton "moving the goalposts." "My husband didn't get the nomination wrapped up until June" — she keeps saying that.
7:54: CNN is showing 60 to 38%, Hillary over Obama, in Ohio. But it's competitive! Keep watching! Only 1% of the vote in.
8:08: My son John is waiting in line for the caucus at Red River Church in Austin, TX. The line looks long to him.
8:25: I just did my first of 2 little bits on C-SPAN. Did anyone watch?!
8:46: John is reporting from the caucus, which he just got out of at 7:46 CT. The pews in the church were completely filled up. A party leader addressed them, saying it was "historic" and "we've never seen anything near this level of interest." There were lots of kids there. And some dogs. It pretty much seemed like voting, except that you could see what people around you were writing down. The party leader who directed them to come up to the tables to write down their choices said: "You can come up and it will be like taking communion." John heard someone chide him for saying that, but it wasn't clear whether he was kidding.
9:18: Congratulations to John McCain for clinching the nomination. Now, here's Mike Huckabee, conceding. He will "do everything possible to unite our party and to unite our country." He observes that the 2 most dignified campaigns are the ones in the Republican Party. A nice little speech, which isn't over, but it's down to the list of thanks, so I'll publish this update.
9:26: Huckabee is still talking. Some woman sold her wedding ring to make a contribution to his campaign. Would you even want that money? I wouldn't. I'd rather not hear about that. But he features it in his speech. Anyway, I note the percentages in Texas and Ohio: Hillary is winning Ohio by a much wider margin than Obama is winning Texas. She's got a 20 point margin: 59 to 39%. And Ohio is the state the candidate needs to win. [ADDED: I mean Ohio seems to be the state to win in the November election.] Huckabee is still talking, running on about the men who died at the Alamo. Finally, he's done. I hear McCain should speak soon. I hear that from C-SPAN, which is telling me to hang around until after the McCain speech.
9:50: McCain is speaking. Given the alternatives, he says, his election "is in the best interests of the country we love." That's a nicely modest way of putting it. He didn't grow up thinking the country owed him anything. But he felt "part of a kinship of ideals" that made him think he owed a life of service. Now, he's working the national security theme. We need to "combat Islamic extremism." On to trade: his adversaries "want to pretend the global economy will go away." On health care, he'll work to bring down costs without "ruining the quality of the world's best medical care." Energy: alternative sources. (He stops to cough. Don't look old!) And he wants to listen. We're "the captain of our fate." "We don't hide from history. We make history." Hope, values, principles, greatness, trust.
10:08: Wolf Blitzer keeps saying Ohio is "very competitive," even while looking at numbers showing a blowout by Clinton. What kind of numbers do you need to see before you stop saying that? Meanwhile, it's 50/48 in Texas. I'd say things look pretty good for Hillary (who also won Rhode Island, as expected). Obviously, she's not going to bow out. So, settle in folks, and wait for Pennsylvania, and all the ugly little globules of mud that will dribble out over the next 6 weeks. How about that Rezko trial? Should be delightful.
10:55: CNN calls Ohio for Hillary Clinton. And Clinton is currently ahead in Texas: 50/48. I'll have some photos from the Texas caucus very soon!
11:01: "Has anyone started calling her The Comeback Kid yet?" says Wolf Blitzer.
11:13: Okay, the pictures from the Texas Caucus are up (in a new post).
11:16: Clinton looks happy. She's all aglow. "For anyone who's ever been counted out, but refused to be knocked out..." She wants to symbolize the fighting spirit. Ohio is special, the key state that must be won if the presidency is to be won, and she's won it. She reels off a list of other states she's won — and it's a surprisingly long list. Obama's run of 11 victories in a row had obscured those victories, which include some awfully big states. "We're just getting started." She makes a big deal out of saying her website address, and the crowd chants it along with her, which strikes me as incredibly dorky. She going to be a fighter and a champion. "We're ready for health care!" "When that phone rings at 3 a.m...." She thanks a lot of people, including the 2 most important people in her life, Bill and Chelsea. Then, she also thanks her mother (an unnecessary slight snub to Mom). She gets a new chant going: "Yes, we will." Get it? "Yes, we can" refers to capacity, but it's not enough just to be able to do something, you have to actually do it.
11:51: Andrew Sullivan is very upset:
To keep oneself from despair....Chez Althouse, the drinks have been: 1 Bolthouse Farms "Vedge" and 3 waters. It fits with my cruelly neutral viewpoint.
I just had a Jager shot, and hope to get drunk very soon. So this is my last post of the night. Here's what I'll do in the morning: find out who won the most delegates in the March 4 states, and check someone else's math (yes, I'm not going to get it wrong myself) to see who subsequently has the numbers to win. And then take a deep breath. And say what I think. Right now, emotion clouds the mind. Oh, and Jager.
12:04: My other son, Chris, also caucused in Austin (at McCallum High School). He describes the caucus as extremely chaotic and confusing. He had volunteered to work for Hillary Clinton. He was at the rally in Austin last night, and he drove all over town today putting up Hillary Clinton signs. At one place where they needed people to hold up signs, Bill Clinton made an appearance and shook everyone's hand. Chris was impressed by Bill Clinton's handshaking technique. It's very quick but fully engaged, with an instant of eye contact that leaves you feeling that you met Bill Clinton. There were a lot of schoolgirls at the event — perhaps 6th graders — and they were ecstatic about shaking Bill's hand. They were jumping up and down, almost crying, and saying "I shook his hand!" They were acting, Chris said, the way you would expect them to act if Justin Timberlake had kissed them. Chris contrasted the experience with coming within arm's length of Hillary and Chelsea at the rally last night. They were not shaking hands, but giving autographs, and he didn't have the same sense that he met them, not that he faulted them for that. There was some pushing in the crowd that was infringing on two old women in front, and Hillary came over and told them to stop. Chris said that Hillary and Chelsea looked exactly like the do on television, and that was "surreal." As for the disorganization at the caucus, Chris said that people didn't understand the rules. Could they just sign in and leave, or were they supposed to stay? Staying seemed to have to do with being chosen as a delegate for the state convention [actually it was the county convention], and they needed something like 40 delegates for the 300 voters in that precinct. What were they supposed to do if there weren't 40 caucus goers left in the end? The voters themselves had to "kind of take over and figure out what was happening." And this was in Austin with educated, politically involved caucus-goers, but there are 8,000 precincts in the state. Imagine the confusion on that scale. Caucuses are horrible, he said. Anyway, he ended up as one of the delegates for Hillary at the
1:09: And now, Clinton has won Texas — the primary, that is. So the Obamomentum is broken.