I packed it in at 1am this morning, right after they called a tightly contested Missouri for Obama, and woke up to find that New Mexico still hadn’t picked a winner as he and Clinton are separated by just over 100 votes with four precincts and over 16,000 provisional ballots left to tally. When all is said and done, these two states mirrored the overall results of Super Duper Tuesday as Obama and Clinton effectively split the delegate count right down the middle, and if you believe the old saw “tie goes to the runner”, you could reasonably argue that Obama won the night overall and gets to move forward with his momentum relatively unchecked while Clinton’s campaign — which, prior to Iowa, often said the nomination would be decided on Feb. 5th — is starting to show some cracks in its foundation.
A couple of things came clear based on last night’s results:
- Obama has the black vote locked down but has now proven he can win anywhere, including predominantly white/red states.
- Clinton’s strongest support continues to be from those over 60 years old and Hispanics, the latter to a slightly lesser degree outside of California where they represent an atypically large percentage of the electorate.
Every other demographic, including women, is completely up for grabs at this point and each side can point to a couple of states that demonstrates their strength with a particular group, though even there, Obama can present a more compelling case for the coalition he’s building vs. Clinton’s more traditionally Democratic foundation which will likely show up in November for either of them.
ETA: MSNBC has some interesting analysis of the last night’s demographic breakdown.
Interestingly, Clinton has called for weekly debates leading up to the big primaries on March 4th in Texas and Ohio, a tactic usually employed by the challenger not the frontrunner, so all spin aside, she’s clearly not feeling comfortable with her position in the race at this point. Both candidates are subtly tweaking their messages, too, with Obama hitting the “past vs. future” theme pretty hard last night, while Clinton was noticeably using a lot more “we” than “me” in her speech.
The question for Obama now becomes one of momentum and whether or not he can keep it going and parlay an amazing month of fundraising and endorsements into convincing victories in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Hawaii and Wisconsin, all of which have primaries and caucuses over the next two weeks. If he can, he goes into March 4th with a head of steam and a likely worst case scenario of another narrow delegate split that night which would then put the spotlight squarely on Pennsylvania’s April 22nd primary and turn that state into a New Hampshire-style, door-to-door battleground with the potential to annoint the nominee and avoid a Convention showdown.
On the Republican side, barring an unexpected concession from Romney in the next day or two, while McCain is definitely the front-runner, he’s not a terribly solid one and Huckabee is making a strong case for himself as either a potential running mate or, if Romney does bail out, a legitimate alternative to McCain. The longer it takes for them to wrap things up, the easier it is for Obama and Clinton to keep battling for the nomination, as long as they keep things clean.
PS: I just donated another $50 to Obama’s campaign. “We are the ones we have been waiting for… Our time has come.”