Here’s what we know about the Democratic primary race: Barack Obama leads in pledged delegates. He leads in superdelegates. He leads in the popular vote and states won. He leads in offspring and fiery pastors. He leads in a house, he leads with a mouse. So with the race pretty much wrapped up, will today’s West Virginia primary, in which Hillary Clinton is expected to cruise to a huge victory, matter at all? Of course it will, because West Virginia does not occur in a vacuum.
• Kenneth P. Vogel writes that a big margin of victory could at the very least prolong the decision-making of the superdelegates by convincing them Obama can’t win over white voters. Clinton could also see a fund-raising bounce that would move her campaign toward solvency. [Politico]
• Patrick Healy believes “sizable victories” in West Virginia and Kentucky could put pressure on Obama to agree to seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan and could bolster Clinton’s case to join the ticket as VP. [NYT]
• David Mark looks at tonight’s potentially ominous implications for the general election. Many people see Appalachia as a key battleground, one that the contest may show Obama is not well suited for. [Politico]
• Mike Madden also thinks tonight’s vote could be a bellwether for the general election. He writes that while West Virginia has been a swing state in the past, its demographics (white, old, poor, poorly educated) and attention to issues of guns, God, and gays don’t bode well for Obama in the fall. And of course, there’s this: “I don’t think it’s being racist necessarily, they just don’t like black people that well,” a West Virginian man said of his neighbors. [Salon]
• Chuck Todd and friends ponder whether it should be “cause for concern” if Obama can’t reach 38 percent in West Virginia. With the economy “in the pits,” West Virginia is theoretically a state that Democrats could carry in November. [First Read/MSNBC]
• Charles Hurt thinks Clinton could be using big lopsided victories in West Virginia and Kentucky to exit the race on a high note, as she didn’t mention Puerto Rico, Montana, or South Dakota (three primaries coming up after next week) in a video sent to supporters. [NYP]
• Vaughan Ververs thinks a big Clinton win in West Virginia might force Obama to return his focus to the primary battle, instead of the general election as he would prefer. [Horserace/CBS] —Dan Amira
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.