early and often

Obama Likely to Clinch Delegate Count Tonight — and Then What?


Look closely and you’ll see the lattes and Volvos.Photo: Getty Images

Today we are reminded, once again, that the race for the Democratic nomination hasn’t yet ended, as Kentucky and Oregon hold primaries for their mostly white residents. In Kentucky, voters are expected to hand Clinton another huge victory that comes a little too late to matter. Oregonians — 75,000 of whom swarmed into a single Obama rally in Portland over the weekend — are expected to reward Obama with an overall majority in total pledged delegates (which doesn’t really matter since he’ll need superdelegates anyway, but it’s still nice for him). Obama will bring the campaign full circle by traveling to Iowa tonight, the place where this all began, to deliver a triumphant victory speech speech proclaiming that he’s won the most pledged delegates but it’s still totally cool with him if Clinton wants to keep running.

• Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy describe Obama’s “delicate” situation: He’d like to end the primaries as soon as possible in order to focus his attention on John McCain but doesn’t want to force Clinton out and alienate her supporters. That’s why he’s decided against declaring victory even as he reaches an important threshold. [NYT]

• Dan Balz writes that even if Obama isn’t declaring victory tonight in Iowa, his planned display there has “rankled” Clinton and her campaign, who see it as a “highhanded effort to embarrass her” and “generate renewed calls” for her to exit the race. [WP]

• Chris Beam believes Obama doesn’t actually need to personally declare victory tonight because the media has already done it for him. [Slate]

• Andrew Romano wonders whether Clinton can beat expectations in Oregon by winning over the rural, less “microbrew-drinking, tree-hugging” part of the state. That huge Obama rally the other day will only help Clinton in the expectations game, and if she ends up making it close, she’d have another reason, “at least in her book,” to continue running. [Stumper/Newsweek]

• Vaughn Ververs expects a blowout in Kentucky will help Clinton about as much as her landslide victory in West Virginia: not very much. But at least it will help her in her argument that she has more of the popular vote. [Horserace/CBS News]

• Jim Geraghty notes that big crowds don’t equal big wins: Obama’s previous record crowd was in Philadelphia, and he went on to lose the state handily. That being said, he’ll probably win big tonight in Oregon. [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Rick Klein and friends think that tonight could play a role in the campaign for vice-president: What better way for Clinton to earn a spot than “closing out strong”? [Note/ABC News]

• Kenneth P. Vogel and Carrie Budoff Brown write that a big win in Kentucky will buttress Clinton’s argument that she’s more electable and can win over states like Kentucky with a lot of blue-collar white voters. One thing to watch for is whether John Edwards’s endorsement will help Obama among those groups. [Politico] —Dan Amira

Related: Money: Why Clinton’s Losing, Obama Winning, and What McCain Is Going to Do About It

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.

Obama Likely to Clinch Delegate Count Tonight — and Then What?