Another week, another potentially game-changing set of primaries that few people actually expect will change the game. Most observers, pollsters, and gurus believe Barack Obama will win in North Carolina and Hillary Clinton will be victorious in Indiana. And where does that leave us? About the same place we’ve been for a couple of months now. What will matter is how hard Clinton is willing to fight, and of course, whatever is going on in the heads of the undeclared superdelegates.
• Adam Nagourney lays out three possible outcomes and their consequences: Clinton could win both states, which would “bolster her argument” for the superdelegates that Obama will struggle against McCain; if Obama wins both states, it “would almost certainly mean lights out for the Clinton campaign”; if the candidates split Indiana and North Carolina, the race would continue but Clinton would have a difficult time making up ground in the popular vote and pledged-delegate count with the few primaries remaining. [NYT]
• Charles Mahtesian and David Mark have a somewhat sunnier outlook for Clinton, writing that if she wins either state today, she’ll face a slate of favorable states that could “sustain her campaign through June 3rd.” [Politico]
• John Nichols believes that if the candidates split Indiana and North Carolina as he expects, then today’s primaries will “settle nothing.” [Campaign ‘08/Nation]
• Dan Balz answers eight questions about today’s primaries. On the matter of what it will take for Clinton to continue after today, he writes that Clinton needs one win to stay at least until June 3, while two wins would take the fight all the way to the convention. An Obama sweep would probably end her campaign. [WP]
• Noam Scheiber predicts a “solid, but not as big as it could have been” win for Clinton in Indiana, and a “closer-than-expected, but not super-close” win for Obama in North Carolina. He also singles out two demographic groups to pay close attention to: African-Americans, who we haven’t yet seen react to the latest Reverend Wright flap, and college graduates, who Obama usually wins but lost last time out. They may, however, sympathize with Obama’s academic-minded opposition to the gas-tax argument. [Stump/New Republic]
• Isaac Chotiner pegs the conventional wisdom at a six- to ten-point victory for Obama in North Carolina and a three- to six-point victory for Clinton in Indiana. Of course, as happened in Pennsylvania, early exit polls could set the media’s expectations and change the spin on the ultimate outcome. [Plank/New Republic]
• Vaughn Ververs doesn’t expect today’s primaries to decide the nomination, nor does he expect either candidate to drop out before the convention. [Horserace/CBS News]
• Sara Murray speculates that preparing for final exams could prevent many college students, who as a group favor Obama, from making it to the polls. [WSJ]
• Chuck Todd and friends note that after today there will be more delegates to be had “inside the beltway” in the form of undeclared superdelegates than there are in pledged delegates that can be won through the remaining primaries. Accordingly, each candidate will try to impress the superdelegates by performing well with their opponent’s base demographic. [FirstRead/MSNBC] —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.