I was kind of annoyed that CNN (and Fox) cut away from live coverage before there were any results from Hawaii, but thats life I guess. And since I have a few more things to do tonight too, I figured this is a good time to put out my delegate update. Note that even aside from Hawaii, not all the delegates have been allocated yet for Wisconsin either, so expect another update tomorrow. But as of when I took my "readings" off the CNN website about half an hour ago, here is where things stood:
Bottom line, Obama won by a greater margin than the overall delegate ratio before today, so the gap between Obama and Clinton widens. But given how many delegates we already have, it is harder and harder to move the lines. The gap between the candidates widened from 1.96% yesterday to 2.42% today. We now have Obama 50.7%, Clinton 48.3%, Edwards 1.0%.
Yes, this is still close. Yes, a series of Clinton wins might narrow the gap again. But momentum does matter. And Obama's win today was a big win. Including lots of demographics that were supposedly Hillary's strengths. And the gaps in the next two big states are narrowing.
On Saturday I noted that with the pollster.com average for Ohio had Clinton up by 17.3%. Today, four days later... that gap is down to 14.1%. In Texas the gap Saturday was 6.5%. Today it is 4.7%. And we still have two weeks until those primaries. And frankly, looking at those charts, the slope in recent days may be even greater than the conservative trend lines indicate.
It might be a little rash to predict today that Obama will win a clean sweep on March 4th... Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas and Ohio... especially since there are no polls at all yet in the two little states, and he is still behind in both of the big states... but looking at tonight's results and the whole positive press spinning from the 9 wins in a row (10 unless Clinton pulls out a surprise in Hawaii later tonight), and the rapid upward trend in the polls in those states... I'd say absent a major unforced error by Obama, he'll definitely win Texas and he could quite possibly win Ohio too.
Either way, he will keep it close enough that Clinton will not be able to make any real dent in the current delegate gap. Obama is ahead now. He will be ahead after March 4th. And I don't think Clinton will have damped his momentum much.
Then the question will be if Hillary really does want to force this all the way to the convention, or if she will take a deep breath and for "the good of the party" decide to pack it in and become a leader in the Senate while Obama takes the nomination.
My prediction at the moment...
If she actually does end up losing both Ohio and Texas, she will take a day or so to assess the situation, then she will end her campaign. She will want to fight on, but she will decide to cut her losses, as otherwise she would be just prolonging what would almost certainly be a losing battle in the end. Right now if I had to make a bet, I'd actually bet on this.
Is she manages to win one of the two states (probably Ohio) then she is still on the ropes, but will decide to push through at least another month to Pennsylvania. If she wins Ohio, it will solidify her current lead in Pennsylvania. This is the most interesting scenario, and potentially has us looking at the seven states with contests in MAY to see what happens. For sheer political junkie fun, this is the dream scenerio.
If she manages to actually win BOTH Ohio and Texas (I don't think this will happen) then suddenly she is the front runner again, even if she is still behind in delegates, because she'd probably win Pennsylvania and might open a gap that Obama would find hard to close again.
I think in both the first and the last scenario the superdelegate issue ends up going away because there is a clear leader and the superdelegates will fall in line behind them. In the middle situation... all bets are off.
But like I said, right now, I'm feeling the Obamamentum, and so is the press. Hillary needs to do some major work in both Ohio and Texas to save her leads in those states from disappearing in the next two weeks.
And on the Republican side, McCain increases the gap between him and Romney and Huckabee as he slowly creeps closer to the finish line. 273 delegates to go.