Another Tuesday, another set of primary results to pour over.
No question that Obama exceeded expectations here. A draw overall on the day probably would have sufficed, so to emerge with the result he did really is a crushing blow for Clinton.
The (nearly) final results for the day:
Delegates: Obama +12 (Al Giordano at The Field thinks it could go as high as +19)
Popular Vote: Obama +210,363 (with some Obama friendly counties still yet to report 100% - Clinton will likely win Indiana by < 20,000 votes as a result)
Really, the pledged-delegate deficit has been insurmountable for Clinton since the Ohio and Texas primaries, so she has since been pinning her hopes of winning the nomination on coming out ahead in the popular vote count (only possible if the votes cast in Florida and Michigan are counted) and keeping her head above water for long enough to inflict the damage on Obama that she needs to in order to win the backing of superdelegates (as the "electable" candidate).
Both of these hopelessly optimistic scenarios were surely extinguished by the result tonight. The 14% deficit in NC - the last "big" state left - obliterated the ground she had made up in the popular vote in Pennsylvania. The narrow victory in Indiana (she 'squeaked by' according to CNN, which is typical of the media narrative at the moment) does not give her the breathing space she needed to convince the superdelegates and the DNC that it's worth their while to let her continue.
Tim Russert sums up the state of play at the moment:
I see this contest limping to West Virginia (where Clinton can expect a big victory) and probably all the way to the final contests on June 3rd, but none of the remaining states are large enough to give her the momentum she needs to carry her to the convention (where she had hoped to exercise her "nuclear option"). The superdelegates will begin to sharply break for Obama in the next few weeks, especially once Obama's delegate lead becomes mathematically insurmountable after the May 20 primaries (her lead in the superdelegate count - as small as it has become - has been one of the few factors keeping her in the race this long). The media will continue to push the narrative that the race is over (except for Fox News, of course) and her funding will doubtless dry up further.
So it's over, she's finished. Within four weeks, Obama will officially be the Democratic candidate for the presidency. Not a moment too soon, either.