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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Perceptions

I think Ed’s post below is essentially right — the results in North Carolina and Indiana changed nothing in terms of actuality.
But yesterday, I watched MSNBC until just after midnight when Tim Russert said, “We now know who the Democratic nominee is gonna be, and no one’s going to dispute it.”
It’s amazing how much that one remark seems to have changed the perceptions of the race.
Perhaps the truth is that the press corps had already quietly come to the conclusion that the math mattered and Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee. Maybe they were just waiting for a word from Russert to validate that thought.
But for whatever the reason, the narrative has shifted. It now favors Obama, just as the math does.
The next 48 hours will be the test. If Russert’s pronouncement is influential enough to force a bevy of superdelegates to show their cards or switch support from Clinton to Obama, then his words will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The race will be over.
But then, how does the Obama campaign deal with the twin problems of West Virginia and Kentucky?
Just as demographics favored Obama in North Carolina, the voter makeup in these two states is clearly stacked in Clinton’s favor. Polling paints a pretty bleak picture for the Illinois senator. It’s just a fact that Clinton will likely win Kentucky and West Virginia whether she’s in the race or not.
How awful would it look for the presumptive Democratic nominee to lose these contests to a candidate who isn’t running anymore?
Last night was a good one for Barack Obama, but this race isn’t going to be over until at least May 20th. And honestly, that might be the best possible result.
Update: Maybe the superdelegates are listening. Four have announced their intention to support Obama today, compared to just one for Clinton.

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