Even as the polls closed in IN and NC, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "were shifting their attention to the five states and one territory yet to vote." The biggest prize remaining: Puerto Rico, where 55 delegates are at stake 6/1.
In the next state to vote, WV, Obama "has the backing" of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), and in KY he "has the backing" of Reps. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Ben Chandler (D-KY). Still, the Clinton camp "is eagerly turning its attention" to WV, which votes 5/12 and KY, which votes 5/20. Both states have "large numbers of rural, older, low-income and white voters," which make Clinton "the heavy favorite" and her camp "hopes to use these to press its case" that Clinton "is more electable" (Timiraos/Phillips, Wall Street Journal, 5/7).
The 5/6 votes "were the last in states big enough to give one of the candidates a game-changing boost in delegates or popular vote." Clinton and Obama now head to the six final contests: WV, KY, OR, MT, SD and Puerto Rico. With only 217 delegates at stake, "Obama is all but certain to emerge after five months of voting with his lead among pledged delegates intact" (Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers, 5/7).
Washington Post's Milbank writes, Obama's "big win" in NC, coupled with Clinton's "squeaker" in IN, "adds a sense that his nomination is inevitable." But the "split decision" also "gave Clinton a reason to remain in the race and force the party's superdelegates to decide it." In other words, "there's no exit plan" (5/7).
The "split decision" last p.m. means the Dem race "still could go on until the last primaries in early" 6/08, "when the party would be confronted with at least two scenarios." One: "enough uncommitted superdelegates endorse the front-runner Obama to give him" the nod. Two: "enough uncommitted superdelegates hold back or endorse Clinton to push the fight closer to the" convo in Denver (Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/7).
Yet "the split decision underscored" some of Obama's "weaknesses and the party's fissures." The outcome "confirmed that many white voters had developed doubts" about Obama "after weeks of attention to his former pastor," whose views "were seen as racially charged and anti-American" (Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 5/7).
Superdelegates To The Rescue
Going forward, both candidates intend to spend time in DC, "courting superdelegates and party officials." Obama supporter/Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE): "The next question will be what happens with the undecided superdelegates. Will they begin to come his way? I don't see anything to suggest they should start going her way" (Zeleny, New York Times, 5/7).
On the prospect of the race continuing, USC prof. Daria Roithmayr said: "I do think people are right to be concerned, that continuing is going to polarize not just the superdelegates but the (general election) voters. I do think it would behoove the party for superdelegates to jump quickly, to close off that polarization" (Crittenden, Boston Herald, 5/7).
There "aren't enough regular delegates left to decide the race." Obama, whose camp once argued that superdelegates "shouldn't decide the race," now must "count on them if he is to win." How those Dems "behave in the next week or so is likely to be more telling of the outcome than the results in the contests to come" (Tackett, Chicago Tribune, 5/7).
Can't Stop, Won't Stop
Clinton "has an incentive "to keep campaigning." In her speech to supporters in Indianapolis, IN, she said: "It's full speed on to the White House." But "there was a note of wistfulness to her remarks." Clinton "lingered over thank-yous to her family and supporters even as she promised to continue campaigning and reiterated her call to seat the disputed delegates" from MI and FL. Clinton: "It would be a little strange to have a nominee chosen by 48 states" (Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 5/7).
Obama's supporters, meanwhile, "ridiculed" Clinton's advisers "to create a new goal post." Obama strategist David Axelrod: "The math is the math, and I know math has been reinvented several times. Senator Clinton would have to win close to 70 percent of all the remaining delegates, both superdelegates and pledged delegates. That's a very tall order" (Dinan, Washington Times, 5/7).
I Have A Dream
Hopeful Dems have launched a renewed effort, called Vote Both, to get Obama and Clinton to form a joint ticket. Vote Both founder Adam Parkhomenko: "Originally my goal was to have a place for Clinton-Obama supporters (in that order) to organize. But over the last few weeks, I have talked with Obama supporters who talk about a Obama-Clinton ticket. And they're right, too." The banner on the group's Web site, voteboth.com, "alternates between 'Clinton-Obama' and 'Obama-Clinton' logos" (Davis, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 5/6).
This article appears in the May 7, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.