Where The Democratic Race Is Now

Tuesday night, Barack Obama credibly established his claim to be a national candidate

Hillary Clinton won the votes of more Democrats than Barack Obama did. She won the votes of enough “red” states to temper, at least for now, the idea that Democrats in those states believe she is manifestly unelectable and would drag the party down in their states.

Over the next two weeks, the caucus and primaries ahead are better for Obama than for Clinton, and he should close the delegate map a little. Or maybe a lot: he tends to win the states in which he competes and Clinton does not by a large margin. Obama has been on the air in all nine states… Clinton is not… and the big reason is money: Obama has money in the bank, and Clinton is having trouble staying in the black.

Nothing in tonight’s results will temper fears that black voters are choosing one candidate and Hispanic voters are choosing another. Ted Kennedy’s endorsement did not seem to matter among Hispanics.

Nothing in the Democratic results tonight will change the minds of those Superdelegates, at least 500 of whom haven't told us who they're supporting. They're not likely to come off the fence, and arguably, this is a little better at this point for Hillary Clinton because Obama, heading into tonight, had started to pick up superdelegates off of his South Carolina momentum.

Last day deciders chose Hillary Clinton, which suggests that she “won” news coverage following the first national debate and is a reason why she’s accepting debate invitations center and left. (They essentially tied among last-three day deciders.)

Clinton was ahead in the national polls in most of the states two weeks ago. But Obama has closed 20 points nationally. He is no longer the underdog, and heading into – and certainly out of – this contest, he is just as much _the_ leading Democratic candidate as she is. Obama cannot plausibly claim underdog status anymore.

The defection of black voters to Barack Obama continues to hurt Hillary Clinton and has not ebbed. Obama won black voters by more than Clinton won among Hispanics voters; Obama took 44% of them in Arizona and most of them in Illinois. Nowhere did Hillary Clinton receive more than 25% of the black vote.

Regionally, New Jersey and Connecticut voters do not claim Hillary Clinton as one of their own, whilst Arkansas clearly did.

Here is the Obama spin on what the Clinton campaign wanted from Tuesday: “They had to kill us and they didn’t.” Here is the Clinton spin on what the Obama campaign wanted from Tuesday.” Privately, the Obama campaign wanted big upsets. Connecticut is not a big upset. Privately, the Clinton campaign wanted to win their states decisively. This is a dogfight.

The fact that we won’t know the delegate allocation for a few days benefits the candidate who won the most votes, perceptually. But Clinton's margin is less than I thought it would be.

Thanks to Obama’s margins in Georgia and Illinois and his competitiveness in New Jersey, he may wind up winning more delegates than Clinton.

Obama won all six caucus states by huge margins, evidence of a failure of will on the Clinton campaign to do any organizing there.

The white males who preferred John Edwards in the South seem to have chosen Barack Obama. We see this in states as diverse as Georgia and California. Nationally, Obama won white men of all income levels and white men with college degrees. White men without college degrees chose Hillary Clinton. White crossover independent men powered Obama’s vote in California and other open states.

The idea that the Democratic race does not seem to be effecting the Republican race, and vice versa (aside from some rhetorical flourishes and a nagging desire on the Republican side to find someone capable of beating Hillary Clinton. Feb 5 may activate this dynamic.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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