Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Obama Wins Maine By Large Margin, Signaling Dark Stretch Ahead For Hillary Camp"

Greg Sargent (Election Central-TPM):
CNN and MSNBC have just called Maine for Obama, giving him another sizable victory in a state that was supposed to act as a check on his momentum after yesterday's trio of landslide wins. Instead, tonight's outcome gave him another burst of forward motion in a month that's shaping up as a very dark one indeed for Hillary.
With 70% reporting, Obama had 58% to Hillary's 41%. The surprisingly big victory for Obama came on the same day as the Hillary campaign signaled a recognition of its travails by announcing a shuffling of their inner circle, replacing campaign manager and longtime loyalist Patti Solis Doyle with longtime Hillary confidant Maggie Williams.

Obama's victory effectively left Hillary advisers grappling with the possibility that the worst case scenario that they'd been anticipating for some time could come true: The prospect of no victories for the whole month of February. This coming Tuesday, Obama could very well sweep the Potomac Primary -- Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Obama's prospects are also pretty good in Wisconsin a week later, because he can run especially well in two major Dem strongholds, the left-wing college town of Madison and the urban center of Milwaukee, as well as in other locales.

That leaves the Hillary campaign potentially staring across a bleak February landscape all the way to March 4th for a real shot at turning the narrative of the race around -- a grim set of circumstances that Hillary advisers have been anticipating for some time.

Time and again in this race, though, Hillary has had her back to the wall, only to find that the female vote, perhaps driven by the sight of Hillary on the verge of defeat, has rallied around her and changed the story-line of the race. Women helped drive her surprise victory in New Hampshire, and were an instrumental part of her winning coalition of female, Latino, working class and older voters that propelled her to key victories in big states on Feb. 5th.

The question now is how strong Hillary's coalition will prove in March, in the face of whatever momentum Obama builds coming out of what are expected to be repeated victories throughout the rest of the month. Of course, it's perfectly possible that whatever momentum he has, the proportional system will ensure that this race grinds on all the way until the convention. Advisers from both campaigns have predicted this outcome. And super-delegates are another wild card.

Which is to say, as big as Obama's victory was tonight and yesterday, and while he's in a strong position, it's still anyone's guess how this comes out.

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