Obama Has Tremendous Victories In Three States and Virgin Islands; Clinton Campaign In State of Panic

Obama won overwhelming victories yesterday in Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska:

Senator Barack Obama won decisive victories over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska on Saturday, giving him an impressive sweep going into a month when the Democratic nominating contests are expected to favor him.

The successes come just as Mr. Obama is building a strong advantage over Mrs. Clinton in raising money, providing important fuel for the nominating contests ahead. Still, the results were expected to do little to settle the muddle in the delegate race that resulted after the wave of contests last Tuesday in which the two candidates split up states from coast to coast…

While Mr. Obama had been expected to win the contests on Saturday, the margin of victories were surprising, particularly in Nebraska and Washington, which offered the day’s biggest trove of delegates. In both states, he captured 68 percent of the vote in caucuses, compared with Mrs. Clinton’s roughly 32 percent.

Obama also did better than expected in the Virgin Islands. Last week I read predictions that there would be a 2-1 split of the three delegates, with pundits not sure which candidate would receive the better end of the deal. Instead Obama won 89.9% of the vote and wins all three delegate votes. (There are actually six delegates, each with half a vote.)

It’s not looking any better for Clinton in the short run. The Washington Post reports:

Her campaign is already predicting defeat in races that will be held over the rest of this month and is turning its attention to the contests in Ohio and Texas on March 4 and in Pennsylvania on April 22. There are almost as many delegates at stake in those three states — about 600 — as there are in all the post-Super Tuesday contests in February.

Clinton might be trying to play the expectations game as there are some other states where she should be competitive. The problem for Clinton is that Obama is well positioned to pick up the overwhelming majority of the delegates between Super Tuesday and March 4. With this momentum, there is no guarantee that Clinton will win the final three states as she anticipates. Even if she does, most likely they will be narrower victories than those Obama achieves in the states he wins, meaning that Clinton might not pick up significantly more delegates than Obama. Looking at the math, it is no surprise that Clinton’s advisers are “in a state of panic” according to The Telegraph.

The Clinton spin suggests they are in a state of panic as only those in such a state would come up with an excuse as lame as this:

The Obama campaign has dramatically outspent our campaign in these three states, saturating the airwaves with 30 and 60 second ads. The Obama campaign has spent $300,000 more in Louisiana on television ads, $190,000 more in Nebraska and $175,000 more in Nebraska

As Marc Ambinder comments, “Ordinarily, this would be a firing offense — how dare they let a state go uncontested?” Waiting for the big states at the end sounds quite a bit like Rudy Giuliani’s strategy of waiting for Florida. We saw how that worked out for him. The Politico also argues that Obama’s landslides can break the current deadlock.

Obama probably cannot accumulate enough committed delegates to go into the convention with the nomination locked up. Obama has beaten or tied Clinton in delegates every date there has been a contest to date, and is gradually building on his lead. If Obama goes into the convention with an even larger lead over Clinton in delegates won in primary and caucus states it will be hard for the super delegates to deny him the nomination. They will realize that this would tear the party apart, destroying any chance for a Democratic victory in November. Looking at the map they should also note another important trend. Both Clinton and Obama can win votes in the blue states, but only Obama can win in most of the red states.

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