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Got your popcorn or arugula salad? At the end of tonight, neither candidate may be closer to closing the deal than before the beginning of the day.
Which is going to make an already p.o.’ed Michelle Obama even more bitter.
Prelim exit polls via ABC News show that the Wright debacle did significant damage:
Preliminary exit poll results indicate that just under half of Democratic primary voters in Indiana and North Carolina alike call the controversy surrounding the Rev. Jeremiah Wright an important factor in their vote, a potential wildcard in the outcome of these two contests.
Nonetheless, any impact of the Wright controversy could be mitigated by early decision-making: In both states around three-quarters of voters or more say they made up their minds before last week, when the debate over Obama’s ex-minister heightened. That’s more early deciders than usual; the average across all primaries to date has been 67 percent.
Economic concerns are riding particularly high; nearly two-thirds in Indiana say the economy is the single most important issue in their vote, the highest in any primary to date. Six in 10 pick it as the top issue in North Carolina as well. Nearly half in Indiana also say the current economic slowdown has affected them “a great deal”; somewhat fewer report that much of an impact in North Carolina.
These preliminary results indicate that a third of North Carolina’s voters are African-Americans, in line with the norm, e.g. 31 percent in 1992, the last primary there for which exit poll data are available. So far this year Obama has won all seven of the primaries in which blacks accounted for at least 30 percent of Democratic voters.
As in Pennsylvania, there’s some continued criticism of Clinton in terms of the tone of the campaign. In North Carolina two-thirds of voters say she attacked her opponent unfairly, as do about six in 10 in Indiana. Fewer in both states say Obama attacked unfairly.
Similarly, in a continued weakness for Clinton, fewer voters in both states rate her as “honest and trustworthy” than feel that way about Obama.
More than six in 10 voters in both states say they’d be satisfied with either Obama or Clinton as the nominee but that leaves substantial numbers of these Democratic primary voters (admittedly in the heat of battle) who say they wouldn’t be satisfied. Indeed, in Clinton and Obama matchups against John McCain, anywhere from a quarter to three in 10 Democrats in these primaries say they either wouldn’t vote or would support the Republican.
In Indiana, working-class whites are one group to watch; Obama has tried to improve his appeal to this group since losing them by 2-1 in Pennsylvania, and indeed by nearly as wide a margin, 59-33 percent, across all primaries to date. Obama also will look to independents in Indiana’s open primary; they accounted for 31 percent of voters there in 1992, far more than the norm in primaries this year. Preliminary exit poll results indicate less of a turnout among independents in Indiana, but more than usual Republicans voting in the state’s open primary.
PJM continuing coverage here.
Pollster.com has a predictions round-up. Feel free to leave yours.
Update: It’s a solid rout for Obama in NC.
Update: Nuns show up to polls without ID; fellow nun says “tough noogies.” Well, not literally. But good for her. The law’s the law.
JWF notes the NYTimes’ hysteria over the incident.
Update: CBS calls Indiana for Hillary. Almost half of precincts are in; 56-44. The Obama camp strategists–David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs–are talking to reporters in Raleigh. Change, change. Blah, blah.
Axelrod: “The math is the math…Sen. Clinton would have to close to win close to 70 percent of both superdelegates and pledged delegates from here on out…that’s a tall order…tortured constructions from the other side…our momentum will continue to build…”
On CNN, Wolf Blitzer asks John King why they haven’t called the race.
King: “Because we’re conservative by nature.”
Update: The chatter about including Florida and Michigan heats up:
…her camp is suggesting that the FL and MI delegate counts should be included in the total number needed to secure the nom, boosting the magic no. to 2,209 from 2,025. It’s not a wholly new argument, just the latest derivation of the Clinton team’s pitch to count FL and MI in her favor.
Politico’s Mike Allen is reporting that Harold Ickes, Clinton’s chief delegate strategist, said in a telephone interview that the IL senator could come out of the last contest June 3 “substantially less than 100 delegates behind” Obama’s total if those two states are included.
“We don’t believe that this party is going to go forward into a presidential race without seating both Florida and Michigan,” Ickes told Allen.
Update: Stacy McCain’s liveblogging from the West Virginia Obama HQ.
Hillary’s electability shield is deactivated, via CNN:
The core of Hillary Clinton’s argument to superdelegates has been her electability – that she is the candidate most likely to beat presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in November. But according to exit polls, voters don’t share that view.
In Indiana, Democratic primary voters were equally split over who was most likely to beat McCain, with both drawing 48 percent. And in North Carolina, voters gave the edge to Barack Obama: 54 percent thought he was more likely to win in November, while 40 percent chose Clinton.
Update: Here is the Associated Press headline on the Obama Indiana win: “Obama victory racially lopsided in NC.”
Update: Fred Barnes disses the “lower class.” Ugh.
Update: It’s about 9:11pm Eastern and the Obamas are stepping on stage in Raleigh. Bruce Springsteen music is playing. Huge roar and a massive audience of HopeNChange-ians.
Obama throws back Hillary’s “game changer” rhetoric in her face.
“The only game that needs changing is the one in Washington D.C.”
He congratulates Hillary for her Indiana victory. Crowd boos.
Makes special note of winning in a swing state, big state. “Tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the presidential nomination.”
9:29pm Eastern. He’s been sounding his HopeNChange themes, the sunny side to Michelle’s bitter darkness.
9:33pm Eastern. Back to resentment-stoking. Greedy lenders kicking people out of their homes. Blah, blah.
Shouting: “I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted…I know the promise of America because I’ve lived it!”
“May God bless the U of–United States of America.”
9:38pm Eastern. Funny: Brit Hume spotlights a rapt woman in the audience gazing at the heavens as Obama spoke.
Miraculously, she was able to resist fainting.
USAToday has the full prepared text of Obama’s speech here (PDF). Make note of his explicit refutation of the argument that Clinton supporters won’t support Obama. “I don’t believe it.”