I'll resist the urge to go faux game show voice on you and declare, "Tell them what they've won," (Well, I just did it, didn't I?) but here is the picture that is beginning emerge this evening. This is going to sound like a broken record from Super Tuesday night and its aftermath, but caucuses are Obama's territory. He's been given the nod in both Nebraska and Washington (state). And by the same large margins he enjoyed in the caucuses on Tuesday night (two to one in both cases). At some point these large margins in the caucuses are going to help him catch up with (or increase) and pass Clinton's delegate total. His totals relative to hers will increase because the margins in these caucuses are so large compared to the near even division of delegates in most of the other primaries.
While we're on the subject of delegates, the New York Times has a couple of good pieces up now. One discusses the disparity in delegate counts from the networks, new outlets and the campaigns while another details the efforts of the Clinton and Obama camps to lure superdelegates into their folds. The members of Congress they spoke to in the latter article, seemed a bit unnerved by the task of potentially choosing the party's nominee. They seem to be biding their time, hoping that one of the candidates emerges as the winner at the conclusion of primary season.
Washington: Washington Democrats are nearly two-thirds done with their vote tallying, and state Republicans have yet to report any results. The party's web page even turned up nothing; only the message that results would come to light starting at 6pm(PT) or fifteen minutes ago by my watch.
from the New York Times
from the Nebraska Democratic Party
Louisiana: Very early on in the Pelican state (We're talking 0% reporting.), here's what we see:
9:39pm: There are some tight races shaping up for the GOP in Washington (Huckabee 25.9% McCain 26.6--16% reporting) and the Dems in Louisiana (Obama 40.3% Clinton 40.7--still 0% reporting).
The morning after:
Not surprisingly, 0% reporting doesn't mean a whole lot. Once the rest of Louisiana start sending in their vote tallies, it was clear that Obama, as he had in Nebraska and Washington, had won a convincing victory. Louisiana also delivered something of a surprise on the Republican end. Though Mike Huckabee won in Louisiana, he didn't get any delegates out of the victory. The winner of the GOP primary in the state had to win a majority of the vote to be allocated the twenty delegates at stake. Those delegates will now go to the Republican national convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul unpledged. All but six of the remaining delegates on the line in Louisiana (21) will be awarded at next weekend's state convention.
In Washington, the Republican race was a tight, four-way affair. McCain and Huckabee were separated by about two percentage points (25.5 - 23.7) with 87% of caucus sites reporting. Ron Paul (20.6) and Mitt Romney (16.5) were just a handful of points behind though. To be clear, those latter two won't factor into the media discussions of the results today, but it is clear that they received a good bit of support in the state.
What does it all mean? Well, on the Republican side, McCain is in the same position he was in on Tuesday night. He is in great shape in the delegate count in relation to his main competitor. However, he doesn't have things completely wrapped up as candidates at the same point in past cycles (post-Super Tuesday) and it never looks good to lose any contest when you are the "presumptive" nominee. I'll be honest: I hadn't thought of this until yesterday when I saw some Huckabee supports talking about it. Is his candidacy now about winning or stopping McCain from winning? It may not be the Huckabee campaign's intention, but this sentiment is starting to rise up from within the anti-McCain faction of the party. The goal is not to have Huckabee necessarily become the nominee, but to keep McCain from gaining the 1191 delegates necessary to become the nominee. That could trigger a brokered convention with McCain as the clear frontrunner, but it would be a brokered convention nonetheless. Will this happen? I doubt it. These sorts of things just don't happen in a party like the Republican party that operates from the top-down.
And on the Democratic side? Well, Obama's run through yesterday's three states has put the pressure on the Clinton campaign to be sure. Maine is seen as hospitable territory for her. And as such, it becomes the closest thing to a must win since the race hit New Hampshire. And with the Potomac Primary coming up on Tuesday (three primaries with a sizable African American presence), it may be Clinton's last best shot before the race hits Texas on March 4. To be clear, Virginia is seen as a good opportunity for Clinton as well, but not as good as Maine is today. All wouldn't be lost with another Obama win (in another caucus), but it is incumbent upon the Clinton folks to stem the tide of the Obama momentum before it is too late.