Sunday, February 10, 2008

Remember the Maine

This looked to some outside observers as a likely win for Hillary. It's in her Northeastern sphere of influence, Maine often replicates the New Hampshire winner, and it reputedly has a lot of typical Hillary voters: lower income, white, older. She was endorsed by the governor. Four polls showed she was ahead. And some felt this was a must-win as well.

But Barack Obama won the Maine caucuses today. Final results aren't in yet but it looks like the approximately 60-40 margin is holding, so not only is it a win, it's a landslide. One more BIG win for the weekend. (Props to this guy, a Mainer who predicted the victory and spread at Kos.) Turnout was reportedly heavy, despite snow storms.

So Hillary lost in her Northeastern stronghold, making it more likely that she'll go through the rest of this month without a victory, and that Obama will be storming into Ohio and Texas with a month's worth of momentum. If the next polls in those states show a big jump for Obama, the super-delegates who agree that Obama is the more electable candidate with the better chance of expanding the party and bringing in more downticket Democrats, may not wait until March 4 to start moving into his column, despite the stories today that Hillary's party establishment support is holding.

Also today, Hillary fired her campaign manager--usually not a great sign this deep into the campaign. But insiders told the press this "transition" was in the works for a long time. The Clinton camp made a big deal yesterday out of announcing they'd raised $10 million since Super Tuesday--a substantial sum-- but rumors of money troubles persist. Interestingly, the Obama campaign stopped announcing (or posting) their online fundraising total last week--when they had nearly $8 million pledged. I'm curious why, and what they do next.

News today also that John Edwards had a "secret" meeting with Hillary, ostensibly to discuss endorsement, and will have a no longer secret one with Obama tomorrow. Many of his upper level supporters have joined Obama. It's not clear what his endorsement would mean, except in terms of perceived momentum, but it might free up some more campaign talent. I'd be very surprised if he endorsed Hillary. Nobody knows what's being discussed in these meetings. Does he want to run for vice president again?

If the Obama momentum continues through March 4, then Maine may be remembered as the defining moment. Hillary has held off that momentum twice before when it seemed about to sink her candidacy, but can she do it in March and April? It seems less likely, but the Clintons have been at this for a long time. Besides which, the Obama campaign can't count its primaries before they're hatched. On to the Chesapeake.

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