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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Before we give way to the night, let me try to pull together some rough thoughts on what happened here tonight. It's probably best to start with the indisputable facts. I haven't had a chance to look at the popular vote. But every estimate I've seen says this was close to an exact tie in delegates. And adding those delegates won today, to all those won in the earlier contests and all the pledged super delegates, Hillary, I believe I heard was above by about 50.

If you look at this from the vantage point of two weeks ago, it's a huge win for Obama, since he was trailing in states across the country by a very big margin. From the vantage point of the last couple days, however, it's much less clear. The hype of his momentum just got a bit out ahead of what he was able to pull off. And in that sense there's a very mild echo of New Hampshire, though the Clinton campaign is silly to claim some sort of comeback. There were a handful of states which, had he won two or more of them, would have taken him from a delegate tie to a decisive win that would have seen Clinton seriously on the defensive. But it didn't happen. Not in New Jersey or Massachusetts and most importantly not in California, which Clinton won decisively.

But I think all these competing scenarios make one point clear. The only arguments for one side or the other being a winner here come down to airy and finally meaningless arguments about expectations. And the result tells a different tale. It's about delegates. It's dead even. You've got two well-funded candidates who've demonstrated an ability to power back from defeats. And neither is going anywhere.

The flip side of the proportional representation in delegates is that not only does it allow a challenger like Obama not to get put away early, it also makes it difficult to put away an opponent late. The conventional wisdom is that Obama will do well in this weekend's and next Tuesday's contests. But if he does, proportionality will reign there too. It's hard to see where this doesn't go all the way to the convention.

TPM Reader SM ...

You guys have lost your friggin minds since Josh decided on Olberman that Obama's Iraq comment was something more than it was. There's been nothing but crap Zogby polls and spin keeping this guy a float. Look at the exit and entrance polls! The guy hasn't managed to break out of his key demographics AT ALL. Whoa he got more of the White vote in CA which he lost handily. He seems to be able to win every caucus and lose every election. Too bad we don't caucus to elect a president.

He's dead. His campaign is fundamentally about the belief that there are no race issues in America. And reality is biting him on the ass in every race. He loses the brown vote in every state 2:1 while pulling in the black vote 4:1 and he manages to sway wealthy white people and young white people. That's it. The base of the dem party is union workers, working class people and grandma. He has no traction at all with these groups. It's written large in every race. The guy just doesn't have what it takes to build a majority, and he's got a slick net press operation that is fundamentally gaming Reddit and the blogsphere.

It's obivous that the dem base loves Clinton ESPECIALLY WHEN HE IS AGRESSIVE!

It's obvious that the dem base doesn't give a shit about the Iraq vote!

It's obvious that the Obama base relies heavily on right wing help, and launders stuff through them and their proxies. Case in point your own guy Trapper via Drudge.

It's obvious that the brown vote in this country matters more economically than the black vote since the brown people work closer to the white power structure and get more representation for their money even via delegates as a result. And it's obvious that Obama has killed himself by denying the realities of race in America instead of addressing them.

Please stop buying into the bullshit of the Obama internet press operation. The party can't afford to bleed for 3 more months to appease Barack and Michelle's ego, when McCain consolidates everything under himself tomorrow. Ok sure we go to VA and MD or whatever if the Republicans pussyfoot, but we aren't going to learn anything new just blow a lot of scratch to see another iteration of the same demographic story.

The real story is not in the pre-election bullshit polls where people like Zogby just make shit up, it's in the repeated and expanding story of the exit and entrance polls. LOOK AT THEM. There is NO OBAMA "surge", it's the same people in the same groups with different numbers in each state.

Encourage the Obama people to take Hillary's VP offer so that we call move on already. We need to win in November, and raising more ire within the party is a sure way to fuck that up.

PS We love teddy in MA but we know he is full of shit, which is why Obama lost here. That everyone else bought into the spectacle is enough to show that you were all more interested in seeing what you wanted to see rather than what was. Open your eyes look at the exit and entrance pols. BTW the same white demographic that went for Obama in MA is the one that went for him in CA, in CA there are just more of them.

Jonathan Wiesman runs the numbers: Mitt paid $1.16 million per delegate.

But put together some investors, possibly? Because that would mean that the whole nomination could be bought for a mere $1.33 billion.

One point I'll make on the spin tonight. The idea that Obama's not winning Massachusetts is a big upset is simply ridiculous. In our poll tracker, we have six polls of the Massachusetts race going back to January 17th. One of those had Obama ahead, and that was by two points, though admittedly it was one of the most recent. Yes, he had both senators behind him as well as the governor. But Obama also went from being behind by something like two to one margin a couple weeks ago to a much closer race. What's true is that there were a slew of states -- Massachusetts, New Jersey and California come to mind. Had Obama been able to grab one of those, it would have been a big punch for him. It would have been really bad for Hillary. And it really would have defined the night. But he wasn't able to pull it off. Seems like he kind of did in Missouri. But that's not quite in the same category. In any case, there's a ton of spin from both sides right now, especially furious since this was so close in so many ways. But the Obama had to win Massachusetts line is just silly.

Fox and MSNBC calling Missouri for Obama. I've gotten unconfirmed reports that the AP has retracted their call for Clinton. We're trying to run that down.

Just had a report from MSNBC out of the Romney camp. They've got a senior aide telling them that "tomorrow will be a day of frank discussions" about the campaign at Romney HQ. Had all the signs of a packing it in signal. We'll have video momentarily.

(ed.note: Sort of makes you wonder, can you imagine Mitt Romney having a frank discussion?)

Not sure what to make of this. But Barack Obama has just crept ahead of Hillary Clinton in Missouri. With 97% reporting he's now ahead of her by a little more than 2500 votes. Seems like AP may have jumped the gun.

Meanwhile, nets are calling it for Hillary in California.

Two readers make an uncomfortable but I think possibly insightful point about today's results. Not sure I agree. There's been too much of a rush of details and numbers we're trying keep up with tonight to give it enough focus. But I want to put it in front of you.

First, TPM Reader JS ...

Just a quick trend to note: Obama seems to do well in states where there are either a huge number of black voters or virtually no black voters at all. In states with large urban populations, and ethnic suburban populations, he doesn't do as well. He also doesn't do as well in interior southern states. In other words, either a state needs to have white voters who have very little experience with ethnic or racial politics, or it needs to have an extremely large black population, in order to vote for Obama.


And TPM Reader BW ...

I'm a little surprised you haven't figured out the role of the ethnic votes on tonight's Democratic results.

I became involved in the NJ campaign after one of my friends told me that his extended Italian family were voting for Hillary cause she was preferable to the black guy. Their votes were being driven by race. We turned some of them around, but with others the racial enmity prevented any rational discussion.

MA also went to Hillary due to the organization of the Irish pols, according to MSNBC. Would sure like to see polling of ethnic votes in these states and NY.

I know that highly negative e-mails about Obama were also being sent around to my Jewish family. With Jewish voters you had the further complication of Israeli representatives coming out against Obama.

The disparity between the exit polls and actual results when an African-American has been running is known as the Bradley-effect. I notice your exit polls show Obama leading in NJ and MA. Why am I not surprised.


Not sure I agree with the last point. The exit polls were unweighted second wave exits. The real question is how the results compare to the final polls. And I'm not sure they're that far off. One might argue that a more simple way to look at this is simply to say that Hillary dominated in the heterogeneous Northeast, where Hillary comes from. One might also say that this is only a more cynical way of pointing to the class/education division between Clinton and Obama voters that we've already noted in several of the contests. But I think there might be something to this. We'll know more after we all have a chance to look closely at the exit polls.

Curious to hear your views.

Late Update: TPM Reader PN adds some thoughts ...
A couple of thoughts about the racial/ethnic dynamic in the voting patterns that your other readers identified.

First of all, Clinton is doing very, very well among white women, particularly older white women. This is probably making the racial divide in the vote larger than it otherwise might be. I think the "pull" of voting for Clinton is at least as powerful than the "push" of being unwilling to vote for a black candidate. If we're going to talk about how the African-American vote is keeping Obama in this race, we ought to talk about how women (who make up a disproportionate share of Democratic primary voters) are keeping Clinton in the race too.

In Massachusetts, Obama actually won white men 48%-49%. His showing among that demographic in New Jersey (39%) and Missouri (39%) was admittedly less impressive. But for Obama to take 40% of white male Democrats in Missouri is not a bad showing.

In the background here at TPM HQ we've been running the numbers to try to get a sense of what this is going to look like in terms of delegate counts on the Democratic side.

To be clear, there's a lot of estimating involved here and piecing together little fragments of information. But all that said, our very much in-progress spreadsheet, which assumes a decent margin for Clinton in California, has the two candidates almost exactly tied in delegates.

Doubt it will turn out exactly that way. But I think that's going to be the big story. For all the spin and nominal wins. It's a dead-heat where it really counts, in delegates.

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