One thing's for sure about last night's results, the long campaign is now a reality and superdelegates are going to be important. Told ya so (sorry, couldn't resist). Most analysis of last night's results tries to answer three basic questions and I think it's worth dealing with them separately:
Where do we stand in terms of delegates now?
About half the states have voted, and while some votes are still being counted and we don't have exact numbers yet, it seems Obama will have an advantage of about 9 delegates out of the 1,688 that voted yesterday. He also came into the race with a 15 delegate lead so he's ahead by about 24 pledged delegates. However, Clinton has a lead of about 90 superdelegates with 311 out of 796 firmly committed. The campaigns claim larger superdelegate totals, but the spread is still about 90.
What facts do we now have that might help predict future results?
- Obama is good at organizing small states and/or states with caucuses.
- Clinton is strong in the East and among southern whites (Obama won states in the deep south with big black populations). Obama is strong in the midwest and traditionally "western" states (Colorado not California).
- Obama improved his standing in many states dramatically over the last three weeks.
- Clinton's Latino support is fairly solid.
- Clinton and Obama have essentially equal support.
- Turnout was high.
- Exit polls still suck.
What don't we know?
- Will Obama's increase in support continue as it has, or has it plateaued? There's some evidence he stopped gaining in recent days, but it's hard to say. As voters have gotten to know more about Obama they've like him more, but are they many voters left who don't yet know a lot about him?
- Similarly, will the fact that he can spend more time in each state from now on give him an advantage?
- Will his almost 2.5-1 fund raising advantage in 2008 continue? Will it help him significantly?
- Can Clinton's poll numbers survive a potential string of losses in the Obama-friendly states that vote in the rest of February?
- Will someone go negative again? Will it help or hurt?
- Will Gore or Edwards endorse?