Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 321
Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" this past Sunday, New Mexico Governor and former 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson said this when asked about the inportance of today's voting in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont:
"D-Day is Tuesday. Whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday should be the nominee"
I don't know if I would agree that it's quite so cut-and-dried as that, and I certainly think that Richardson overstates matters when he characterizes Republicans as united behind John McCain. But, yes, today could be a significant point in the 2008 campaign, to the extent that it either reinforces or reverses current perceptions on the direction of the Democratic presidential race.
The Washington Post serves up a nice tray of questions that today's voting might help clarify. Here's an excerpt:
"The latest Associated Press delegate counts available on washingtonpost.com show Obama with 1,352 and Clinton with 1,239, a margin of 113. CNN says Obama is leading by 143. The Obama and Clinton campaigns are in relative agreement. Obama's team claims a 162-delegate lead, while Clinton's says he is ahead by 160.5.
There are 370 pledged delegates at stake today. After Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont have been counted, only 611 pledged delegates will be left in the remaining contests. No matter how you run the numbers, the conclusion is always the same: There is virtually no realistic way for Clinton to emerge from the primary-caucus season with more pledged delegates than Obama.
The Clinton counter to this is that pledged delegates alone will not get Obama to the majority that either candidate needs to win the nomination, leaving the outcome in the hands of the superdelegates -- those elected officials and party leaders who have turned off their phones rather than having to say no to one of the candidates."
I think today's voting comes down to a question of when and how either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama achieves critical mass in their quest for the nomination. Obama, of course, has eleven consecutive victories under his belt going into today, and it has been that performance over time that has reshaped the Democratic race. The result of a single day's voting is unlikely to clinch things, in the sense that either campaign will be able to say it's all over tonight.
I've jotted down some thoughts on this over at Pajamas Media. I'll be back tomorrow with my take on the results and what they might mean.