Posted on May 7
INDIANAPOLIS – Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama split the two biggest remaining Democratic primaries last night, with Clinton narrowly winning the highly contested Indiana race and Obama taking the North Carolina contest in convincing fashion.
In a race that wasn’t called officially until the early this morning, Clinton beat Obama 51 percent to 49 percent in Indiana.
With Obama holding a nearly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, Clinton’s slim victory in the Hoosier State will likely force her to make a decision about whether to continue her run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Speaking at her election night party here, which concluded before networks had declared a winner in the Indiana race, Clinton suggested she would continue her run into next week, when West Virginia holds its contest, and into the nominating convention.
“My opponent made a prediction,” said Clinton, who won the state by just more than 20,000 votes. “He said that I would win Pennsylvania, he would win North Carolina and that Indiana would be the tiebreaker. Well, tonight we’ve come from behind, we’ve broken the tie, and thanks to you, it’s full speed on to the White House.”
Clinton’s troubles were compounded by the fact that Obama won decisively – 56 percent to 42 percent – in North Carolina, the larger of the two states. Obama ran up a margin of more than 200,000 votes there, widening the gap between him and Clinton in the nation’s popular vote to about 700,000. He also picked up a net gain of 15 delegates from the state. Clinton’s razor-thin victory in Indiana yielded her a net gain of just two delegates.
According to The Associated Press count, Obama now has 1840.5 delegates to Clinton’s 1,684. A candidate needs 2,025 to claim the party’s nomination.
With more than 30 percent of its Democratic electorate comprised of African Americans – a voting bloc that has overwhelmingly backed Obama thus far – the North Carolina outcome was somewhat expected. Still, the margin of Obama’s win was greater than what recent polls had suggested it might be.
Addressing his supporters at a victory rally in Raleigh, the Illinois senator emphasized the fact that his strong victory there prevented Clinton from gaining momentum.
“You know, there are those who were saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election,” Obama said, eliciting a huge cheer from the crowd. “But today what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.”
The Obama campaign released a statement to MSNBC late last night saying that the Clinton campaign “missed its chance” to close the gap in delegates by narrowly winning in Indiana and losing soundly in North Carolina.
Various networks have reported that Clinton has called off numerous morning television interviews scheduled for today and that she is instead meeting with advisers to discuss the future of her campaign.
During her speech last night, Clinton struck a more conciliatory tone than she has in the past, indirectly saying she would help Obama if he wins the nomination.
“I can assure that no matter what happens, I will work hard for whoever is the Democratic nominee is because we need to win in November,” she said.